Heinrich and Helene Brunner

Portrait of Heinrich Brunner, about 1830, Jewish Museum Hohenems, Carlo Alberto Brunner Estate Portrait of Helene Brunner, about 1830, Jewish Museum Hohenems, Carlo Alberto Brunner Estate

Heinrich Brunner (1784 – 1867) was born as Henle Wolf in Hohenems. When Jews became obliged to adopt a surname, he took, as did his brother Arnold, the name of Brunner. He became a butcher and cattle dealer like his father and married Helene Marx (1785-1855) of Reckendorf in Bavaria. In accordance with marital divisions of labor common in the early 19th century, Heinrich managed all matters of business outside the home, while Helene was in charge of overseeing the household and the children’s education in line with the religious commandments, but also of representing her husband during his probably frequent extended periods of absence. Heinrich and Helene Brunner had nine children; in the early 1830s, four of them moved to Trieste for good where they founded the Brunners’ Triestine business empire. He probably gave up his occupation as butcher and opened himself a colonial goods store in Trieste in 1836, yet continued living in Hohenems. Here, he was active as council member of the Jewish Community, as chairman of the commission for the poor, and as board director of the burial society of the Hohenems Jewish Community. Being the first “Brunner,” he assumes the role of patriarch on the genealogical tree, which was likely commissioned by his grandson Lucian.

Genealogical tree of the Brunner family. From the estate of Lucian Brunner, loan of Francesca Brunner-Kennedy, Virginia