Windows of Lublin

This post was written for the newsletter of the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association.
A violinist is playing silent music never-endingly, his eyes hanging on the score on the horizon. A young couple frozen in the pose of a wedding photo. A bridesmaid in a white dress, with flowers and a fashionable haircut. Two elegant couples in black dress in two neighboring windows, perhaps two brothers with their wives. A white-robed assistant at the window of a barber’s shop, his hand holding scissors, stopped forever in the moment of cutting. A round-faced woman smiling on the balcony above the ruins of the church of St. Catherine. A wide-eyed little girl wearing a hat with a band, holding a dachshund on her lap. Bruno Schulz’s twin shyly smiles at us, waiting for encouragement. A black-haired beauty with a lavish necklace, her dress coquettishly slipping off her shoulder. An old rabbi, with deep-set, twinkling eyes, his white beard emerges by threads against his black suit. They are watching a city that they have not seen for seventy years, which has not seen them for seventy years.

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From the hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants of Lublin, fifty thousand were Jews on the eve of the Second World War. Most of them lived outside the walls of the old town, in the maze of the large Jewish quarter lying between the Brama Grodzka, the Grodno Gate, and the royal castle, where they were exiled by the privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis of the urban bourgeoisie, received from the Polish kings in the 16th century. The gate, usually called Jewish Gate by those living inside the walls, framed, with a mediterranean arch, the sight of the picturesque, crowded and poor neighborhood. The frame still exists. Only the image it once framed has disappeared.

“When we came here in 1990”, says Witold Dambrowska, one of the Warsaw founders of the Teatr NN, “No Name Theater”, operating in the bastion of the Grodno Gate, “we did not know anything about Lublin’s Jewish past. We did not know that the gate looks out onto a Jewish Atlantis. That the large empty space lying outside the gate is all that is left to us from the Jewish town. That the concrete of the parking lot under the castle buries the memory of a dozen synagogues, hundreds of Jewish houses, and an entire Jewish community.”

The No Name Theater was given a name by a Jewish woman who visited the bastion shortly after the founding of the theater. “I am NN”, she said, and she told them about who lived there, and how they lived, in the tiny homes weaving through the bastion, before the German invaders on 16 March 1942 forced all the residents of the ghetto onto trucks, and blew up all of its buildings, except for the bastion.

The theater decided to take up this legacy which had come to them. First they had to assess what, exactly, it was. Through detailed research they sought to explore the history of each house in the Jewish neighborhood, and in several thousand hours of interviews, made with survivors and their former neighbors, everything that could be known about the former residents and their lives. The thick dossiers of the houses and interviews, like headstones, line the wall of the research room, on whose floor white lines indicate the walls that were once there and the disposition of pre-war rooms. Here the trail starts, it leads through the labyrinth of corridors and rooms, layered upon each other over several centuries, and lined with the photographs of the Jewish inhabitants of Lublin, to the other large room, where a large city model shows the former Jewish town. The interactive reconstruction was also published on the internet, where, proceeding from house to house, one can get to know every piece of information that has up to now been collected about the neighborhood and its residents.

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But the theater considers its task not only the revival and preservation of historical memory, but is also devoted to its sharing. They hold regular courses about the history of Jewish Lublin for the students of the city, as well as for the young people visiting them from all Poland and from abroad, and via street performances, they revive the past of the Jews in the city where they lived. On 16 March the students of the city schools read aloud the list of names of the deported, from morning till night, on the site of the ghetto, and after the fall of darkness no light, no lamp is lit, on that day in the city. Only one remains on, the single old street lamp that survives from the Jewish quarter, which shines day and night all the other days of the year in the memory of those killed.

