It has been decided! In July, Scott and I will be taking a cruise with our “best buds,” John and Doreen. But, before the cruise the four of us will be spending a few days in my mother’s “hometown” of Vienna, Austria.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember the “Heritage Trip” I took in 2018. While I was able to do a tiny bit of research during that trip, there is so much ground still to cover.
Now that I have crossed three big projects* off my list it’s time to get serious about my next project, the story of my great-grandfather’s quest for reparations following the loss of his business to the Nazis in 1938.
Sigmund Lichtenthal (shown at left with his wife, the former Rosa Berger) left Vienna in 1941, joining his son Paul (my grandfather) to settle in New York. His story is shared by many Jews of the time – Hitler comes in, strips you of everything you own, your life is never the same.
Sigmund spent his remaining years attempting to gain repartions. He died without succeeding in 1951 at age 81.
As the family historian, I have many original documents chronicling his quest, which ended when I was successful in gaining reparations for my mother. It is time to share that story.
I have learned a great deal about the research, writing, and publishing process over the course of completing my last two books. My “plan” is to be quite quite deliberate in my approach to this project. As opposed to my usual “ooooo – shiny!” where I follow fascinating finds down the “rabbit hole” only to end up with tons of great information I can no longer source or figure how out how to include!!
The first step is determining what questions am I trying to answer. That will help me stay focused on the story I want to tell.
So, here goes:
- When/why did Sigmund Lichtenthal emigrate from Tarnopol, Poland to Vienna, Austria?
- How did he come to be in the hat business? (An aside to this is finding whether his siblings were also in the same business. There is family lore about a fracture in the family, possibly business-related)
- How did he (and the family business) become so successful?
- How/why did his son follow in his footsteps?
- What was the relationship between Sigmund and other family members?
- What happened between March 11, 1938, when Germany annexed Austria, and 1941 when Sigmund and his wife arrived in the United States. (I have been researching this time period. In a future post, I will share some resources I have used.)
- What was life like for the family in America?
I hope you join me on this journey. Please ask questions or feel free to contribute info you may have. One mistake I made in the past is not getting feedback at various times during the writing process. As a result, I sometimes missed (or misstated) crucial facts!
Time to get to work!!
*The Three Projects:
- Shutterfly book about our 2018 Heritage Trip
- The Complete Reference Guide to Ideal’s Petite Princess and Princess Patti Dollhouse Furniture
- Opulent in Aliases – Who was Catherine C. FitzAllen?