In mid-June, a group of over 30 Jews – mostly members of the “Second Generation” – were welcomed in Vienna at the invitation of the Jewish Welcome Service. The visitor program involving generally comprehensive family research also included a reception by City Councilor for Culture Veronica Kaup-Hasler at Vienna City Hall.
Among the guests, who traveled from Australia, Israel, the US, England and Argentina, were also several members of the “Reiss” family, who were driven out by the Nazis and subsequently scattered across the entire world. For example, cousins Marian Reiss-McKenna from the US and Rina Reiss from Australia. Their fathers, Georg and Gerhard, were forced to flee Vienna from the Nazis at the age of 13. Now, the two women met each other for the first time in their life in Vienna. As Rina put it, “It’s like finding a long-lost sister again.”
A cream slice by way of commemoration
Tuvia Erez, who journeyed from Israel, spoke about his father Yitzhak Reiss, who managed to escape the Nazis at age 19: My father “left Vienna, but Vienna never left him.” Towards the end of his life, Yitzhak loved the typical Viennese cream slices, and whenever he got one, he would divide it into eight pieces, which he would keep and enjoy over the course of a month. Just like he did as a child in Vienna with the seven pieces of his mother’s weekly apple strudel.
In addition to the reception at City Hall, the program also included a city sightseeing tour, visits to the Shoah Memorial in Ostarrichi Park, Palais Liechtenstein, the Serviten Quarter, as well as the Jewish Museum and the Freud Museum. Furthermore, the majority of the guests, whose parents and grandparents were forced to flee Vienna, made use of their stay to carry out extensive family research.