Once There Were Great Immigrants: How The Paulis Came To America

America,Family,Human Accomplishment,IMMIGRATION


The gifted Dr. Myron Robert Pauli (who is related to Wolfgang Pauli, a pioneer in quantum mechanics) is a wonderful dad to daughter Anna. Here Myron shares with us the remarkable story of the patriarch Pauli, who came to America the old-fashioned—when no “welfare-bums” were allowed—and sired Myron.

How The Paulis Came to America
By Myron Pauli

At the request of my good friend Ilana Mercer and in honor of Father’s Day, I am writing about how/why relatives named Pauli got to America. My paternal ancestors were Pascheles – but Vienna under Karl Lueger had its own “affirmative action” policy with the goal of 100% non-Jews in the faculty of the University of Vienna. Thus my granduncle Wolf Pascheles became Wolfgang Joseph Pauli. He later had two famous children – Wolfgang Ernst and Hertha Ernestine – both baptized at Mach 1 (Ernst Mach was their godfather!). Grandfather Isadore Pascheles became John Pauli but brother Oscar kept Pascheles and had the good luck to be a Swiss citizen…..

In 1938, Hitler’s Anschluss with Austria meant beatings and sleep deprivation for WWI Captain John Pauli – to relinquish his money to the National Socialists. Grandmother Frederica (related to Jewish Austrian admiral Siegfried Popper!) and John were allowed to leave provided they had a destination. Thankfully, the Chinese consul, Feng-Shan-Ho, defying his own government, issued exit visas to Singapore to thousands of Viennese Jews. However, Prague-born, they faced a small Czech quota and apparently received some help from Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy – to get to America.

My father was in Innsbruck and snuck over the border into Switzerland with a companion who was immediately turned over to the Gestapo by the (very nice!) Swiss but since my father had the excuse of visiting his uncle Oscar in Zurich; they let him in temporarily provided he leave within a month or two. There are actually 3 letters written by his cousin Wolfgang (inventor of the neutrino) to Paul Dirac (inventor of antimatter) to try to get my dad to England because he had a job offer in America provided he made it to England. I don’t know if Dirac helped, but he eventually made it over here! A cousin in Texas, James Utitz, had to certify that my dad would not be a welfare-bum! My father showed up speaking with an English accent and became a stickler for proper English even in Noo-Yawk! Not only did he go ballistic at ads for the “Green Witch Savings Bank” (Greenwich!) – but he complained about Puerto Ricans speaking poor Spanish. Fortunately, he never lived to hear Ebonics!

Cousin Hertha, an actress and historian-author, with the honor of having her books banned by Nazi Germany – went to France and got smuggled out of France through Lisbon (helped by Varian Fry and the “Emergency Rescue Committee”) to the US with her husband and friends Alma Schindler Mahler Gropius Werfel and Franz Werfel. Both Hertha and Franz stopped at the Lady of Lourdes and each wrote a book and a movie (Franz’s – more famous) about the Song of Bernadette.

Wolfgang tried to get Swiss citizenship but the Swiss decided that he “did not satisfy the requirement of assimilation” – so he and wife Franca – with the help of French colleagues – got over to Lisbon and then to Princeton to his old pal Albert Einstein and the Institute of Advanced Studies which labeled Wolfgang as his “spiritual heir.” After 1946, Wolfgang returned to work in Switzerland because he objected to excessive military influence on American physics (which, if nothing else, proves both intelligence and integrity).

Granduncle Oscar held the fort in Switzerland and tried to get family out as best he could. Poignant letters from a distant cousin from the Nazi Kielce ghetto to Oscar prior to her extermination exist (Switzerland was neutral with postal relations with Germany). Oscar’s grandson is Vice President of Global Commercial Intelligence for Merck.

My dad settled in Sunnyside, Queens and wound up with a wife and 2 kids. He loved the country and we had a small country house. We rented out our upstairs to what appeared to be 10% of Puerto Rico (whom, thanks to rent control, we could not evict!) and eventually rented the rest and bought a third house for us. Dad preferred Adlai Stevenson’s erudite English over Eisenhower’s garbled Army-speak, but after rent control, opposing LBJ’s War in Vietnam and inflation, he voted for Nixon! I don’t know what he would think of events nowadays but his work ethic and English perfectionism would not fit in with modern immigration policy!


Barely a Blog (BAB) contributor Myron Pauli grew up in Sunnyside Queens, went off to college in Cleveland and then spent time in a mental institution in Cambridge MA (MIT) with Benjamin Netanyahu (did not know him), and others until he was released with the “hostages” and Jimmy Carter on January 20, 1981, having defended his dissertation in nuclear physics. Most of the time since, he has worked on infrared sensors, mainly at Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC. He was NOT named after Ron Paul but is distantly related to physicist Wolftgang Pauli; unfortunately, only the “good looks” were handed down and not the brains. He writes assorted song lyrics and essays reflecting his cynicism and classical liberalism. Click on the “BAB’s A List” category to access the Pauli archive.