Isidor Brensohn or Brenson

Male 1854 - 1928  (74 years)

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  • Name Isidor Brensohn or Brenson 
    Born 27 Sep 1854  Jelgava (Mitau), Courland, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 31 Dec 1928  Rīga, Rīga, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I4104  Petersen-de Lanskoy
    Last Modified 9 Jan 2015 

    Family Klara or Clara Herzenberg,   b. 4 Dec 1859, Jelgava (Mitau), Courland, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Jun 1939, Rīga, Rīga, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years) 
    Married 12 May 1883  Mitau, Kurland, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Edgar Brenson,   b. Feb 1884, Subbath, Courland, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef Aug 1886, Jelgava (Mitau), Courland, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 2 years)
    +2. Ruth Paulina Brenson,   b. 28 Mar 1885, Jelgava (Mitau), Courland, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1941, Rīga, Rīga, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 55 years)
    +3. Robert Brenson,   b. 27 Feb 1889, Jelgava (Mitau), Courland, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1941, Rīga, Rīga, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 51 years)
     4. Theodor or Feodor-Wilhelm Brenson,   b. 15 Nov 1892, Jelgava (Mitau), Courland, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location
    +5. Ellen-Benita Brenson,   b. 23 Dec 1895, Jelgava (Mitau), Courland, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft Sep 1941, Rīga, Rīga, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age > 46 years)
     6. Otton-Osip Brensohn or Brenson,   b. Jul 1897, , Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 9 Aug 1897, Dubbeln, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 0 years)
    Last Modified 22 Oct 2015 
    Family ID F1684  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
      1. Per email of 17 Jul 2007 from Nina Kossman . Nina is a descendant of Klara/Robert/Joseph/Lemchen/Joseph Herzenberg. Note that Mitau, Courland was part of the tsarist empire, but later it became known as Jelgava, Latvia.
      A. "A photograph of Klara Herzenberg (daughter of Robert Herzenberg) can be seen at <> [underscore between brenson and herzenberg]. It should also be noted that in Piltene, where our 18th century Herzenbergs lived, there is an old Jewish cemetery in which almost all are Herzenbergs." Nina is coordinating an effort to restore the Piltene cemetery and please contact her if you are able to assist financially.
      B. Children of Robert Herzenberg and Emilie Kahn:
      a. Daughter Rosete (Rosa), b. 14 Apr 1854 in Mitau, d. 2 Nov, 1862 in Mitau.
      b. Daughter Seba, b. abt. 1856, d. 1859 in Mitau.
      c. Daughter Feige/Fanny, b. 26 Jul 1857 in Mitau, d. 31 Oct 1862 in Mitau.
      d. Daughter Klara, b. 4 Dec 1859 in Mitau, m. 12 May 1883 in Mitau, d. 17 Jun 1939 in Riga. Husband Isidor (Isac-Aisak, Itzig), son of Isak-Aisik (Itzig, Isidor) Brensohn, b. 27 Sep 1854 in Mitau, d. 31 Dec. 1928 in Riga. (Photo of Isidor and Clara on file with me.) Of Isidor's and Clara's four children - Ruth, Ellen, Theo, and Robby, only one - Theo - survived the war as he was not living in Latvia at the time (photo of the four children on file with me).
      i. Ruth Brenson (1889-1941) was born in Yelgava, Latvia. While temporarily staying in Moscow she met Stephan Kossman, whom she married around 1910. she had two children: Nora (b. 1911) and Leonid (b. 1915). Ruth was killed by the Nazis in Riga, Latvia. (Photo of Ruth on file with me.) The family lived in Moscow, at Chistye Prudy 11, in a ten-room apartment in a five-story building; later they moved to an apartment on First Meschanskaya. Since Stephan Kossman was a merchant of the First Guild, it was no longer safe for his family to live in the city after the Bolshevik takeover. The Brenson-Kossman family left Moscow for Riga - where Ruth's father lived - in the beginning of 1918. Stephan Kossman was born in 1877. When he was about seven years old his father, Leontii Kossman, took him to live in London where Leonitii had started a fur business. After Leontii's death, Stephan took over the business. His job took him all over Europe and in the very beginning of the 20th century he lived in Leipzig for several years, in Berlin, in London, etc. He married Ruth Brenson in 1909 and came back to Moscow to live. Eight years later, following the October Revolution, the family left Russia. He died in Riga, Latvia, in 1928. This couple had two children: Leonid and Nora.
      1. Leonid Kossman is a philologist, writer, and teacher whose language textbooks have helped millions of people. Born in Moscow in 1915, as a child in Riga, Latvia, he spoke German and Russian at home and Latvian in the neighborhood. After graduating from a German high school he studied law at the University of Latvia and worked as a drama critic for a Latvian Newspaper, Tsinia. When the Nazis occupied Riga he escaped into Russia, soon joined the Soviet army, and was severely wounded. He spent the rest of the war in Kazakhstan where he slowly regained sight and movement. After the war he studied English and western literature at Moscow State University, graduated, and taught English and German at the Maurice Thorez Linguistics Institute (which later became the Moscow State Linguistics University, or MGLU). During this period his two textbooks for Russians learning German were published. With his wife and two children he emigrated to the US via Israel in 1972, and worked here as a college languages teacher and as a writer for the German-American Daily Staatszeitung and for the German-Jewish American weekly, Aufbau. In the late 1970s he started writing books to help other Russians in learning English. In authorized, and pirated, editions of these books have circulated very widely, and have even been adopted by American university Russian courses. Most recently he has been writing short stories and he published a historical novel "Above Water" in 2003 (the book deals with he effects of Nazism on the life of a Harry Rosen, a Latvian Jew).
      2. Nora.
      ii. Ellen was born 188? and died 1941; she was an orthopedic physician and her husband, Yakov Meltzer, was a pianist; they had a son Anatol and all three were killed by Germans in Nazi-occupied Latvia (photo of the three with son at age 6 on file.)
      e. Son David, b. 17 Jul 1864 in Mitau, m. 7 Jan 1890 in Mitau, d. bef 1935. Wife Sophia, dau. of Abram Herzenberg, b. 20 Aug 1869 in Mitau, d. 1941 in the "ghetto."
      f. Son Alexander, b. 16 Apr 1866 in Mitau.
      g. Son Leonhard, b. 24 Jul 1868 in Mitau.

      2. Website of Peter Bruce Herzenberg of London, England (since relocated to South Africa). Website is no longer functioning as of 7 Aug 2007. Copies of much of his data from the website in my possession. He indicates references by codes, which pertain to the original source and file held in his database, which I have not seen. I have no key to the sources except HL is Leonardo Herzenberg, HG is Gail Herzenberg, PC is probably Piltene Cemetery records, LA is probably Latvian Archives, FA is probably Aleksandrs Feigmanis (Latvian researcher hired by Harold Hodes), and YL is Len Yodaiken (Israeli researcher hired by Harold Hodes); however, he lists the main researchers and their contributions in a lengthy report which I include in full in the notes of the earliest Herzenberg of this database. In regards to this individual:
      YL 014 notes Isadore Brewsohn, d. Riga, with four children: Ruth, md. Stephen Horsaie; Ellen, md. ___ Meltzer; Robert, Theo.