And the disappeared long to be back where their memory is maintained. In the Renaissance main square of the old town, during the restoration of house number 4, a few years ago, a box was found containing two thousand seven hundred glass negatives, the photos of an unknown Jewish photographer of the inhabitants of the city from the 1920s and 1930s. The majority of the images are portraits of people, of whom not a single image was left. The negatives were received as a deposit by Teatr NN. And some of the portraits were enlarged life-size for the windows of the old town. The former citizens of Lublin moved back into their town. They look out from their former flats, at the table they sit, they take sips from our glasses,

Thank you

Tarnów. Uncle Bem’s grave between heaven and earth. The museum of Polish-Hungarian friendship. An old trading town between Krakow and Lwów, later the first station of the Galician railway: a Renaissance main square with wealthy merchant houses, a contiguous Art Nouveau palace row along the old town walls. A great Jewish past, a rich history, illustrious families, Hungarian connections, still standing synagogues, palaces, cemeteries. A gorgeous photo album on old Tarnów, with two hundred and fifty rarely seen pictures, mainly from private collections, with Polish and English parallel text. I have read it and scanned whatever I needed from it, and now I would give it away to the central library of Budapest, so that others could have access to it.

She’s turning it in her hands, like the border guard with the red-skinned passport of Mayakovsky. “I’ll take it in, I’ll ask about it.” After a while, she’s back. “They say, you should take it to the Polish institute, here they do not read in this language.” “But this is a photo album, the history of a city, with important and rare pictures. And look, there is the English parallel text on every page.” “Oh, really.” She struggles. “Leave it here, my boss is not in now, I should ask her whether we need it.” “But you will not throw it out, will you? Because then please give it back, I can give it away somewhere else.” “No, no. As to throwing it out, we won’t do that.” “Thank you.”

Silesia. Goethe’s Arcadia, the cultural hinterland of 19th-c. Berlin – “jeder zweite Berliner stammt aus Schlesien” –, the lost Transylvania of post-war Germany. Breslau/Wrocław, the disappeared city and the one that never was. Literature about Silesia, relaunched in the 90s after a long break, is summarized by the recent book by Hans-Dieter Rutsch, which gives an overview of the modern German reception of Silesia, from German Romanticism to the turn of the millennium. I buy it right after publication, I read it, and I take notes. Then I’d like to give it away.

At the loan desk of Berlin’s Staatliche Bibliothek they are grateful for the book, they say thanks, and it seems that they are really happy about it. And a few weeks later they send me a letter from the acquisition department of the library.

In search of Adolf Guttmann 3. Marriages

Previous part
Is this Anna?
This phantom floating through the room fallen asleep?

Family album:
Alba 1867
Pretoria 1880
Pretoria 1885
Pretoria 1890
Hong Kong 1897
Marseille 1900
Paris 1904
Valenciennes 1918
Buenos Aires 1930
Or is this Anna?
This woman, a little bit strong, squeezed in mourning clothes that are too tight for her?
This is the one that Adolf will marry.

They marry in 1885 in Cape Town: Anna, a descendant of French Huguenots, a Protestant born in a family of farmers in South Africa’s Cape region; and Adolf, a Jew born in Kalisz, in Russian Poland.


There are of course several Annas: the one described by the family legend, transmitted by my grandmother and her cousins, the children of Myra and Madge; and the ones evoked by the various documents conserved in the South African archives.

The first one is a very young and innocent girl, who escapes from the family farm near Cape Town to join her beloved Adolf Guttmann. She later discovers that he is a miserable person, and requests a divorce to protect her children, Madge, Myra and their brother. She remarries, and dies in childbirth in 1896. According to a more romantic version, transmitted by Myra, she died in the opera, and her ghost, wearing her evening dress, opened the door of the children’s room – Myra was 12 or 13 years old –, and looked long at them. This is my favorite Anna.

The second one is a completely different character, a businesswoman, who owned houses and shops in Pretoria and Johannesburg, and managed them with skill. Friend of the mayor of Johannesburg, distant relative of General Piet Joubert, she also ran her own farm in Buffelspoort.

Finally, there is also a third Anna, whose portrait only partly agrees with the above, a woman known from the multiple procedures filed against Adolf Guttman. This one was born in 1848 on a farm near Cape Town, in Stellenboch, whence she would flee very young to marry an English schoolmaster who was by almost thirty years older than she. The schoolmaster died, and the fate of his widow remained a mystery until she met Adolf Guttmann.

