Menu JTA Search

Heirs of Kidnapped Jewish Lad Who Became Russian General Band Together for Inheritance

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Harry Mendelsohn of this city, descendant of Faive Mendelsohn, Latvian Jew. who was kidnapped at the age of seven, baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church, became a Russian general and amassed great wealth is one of a group of claimants to the fortune left by Faive Mendelsohn, moderately estimated at 1,000,000 pounds.

Faive Mendelsohn died about 40 years ago, and various reasons—the refusal of his relatives to change their religion to Greek Catholicism, the Russo-Japanese war, and the World War—have hampered the presentation of the claims.

Now Harry Mendelsohn and other descendants of the Russian general have formed a company, to be known as the Mendelsohn Trust Limited, of which he is one of the four directors, to prove their claims and obtain possession of the estate.

KIDNAPPED AT SEVEN

Mr. Mendelsohn declared that a variety of reasons have interfered with previous investigations, but since it was taken up again three months ago—through statements made in Latvian papers and printed in Yiddish, Polish and Russian—legal representatives have been in touch with the Latvian authorities and the correspondence has prompted the formation of this private company to prove the claim and secure a distribution of the estate.

Faive Mendelsohn was one of four sons of Mendel Mendelsoh# of Pilten, Latvia. He was taker from his parents, who had kept his three brothers hidden, when he was seven years of age, by recruiting snatchers.

The usual fate of such young #wish victims used to be well known. They were placed for a number of years with peasants where they had to look after the pigs. Later they were baptized in the Greek Catholic faith and enrolled as recruits in the army. This was young Faive’s fate. His parents never had any news from him and regarded him as dead.

The lad became a soldier in an infantry regiment in Finland. Being a very able fellow, he was promoted time and again until he attained the rank of general in the Russian Army. After 18 years the Rabbi of Pilten received a letter from Faive, requesting him to ask his father to communicate with him. He informed the Rabbi that he had made a fortune, and that he would like to do something for his father, or his relatives in case his father was dead.

GOVERNMENT’S CONDITION

When the Rabbi handed the letter to Mendel Mendelsohn, the latter was sitting “shiva” for one of his other sons who had just died The father destroyed the letter and announced that he would have nothing to do with his son, because he was baptized.

Five years later Faive died, and the government sent an announcement to the effect that he had left a legacy for his relations. He had married, but had left no heirs except his wife, who had been given a cash settlement.

The government asked the heirs to submit their claims, which they did only to receive a reply stating that they would get the legacy only if they agreed to be baptized in the orthodox faith, because Faive belonged to that church. The Men-delsohns refused to change their religion and the matter was left in abeyance.

In 1904 when freedom of religion was proclaimed in Russia, the government again requested the heirs in Pilten to produce the documents of proof as they were now entitled to the estate without having to change their faith.

The heirs placed the whole matter in the hands of an attorney of Libau, Mr. Levenberg, who under-took to carry through matters on their behalf.

Meanwhile the Russo-Japanese War broke out and nothing was done. Then came the World War and the Revolution in Russia. So again no action was taken. Now the heirs are determined to carry the affair through to a conclusion.

NEXT STORY