      3. Received 30 Apr 2009 a copy of the following from Irene Gottleib Slatter entitled "Archival Reference about Brenson Family. It was prepared for Nina Kossman Dec 2006 and is report no. 3-K-7622; 7794N by Latvijas Valsts Vestures Arhivs (Latvian National Archives), Slokas iela 16, Riga, LV-1007:
      "The records of the archival fonds "Collection of Passports of Riga Prefecture," "Riga City House Registers," the birth records of the Jewish community in Mitau for 1854-1855, 1857-1858, 1862, 1864-1883,1886-1889, 1892, 1895, 1900, 1902-1904, the marriage records of the same community for 1854, 1856-1868, 1872-1873, 1875, 1884, 1886-1887, 1889-1891, 1893, 1895-1897, as available at our archives (the birth marriage and death records for other years have not survived), the birth marriage and death records of the Jewish communities in Riga for 1854-1905, the revision lists of the Jewish families belonging to Mitau for 1834, 1858, 1887, the recruits' enlistment register of the Jewish families belonging to Mitau for 1845, 1875, for Pilten for 1848 contain the following information:
      Doctor of medicine, the Hereditary Honourable Citizen Isidor (Isak-Aisik, Itzig), son of Isak (Itzig) Brenson (Brennsohn in German) was born on September 27 (Gregorian calendar) of 1854 in Mitau (see Appendix No. 1 and his photo from the Latvian passport for 1927).
      His father Isak-Aisik Juda (or son of Juda) Brenson, obviously Isidor's father died before his son was born (Isidor was the only child of his parents).
      His mother Beile-Dore, daughter of Peisah (Peisak) Kretzer, born in ca 1833 (aged 1 in 1834, aged 42 in 1875). Her father was Peisah, son of Hirsch Kretzer, born in ca 1788 or 1794 (aged 23 in 1811, however in the revision lists for 1834 he was registered as 38 years old, see Appendix No. 2), he was registered in the Jewish community in Mitau at least since 1811. Peisach died on September 24 of 1863 in Mitau, aged 80 (we would like to draw your attention to the fact that very often the age of person was determined by their outward appearance and was stated in some documents rather approximately. Beile's mother Gutte (maiden name is not stated) was born in ca 1805 (aged 29 in 1834). We did not manage to find any information that Peisach and Gutte have children besides Beile.
      Isidor's wife Klara, daughter of Robert Herzenberg was born on December 4 of 1859 in Mitau (this date of birth was stated in her Latvian passports and in the house register, unfortunately, the birth records for 1859 have not survived, se her photo from Latvian passport for 1927. Their marriage was registered on May 12 of 1883 in Mitau.
      The family of Isidor Brenson lived in Mitau and then moved to Riga, where they lived in their own (since 1910) houses at Dzirnavu Street 64. [Irene adds note: "This is the house where my great grandparents lived. My sister and I went there.]
      Isidor Brenson died on December 31 of 1928 in Riga.
      Klara died June 17 of 1939 in Riga.
      Isidor and Klara had children.
      - son Robert, born on February 27 (Julian calendar) of 1889 in Mitau. His occupation - correspondent. On February 23 of 1924 in Riga he married to Elli Olga, daughter of Gustav nee Donbergs, born on December 25 of 1903 in Riga, she was German (when Robert married to Elli Olga, he was written down as a divorced). Robert had children:
      - son Erik, born on December 18 of 1917 in Moscow.
      - son Enar-Theodor, born on October 17 of 1926 in Riga.
      Since May of 1928 they lived in Riga at Dzirnavu Street 64, apt. 1. Elli Olga was struck off the house register on November 1 of 1933 where not stated. Robert and Elli Olga were divorced and in 1934 she married to Rosenthal (name not stated). On June 27 of 1936 in Riga Robert married to Benita-Mathilde-Elisabeth Brensohn, nee Isakowsky (Izakowsky), born on March 27 of 1913 in Riga,she was German. They were divorced on April 19 of 1939 in Riga.Beneta-Mathilde-Elisabeth was struck off the house register of Dzernavu Street 64 on January 18 of 1939 as moved to Elizabetes Street 8. She left for Germany on December 5 of 1939. There is a note in the house register of Dzernavu Street 64 that Robert and his son Enar 'have taken away' on July 12 of 1941, Erik 'have taken away' on July 25 of 1941. The museum "Jews in Latvia" keeps the lists of Central prison's inmates, set up on August 4 of 1941 (during Nazi occupation), where Erik, son of Robert Brenson registered under Nr. 196.
      - son Theodor (Feodor)-Wilhelm, born on November 15 (Julian calendar, 27 November - Gregorian calendar) of 1892 in Mitau (see his photo from the Latvian passports for 1920, 1939). His occupation - engineer architect. On July 30 of 1932 in Paris he married to Wally Marie Georgia Grell (she was a widow, according to the marriage certificate Theodor was a widower and divorced, born on August 11 of 1903 in Riga, according to the house register her occupation - actor. In 1936 they were registered as living at Dzernavu Street 64, apt. 4, on September 21 of 1936 they left for Paris. In 1939 Theodor arrived to Riga and was registered as living at Dzernavu Street 64, apt. 4, he struck off the house register on August 28 of 1939 as moved to Paris.
      - daughter Ellen-Benita, born on December 23 of 1895 (Julian calendar, Gregorian calendar - January 4 of 1896) in Mitau. She was a doctor. Her 1st husband Aron Patursky (their marriage was registered on December 19 of 1922 in Riga, see her photo from the Latvian passports for 1922, 1927, 1931). They had no children, their marriage was divorced in 1931 in Riga. Her second husband Jacob Melzer was born on May 5 of 1891 in Minsk. Their marriage was registered on September 8 of 1931 in Riga. His occupation - musician. Their son Anatol Melzer was born on June 26 of 1933 in Riga. Before the Second World War they lived in Riga at Brivibas Street 23, apt. 6. They were struck off the house register on September 30 of 1941 as moved to ghetto. Their address in ghetto - Lazdonas Street 11, apt. 1.
      - son Otton-Osip, born in 1897, died on August 9 of 1897 in Dubbeln, buried at the Jewish cemetery in Mitau, aged 3 weeks, cause of death - inflammation of the lungs (see Appendix No. 3).
      - daughter Ruth Paulina, born on March 28 (Julian calendar) of 1885 in Mitau (however later in the house register her date of birth - April 9 (Gregorian calendar of 1886 in Mitau). In 1909 in "Riga she married to Schebsel Kosman (entry No. 59 in teh marriage records of the Jewish community in Riga). Their children:
      - son Leonid Kosman, born on September 24 of 1915 in Moscow. His wife Tereza, nee Yacoby (daughter of Johan/Janis, son of Adolph Yacoby and Jenni, nee Heiman) was born on July 5 of 1918 in Moscow (see her photo form the Latvian passport for 1935). Since September 14 of 1935 a widow Ruth Kosman and Leonid lived in Riga at Lacplesa Street 9, apt. 1. Leonid was struck off the house register on June 30 of 1940 as moved to Elizabetes Street 27, apt. 1. Tereza was struck off the house register of Elizabetes Street 27 on August 14 of 1941 as moved to Maskavas Sttreet 171, apt. 4 together with her parents and two sisters. Obviously later they were sent to ghetto. According to the records of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission for 945 Jenny, Tereza and Ruth Yacoby, living in Riga at Elizabetes Street 27, apt. 1 were killed in 1941.