From then on, it is quite clear: Adolf and Anna, known as Annie, had three children (Madgalena in 1881, Salomina Franciska in 1883, and Adolf junior in 1884), before they married in 1885. Although this woman, as a widow, was free to marry, she found herself with three illegitimate children in the strict Afrikaans society of her times. Either the couple was so poor, so much at the margins of the society, that the marriage did not count; or she did not want to marry Adolf, a simple traveling merchant without any fortune; or she did not want to marry him as a Jew; or Adolf did not want to marry her (as a peddler traveling throughout the country, he only saw her from time to time, and for the rest of the time he left her to fend for herself); or, finally, Adolf could not marry her, because he was already married.

In truth, this is the “official” version, because the 1885 marriage certificate shows the husband as a “trader” and “widower”, and the wife as “widow”, but one wonders: Adolf was only 23 years old in 1881, at the birth of his first daughter – and already married? And to whom? Moreover, during the divorce proceedings, which Annie would begin in 1889, she would present an earlier marriage certificate dated 1880, that the court did not hesitate to reject as false.

And anyway, even if Adolf was not in a position to marry the woman who gave him three children, this entire story assigns a somewhat questionable status to Annie. Besides, they say, the youngest of the family, Adolf junior, was rather the son of Joseph Guttmann, the cousin and associate of Adolf, the son of Isaac Guttmann of Sheffield.


In 1884, when his cousin Bertha Guttmann marries the magnate Sammy Marks, the situation of Adolf changes, and she can think to arrange his situation in compliance with the expectations of his new relatives. Adolf and Annie marry in the Anglican chapel of All Saints of Durbanville. One can imagine, that Annie would use this new relationship and the enrichment of Adolf to integrate into the society frequented by the Marks, including that of President Kruger.

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But could Bertha attend Anna Guttmann, née Joubert?

Bertha, daughter of the wealthy bourgeoisie of Sheffield, feels exiled in her large farm near Pretoria – well, not so near, it takes two hours to cross the twelve miles of bush. She was used to an easy urban life, and now she’s relegated to a “golden cage” at the bottom of an Africa she does not want to know.

In 1884 his father, Tobias Guttmann was the president and treasurer of the Jewish congregation of Sheffield. The Judaism of Bertha Marks is the very secularized one of the Jewish elites in Victorian England. In her receptions she serves lobster and crayfish, the butchers providing her home are not kosher at all, and Christmas is largely celebrated parallel to the great Jewish festivals and the bar-mitzvah of the children. The receptions are frequent, but the weeks between them often flow in the greatest solitude: there is nobody around her except her children and servants.

She subscribes to newspapers, and exchanges several letters with her family and with her husband (who does not answer, or reproaches her for wasting her time on writing, but of course being a woman you must be excused). That she is not very happy is an understatement: her husband leaves her little freedom, he monitors her expenditures, forbids her theater and balls, multiplies his reproaches, and has many children with her – at most he admits, that her conversation was an “amusing little thing”. Every weekend he organizes great dinners with the participation of the economic and political notables of the country, from President Kruger to Cecil Rhodes. The rest of the time, she complains of having no one to talk to – since she cannot talk to the servants (most of whom come from England, and have to accept, she writes, to work with some “slightly colored” local servants – but if their reluctance were too strong, she could provide them separate accommodation). In her nostalgia for England, she systematically replaces the native plants in her garden with the rose bushes, flower bulbs and seeds she orders every week from the nurseries of Kent.

The only way for her to bear this isolation is to travel as often as she can – and mainly to Europe.

But to receive Adolf? and Anna?

No. First, Sammy Marks hates mixed marriage, and second, Bertha comes from a Victorian world, where every slightly independent woman is suspect of bad manners – so it was with Anna and her three children born out of wedlock… And then, Adolf himself does not demonstrate much will to live a moral life: at the end of 1886 he leaves Annie, and moves in with a certain Dorothy la Rouge, which does not sound any more respectable.

