Friday, May 19, 2017

MY MYSTERIOUS ONKEL MAX, an unexpected discovery


As you’ll have seen in my previous family posts on this blog, there are a couple of nasty lacunae in my otherwise pretty well covered family-tree.

The biggest and most disappointing one is the failure to find out anything concerning great-grandfather Adolf Gánsl before he turned up in Vienna in the 1870s with his new wife, Julianna. He is said on his death registration to have been born 1844 in Mór, Hungary. And that’s all I know of his early life.

The other mystery is ‘whatever happened to Max’. Max was the middle one of the three sons of Adolf. Pepi, my grandfather, Max, Fritz. So he really was my great-uncle. But it was a long time before we even knew of his existence. Because, what had happened in Vienna stayed in Vienna as far as father was concerned. He had wiped Austria and Hungary from, if not his mind, certainly from his children’s. As he had wiped our Jewish heritage. When my mother related to 12 year-old me how a local social climber had hissed at her ‘Nancy how does it feel being married to a Jew’, I thought how silly, how would she know?

Anyway, Pepi died in 1936, and father left Austria for England and ultimately New Zealand soon after. He was an only child, with one cousin, Tom Stern (not Jewish?) who, with his parents, ended up in Australia. I don’t know when he died, but John and I were told that we were the only live twigs on the family tree. Humph! The only offspring of those three Gánsl sons.
Onkel Fritz. He married a ‘less than charming’ lady called Bertha and they lived their lives in London childless. But Max? I asked. Oh he moved to Hungary and worked in the wine business… Never anything more. I began to suspect I might have had a gay uncle.

Well, I found out today that I didn’t. Another Gánsl, Petra, from Toronto, got in touch, through the Jewish Genealogy Portal, thinking she might have found the missing Adolf. Alas, the name was right, the area was right, but he was twenty years too young. Shame.

 But Petra pursued her Hungarian Adolfing and came up with … a wedding certificate for a Miksa Gánsl. It was Max. 1911 Budapest. Terezia Fuchs.

 And then a second. 1919. Budapest. Gizella Waldmann.

And Lord love me, a third. 1937 Budapest. Erzsébet Brody.

 He was 54 by that stage. And do you know what? I reckon he survived the war and into old age. Because one day, when I was in my twenties, I distinctly heard my grandmother say, à propos of goodness knows what, ‘Oh I must tell Max’. Max, if he were alive, would have been by this stage in his eighties. There was a hush round the room … had nana gone gaga, I thought? I think not. Just a little more garrulous with age (‘of course you have Jewish blood, my husband was a Jew’).

So do John and I have more, close family we weren’t allowed to know about? Anyone have a father or grandfather in Budapest named Miksa Gánsl with a wife called Terezia, Gizella or Erzsébet?

Anyway, Petra and I are convinced we are related and she even speaks Hungarian so … go for it, girl!

And then Adolf. Watch this space!

Postscriptum; Well, its not Adolf. Its Miksa again. Ive just found a grave for Giza Miksane Waldmann Gansl 1884-1937 at the Kozma Street Jewish Cemetery, Budapest. I wonder if her husband (who remarried pretty smartly!) is buried there too!

January 2018. The mystery largely solved, thanks to the Jewish Genealogy Portal and Karesz Vandor of Budapest. He discovered that not only was Max's second wife buried at Kozma Street, but also, in 1945, his third wife. And on the record of her death, Max is described as 'néhaí' .. 'the late'. So Nana was having a senior moment, and great-uncle Max was already dead when I was born. I wonder why he isn't in Kozma Street as well.


Miriam Pappas said...

So my ggf, Adolf Gansl was born in 1868 in
Lovasberény (Lauschbrünn), Fejér County, Hungary. His profile is posted on geni as well. Thinking there is a connection?

Miriam Pappas said...
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Hi Miriam, I suspect if so distantly

It seems to belong to the family of Petra Gansl-Gombos ...

We haven't yet established a verifiable connection

Miriam Pappas said...
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Miriam Pappas said...
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