      - daughter Eleonora Kosman, born on April 15 of 1911 in Moscow. Her husband Wilhelm (Wolfram), son of Eduard Gottlieb, born on June 6 of 1907 in Riga (see his photo from the Latvian passport for 1925). His occupation - journalist. They were registered as living in Riga at Dzernavu Street 64, apt. 4 since July 20 till August 12 of 1935 when they arrived from London to visit their relatives. Wilhelm's father was the candidate of commerce Israel/Eduards, son of Shanis Gottlieb was born on January 16 of 1870 in Riga. His wife Haja Sara (Sora), daughter of Mowscha.Mosus Kaschdan, a watch-maker from Borisov, and his wife Lina, was born on January 27 (Julian calendar, February 7 - Gregorian calendar) of 1880 in Riga (see her photo from the Latvian passport for 1924). Their marriage was registered in 1906 in Riga (entry No. 2 in the marriage records of the Jewish community in Riga for 1906. They had also daughter Herta Gottlieb, born on November 1 (Julian calendar, 14 November - Gregorian calendar) of 1909 in Riga. In 1924 the family of Israel/Eduard Gottlieb lived in Riga at Dzernavu Street 66, apt. 52. Before the Second World War they lived in Riga at Brivibas Street 33 (unfortunately, the house registers for the time period before October of 1939 have not survived, therefore we cannot trace fate of Haja and Herta. The museum "Jews of Latvia" keeps the lists of Central prison's inmates, set up on August 4 of 1941, where Eduards, son of Zhanis Gottlieb was registered under Nr. 67.
      We suppose that Klara's father was Robert (Ruben), son of Joseph (Jossel) Herzenberg a merchant from Pilten, born in ca 1826 (aged 22 in 1848, see Appendix No. 4) and mother Emilie (Amalie), daughter of David Kahn, born in ca 1830, died in 1903. Robert Herzenberg lived in Mitau and had his firm 'Robert Herzenberg,' he died before 1887 (the death records of the Jewish community in Mitau, as available at our archives do not contain information on his death).
      Ruben had at least two brothers Laser and Jacob (unfortunately, females (daughters) were not registered in the recruits' enlistment registers of Pilten). His parents: father Joseph (Jossel), son of Lemchen Herzenberg was born in ca 1809 (aged 39 in 1848), mother Zippe (the age is not stated). His grandparents: Lemchen, son of Joseph Herzenberg, born ca 1780, died in 1840. He belonged to the Jewish community in Pilten at least since 1834, his wife Schore (the age is not stated).
      Klara had brothers and sisters:
      - sister Rosete, born on April 14 of 1854 in Mitau. Rosa Herzenberg died on November 2 of 1862 in Mitau, aged 8-1/2, cause of death - measles. We suppose that Rosete and Rosa was one and the same person.
      - sister Feige/Fanny, born on July 26 of 1857 in Mitau, died on October 31 of 1862 in Mitau, aged 5, cause of death - measles.
      - sister Seba, died in 1859 in Mitau, aged 3.
      - brother, David, son of Robert Herzenberg, born on July 17 of 1864 in Mitau, 2nd guild merchant, since 1915 - 1st guild merchant, the Hereditary Honourable Citizen. His wife Sophia, daughter of Abram Herzenberg was born on August 20 (Gregorian calendar) of 1869 in Mitau. According to the birth records Klara Herzenberg was born on August 8 (Julian calendar) of 1869 in Mitau, her father was Abram Herzenberg and mother Teresa, daughter of Joseph, nee Herzenberg. We suppose that Sophia and Klara might be one and the same person. The marriage of David and Sophia was registered on January 7 of 1890 in Mitau. They had children:
      - son Robert, born on December 13 of 1892 in Mitau.
      - daughter Jenny (Eugenia), born on October 18 of 1896 in Mitau.
      - daughter Flora, born on February 8 of 1898 in Mitau.
      Since 1935 a widow Sophia and her daughters Eugenia and Flora lived in Riga at Lacplesa Street 9, apt. 11. In 1939 Robert Herzenberg, a correspondent by profession, his wife Beila and son David-Harry were registered as living in Riga at Lacplesa Street 9, apt. 11. They left for Sweden in August - September of 1939. Eugenia married to Lev Wolozhinski, born on January 15 of 1891 in Riga. Sophia, Eugenia, Lev were struck off the house register of Lacplesa Street 9 in July 19-21 of 1941 (during Nazi occupation), obviously they were sent to ghetto. Lev Wolozhinsky was killed in July of 1941. Flora married to Nechemy/Nikolay Friedlender, born on December 21 of 1880 in Mitau. They lived at Elizabetes Street 27, apt. 2 and were struck off the house register on August 14 of 1941 a moved to Maskavas Street 171, apt. 4. According to the records of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission for 1945, Nechemy and Flora were killed in 1941.
      - brother Alexander, born on April 16 of 1866 in Mitau. He was registered as a merchant of top guild of Mitau. Since January 12 of 1899 he was registered as a Moscow merchant of top guild.
      - brother Leonhard, born on July 24 of 1868 in Mitau.
      All dates are stated according to the Julian calendar.
      For the better clearness the composition of the Herzenberg family is prepared also in the form of the genealogical table.
      In case only age of a person for a concrete year is indicated in the documents, his/her date of birth is stated approximately. The place of birth (marriage, death) is given only in a case if it is specified in the document. In a case we will find any additional information, tables can be corrected and supplemented.
      fond 5024, inventory 2, files 331, 351, 375, inventory 1, file 88.
      fond 2942, inventory 1, files 4109, 2130.
      fond 630, inventory 2, files 220, 221.
      fond 4349, inventory 2, file 6.
      fond 445, inventory 1, files 2035, 2038.
      fond 2996, inventory 9, file 520, inventory 12, field 14498, inventory 7, files 25343, 25280, inventory 2, files 41162, 41163, 41164, 41171, 41175, 41185, 41186, inventory 15, file 4449, fond 472, inventory 5, files 628, 826, 1574.
      Enclosure: genealogical table - 1 table, copies of the documents - 26 sheets.
      Director: N. Rizovs, Head of Department: I. Veinberga., Researcher: J. Polovceva."

      1. 28 Jul 2007 Http:// copyrighted by Leo Herzenberg:
      "An meinen Sohn (To my son) Leonhard Herzenberg von (from) Robert Herzenberg. Memoirs written during the 1940's." Translated during the 1990's by Leonardo (Leonhard) Herzenberg. The entire memoir is quite lengthy and included in its entirety in my notes with Joseph Herzenberg, the original known ancestor, in this database. The following is only the portion dealing with this part of the family:
      "Great Uncles on Mother's Side
      [60] Of the great uncles, the siblings of my grandmother on my mothers side, I can report very little. The oldest, Robert, after whom I was named, I could not know, because he died on my parents' wedding day, but I knew most of his children.
      Great Uncle Robert lived in Mitau, neighbor of his brother in law, great uncle Abraham. He was married to Emilie Cahn. The firm continued still long after the world war. I knew the children David, Alexander, Leo, Clara and Helene; Fanny, Seba, Sara died early from smallpox. of David I wrote already on p 54-55. Leo was a lawyer in Russia. I met him in Germany after the war. He was already quite white-haired when he married the piano virtuoso Jenja Rappaport. He then lived [61] as a lawyer in Riga and died there a few years ago. There the sisters Clara and Helene also lived and died before the second world war.