Finally, in 1889, there is the scandal of the suicide of Joseph Guttmann, the son of Isaac, the cousin of Adolf and Bertha – exactly when Anna starts divorce proceedings against Adolf. The two men jointly borrow money from Annie to open a hotel in Klerksdorp, one of the gold rush sites in 1886. What happens next is unknown, but £ 1000 seems to disappear, and Joseph, having made a will in favor of Annie and Adolf junior, shoots himself. The will is sufficiently scandalous that Isaac Guttmann writes from Sheffield to the South African authorities and President Kruger to declare it null and void.

Bertha Marks née Guttmann obviously cannot be seen with  woman, the proof of whose adultery are so obvious and come from so near.


In this world of quickly seized and often quickly lost fortunes, there are many women ostracized by proper society. There is another Jew coming from Russia, but who grew up in Whitechapel, Barney Barnato (originally Barnet Isaacs), who starts his career in a music hall as a magician, boxer and singer, before having his share of the easy money from the mines of Kimberley and becoming governor from there of De Beers. But his wife, Fanny, was the daughter of a “Cape colored”, one of European and African or Malaysian origin, and when he got acquainted with her, she worked as a bartender in a Kimberley hotel. It goes without saying, all his gifts to Jewish charities, aids to the poor immigrants from Russia, the building of the synagogue of Kimberley, were of no help for him to be received by the polite society of Pretoria.

In the mean time, Annie seems not to have needed the poison heritage of Joseph, because unlike Adolf, she does get rich. In fact, the will she writes during her third marriage (she remarries immediately after the divorce judgement separating her from Adolf) shows that she had a large number of independent properties. Being rich, and married to an (obviously Catholic) Italian adventurer, she becomes more “respectable”, and perhaps she can also set forth her own relatives, maybe even the distant General Joubert.

The religious affiliation of the children nevertheless remained a problem. They had been baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church, and Annie denies the claim that they should be raised in the Catholic faith. Nevertheless, the two girls are later educated in the Convent of Our Lady of Loreto – either because their mother remarried a Catholic, or because the public schools linked to the South African Reformed Church closed their doors to the recently arrived uitlanders, including the Jews.

All were baptized, but nevertheless the Guttmann children remain associated with the Judaism of their father. When the grandson of President Kruger, the Frikkie Eloff, who was ill at the time, presents Madge to his grandfather, Kruger “carefully examined her to see if she had any Jewish air”, before being assured that “if this is the Jewess whom Frikkie wants to see so often, he will quickly heal”.

And Adolf ?

Map of South Africa with the Matabeleland and its gold mines in the north. Johannesburg does not exist yet. The farm of Anna Guttmann Joubert, where the children grew up, was located west of Pretoria, towards Rustenburg

After leaving his wife, in 1890 Adolf goes to the conquest of Matabeleland, following the Pioneer Column of Cecil Rhodes. Nothing shows that he made any wealth there; we only know that he caught the fever, and lay stricken for months. In any case, he was not able to come to Pretoria to defend himself at his divorce, or provide for the maintenance of his children afterwards. Anna forbade him to see them, and the girls also chase their father with a whip when he appears in the estate in 1896, after the death of their mother.

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Stripped of their father, orphans of their mother, the Guttmann children will get closer to the Krugers, until Frikkie Eloff marries Madge, and Myra will be adopted by the family.

Adolf junior, engaged in the Boer War, like many other young boys, dies on the battlefield. But of him no picture survives.

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And Adolf senior?

He melts into the crowd, and disappears.

A la recherche d'Adolf Guttmann (3) : mariages

Partie précédente
Anna ?
Anna en spectre traversant la maison endormie ?

Album de famille:
Alba 1867
Pretoria, 1880
Pretoria, 1885
Pretoria, 1890
Hong-Kong, 1897
Marseille, 1900
Paris, 1904
Valenciennes, 1918
Buenos Aires, 1930
Ou Anna ?
Cette femme un peu forte, enserrée dans des vêtements de deuil trop étroits ?
C’est elle qu’Adolf va épouser.

