Max Uri -- Looking For Frieda, Finding Frieda

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The classic story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl.

Max Uri was living the comfortable life of a Viennese Jewish lad when he fell for Frieda Haber. They met at a Jewish summer camp, then ran into each other the following summer on the Adriatic coast.

But the rise of the Nazis got in the way and Max, who had fled to Palestine in 1939, despaired of ever finding Frieda again. Until that day he was walking down a street in Tel Aviv...

Max and Frieda Uri died in August 2009.

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In 1923, the year Max Uri's wife, Frieda Haber, was born, the monarchy had been over for six years and the country was within the First Republic of Austria. The Republic, established in 1919, was created following the end of First World War and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918) and the Republic of German-Austria (1918-1919).

Before World War II, Jews played a significant part in Austria's social and economic life. Read more on Austrian Jewry here.

 

Frieda Haber was born in Klagenfurt, the capital of the Austrian state of Carinthia. See contemporary photos of the city. 

 
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In 1938, German troops marched into Austria in what is known as the "Anschluss." At this point, the situation for Austrian Jews changed dramatically for the worse. 

Following the German occupation, Austrian Jews were increasingly stripped of their rights, subject to violence and antagonism, and were eventually deported. Learn more about the Holocaust in Austria.

On the 9-10 November 1938 Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues across the German Reich - including Austria and the Sudetenland were destroyed. This violent pogrom is known as "Kristallnacht."

After this pogrom, many Jews realized that things were not going to get any better for them and did what they could to leave the country. 

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In 1939 Max Uri left for Palestine (today Israel) with only 10 Reichsmarks to his name. 

As Nazi influence began to grow stronger, many European Jews attempted to leave for Palestine. Immigration to Israel is known as Aliyah. The Jewish Virtual Library offers a number of links to information about historical immigration to Palestine. 

Because Palestine was a British Mandate, immigration was restricted. Many entered the country illegaly - this is referred to as Aliyah Bet

In 1938 SS Lieutentant-Colonel Adolf Eichmann was appointed head of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna. The office was supposed to expedite the emigration of Austrian Jews. Read more.

Read the testimony of Wilhelm Hoettl regarding Eichmann's activities in Vienna at Eichmann's infamous trial in Jerusalem in 1961.

 

 

 

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Max Uri arrived in Tel Aviv, where he was reunited with Frieda. 

Many of the German-speaking refugees who had fled Germany and Austria, were shocked by the relatively "primitive" conditions in this new city in comparison to places like Berlin. Many of these refugees had been traiened at the famous Bauhaus school and helped to build Tel Aviv into the city it is today. Here is more information on the construction of Bauhaus-inspired buildings and how they filled a need for housing and endowed the city with a modernist flair.  

Here is a list of Bauhaus buildings in Tel Aviv and you can take a look at film footage of Tel Aviv from the 1940s.

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After five years of living in Israel, Max and Frieda returned to Vienna. You can read more about the postwar Austrian Jewish community here 

In 1945, Austria had declared the Second Republic, reestablishing Austria as a democratic republic. 

For many years Austrians did not want to acknowledge their role in perpetrating the crimes of the Second World War, preferring to view themselves as the Nazi's first victims. This attitude, in part, made it very difficult for those Jews returning to the country after the Holocaust to settle in. 
 
Read this article entitled "The Need for a Demystified Past" which addresses the need for Austrians to critically confront their role in WWII. 
 
 
25 October 2005, Austria's first Holocaust memorial was unveiled at its location in Vienna's Judenplatz. The monument is entitled the "Nameless Library" and was designed by British artist, Rachel Whiteread. 

Film Details

  • Duration:
    00:03:00
    Countries:
    Austria

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