Eugène Daniel (Buri) von Rothschild (1884-1976)
Eugène von Rothschild, the fourth son of Albert and Bettina, was born on 6 March 1884. Eugène showed very little inclination to enter the banking world, and instead became a soldier.
Eugène served in the First World War, primarily on the eastern front in Galicia and Romania. When Austria-Hungary mobilized for war, he was transferred to the first squadron of the 6th Dragoon regiment. Like his brother Alphonse, Eugène served initially in the role of administrative officer (Ordonnanzoffizier). On December 6, 1914 during combat in Iwkowa, Galicia, he and his horse fell, resulting in a broken leg. Roughly two months later, he was back on the front again. During a defense maneuver against the Russians on December 27, 1915, he stepped in as a commanding officer of a platoon (Zugskommandant) and was awarded the Silberne Militärverdienstmedaille am Bande des Militärverdienstkreuzes mit Schwertern in recognition for his service in battle. On May 9, 1915, Eugène was promoted to the rank of cavalry captain in the reserves (Rittmeister der Reserve). When Romania declared war against the Central Powers in 1916, Eugène’s regiment moved to the front lines, where he took on the position of chemical warfare officer (Gasschutzoffizier) and was given command of his own reserve squadron. Eugène was stationed on the Romanian front until the beginning of 1918, when Russia – now under Bolshevik leadership – declared a ceasefire. Shortly afterwards on February 3, 1918, Eugène was discharged from military service, leaving a highly decorated military career as the army was much reduced. The highest honor he received was the Militärverdienstkreuz 3. Klasse.
In 1911, Eugène inherited the grand country estate of Enzesfeldt, about 25 miles from Vienna from his father Salomon Albert Anselm von Rothschild (1844-1911), who had purchased the estate in 1880. On 28 April 1925 he married the twice-married Cathleen 'Kitty' Wolff, a doyen of American high society; she was the ex-wife of Dandridge Spotswood and Graf Erwin Ferdinand Karl Rochus von Schönborn-Buchheim. Kitty had one son by her first husband. The marriage was happy, but childless. Between the wars the Viennese Rothschild family entertained on a grand scale at Enzesfeldt, although Eugène and Kitty spent most of their time in Paris.
During the Second World War, properties of the Viennese Rothschilds, including Enzesfeldt were confiscated by the Nazis. The Viennese business of the Rothschilds was seized, and Eugène and other members of the family had to pay a substantial ransom for the release of his brother Louis von Rothschild (1882-1955) from imprisonment by the Gestapo in Vienna. Eugène and Kitty sought refuge in the United States. Through Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul-general in Bordeaux, they secured safe passage, Eugène arriving on the Yankee Clipper on 3 August 1940. Kitty followed him, arriving by the same method on 4 October 1940. Settling on Long Island, the couple took up a quiet residence at 'Still House' in Locust Valley, Nassau County, New York.
Kitty died in 1946; bereft, Eugène was said to visit her grave at the end of the garden daily. His housekeeper, Gerty, who kept a proprietary eye on him, noticed that the Czechoslovakian Countess Cecilia Sternberg, (later famed for her memoirs, The Journey), was beginning to take the Baron out of himself - to the point where he was enjoying life again. Sternberg related how Eugène first met the actress Jeanne Stuart. Gerty had met an English girl - "not quite a film star, a starlet let's say" - in a shop at Glen Cove and persuaded the Baron to invite her to lunch.
The couple were married in 1952. The marriage was a happy one; the couple visited London in Coronation year. Jeanne applied a sound business mind to her husband's finances, helped him to retrieve confiscated property, and invested soundly. They had property in Manhattan, as well as a house in England. Finally, in the late 1950s, they settled in Monte Carlo, becoming friends of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. Eugène sold the Enzesfeldt estate in 1963. Eugène died in Monte Carlo in 1976, aged 92.
Information about Eugène's military career courtesy of Caitlin Gura-Redl, Assistenzkuratorin, Jüdisches Museum der Stadt Wien GmbH.
See also Jeanne von Rothschild (née Stuart) »