Clara Rosenthal was born in 1866 in Hohenems, the daughter of Charlotte and Anton Rosenthal, a wealthy textile factory owning family, in the building that now houses the Jewish Museum. She married Josef Heyman, a Belgian citizen, in 1891 and lived in Antwerp until his death in 1906. After this, she moved back in with her mother in the small Jewish community of Hohenems, where she lived in the Rosenthal villa. On May 31, 1940, she was deported to Vienna with the other 8 remaining members of the Jewish community. In order to avoid the lengthy clarification of Clara Heyman-Rosenthal’s citizenship, the mayor of Hohenems issued a document of identity on official municipal note-paper for the purpose of the ‘resettlement.’ The almost eighty-year-old woman was put into numerous flats under extremely bad conditions until she was deported from Vienna to the Theresienstadt concentration camp on June 10, 1942. She died there on November 20, 1942 in unclarified circumstances.
There is a collection of postcards dated from the time between 1939 and 1942 in which Clara Heyman-Rosenthal wrote in French to her son’s family in Brussels. The collection was found in the possession of her niece Jacqueline Heyman in Brussels. Jacqueline often visited Hohenems with her parents, both before and after the Second World War. Her attitude towards ‘exhibiting’ family history is thouroughly critical. Nevertheless, Aline Steiner and Arno Gisinger had the opportunity to visit her in Brussels in spring 2001 and reproduce the postcards as well as numerous photographs in her private possession.
The project of processing the materials in the form of a transcription of the hand-written text, a translation in German and a historically critical interpretation of the contents of the postcards developed from this encounter.