      Clara was married to Isidor Brensohn, and had children Ruth, Ellen, Robert, and Theo. Theo has a pretty good calling as a painter and etcher, having exhibited in Paris and Rome.
      Helene was married to Jeannot Taube, with children Harry, Alice and Erna. Harry Taube I still knew as a student."

      2. Email from: "Nina Kossman" Aug 16, 2007 and Aug 19, 2007. She has memoirs written by Isidor Brenson in German. Currently it is being translated into Latvian by Riga's Museum of the History of Medicine. It is also being translated into English for Nina:
      Yes, I know of that family [David and Sophie Herzenberg]. In fact, I had stones installed in the Rumbuli forest in memory of Sophie Herzenberg and her two daughters, Yevgenia and Flora, as well as in memory of the daughters' husbands. In the latest installment (part 3) of the translation of my g.gfather's memoir there is a mention of a historical "Herzenberg" house (Herzenbergsche Haus) in Jelgava and, a few pages later, of his meeting, in the summer of 1872, a thirteen year girl, Clara Herzenberg (his future wife), in the home of her parents where he accepted a position as a tutor. But so far there isn't much detail about the Herzenbergs; only that years before 1872, as a seven and eight year old boy, he had played with Clara's little sisters, Rosa and Fanny, until his visits to the house were discontinued due to their illness (and subsequent death). There is a paragraph that describes the historical meaning of the Herzenberg House, yet it doesn't seem that the events that took place there in 1726 have anything to do with the Herzenbergs per se.
      Later email: "Here's the translation of the passage from my g.g.father's memoir which mentions the "Herzenberg House":
      "Among the oldest buildings of the city which have historical importance is the Herzenberg House (Herzenbergsche Haus) on the corner of Catholic St. and Big St. This house is a historical landmark building because it was there that in 1726 Moritz Saksonski was hiding from the Poles. He was freed by the life guards of the duchess Anna Ioanovna. Moritz Saksonsky was invited to the palace, but due to his thoughtlessness, he lost the good will of his benefactors and had to flee, disguised as a coachman, from his last place of refuge on the Usmas island, which, by that time, was surrounded by the Russians." I couldn't find anything on Google about Moritz Saksonsky. Usmas is a camping site in present-day Latvia. I'll keep you posted if I find anything else that gives clues to the past of the Herzenbergs."

      3. Nina Kossman [] August 28, 2007: "Prof. Viksna, a Latvian scholar who researched Isidor Brennsohn's contribution to the history of medicine in the Baltics, sent Nina Kossman a copy of I. Brennsohn's memoirs in the original German. Nina had it translated into English. Riga's Museum of the History of Medicine had been planning to publish a bilingual (German / Latvian) edition of Isidor Brennsohn's memoirs, but due to the financial crisis in Latvia, the plans had to be put on hold. The memoirs describe Isidor's growing up in Jelgava, becoming a student at the University of Dorpat (now Tartu, Estonia), and marrying Klara Herzenberg. Klara and Isidor had six children: two died in Childhood, four (Ruth, Helen, Robert, Theodor) lived to adulthood. Of these four only one (Theodor) survived the Holocaust, as he was not living in Latvia at the time (he lived in Paris, then in New York). Their daughters Ruth and Ellen (Ellen Benita), their son Robert, Ellen's husband Yakov Melzer and their son Anatol, and Robert's sons Enar and Erik, were all killed in Riga in 1941. To see photos of Isidor, Klara and their offspring, see <> [underscore between brenson and herzenberg]."
      The website referenced above is the following:
      "Medicina (Kaunas) 2004; 40 (9): 912-916
      150th birth anniversary of Izidor Brennsohn, Latvian historian of medicine and researcher of Lithuanian anthropology
      Aurimas Andriušis, Arnis Viksna1
      Department of Medical History and Ethics, Institute of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University, Lithuania, Faculty of Medicine, Latvian University, Latvia
      Key words: history of medicine, anthropology, international relations.
      Summary. This publication is dedicated to the 150th birth anniversary of a famous German-writing Latvian physician, historian of medicine, and anthropologist of Jewish descent Izidor Brennsohn, and to his ties with Lithuania. I. Brennsohn's works on physicians and the development of health care in Kurland, Livland, and Estland laid the foundations for the contemporary historiography of medicine in Latvia and Estonia. To a certain extent, these works could also be viewed as a digest of the sources of Lithuanian history of medicine, especially in regard to the regions on the boarder with Latvia, as well as to various personalities. However, Brennsohn's most important link with Lithuania was his doctoral thesis "On Lithuanian anthropology" ("Zur Anthropologie der Litauer"), defended at Dorpat (Tartu) University in 1883. It was one of the first works dealing with Lithuanian ethnic anthropology as a whole. Although, material of thesis could not be used for wider generalizations, still, it is one of rare and valuable 19th century sources of Lithuanian anthropology.
      Brennsohn's legacy deserves greater attention from people researching medical history in Lithuania.
      Correspondence to A. Andriušis, Department of Medical History and Ethics, Institute of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University, M. K. Čiurlionio 21/27, 03101 Vilnius, Lithuania. E-mail:
      Received 4 March 2003, accepted 2 September 2004."

      4. See notes of Ruth Brenson for an autobiography of Irene Gottleib Sattler who is the great-granddaughter of Isidor and Klara Brenson, in which she mentions her memories of this couple.

      5. The following translation and transcription was provided to me by Nina Kossman:
      "Sketches from my Life Especially of my Youth. By Isidorus Brennsohn, M.D.
      "Into the ocean sails with a thousand masts the young man,
      Quietly, on the rescued ship, floats into the harbor the old man."
      This simple tale is meant for my children and close relatives. If these pages should wind up in outsiders' hands, they will learn about the development of a Jewish boy exposed to dual influences-those of a Jewish environment and of the German-Baltic culture. In the biographical literature of our country I have not encountered a depiction of how these two factors worked together, which was not rare in my youth. It will therefore perhaps not lack interest. Since I am past the zenith of my life, I have written down this record from memory. I may have forgotten some of what actually happened and emphasized minor events, but what I am reporting here is true, as I lived and experienced it at the time.
      Beginning and ending-the two ends of all life, of all things. I reached the first boundary in a dark autumn night in the year 1854 (on 15/27 September), in the days when in the Crimean War the siege of Sebastopol by the allies began. The consequences of war, which destroys human beings, encroached also on my young life; I entered the world as a fatherless orphan. I was born in Mitau, Kurland's plain capital. In the garret of the Löwensterns' house in the main street mother and child battled death for weeks. With careful nursing my sweet grandmother kept me alive. Slowly my mother recovered, with the raw reality of being alone in life creeping up on her. Completely without resources, she had to think of making a living for herself and her child. She was twenty years old, and aroused sympathy from many quarters for her tragic fate and her courage in making her way through life on her own. With needlework she earned our scanty living.
      Both on father's and mother's side I am descended from an old family in Kurland. I don't know much about my ancestors on father's side, since they lived outside Mitau (Tuckum etc.). My mother's family, on the other hand, was a well-known, long-established family. My great-grandfather was a home owner - Avigdor Kretzer - and belonged to the families which on 16 June 1794 received the special legal right to undisturbed residence in Kurland and Semgallen and Mitau, through the so-called Unalterable Plan "for the secure and unimpeded establishment and reception of a fixed number of Hebrew families, under the protection of His Princely Highness the Duke and of an Honorable Knight in the region of the dukedoms of Kurland and Semgallen in general, and in Mitau in particular."
