Kurt's mother came from Lemberg, or Lvov - a town that is now situation in western Ukraine. It was once part of a region called Galicia, which was ruled by Austria-Hungary from 1772 until its incorporation into interwar Poland in 1918. Today, the region is divided between Poland and the Ukraine. No country of the Austrian monarchy had such a varied ethnic mix as Galicia: Poles, Ukrainians, Jews, Germans, Armenians, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Roma, etc.
Under Habsburg rule, Lvov was one of the cultural centers of the monarchy. Today, visitors can still trace this legacy. Click here to see a collection of photographs, drawings, and maps of old Lvov and Galicia.
The ruins of Lvov’s Golden Rose Synagogue were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998, with Lvov’s historic center following in 2008. You can view the locations of Lvov’s former Jewish sites on this interactive map.
Jews comprised at least 10% of Galicia’s population, with many concentrated in Lvov. Most Jews in Galicia were Ashkenazim. Under Austro-Hungarian rule, Jews were allowed freedom of movement throughout the empire. The Jewish History in Galicia and Bukovina project, records infromation, shares photographs and provides historical documents about Jewish Galicia.
Kurt's mother Franzi was an Orthodox Jew. This link provides a brief explanation of Orthodox Judaism.