Ils se marient en 1885 au Cap : Anna, descendante de huguenots français, protestante et née dans une famille de fermiers de la région du Cap en Afrique du Sud et Adolf, juif né à Kalisz en Pologne russe.


Bien entendu, il y a plusieurs Anna : celle que décrit la légende familiale, transmise par ma grand-mère et ses cousins, les enfants de Myra et de Madge ; et celles que dessinent les différents documents conservés dans les archives sud-africaines.

La première est une très jeune fille — innocente — qui s’échappe de la ferme familiale près du Cap pour rejoindre son bien-aimé, Adolf Guttmann. Elle découvre par la suite que ce n’est qu’un triste individu et demande le divorce pour protéger ses enfants, Madge, Myra et leur frère. Elle se remarie et meurt en couches en 1896. Une version plus romantique, transmise par Myra, veut qu’elle soit morte à l’opéra et que, revêtu de sa robe de soirée, son spectre ait ouvert la porte de la chambre de l’enfant — Myra avait 12 ou 13 ans — et l’ait regardée longuement (c’est cette Anna là que je préfère).

La seconde est un personnage tout autre, une femme d’affaire qui possédait maisons et magasins à Pretoria et à Johannesburg et les gérait avec habileté. Amie du maire de Joburg, parente lointaine du général Piet Joubert, elle dirigeait aussi elle-même sa ferme de Buffelspoort.

Enfin, il y a une troisième Anna dont le portrait ne s’accorde que partiellement avec ce qui précède, une femme connue par les multiples procédures qu’elle a engagées, notamment contre Adolf Guttmann.
Celle-là serait née en 1848 dans une ferme près du Cap, à Stellenboch, dont elle se serait enfuie très jeune pour épouser un maître d’école anglais de presque trente ans son aîné. Le maître d’école meurt et ce que devient sa veuve reste un mystère jusqu’à ce qu’elle rencontre Adolf Guttmann.

Là, c’est tout à fait clair : Adolf et Anna, surnommée Annie, ont eu trois enfants (Madgalena en 1881, Salomina Franciska en 1883 et Adolf junior en 1884), avant de se marier en 1885. Alors que cette femme, en tant que veuve, était libre de se marier, elle s’était retrouvée avec trois enfants illégitimes dans une société aussi rigoriste que la société afrikaans de son temps : soit le couple qu’elle formait avec Adolf était si pauvre, si en marge de la société, que la mariage n’avait pas d’importance ; soit elle ne voulait pas épouser Adolf, simple marchand itinérant sans fortune ; soit elle ne voulait pas l’épouser parce qu’il était juif ; soit Adolf ne voulait pas l’épouser (colporteur à travers le pays, il ne la voyait que de temps à autre et la laissait le reste du temps se débrouiller comme elle pouvait) ; soit enfin,  Adolf ne pouvait pas l’épouser parce qu’il était déjà marié.
A dire vrai, cette dernière solution est la version « officielle » puisque le certificat de mariage de 1885 présente les époux l’un comme « commerçant » et « veuf » et l’autre comme « veuve », mais on peut s’interroger : Adolf n’avait que 23 ans en 1881, à la naissance de sa première fille — et il serait déjà marié ? Et à qui ? D’ailleurs, lors de la procédure de divorce qu’Annie entamera en 1889, elle présentera un premier certificat de mariage daté de 1880 que le tribunal n’hésitera pas à rejeter comme faux.

Et de toute manière, même si Adolf n’avait pas été en position d’épouser la femme dont il avait eu trois enfants, tout cette histoire donne évidemment à Annie un statut un peu douteux. D’ailleurs, dit-on, le petit dernier de la famille, Adolf junior, serait plutôt le fils de Joseph Guttmann, le cousin et l’associé d’Adolf senior, le fils d’Isaac Guttmann de Sheffield.


En 1884, quand leur cousine Bertha Guttmann épouse le magnat Sammy Marks, la situation d’Adolf change et on peut penser qu’il régularise sa situation afin d’être à la hauteur de sa nouvelle parenté. Adolf et Annie se marient à la chapelle All Saints de la paroisse anglicane de Durbanville, au Cap. On peut imaginer qu’Annie va utiliser cette nouvelle parenté et l’enrichissement d’Adolf pour s’intégrer à la société que fréquentent les Marks, notamment celle du président Kruger.

