Documents associated with this person:

Mother of Heinrich Schenker, wife of Johann Schenker.

Little is known of Julia (administrative documentation and her gravestone call her "Julie") Schenker's early life other than her birth in 1828. Julia’s father was a tailor, "but always devoted himself to Hebrew literature, in which he was very well-versed"; and in her "parental house there existed that spiritual-intellectual atmosphere that is peculiar to the Jews." Schenker's diary for December 23, 1917 contains a tribute to her by Heinrich on her burial day. This tells us that Julia had siblings: "two or three of my mother's brothers became [medical] doctors." It also states that "she did not have any education to speak of."

Marriage

Schenker records on January 3, 1918 ‒ some 60 years after the event referred to ‒ that a friend of the Schenker family, Marcus Marienberg, "remembered quite precisely [my father's] first meeting with my mother in Wisniowczyk," but gave no hint of the date.

Of the marriage of Julia Mosler to Johann, Schenker wrote to Moriz Violin on December 29, 1927 (OJ 6/7, [36]): My father had originally married according to the Jewish rite; only much later were such marriages recognized also by the state. Later, when rectification was made, it was possible to adjust the official records to suit oneself. I know this because my parents told me so.

Since the synagogue records do not survive, the date of their Jewish marriage cannot be ascertained; but it must have taken place before 1859, the year in which the couple's first child, Marcus, was born. The official state recognition of their marriage did not occur until April 30, 1876 (JRI-Poland), on which date, when Johann was 43 and Julia 42, a civil marriage ceremony may have taken place. (See the official record ‒ right-hand page, sixth entry from the top.)

Children

According to a record in the registry of the Jewish Religious Community in Vienna dated January 23, 1895, Johann and Julia had six children: Marcus [1859‒79], Rebecka [d. 1889], Wilhelm [1862‒19??], Schifre [Sofie] [Guttmann] [c.1864‒19??], Heinrich [1868‒1935] (all born in Wisniowczyk), and Moriz [1874‒1936] (born in Podhajce).

Later Life

After her husband's death in late 1887, Julia moved with her impoverished family to Vienna, to be near Heinrich. Of this he later recorded: Already during my earliest years, because I had to support mother, sister [Schifre, later Sophie Guttmann], younger brother (today the so ungrateful billionaire) [Moriz], and niece [Frieda?] by giving piano lessons, I gladly accepted an offer from a Viennese friend of [Maximilian] Harden to write something for him. (DLA 69.930/10, September 25, 1922, to August Halm)

By contrast, in his diary for December 20, 1917, he remarked: Yes, she was the one who in my first difficult Viennese time took on all the debts with the merchants and the tradesmen, saving me from measures which I could only have wrested from my pride with difficulty.

Little is known of her character, but a passing remark about Wilhelm made in 1927 offers a possible hint: "Wilhelm is also much too animated and also much too domineering (herrschsüchtig) – something inherited from our dear mother – to be comforted by this" (diary September 3 1927). Heinrich took his responsibilities toward his mother seriously ("for [September] 19 (Jewish holidays) : a few pennies for Mama, seats in the synagogue etc.": OJ 6/4, [], Schenker to Violin, September 15/18, 1906), and taking care of her when she was ill. Julia Schenker provided a vital link to Heinrich's Jewish heritage, coming out with Jewish sayings, and reminding him of customs and holy days: Evening with mother at Uncle and Aunt Einschenk's, for Passover. Old memories!: The ritual meal unexpectedly remedies an upset stomach that has persisted for several days! (diary March 30, 1907 ‒ the first seder in 1907 took place on Friday March 29)

During the period after Jeanette Kornfeld left her first husband to be with Heinrich (1910-), Julia accepted and befriended Jeanette when others in Heinrich's circle ostracized her. According to Schenker's 1914 diary, Julia was renting an apartment in Vienna from a Mrs. Klumak by the summer of that year; she was evidently unhappy there, and eventually gave notice in the November.

Death

Julia was housed with Wilhelm Schenker and his wife Dodi in Kautzen (within a few miles of the Czech Republic) in the three years leading to her death on December 22, 1917, and Heinrich was much involved in the burial ritual (in Waidhofen an der Thaya, within ten miles of Kautzen to the south, which had a Jewish cemetery), the saying of Kaddish, and the erection of the gravestone (diary December 1917, January/February 1918, passim). The inscription on her gravestone, Row 8, grave 5, reads: Hier ruht / Frau / Julie Schenker / geb. Mosler / Arztensgattin aus Podhajce / gest. in Kautzen am 20. Dez. 1917 / im 90. Lebensjahre. // Unerschrocken und unbeirrt / ging sie durch das Leben / in Glauben und Liebe.

Here lies / Mrs. / Julie Schenker / née Mosler / doctor’s wife from Podhajce / who died in Kautzen on December 20, 1917 / in the 90th year of her life. // Undaunted and undeterred, / she lived her life / in faith and love. (transcr. Lee Rothfarb and Martin Eybl, Oct 2, 2015)

In 1918, Schenker tried to have the coffin transported from Waidhofen to Vienna, but the cost proved too high.

Heinrich and Jeanette visited Julia's grave for the first time on September 13, 1923 (OJ 5/45, [4]) and recorded the following description: The gravestone is simple, but dignified; since the marble slab and the engraving break with orthodoxy, Lie-Liechen is right in wishing for a frame and ivy decoration. It made me uneasy to feel that my poor mother, who was the one to hold us together for so long after the death of my father, lies far from us children, as if unreachable! Fate played a bad enough role in the very last years, so it would have been fair if it had granted her a resting place where the purpose of her life could have continued as if symbolically. (OJ 3/4, p. 2567)

Sources:

  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen ... (Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1985)
  • Schenker's diaries, esp. OJ 2/9, pp. 812-17 (Dec 22-23, 1917) and OJ 2/10, pp. 822-24 (Jan 3, 1918)
  • Marriage certificate
  • Communications from Robert Kosovsky

Contributors:

  • Ian Bent, Marko Deisinger, and Lee Rothfarb

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Correspondence

Diaries