      (Wunderbar, History of the Jews in Livonia and Kurland, pp. 44 and 46)
      My First Years
      Not in an elegant house, nor in a modest middle-class home did I see the light of day on 15/ 27 September 1854, but in a poor garret in a house at the beginning of the main street in Mitau, the Loewensteins' house, then the Feitelbergs', and now belonging to the Jaszkés. My father had already died before I was born and had left my mother in the deepest poverty. Soon after my birth she became ill of a draining fever, which kept her bedridden for a long time and which weakened her a great deal. I was kept alive through artificial feeding and through the nursing care of my grandmother. After her recovery, my mother had to think of earning a living for herself and her child. She started to busy herself with sewing white goods and found support for this in her familiar circle. She was twenty years old, and evoked sympathy from many quarters because of her tragic fate and her courage in making her way through life on her own. When I was ten months old we moved into the neighboring Catholic Street into the house of clockmaker Gordon, which later came into the possession of the merchant Kaufmann. We lived there in an attic consisting of two rooms, three flights up, for more than fifteen years. The earliest memories of my Childhood are connected with this home. Narrow, steep, neck-breaking stairs led up to it. These stairs came out upon a large attic; the door to our dwelling gave upon the front part, which received light from a window. The rear section, on the other hand, was pitch-dark and also led to another garret, where the tailor Cherubin lived. The front room of our home had a window, located in the house's gable, from where you could look out on the roof of the neighbor's house-baker Höpker's - and far beyond on Catholic Street, which owed its name to the Catholic church with its old, four-cornered steeple. (The steeple has now been replaced with a new one.) The second room, which we called "the chamber" was nearly entirely dark, because its window faced the nearby wall of the Höpkers' house. From the narrow space between the two houses rose bad odors of rotting substances, decomposing bodies of cats and the like, penetrating into our chamber, which was our bedroom. The front room was the work room, where my mother earned our pitiful living with several young girls, her pupils. In summer, the sun beat down mercilessly on the south-facing room; in winter the space was so humid and cold that the walls were entirely covered with ice and snow, which I especially liked to scratch off with my nails. Once, during a violent thunderstorm, all the windowpanes in this room were knocked out by hail. The storm-whipped hail and rain flooded the floor. Wrapped in blankets I sat across from the window on the old, wormy sofa, watching the bad weather with horror, and yet with interest. Afterward, I amused myself by picking up the hail particles from the floor.
      The roomy attic space, ringed by little rooms, where all kinds of old junk was visible through the cracks, populated my creative mind with the most varied images. When I became more independent and could take a chance at climbing the steep staircase by myself, I would sit on the threshold of our house by the street during the warm season, where all the neighbors soon knew me and often spoke to me. I had particularly wavy hair, which came to my shoulders, and a delicate face with large, dreamy eyes. That's what my mother told me, and that is how I see myself portrayed in a photograph of that time. I was strictly forbidden to accept gifts from passing strangers. Once I received from someone I knew a paper sack with sweet black cherries, which I loved a lot. I couldn't resist the temptation. I accepted it and was punished for it.
      As I grew braver, it wasn't enough anymore to run down the steep staircase, but I rode the steep railing into the depths at lightning speed. I remembered these daily sliding parties vividly once, when on a trip in the year 1890, dressed in mountain-climbing gear, I rushed down the railing into the depths of a salt mine in Berchtesgaden, holding on with the right hand, which was protected by a thick leather glove, to a strong rope strung nearby. Behind me, entrusting herself to my leadership and leaning on my shoulder, a tourist-a cute young girl- went along on the slide.
      As I became more independent, I undertook excursions to the other side of the street, which was particularly narrow at this point, An old lady, Mrs. Liebchen Israelsohn, named Voss, who lived in the Herzenbergs' house across the street always gave me a friendly wave from her window. Eventually she succeeded in enticing me into her home, where she entertained me kindly, but kept me for a long time.
      My memories go back a long way. I could have been at the most four years old at the time of this event with Mrs. Liebchen. My mother, who had a lively spirit, wanted to be present at all the big and small happenings in our city's public life, and as soon as I could walk, she took me along everywhere. So it was with the torch parade, which was given for Emperor Alexander II, who stayed in Mitau in the year 1858. We were in a dense crowd-I saw nothing, of course, and my cap was torn from my head, so that I had to put up with my mother tying her handkerchief around my head, which she considered necessary in the cold weather. I, however, was embarrassed to be walking around the streets with that kerchief on my head. After I got home unnoticed, well aware that I had disobeyed my mother's orders and that I was headed for punishment, I hid in the wardrobe. My mother and grandmother, who had missed me for several hours, were very worried about me. Suddenly the wardrobe, which was in and of itself rickety and consisted of two parts, an upper and a lower one, fell from its base, with me in it, probably because of some careless movement of mine. I started screaming, was pulled out unhurt to the great joy of my loved ones, and remained unpunished this time.
      I may have been five years old at the time. Early on, soon after I completed my fifth year of life, I was enrolled in a Jewish school, the Chedav of Israel Gutmann. The entrance examination consisted of the following: The teacher showed me with a carved little stylus-like stick the letter aleph (a). My assignment consisted in finding an identical letter. When I was immediately successful, a raisin fell from above ("the angels sent it") onto the book, and I was allowed to put this reward straight into my mouth. Now I had to walk the long way from our house day in, day out, to the school in Neu Street, a cross street of Doblensch, next to what was later Salzmann's synagogue. There I was initiated into the mysteries of the old Hebrew (Loschan-Hakodesch, the sacred language) and soon learned to read and write in this language.
      When I was eight years old, my maternal grandfather, named Kretzer, died at the age of seventy-eight. My grandfather Pesach Kretzer, who was born about 1784, was a direct descendant of Avigdor Kretzer. Avigdor Kretzer belonged to the sixty families who were reported by the representatives of Mitau's Jewry to the committee for the examination of general municipal matters in Mitau, especially of Jews, as entitled to civil rights in the year 1794. [My grandfather] was a goldsmith, born in Mitau, had owned a jewelry store in Wilna, but was impoverished as a result of burglary and illness, and had come to Mitau, where he made his living with small jeweler's jobs. It was the last day of sukkoth, the Feast of the Tabernacles, when Mother and Grandmother left the house early and left me with our landlord Gordon the entire day. Late at night they returned and brought me the greetings of my late grandfather. Now a difficult time began for me. Three times a day I had to perform the prayer for the dead (kadisch) for him in Salzmann's house of prayer (minjan) located on the other side of the street. To this end I was awakened early every day, as early as six o'clock, winter and summer, in all kinds of weather. Half asleep I was dressed, and half asleep I appeared in the house of prayer. But I was there also for the afternoon prayer (mincha) and the evening prayer (mairiv). Usually, a number of mourners, adults and Children, recited this prayer in chorus.
      Of the chedar of Israel Gutmann I remember very little, except for the face of the old teacher with the long beard; the narrow, half-dark room with the large, rough-hewn table; the dusty, dirty little yard, where boys were playing the button game; and a tall, nearly grown-up student, who rocked his upper body in prayer almost without interruption. We had lessons in German also, from teacher Nesselstrauss, who took his assignment quite seriously. For every blot he used to rap the tips of my fingers, which were pressed together, with a ruler. For a long time afterward I remembered this procedure with horror.