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Mais Bertha peut-elle fréquenter Anna Guttmann née Joubert ?

Bertha, fille de la bourgeoisie juive aisée de Sheffield se sent bien exilée dans sa vaste ferme près de Pretoria — non, pas si près, il faut deux heures pour franchir les 12 miles de bush. Elle était habituée à une vie aisée et urbaine, la voilà reléguée dans une « cage dorée » au fond d’une Afrique qu’elle ne veut pas connaître.
Son père, Tobias Guttmann, était en 1884 le président et le trésorier de la congrégation juive de Sheffield. Le judaïsme de Bertha Marks est celui, très sécularisé, des élites juives de l’Angleterre victorienne : lors de ses réceptions, on sert homard et écrevisses, les boucheries qui fournissent la maison ne sont en rien kasher et on célèbre largement Noël parallèlement aux grandes fêtes juives et aux bar-mitsvah des enfants. Les réceptions sont régulières, mais les semaines s’écoulent souvent dans la plus grande solitude : il n’y a autour d’elle que les enfants et les domestiques.

Elle tient son journal et échange de nombreuses lettres tant avec sa famille qu’avec son mari (qui ne lui répond pas ou lui reproche de perdre son temps à écrire, but of course being a woman you must be excused). Dire qu’elle n’est pas très heureuse est un euphémisme : son mari lui laisse peu de libertés, surveille ses dépenses, lui interdit le théâtre ou les bals, multiplie les reproches et lui fait beaucoup d’enfants — tout au plus admet-il que sa conversation soit une « amusing little thing ». Il organise chaque fin de semaine de grands diners où se retrouvent les notabilités économiques et politiques du pays, du président Kruger à Cecil Rhodes. Le reste du temps, elle se plaint de n’avoir personne à qui parler — car elle ne peut tout de même pas parler aux domestiques (qui pour la plupart viennent d’Angleterre et doivent accepter, écrit-elle, de travailler avec sous leurs ordres quelques serviteurs « slightly colored » — si les réticences de ces domestiques anglais étaient trop fortes, elle pourrait toutefois leur fournir un logement séparé). Dans sa nostalgie de l’Angleterre, elle remplace systématiquement dans son jardin les plantes indigènes par les rosiers, les bulbes à fleurs, les graines qu’elle commande chaque semaine aux pépiniéristes du Kent.

En somme, le seul moyen pour elle de supporter cet isolement est de voyager le plus souvent qu’elle le peut — et essentiellement en Europe.

Mais recevoir Adolf ? et Anna ?

Non, d’une part Sammy Marks a horreur des mariages mixtes et d’autre part, Bertha vient d’un monde victorien où toute femme un tant soit peu indépendante est suspecte de mauvaises mœurs — alors Anna et ses trois enfants nés hors mariage…  Et puis, Adolf lui-même ne met pas beaucoup de bonne volonté à mener une vie morale : il se sépare d’Annie dès la fin de 1886 pour aller se mettre en ménage avec une certaine Dorothy la Rouge, ce qui ne sonne pas non plus très respectable.

Enfin en 1889 il y a le scandale du suicide de Joseph Guttmann, le fils d’Isaac, le cousin d’Adolf et de Bertha — au moment même où Anna lance contre Adolf une procédure de divorce. Les deux hommes empruntent conjointement de l’argent à Annie pour ouvrir un hôtel à Klerksdorp, l’un des sites de la ruée vers l’or de 1886. Ce qui se passe ensuite est inconnu, les 1000 £ semblent avoir disparu et le cousin Joseph, après avoir rédigé un testament en faveur d’Annie et d’Adolf junior, se brûle la cervelle. Le testament apparaît suffisamment scandaleux pour qu’Isaac Guttmann écrive de Sheffield aux autorités sud-africaines puis au Président Kruger lui-même afin de le faire casser.

