Two Irma Rechnitzers in Lódz

     There were two Irma Rechnitzers in the Lódz ghetto at the same time.  One was born with that name and married Theo MENZEL, the other married a RECHNITZER.  They were second cousins by marriage, though it is unknown if they were acquainted.  There is an ironic symmetry to their stories, in that both families were deported to Lódz about the same time, though from different places; they received deportation orders from Lódz to Chelmno at the same time, and both families wrote letters requesting delay of deportation on the same day.

     Irma RECHNITZER (b. 27 Nov 1884, Graz) was the daughter of Edmund RECHNITZER and Mathilde STRASSMANN.  She married Theodor MENZEL (b. 17 Mar 1876, Mistelbach).  They had two sons, one who died of polio at the age of 10, and Franz (b. 22 Dec 1912, Vienna), whose story is told on the "RECHNITZER/Graz2" and "More About Franz MENZEL" pages (links at the bottom of this page).
     In 1938 or 1939, Irma and Theo moved from Vienna to temporary accommodations at the Hotel Maison Rouge, Diekirch in Luxembourg, hoping to earn a living in some kind of wool export business.  Irma visited Franz, who had moved to England around 1933, periodically until August 1939, when she rushed back to Luxembourg "because of the war".  On October 18, 1941, Irma and Theo were deported from Luxembourg to the Lódz ghetto.  One month later to the day, Franz returned to England from his internment in Australia.

     The second Irma, according to Nazi records, was born 09 March 1887 in Zaya, Moravia.  Her maiden name is unknown.  She married Viktor RECHNITZER, a second cousin of the above Irma RECHNITZER.  Viktor and Irma were lucky enough to get their 16 year old daughter, Lizzi (b. 15 Aug 1922, Vienna) on a KinderTransport which arrived in London on February 12, 1939.  A note on Lizzi's file card indicated that her parents hoped to emigrate to a neutral country.  However, that was not to be.  On Oct 19, 1941, the day after Irma and Theo MENZEL were deported, Viktor and Irma RECHNITZER were deported from Untere Weissgerberstrasse 49/8, Vienna 3 to the Lódz ghetto.

     Lódz ghetto order number 380 was issued on April 29, 1942, and read as follows:
"By order of the authorities the deportation of the Jews from German, Luxembourg, Vienna, Prague will begin on May 4.  Persons who hold WWI German decorations and those who are employed are exempt.  12.5 kg luggage may be taken along.  'Possessions which must be left behind' may be offered for sale to the Central Purchasing Agency."  It was not announced that they were to be taken to the death camp at Chelmno.

     In the aftermath of the April 29th expulsion/deportation order from Lódz ghetto, the RECHNITZER spouses wrote  to the Ghetto authorities requesting a delay of deportation, both due to illness.  On May 5th, Irma RECHNITZER requested a delay due to her husband Viktor's illness and also submitted a physician's affidavit that her husband was permanently bedridden and could not be moved without endangering his life.  On May 7th, Theo MENZEL , age 67 and ill, wrote on his own behalf, also submitting a physician's affidavit as to the state of his health, and asked to stay in Lódz until his health improved. 
     Also on May 7th, Viktor RECHNITZER died of typhus and/or tuberculosis, and Irma wrote the authorities, again requesting a delay in deportation, in order to attend her husband's funeral.  She also requested a delay in deportation for the two widows with whom she shared an apartment, so that "I will not go out into the world all alone."  Amazingly, the May 5th request and both requests of May 7th appear to have been granted.
     These delays were short lived.  The decision was to delay Irma RECHNITZER's deportation until May 11th.  One of Irma's companions, Lea LICHTENEGGER, was deported to Chelmno a day earlier, on May 10, 1942.  Theo MENZEL was not deported.  Tragically, he died in the Lódz ghetto on July 23, 1942, following what was reported as a suicide attempt that put him into the hospital with a broken skull.  No record exists of Irma MENZEL's death, though it is presumed that she was deported to Chelmo and murdered there. 

Theo Menzel's letter to the authorities, May 7th, 1942:
To: The Department for the Expelled, Litzmannstadt.
 Today I received resettlement warrant No. VIII/610-11.  On May 6 I already delivered a doctor's note for a hospital place which is being processed, since I am not able to be transported.  I am 67 years old, and my state of health is described in the enclosed note by Dr. Neubauer.  My wife, Irma Menzel, and I are in the possession of a Workers ID Card Numbers Nr. 13461 of 16.11.41 and Nr. 16060 of 30.11.41, but in spite of our efforts with different departments we were not able to find work.  I ask you to let me wait here until my health improves.
Signed by Theodore Menzel
Trades councillor
officially court-assigned expert for estimates,
head of health insurance association
member of war medals institution of Austrian Army 1914/18
Baluter Ring 6, W32

Irma Rechnitzer's letter to the authorities, May 7th, 1942:

Irma Rechnitzer
Litzmannstadt Getto
Rubensgasse 9/6
To the Expulsion Commission, here, Fischgasse 8
Re: Expulsion Order - Nr. VI/953-54 (Rechnitzer), Remeny VI/959, Lichtenegger VI/907
Urgent!  With reference to my application of May 5, 1942, I hereby communicate to you that my husband died today.  Since I want to be present at my husband's funeral and want to prepare my departure, I ask for a deferment of my resettlement, together with two widows with whom I share the apartment, so that I will not go out into the world all alone.  The names of these two widows are Lea Lichtenegger, Anna Remenyi.  I ask you to acknowledge my application.
Irma Rechnitzer
Rubensgasse 9/4

Return to Körmend home page
More About Franz MENZEL

© copyright 2009 Judy Petersen