      In my ninth year of life I took a step forward in my education. From the chedar of Israel Gutmann I went to the Jewish elementary school with instruction in German by teacher Behrmann. This was in the Palais Street, on the second floor of the house later belonging to the Heilsbergs, across from the Besthorn bookstore. It folded, however, after my first semester there.
      At the same time, Rabbi Salomon Pucher, who had recently come to Mitau, opened a Jewish grade school with instruction in German, in which the young Mendelsohn, who until then had worked at Behrmann's school, became a teacher. The school was located in the Katharinen Street in a one-story house, which later belonged to a dentist, Neftel, across the street from the house of Baron Wolff on the Katharinenstift..
      I have many sweet memories of this school. The young rabbi, who came from the old Lithuanian town of Sklow, a graduate of the rabbis' school in Wilna, was an industrious man with a great thirst for knowledge and exalted plans for the cultural development of the people of his faith. He had an extraordinarily hard time with the language; the Lithuanian Jewish dialect bothered him greatly. But through his steely energy he overcame all difficulties, and in later years he spoke German without that annoying accent, and wrote long, witty articles in the Baltic Monthly (frequent epistles to the Kurlandish members of the Synod, Baltic Monthly, Vol. 16, pp 217-240, 1867), and in the Baltic daily press in the classic language of the German poets and in Ciceronian monthlies. We boys, however, amused ourselves at the time with his pronunciation and word stress, as, for instance,'futurum instead of fu'turum. The German teacher, Mr. Mendelsohn, who died in Riga a few years ago at a very old age, was a tall, gaunt man with a reddish blond beard and a strong voice, who took reasonable pains with us boys. As a result of his zeal, during a visit to the school by Secondary School Director Count Raczynski (Wilhelm, Count Raczynski, born 1808 in Zernhof near Mitau, died in Mitau in 1889, gymnasium inspector 1861-'70), I was able to shine with a recitation of Müller's poem "The Little Hydriot [sailor]." "I was a little boy/ could hardly stand yet/ my father then already/ took me with him to sea." The presentation pleased the director, and he wrote my name in his notebook.
      From that time I remember a little event on the street. I passed the Katharinen foundation in Palais Street with another boy, and from the opposite direction came two German boys, laughing, in high spirits, and began to tease us as Jews. I took the matter quite tragically, walked up to them, and preached to them: "Aren't we all brothers? Don't we all come from one Father? Why are you hurting our feelings?" The boys looked at me in amazement, and quietly left. Thus Jewish children are faced early with scorn, ridicule, and derision and malice, which repeats itself a hundred - and thousandfold in later life, which wounds their souls, and takes from them their innocence and unselfconsciousness and lessens their faith in justice, apart yet from the fact that because of their parentage, the Jews had great, undeserved obstacles put in their way in the acquisition of education and the free pursuit of life. Mankind has sinned a great deal against the Jews, and goes on sinning against them. The injustice, however, that we suffer and have suffered, must not entice us to hate. Jewry must show that it is more tolerant than its persecutors. Every Jew must strive to be charitable, conscientious, and good, so that the entire Jewish community may become a community of justice and an example to its oppressors.
      Pucher's school existed for only three semesters, and once again I was without regular schooling. I was about eleven years old at the time. My mother had great plans for me, especially because she received words of praise about me from all teachers. When we walked past the beautiful Gymnasium building in Palais Street, she always told me, "You must get in there too." And so I got private instruction, learned Latin and had to decline mensa and conjugate amo. The teacher who was to introduce me into the halls of the Gymnasium was a student in the higher grades, by the name of Leopold Feitelsohn (born 1846, died 1903 in Reval, as an inspector with a branch of the national bank there), who did not fill his assignment conscientiously, however. He came irregularly to the lessons, on occasion stayed away for weeks on end, or left the teaching to other friends in the higher grades, such as Karl Grünwald, subsequently a lawyer in Petersburg. What I had originally learned in the earlier lessons was forgotten by this time, supposedly because I had become lazy. The unconscientious instruction had indeed harmed me and made me reluctant to work. I wandered around the streets, ran after the wide Lithuanian sleds in winter in order to hitch short rides, stood for hours in front of the carousel on the market square too, sneaked inside it and helped it turn to earn the privilege of a free ride on the little horse.
      In the mornings I went to the Jewish school of teacher Koppel, in the main street, in the garden of the house later belonging to Exner, the soap maker. Here I got to know the five books of Moses and the prophets thoroughly. I still have the Bible with the translation by Philippson that I used at the time. The poetic parts of the Bible affected me particularly. I couldn't get enough of the exalted language and the soaring speech of the prophet Isaiah.
      For hours I listened with joy to the harmony of the glorious words and declaimed and recited over and over the most beautiful passages from the prophets. My general knowledge progressed but slowly, however, until finally my mother decided to have a serious talk with Feitelsohn.
      In the meantime I had turned thirteen, and had celebrated my confirmation (bar mizwah) On a Saturday I was called upon in the large synagogue to read a passage from the Bible, and was now regarded as whole, that is to say that in a prayer meeting of ten men I now had the right to be counted among them.
      Feitelsohn now finally conducted with some eagerness my preparations for the entrance examination for the Gymnasium. He had me tested for the fourth grade, to make sure that I ended up in the fifth, and so I really got into the fifth, although for this grade also, I demonstrated great insufficiencies. Enough, I was in the Gymnasium, to my mother's great joy and to the satisfaction of Feitelsohn, who had now made good his former wrongs.
      But now - where to get the tuition money? Twenty rubles (per semester) was for my mother a quite unaffordable fortune. Things were materially pretty bad for us. When my mother had enough work, we had barely enough for our living and the rent of 44 rubels per year. But there were also times, and often enough, that work was scarce, when the room wasn't heated and we had nothing to eat for days on end, and I gathered the breadcrumbs from the drawer in tears. "Whoever does not eat his bread with tears, who never sat weeping sorrowfully on his bed, he does not know thee, heavenly power." Then one teaspoon after another went to the goldsmith, and finally my mother's wedding ring, to alleviate our worst need.
      Early on I started to earn a little by giving lessons. I could hardly read myself when I already passed on my knowledge and taught reading for 40 kopecks per month. That it was impossible under these conditions to manage 20 rubles in tuition is understandable. A rescuing angel appeared in the person of Secondary School Inspector Karl Dannenberg (born 1832, died 1892, teacher at the Mitau Gymnasium since 1867, inspector since 1878, discharged from the service during the Russian takeover in 1890), to whom Mother in her need had appealed. He provided the tuition money for both semesters of the fifth grade, and I was saved, my future secured, the dark worries erased. For me real life began. The undisciplined instruction was forever past, and I quickly settled down in the class. The teachers liked me despite the great gaps in my knowledge, and I loved and enjoyed learning. At that time, the teachers were not yet civil servants, as they were later during the Russian takeover, but human beings and friends of children. The emphasis was not so much on the quantity of knowledge and the exact completion of the curriculum, as on the development of the spirit and of character. For this the Mitau Gymnasium was at that time particularly qualified. Therefore, its pupils enjoyed a good reputation and respect anywhere in the empire, and a graduate of the Mitau Gymnasium was usually successful in getting ahead in life.