Bertha Marks née Guttmann ne pouvait évidemment pas fréquenter une femme dont les preuves d’adultère étaient si évidentes et la touchaient de si près.


Dans ce monde de fortunes vite bâties et peut-être aussi vite perdues, on trouve pourtant bien des femmes que la bonne société ostracise : un autre juif originaire de Russie mais qui a grandi à Whitechapel, Barney Barnato (né Barnet Isaacs), a commencé dans le music-hall comme magicien, boxeur, chansonnier avant de bénéficier lui aussi de l’argent facile des mines de Kimberley et de devenir gouverneur de la De Beers. Mais sa femme, Fanny, était la fille d’un « Cape colored », d’origine tant européenne qu’africaine ou malaise et, quand il l’a connue, elle travaillait comme barmaid dans un hôtel de Kimberley. Il va sans dire que tous ses dons aux œuvres caritatives juives, l’aide aux pauvres immigrants de Russie, la construction de la synagogue de Kimberley, rien de tout cela n’a pu le faire recevoir dans la bonne société de Pretoria.

Cependant, Annie ne semble pas avoir eu besoin du legs empoisonné de Joseph car au contraire d’Adolf, c’est elle qui va s’enrichir — de fait, lors de son troisième mariage (elle se remarie immédiatement après le jugement de divorce qui la sépare d’Adolf), le testament qu’elle rédige montre qu’elle possède de nombreuses propriétés indépendantes. Une fois riche et remariée avec un aventurier italien (certes catholique), elle est devenue plus « respectable » sans doute et elle a peut-être fait jouer sa propre parenté, même éloignée, avec le général Joubert.
L’appartenance religieuse des enfants a néanmoins continué de poser problème. Ils avaient été baptisés à l’Église réformée hollandaise et Annie niera par la suite l’allégation selon laquelle ils seraient élevés dans la foi catholique, mais les filles ont bien été éduquées au Couvent de Notre-Dame de Lorette — soit parce que leur mère s’est remariée avec un catholique, soit parce que les écoles publiques liées à l’Église réformée Sud-Africaine et fermées aux uitlanders récemment immigrés refusait les enfants juifs.
Tous baptisés qu’ils aient pu être, les enfants Guttmann restent de toute manière associés au judaïsme de leur père : quand le petit-fils du président Kruger, Frikkie Eloff, souffrant, présenta Madge à son grand-père, Kruger l’examina « attentivement pour voir si elle avait l’air juive », avant d’assurer que « si c’était là la juive que Frikkie allait voir si souvent, il allait guérir rapidement ».

Et Adolf ?

Carte de l’Afrique australe avec le Matabeleland et ses mines d’or tout au nord, Jo’burg n’existe pas encore, la ferme d’Anna Guttmann Joubert où ont grandi les enfants se situait à l’ouest de Pretoria vers Rustenburg.

Séparé de sa femme, Adolf part en 1890 à la conquête du Matabeleland, à la suite de la Pioneer Column de Cecil Rhodes. Rien ne dit qu’il y ait fait davantage fortune, cette fois-ci — nous savons seulement qu’il y a attrapé la fièvre et qu’il est resté malade des mois durant. En tout cas, il n’était pas en mesure de venir à Pretoria se défendre lors du divorce, ni de subvenir à l’entretien de ses enfants par la suite. Anna lui interdit de les voir et d’ailleurs les filles chasseront leur père à coups de cravache quand il se présentera au domaine en 1896, après la mort de leur mère.

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Débarrassés de leur père, orphelins de leur mère, les enfants Guttmann vont se rapprocher des Kruger jusqu’au mariage de Madge avec Frikkie Eloff et l’adoption de Myra par la famille.
Adolf junior, quant à lui, engagé dans la guerre des Boers comme bien d’autres enfants, est mort sur le champ de bataille. Mais de lui, aucune image n’a subsisté.

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Et Adolf senior ?

Il s’est fondu dans la foule et il a disparu.

