For one sister, it began for me with a photo and a story from my Rohatyn grandmother. Jute Horn—Dr. Jute Horn—was my grandmother’s idol, her paradigm, her inspiration. She was my grandmother’ s aunt, the oldest sister of my grandmother’s father. The educated one with the medical degree from Vienna. The one who became the dentist. The one whose name appears somewhere on a plaque at a prestigious hospital in Israel recognizing her professional legacy there. The successful one. The responsible, confident one. The one who made the family proud and financially supported the others when times were hard. My grandmother often pointed out the uncanny resemblance she bore to Jute, “her favorite.” She had a 1947 photo of Jute taken in Haifa. Written on the back were the words, “You can see how much I have changed.”
For the other sister, it began in 1998 with a letter and phone call from a man—an aged, emotional man—who pitifully detailed for me how he grew up in Rohatyn, knew my extensive and comfortably middle-class Horn family. A man whose younger sister in the late 1920’s married the youngest of the Horn sons and produced a family. A man who himself married the youngest of the Horn daughters, Bronia Horn—Dr. Bronia Horn—so she could leave Rohatyn with him for Palestine. The year was 1936 and this man saw the storm clouds gathering over Europe; he pleaded with his younger sister and her family to leave Rohatyn, to leave Galicia, to leave Europe, and come with him to Palestine. He was not successful and they chose to stay. Bronia: 11 years junior to older sister Jute, and, like Jute, my grandmother’s aunt. Unlike Jute, barely 5 years separated Bronia and my grandmother in age. They were practically contemporaries. Sensitive, artistic, sad-eyed Bronia.
In the beginning, Jute’s and Bronia’ s lives mirrored each other’s, offset by the 11-year gap in their ages. Each young girl was sent away from the family home in Rohatyn to study and build an academic base for the future.
From 1916–1918, Jute attended the universities of Vienna and Lemberg (now L’viv), graduating from the latter institution in 1918. She returned to Vienna in 1919, from where she earned her graduate degree in medicine in 1924. She received her doctor of medicine in 1928 in Kraków.
Bronia also attended schools in Vienna and Lemberg. In 1914, at age 10 and with the war front and devastation headed to Rohatyn, she was sent to the “Department School” in Vienna because the family was worried about having a vulnerable young girl in an enemy-occupied town. After World War I and while Rohatyn rebuilt itself, Bronia resumed her studies, this time closer to home at the University of Lemberg (then called Lwów), graduating in 1924 with a degree in German and French language and literature. Between 1924–1929 she “deepened her study of German language” at the University of Vienna and even lived in the same Viennese apartment once occupied by older sister Jute.