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WWI Cigarette Case: Hugo Jellinek, K and K, Staffel 120 (?)

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    Posted 9 months ago

    (1195 items)

    I found this cigarette case and usually I would have passed mainly because I don't smoke. It had a paper label on the front and therefore I could not read the whole inscription. Having a background in history, I was drawn to it, but it proved to be a lot harder for me to figure out what it means, mainly because I don't have any knowledge about the organization of an army.
    It is in German and reads something like this:
    For the
    Mr. First Lieutenant Hugo Jellinek
    Sergeants and Team/Crew
    K and K (possibly kaiserlich und königlich - Imperial and Royal) squadron (I am not sure if this is correct) 120
    Christmas in the field 1917

    I have a few questions (in no particular order):
    1. The word "Komandant" is supposed to be spelled with two "m"s. There are other languages where the word is spelled with only one "m". This could be possibly a Serbo Croatian connection.
    2. The last name could be different. I cannot be sure if the first letter is a Z, J, or something else
    3. K and K points into the directions of the Austrian Hungarian Empire, therefore the German language.
    4. Staffel/squadron 120 is a mystery for me; I could not find such a thing so far. I did, however, find a division of the Austrian Hungarian forces into an A-Staffel and B-Staffel. There is a lot more to be researched and learnt.
    5. "von Unteroffiziere", in my humble opinion, should have the letter "n" at the end of the noun to be grammatically correct.
    6. "des K u. K Staffel 120" should be "der...". If I remember correctly, the grammatical rule is, that for possessive, die nominative articles der, die, das (for masculine, feminine, and neuter nouns - lucky English speakers don't have to worry about this) change to des, der, des, respectively.
    Because the word "Staffel" is feminine in German, the article should be "der". That could be a simple mistake because many people know how to speak a language but don't know how to write it properly. I would think, however, if one gives a present to a superior, one should try to make no mistakes. One possibility could be that there was one other noun, but for some reason it wasn't written down. Alright, enough speculations!

    The case is marked twice for 900 silver. The other marks are hard to read. Twice, as well, I found a little cartouche with what I believe to be "K & W". There is also one mark with a kind of symbol but I have no idea what it is.

    Checking inside of the case, I found a name scratched in. I can read only the first two words. The third part is illegible.

    There are some dents in the case and the elastic bands to hold the cigarettes in place are missing.

    Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for looking:)

    Unsolved Mystery

    Help us close this case. Add your knowledge below.

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    1. billretirecoll billretirecoll, 9 months ago
      I found this freiheit:

      It's some Jellinek Family Letters, photos, and history. It might be the same, they're Austrian. I didn't search too much but it looks like a good start! :^)
    2. billretirecoll billretirecoll, 9 months ago
      Here's a google search for Hugo Jellinek:

      There's a few of them, but it looks like an interesting search! Have Fun! :^)
    3. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      Billretirecoll, thanks so much for your comments and links. I had a quick look and find all this information fascinating! We are expecting a snow storm tomorrow and I will have plenty of time staying home (not by choice) and check out your leads. I have a feeling, though, that it will not be easy.
      BTW, I feel always sad when I see items like photographs or personal things like this. Someone cared enough to safe them all this time and then they end up in a second hand store or flea market. I wish they could tell their story.
    4. billretirecoll billretirecoll, 9 months ago
      You're very welcome freiheit! :^D When I find photo's that don't have names or dates at the Flea Market, or Thrift Stores, I feel the same way, but if they do have names and dates, or if I can date them, I always search them, and sometimes I've found relatives of the People in the photos, or artifacts, and have sent them the items if they want them, it really makes me feel good, to be able to reconnect them! :^)
    5. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      Billretirecoll, this must must be really rewarding!
    6. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      I still haven't solved this mystery but I came across this site:

      There I found:
      Hugo JELLINEK (? - 22 October 1936 in Kottingbrunn) Tit.-Generalmajor: 1 Jun 1930

      I don't know if is this is the same Hugo Jellinek. I don't understand how army ranks work. This would help.
    7. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      Thanks so much for the love,
      fortapache, and
    8. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      Many thanks for the love, vetraio50 and billretirecoll :)
    9. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      Thanks a lot, Newfld and Vynil33rpm :)
    10. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      Thank you very much, Brunswick and Newfld :)
    11. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      Update: I started cleaning the case and found scratched inside the name "Josef Topka" and the word "obchodník". This word could be a Czech word, meaning
      trader, merchant, shopkeeper.... and would make perfect sense in the context of the Austrian Hungarian Empire.
      The question is now if this is the name of the owner of the store where the case was purchased or is it the name of a later owner of the case? But why would someone scratch it in the inside anyway? It wasn't engraved, just scratched.
    12. yougottahavestuff yougottahavestuff, 9 months ago
      Baseball term!! I'm coming out of Left Field!! Could the name be Jewish?? and he wanted them to know the owner was the name scratched inside??
    13. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 9 months ago
      I don't see a name being scratched inside as odd. I have watches and even a black forest cuckoo clock with names scratched inside the cases. Some I bought in Germany some in Switzerland. It was common not only there but also in the USA for a shop owner or a repair person to scratch their name and date of repair inside a case. I have a sterling ladies pocket watch from 1882 that belonged to my great grandmother and the inside of the casing is full of scratched names and some dates.
    14. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      Stuff, I don't understand baseball. My husband has tried for 35 years or so to teach me. I think he finally gave up! Having said that, anything is possible. I believe that both names could indicate that they are Jewish. I am not sure if this was of great relevance during the first WW. Jews lived and also served in the Austria Hungarian army side by side with other creed.... Tragically, one could not say that for the years that followed. I just wish that the box could reveal its story.
    15. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      hrjr2, I agree with you. I didn't think of that. It wouldn't be odd if the case was bought from the man who scratched his name inside. It would only be strange if it happened after it was given as a gift, in my humble opinion.
      If this was the shop owner's name, it might be possible to find the location where it was purchased. If I knew what Staffel 120 means, I could probably trace it to a place at Christmas 1917. I think I am getting too obsessed trying to find out more.
    16. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 9 months ago
      Let me frustrate you a bit more. You are researching a military word, Stafflen which isn't written on your case. However Staffel 120 is written there, which would mean a 120 race, probably a swimming or relay race. It has been over 50 years since I was trained as a German linguist but as I remember the word Staffel has a different meaning than what you imply. Silver prizes were commonly awarded to a second place winner. Just my 2 cents.
    17. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      Fhrjr2, you are doing a good job in frustrating me. I figured it was in a military context because of the the title of Mr. Jellinek but more because of "Weihnachten im Felde". This phrase points to the involvement in the war as far as I understand it. I guess swimming was out at that time of the year but other activities would be possible. Just think of the the Christmas truce of 1914, to take it one level up.
      The word "Mannschaft" could be a crew but also a sports team, supporting your idea. Too many meanings! But why did they not mention the kind of activity?
      The word "Staffel" has many meanings as well, adding to the confusion. BTW, I could not find the word you mentioned "Stafflen".
      Thanks for being a sounding board.
    18. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      Thanks a lot for loving my old case, Cathyz, dlpetersen, and Brunswick :)
    19. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      Thanks so much for stopping by, officialfuel, racer4four, and kyratango :)
    20. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      Many thanks, ho2cultcha and blunderbuss2 :)
    21. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      I added a photo showing how the case looks after a first polishing. Many of the spots and scratches are gone but, of course, the bigger dents are here to stay:(
    22. freiheit freiheit, 9 months ago
      Many thanks, Sunmoon2679 and Longings :)

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