THE TARNISHED SILVER CUP / Vera Schleicher
The tarnished silver cup was found among various other bric-a-bracs in the linen closet, when my father moved to a different flat. Nobody remembered where it came from, but we did not want to throw it away, either, so I took it with me. Once, when I was dusting it, the light fell upon it just so that I noticed an engraved inscription in Gothic lettering: Oberwarter Sonntags-Zeitung 1880–1904. Because of the patina, I initially thought that the first number was 1830.
The cup was light, but the realization weighed heavily on me. This was not just another sports trophy, but a message from the Monarchy. It came from Felsőőr (Oberwart ‒ now in Austria), where my grandmother’s family was together for the last time with all of its members holding the same citizenship.
Although there is no name on the cup, it could only have been owned by my great-great-grandfather, Hugó Ehrenwerth, who worked at the Oberwart printing press and who was the typesetter of the local weekly for 24 years, almost since the time the paper was founded. He may have received the cup at his retirement. My great-great-grandfather was born in the Sudetenland, and he arrived in Burgenland as an itinerant printer. He settled down and started a family. He had two daughters and a son, with whom they spoke German at home, although his wife was half German and half Hungarian. The two daughters also married printers. My great-grandmother became the wife of a descendant of an old Hungarian aristocratic family from Galanta, who hardly spoke any Hungarian because he had grown up in the “Zuckermandli” district of Pozsony (now: Bratislava). Her sister married a Hungarian man from Kőszeg, who had a Slavic surname. Their son became a Hungarian primary school teacher, changing his name to Énekes.
The male members of the family were enlisted in 1914, while the women and the children waited for the end of World War I in the Ehrenwerth house in Oberwart. They spoke both German and Hungarian, without even noticing when they switched from one language to the other. They would have been embarrassed to choose a single nationality had they been forced to do so, but this did not happen until 1918. In that year, my great-grandmother moved back to Bratislava, her sister to Vienna, and their brother to Csorna (Hungary). The cup, which had probably occupied a place of honour in the Felsőőr house, was taken to Vienna after the death of my great-great-grandfather, and finally ended up at my father’s place in Veszprém.
A while ago I read about cleaning silver at home with baking soda. It occurred to me that the cup may be made of silver, so I poured boiling water over it. It indeed turned out to be of silver, richly decorated with engraved Secession-style patterns, and the inside had probably been finished in gold. It might be a good idea to send a photo of the cup to the Ehrenwerths in Austria, to the Énekes family in Győr and to the many relatives in Central Europe who no longer bear these names. Or should it be held in a museum? But which one?
Köszönet a tárgykölcsönzőknek és történetmesélőknek:
FISCHER ÁGOTA ÉVA
FÜLÖPNÉ WELTZ MÁRIA
HÁTSZEGI GÁBORNÉ, JULIKA
HELLER MÁRIA (RÓZSA PÁL)
HELLER SÁNDORNÉ, MÜLLER ANIKÓ
KÁNAI GYULÁNÉ PEREDY GIZELLA
LEÁNYFALVINÉ GORDÁN ILDIKÓ
TERÉNYI ISTVÁNNÉ SULLAI VINCENCIA
TÓTHNÉ RUDI MARGIT
Köszönet a kiállítás létrejöttéhez nyújtott segítségért
TÓTH GERGELY MÁTÉ
ELEVEN EMLÉKMŰ CSOPORT
HERITAGE CONTACT ZONE
HUMÁN PLATFORM EGYESÜLET
OPEN SOCIETY ARCHIVES
Castrum Peregrini, Amszterdam
Asociatia Timişoara Capitala Cultural Europeana, Temesvár
Eleven Emlékmű / Humán Platform, Budapest
Etz Hayyim, Hanía, Kréta
European University Institute, Firenze
Culture Action Europe, Brüsszel