      My Gymnasium Years
      My most pleasant memories are connected with my Gymnasium years. In January 1868 I had entered fifth grade, and in May I experienced the first gymnastics meet in Bergledding. How glorious it was to march in closed ranks, through the city and through the woods and fields. Upon arrival in Bergledding, we formed a large circle and sang with enthusiasm: "Freedom, I mean it, which fills my heart, come with your luster, sweet heavenly sight." Then our secondary teacher, Cruse (Friedrich Cruse, born 1815, died 1891, teacher at the Mitau Gymnasium 1845-'77) ascended the speakers' platform and spoke to us in words that made the youthful heart beat faster. Then began the joint games. Plumpsack gave rise to a lot of laughter when the boys who didn't jump at the right time were knocked down by the "Plumpsack." Then came the big first- and second-graders, and we, the smaller ones, climbed on their shoulders. High up there we wrestled with the other younger ones till they were dragged down. I was often the winner and was carried in triumph to new battles. At noon came an intermission. In the meadow long tables were set, where the students ate. For the Jewish students, about ten in number, a special table was set that conformed to the strict Jewish dietary laws. To my shame, we weren't very well behaved at our special table. The boys screamed and quarreled and the greatest disorder prevailed at our table. The midday meal threw a shadow over my festive joy. Not until the afternoon coffee, which we had with all the other students, did my good mood return. Then came the gymnastics exercises, in which especially first-grader Egbert Braatz (born 1849, physician in Libau 1880-89, in Konigsberg since 1892, professor at the university since 1907), later a professor in Königsberg, distinguished himself through his Riesenschwung [pommel horse jump?]. At later gymnastics meets standout gymnasts Theodor Bobienski (1854, died 1902), subsequently a contributor to the German Petersburger Zeitung, and Wilhelm Cruse (born 1855, died 1903), later a physician in Bauseke and Mitau, celebrated victories. The pyramid that was constructed by the students was beautiful. At the bottom were the strongest and most powerful students, back to back, and on their shoulders stood other students, and so several levels were built on top of each other, till finally at the top the smallest, most agile gymnast completed the structure, who cheerfully waved his cap and was rewarded with resounding applause. Then we had more running games, and we sang songs, and the teachers and students lay down on the slope of a hill in picturesque groups, and the first-graders were even allowed to smoke together with the teachers. And now the way back.
      To the music of the band and the singing of cheerful songs we marched home in a happy mood. "I had a comrade in arms/ you'll find none better/ the drum called us to battle/ he walked by my side/ in cadence with me." Or: "The captain, long may he live/ he goes bravely ahead of us/ we follow him courageously on the bloody road to victory/ he leads us now to battle and victory/ he leads us some day, you brothers, into the Father's house." Such and similar songs were started, and we sang along heartily. Shortly before our entry into the city, we lit our torches and led by a crowd of thousands, we marched through the town to the sounds of music, threw the torches on the lawn in front of the Gymnasium into a stake, and sang the old, ever young song "Gaudeamus igitur/ juvenes dum sumus." Thus I joined in the festivities of the gymnastics meet, which was a celebration for the entire town, at the end of my Gymnasium years.
      As far as the fifth-grade teachers were concerned, the one students loved especially was Heinrich Seesemann (born 1838). High school teacher of religion, school principal in Fellin, and finally a pastor at Greizhof. I had the opportunity occasionally to attend his classes, when he substituted for another teacher. These lessons were a treat to me. He could tell captivating stories, and presented single events from general history in such an impressive manner that I remember them to this day. Solid, serious, and loyal is how he appeared to me; you trusted him and were glad to obey him, a true educator of youth.
      Natural history was taught by Adolph Torney (born 1810, died 1874, teacher at the Gymnasium at Mitau 1848-68), from Hanover, a good-natured old man with a sense of humor. I owed him my nickname, "Brennglass" [magnifying glass), by which fellow students I was friends with addressed me from then on. A wonderful old gentleman was the German teacher, Arcov Trautwetter, whom I later treated medically in Mitau, when he was quite old. The boys learned very little from him. It was therefore no wonder that he called me "Zero," Brennsohn "Zero," but he was not very serious about that. I didn't learn German grammar till later, through teaching. Docendo discimus [we learn by teaching].
      With the boys I got along fine. The large yard gave us the opportunity to play together, which led to friendships. In winter he new arrivals, the "frosh" were washed, that is, the boys in question were thrown into the snow and so pelted and rubbed with snow and chunks of ice, with the whole class participating, that they often had to stay home or in bed for days. I had a horror of the "washing," but the boys were quite gentle with me.
      At Christmas 1869 I was moved to the fourth grade. With it came the end of my and my mother's worries over tuition money, for from now on I got free tuition. I was not quite ready for the fourth grade, however. The large gaps in my knowledge and the defects of my early instruction had not yet been compensated for. Thus, Golotusow, the Russian language teacher, could turn to me with the remark, "Brennsohn, they should have moved you on to the sixth grade, not the fourth." But in the fourth grade, where, held back by illness, I spent two years, the gaps in my knowledge were gradually filled in, so that I was even able to win Golotusow's friendship. Only in mathematics I didn't get ahead too well, as a result of the unfocused instruction and passiveness of the high school teacher Napiersky, who did have a good reputation as a scholar. With a few exceptions mathematics was literally not learned in the entire Gymnasium. In Napiersky's lessons we talked, read novels, prepared for the next lesson, made mischief, and made noise. All candidates for graduation would definitely have failed the exam if Hugo Weidenmann, a mathematical genius and former pupil at the Gymnasium, hadn't made a habit of staying in Mitau around exam time, like a rescuing angel. For this purpose he stayed at a neighboring house, and solved the problems. With a particular sign, jangling a bunch of keys, the servant Schafe announced that the solved problems could be found in a previously agreed-upon place. One of the prospective graduates then went out, got the worksheets, and distributed them among the individual tables. The teachers supervising the exam in the hall sat at the rostrum, engrossed in their newspapers, and appeared to notice nothing of the process. Napiersky, who questioned me during the oral exam, was satisfied, since I had just solved the written assignment, with my answer; "Because I considered it correct." Thus, I was still denied a thorough knowledge of mathematics, which I have sadly missed in my later studies and work.
      Latin, Greek, and history were my favorite subjects. From a very small amount of knowledge I worked myself up to writing the best unprepared Greek exercise, which initially quite astonished the then very young high school teacher Eduard Kurtz. Latin was taught us in the upper grades in the most dignified manner by the old "Roman," Inspector Julius Vogel. The beauty of the language appealed to me so much that I learned many passages from Cicero, Ovid, and Horace by heart, attempted to write letters in Latin, and at an occasional meeting on the street strove to respond in Latin to the Inspector's Latin words to me. To my astonishment, Librarian Eduard Fehre, who has died too young, told me a few years ago when we were figuring out a Latin inscription together, that the news of my knowledge of the Latin language had traveled as far as Riga
      We had history with Heinrich Diederichs. Those who knew him more closely, knew that the most contradictory character traits were combined in him. From deep feeling, from an almost fantastic enthusiasm for his ideals, he could go to being obstinate and stubborn and tyrannize his environment. In the Gymnasium he often frittered away the greater part of the lesson in empty chitchat with the boys. He had his pets among the nobility and the pastors' sons, upon whom he bestowed nicknames like "Pipifax" and such, and with whom he often spent most of the lesson hour bantering back and forth. But when he began his lecture, it was a joy to listen to him. These improprieties, by the way, occurred only in the fourth-grade lessons; from the third on his instruction was normal and undisturbed. During the German-French war of 1870/71 he spent many lesson periods reading German war songs to us, which he recited with great pathos. The students learned these poems by heart as well, and recited them during history lessons. "Now let the bells rejoice from tower to tower in a glorious storm/ the glow of thrusting flames exult/ the Lord has done great things for us/ Glory to God in the highest!" Or the "Trumpeter of Gravelotte":"You have spewed death and decay/ we have not suffered it; two columns infantry, two batteries, we have run over them." Thus the German-French war was kept alive in our memory. But he also brought other historical periods closer to our understanding and feeling by reciting relevant poems. "Every night gloomy songs are whispered by the Busento near Costenza/ from the water rings out the answer and in eddies it echoes." So we learned and lamented Alerich's death and we, too, called out songs of praise to the Gothic army: "Roll the wave of the Busento, roll it from sea to sea."