Encuentros en Pune

Duermo a gusto en las frías noches de enero y al amanecer, reanimado por el café instántaneo del hotel y la tostada con margarina, estoy listo de nuevo para enfrentarme a las calles de Pune. Paso la mañana en el templo de las cuevas de Pataleshwar, del siglo VIII, al norte de los Peths, de los que ya he escrito algo, al otro lado del río Mutha. Vagando por la zona me pregunto si realmente estoy en el lugar exacto de un templo tan venerable. Ando rodeado de altos edificios de hormigón y obras de nueva planta, y un tráfico desmesurado satura la ancha avenida de varios carriles por cuya precaria acera me muevo.

Al doblar la esquina entro en un parque umbrío y de pronto se hace la calma, como si al cruzar el umbral de sombra el toldo de hojas matara el ruido. Unos pasos más lejos de la entrada se asienta una estructura de piedra en medio de un bosquecillo tranquilo, está tallada en una sólida roca de granito gris. Un techo de piedra sostenido por macizos pilares desnudos, cuadrados, de unos tres metros de altura, protege un toro también de piedra al que acaban de enjaezar con guirnaldas de flores. Tiene un aspecto bastante humilde y encogido entre la piedra maciza que lo rodea. Detrás de esta estructura, hay un templo de Shiva tallado en la roca, una cámara oscura iluminada solo con lámparas de aceite y unas pocas bombillas mortecinas, todo envuelto en un penetrante sahumerio. Es un templo muy ajetreado, una corriente continua de gente que entra y sale.

Me cruzo con un europeo barbudo que al reconocerme como no indígena inicia la conversación. Su inglés es gramaticalmente impecable pero con un fuerte acento: es rumano, de Maramureş, y ahora reside en Canadá. Me informa sobre el lugar. Tocamos juntos la campana («Más fuerte», dice, «así los dioses podrán oírte»), y luego giramos tres veces alrededor de la estructura. «Ahora reza», me ordena, y yo junto mis manos e inclino la cabeza, más como cortesía que por recogimiento.

En el patio me saluda un joven hindú en un inglés excelente. «Estudio robótica en la facultad de ingeniería de aquí», me dice. Luego me pregunta «¿Cuánto cuesta vivir en California?» Le digo que no lo sé con exactitud pero que seguramente cuesta mucho.

Pune Encounters

I sleep well in the cool January nights, and by sunup, re-energized by the hotel’s instant coffee and margarined toast, I am ready to brave the streets of Pune once again. I use the morning for a visit to the 8th-century Pataleshwar Caves temple, to the north of the Peths, about which I previously wrote, on the other side of the river Mutha. Wandering the district, I first wonder if I can be in the right place for such a venerable site. I am surrounded by concrete high-rises and new construction sites, and an exuberant flow of traffic fills the broad multilane thoroughfare at the precarious edge of which I walk.

Rounding a corner, I find a shady park, and it immediately becomes quieter, as if the umbral light of the dense tree canopy has deadened the outside sounds. A few paces beyond the entry, a stone structure is found sitting in a serene grove of trees, carved from a single boulder of hard gray stone. A stone roof, held aloft by square unadorned pillars perhaps 3m high, covers a stone bull, which has been freshly garlanded with flowers. It looks a bit humble and small among the massive stone that surrounds it. Beyond this structure, a temple to Shiva is carved out of the rock, a dark chamber lit only with oil lamps (and a few dim electric bulbs), and infused with a pungent incense. It is very much a working temple, with a steady flow of people coming in and going out.

I meet there a bearded European who, recognizing me as a non-native, begins a conversation. His English is grammatically perfect, but he speaks it with a thick accent; he is a Romanian from Maramureş, now living in Canada. He instructs me about the place. Together, we ring the bell, (“Louder,” he says, “So that the gods can hear you!”), and we then perambulate the structure thrice. “Now, make your prayer!” he instructs, and I hold my hands together and bow my head, as a courtesy more than a prayer.

In the courtyard, I am greeted by a young Hindu woman, who speaks in excellent English. “I am studying robotics at the local engineering college,” she tells me. Then she asks, “How much does it cost to live in California?” I tell her that I don’t really know, but that it probably costs a great deal.