Julius Steinfeld

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Julius (Hebrew: יעקב שלמהYaakov Shlomo/ Jacob Solomon) Steinfeld (1884 – March 25, 1974) was born in Neunkirchen, Austria. He later moved to Vienna where he became the head of the community's Agudath Israel. He was also known as the shtadlan from Vienna.

Julius Steinfeld at the First World Congress (Knessia Gedolah) of the World Agudath Israel - Vienna 1923
Tombstone of Julius Steinfeld

After the Anschluss in 1938, Steinfeld toiled to help Jews emigrate from Austria. With great personal risk Julius negotiated with Eichmann to obtain exit visas for Jews trying to flee Nazi Austria. His courageous interventions on behalf of his fellow Jews, led to his imprisonment by Eichmann. His cousin Emil Deutsch succeeded in bailing him out of prison.[1] In coordination with Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schonfeld Julius was instrumental in arrangements for the kindertransport where thousands of Jewish children were sent from Vienna to England. Julius had left Vienna and returned many times during the Nazi period in order to procure entry visas to nearly 30 countries throughout the world including Palestine, the United States and England. All in all almost 9,000 Jews were helped to emigrate due to his efforts.[2]

Steinfeld endangered his life by staying in Nazi Austria until he was informed that he would be deported if he did not leave. He left Vienna on May 9, 1941. Due to his extensive negotiations with the Nazis the U.S. Department of State initially suspected he was a German spy and refused to grant him a visa. He found refuge in Cuba until 1942 when the State Department was convinced that his contacts with the Nazis were used only to save lives.[3] He settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, NY.

In the U.S. he continued his rescue work to save European Jews from the Holocaust by joining the Vaad Hatzalah of the Agudath Harabbanim. Julius was active in the Vienner shul of Williamsburg which was founded by his son-in-law Karl Richter and was modeled after the famous Ashkenaz Schiff Shul in Vienna of which Julius and Karl were active members of[4] and that was destroyed by the Nazis on Kristallnacht.

Steinfeld died in Brooklyn, NY.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Interview in Jerusalem with Manzi Rechnitz a cousin of Julius who survived the Holocaust by hiding in a bunker in Pressburg during the deportations from Czechoslovakia
  2. ^ They Called Him Mike by Yonason Rosenblum - Mesorah Publications, 1995, page 285
  3. ^ They Called Him Mike by Yonason Rosenblum - Mesorah Publications, 1995, page 236
  4. ^ Interview on April 25, 2009 in Brooklyn, NY with Eli Richter - son of Karl Richter and grandson of Julius Steinfeld

Bibliography[edit]