      It was very much interested in history. Perhaps it was because of that that Diedrich's attitude toward me was friendly. Moreover, he was my personal advisor, that is to say, he represented my interests in the school. Every teacher had a number of students to whom he was a personal advisor. He gave advice to his protégés or their parents, cautioned them betimes when they goofed up; parents consulted with him about the welfare of their children. This reciprocal relationship between students and teachers brought them closer together and constituted a great advantage to the school. As noted, I spent a lot of time on history, and compiled my knowledge from the most varied history books. Once Diedrichs asked in the third grade what a proletarian was. Since nobody answered, I spoke up. "Begetters of children," (the actual translation of proletarian) I burst out amid the homeric laughter of the class.
      The history of the Jews, as far as it is interwoven with general history, he touched upon incidentally. After the last bloody revolt of the Jews under Bar-Kochba at the time of Hadrian, the name Jerusalem was abolished, and the Holy City was given the name "Aelia Hadriana." Jews were forbidden to live or stay in Jerusalem, and to spoil their entrance into the city especially, the figure of a swine was chiseled into the gate. Diedrichs related this last piece of information with particular enjoyment, it seemed to me at the time. When later on I settled in Mitau as a physician and became a member of the Society for Literature and Art, we shared topics of interest again, and he encouraged me in my medical-historical-biographical studies. Although he had changed little in his outward demeanor, underneath he had become more refined in his views. The way he depicted a historical personality, their actions resulted inevitably from each other. A historical figure emerged vividly, and you had the impression that events could not have developed in any other way. It is regrettable that he did not write down his lectures. From a few notes he formed them in his head and presented them as complete speeches. His lectures were outstanding and left upon his listeners an inextinguishable impression.
      In my first semester in the fourth grade, I experienced old Zimmermann, called "Grütz" [grit, groats; also: brains] by the boys, as a history teacher. He was a marvelous oddball. He called on the students row by row. If you didn't want to answer, you said "I pass," and you didn't get your turn until the whole class had been asked questions, which took at least a semester.
      Old Golotusow was an able teacher and he had written a widely known Russian anthology, but because of his stinginess he was the object of mockery by his students. The boys scattered copper coins in various spots in the classroom, which Golotusow immediately collected and pocketed, to the boys' great amusement, In winter they threw snowballs at a place above his seat; then came a loud hello, while Golotusow looked in surprise in all directions, and finally upward, from where the melting snow dropped on the rostrum and on his head. "Ach, wy negodnyje maltschischki" (oh, you useless boys) was his eternal refrain at our naughtiness.
      In my third semester in the fourth grade, I became ill with the smallpox, which was introduced into France by the Turks during the German-French war, and which had then spread all over Europe. Half Mitau could be seen walking around at that time with faces disfigured by red pockmarks. The illness kept me confined to the house for three months, and was the reason for my having to stay in the fourth grade for a fourth semester. From the third grade on I spent three semesters in each class, and each time it was mathematics that held me back.
      I was now an upper-division student, and gave a lot of private lessons, so that I couldn't start my schoolwork till late at night, often not until ten or eleven o'clock. I could already help my mother a little; the time of our greatest need was past. I was a delicate and weak boy, however, often suffered violent nosebleeds, and my health was damaged by the great exertions to which I was exposed at such an early age, so that I remained sickly my entire life.
      Unfortunately, the already meager instruction in natural history in the fifth grade now came to an end. Nevertheless, nature appealed to me early. In the winter of 1868 (?) a magnificent comet hung above our garret window every evening, which delighted me for months. The contemplation of the starry skies put me in a festive mood. I was familiar with the constellations, and becoming absorbed in the unfathomable mysteries of the firmament confronted me with ever new and unsolvable questions. When a thunderstorm approached, I climbed from the loft through a skylight through which you had a wide view to the horizon, in order to raise myself to a wonderful view of the majestically approaching storm, and the lightning flashes and the crashing and rolling of the thunder. I especially loved the forest, which you could reach from Mitau in a short half hour. "An incredibly sweet yearning drove me to go through the woods and meadows."
      Alt-Sorgenfrei was the frequent goal of my hikes, and I also fetched the flowers for my mother's birthday there. That is where the forest began, where I could walk about for many hours, watching the work of ants or listening to the call and song of different birds here, or searching for a spot with many echos there. On my walks I also came to Henriettens Ruh, an idyllically located graveyard, where, as I was told, Juliane von Krüdener, the mystic friend of Alexander I, is supposed to have been buried. I did find the gravestone of a Frau Krüdener that may have led to this incorrect information. Juliane von Krüdener, however, is not buried there, but was interred in the Greek cemetery of Princess Golizyn in Karassu-Bazar in the Crimea, where she died on December 13/25, 1824. From my walks I brought home plants, bugs, and stones, and started collections of these. It was a special interest of mine to watch caterpillars in a glass vessel, to tend to them with the appropriate leaves, await their pupation, and cheer the emergence of butterflies. I also planted beans, peas, and other seeds in flowerpots, and was happy at the first sprouting and the further growth of the plants.
      In the sixties of the previous century, Mitau still showed many holdovers of the Middle Ages. On warm summer evenings the people who lived in our house (that is, the Gordons' house)-and other neighbors joined them-sat on the wooden steps to the house. Of course I was always there, pulling little pieces of rotting wood out of the steps so I could watch them in the dark when they were lit. A bottle of light beer was retrieved from a nearby home to wet the lips among some harmless chatting. At ten o'clock the fancifully dressed night watchman took up his position at the nearby street corner, and intoned his medieval singsong: "Hear, ye gentlemen, and let it be told, the hour of ten has struck" and blew the hours on his whistle ten times. After the second reminder of the night watchman the neighbors parted and went to rest in their musty rooms, overheated during the hot day.
      The civil guard, too, had a medieval touch, a memory of the guilds, also named the Green Guard, after their uniforms. On crown holidays, master shoemakers, tailors, bakers, butchers, plumbers and so forth, whom you otherwise saw only in their places of work, marched in richly decorated uniforms, preceded by a band, straight and crooked, limping and wobbling, through the streets of the town to the palace, to honor the Governor as the representative of the Emperor. The celebration often closed with the customary scuffle.
      The fire damage in Mitau reminded you of the well-known picture "Roaring of fire in Krähwinkel." As soon as the rattles of the night watchman and the fire alarms sounded, soon followed by a shower of