An Imagined Biography


BORN: 23 October 1898 at 25 Brighton Road, St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia

DIED: 28 August 1930 at 51 Soper Road, Berea, Johannesburg, South Africa, aged 31

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There is so much in this story that is unknown that it can only be imagined as to what the real events really were. The recorded facts are available, but the intervals in between are such that in the absence of anyone who is still alive in 2008 who knew Morris De Saxe, other than his two children, it is impossible to verify what is right and what is wrong.

So here is the story.

Morris Isaac De Saxe was born at 25 Brighton Road, St Kilda, Melbourne, on 23 October 1898. His parents were Charles Moses De Saxe and Paulina Mendelssohn who were married on 23 December 1897 in London from the house belonging to Paulina's parents Emanuel and Caroline Mendelssohn at 5 Belsize Grove, Hampstead.

Charles and Paulina had very different backgrounds and, presumably, upbringings. What did Charles do for a living, and how did they meet? Was theirs an arranged marriage? Charles was 31 and Paulina 20 when they got married.

1897 - 1898

Charles Moses De Saxe aged 33 and Paulina De Saxe (born Mendelssohn) aged 21 in London in 1898 shortly after their marriage and shortly before their departure for Australia

Both Charles and Paulina had many Australian connections. Charles had a vast family of De Saxes who had emigrated to Australia from the mid-1800s onwards, and Charles' half brother Joseph had an established umbrella manufacturing business in Melbourne by the 1890s. Paulina's mother was born Caroline Emanuel in Sydney in 1849, and there was a large Emanuel clan in Australia by the time Charles and Paulina arrived in Melbourne in 1898.


This photo of Paulina Mendelssohn and Charles De Saxe was taken in London at the time of their marriage, December 1897.

25 Brighton Road St Kilda 1898

This photo was taken at 25 Brighton Road, St Kilda, Melbourne, on 23 December 1898, when Morris Isaac De Saxe was 8 weeks old. Whether the family was as prosperous as the number of servants indicates is an interesting question. The photo shows Paulina holding the baby, Charles standing behind her, and 4 servants!! one of whom was presumably the child's nurse!

I sent Greg de Saxe the original photo in 2007 and he has restored and enhanced it.


Morris De Saxe aged about 3 months with his mother Paulina - photo taken at Mendelssohn and Co. Photographers, 80 Swanston Street, Melbourne, early 1899



Morris De Saxe aged between 1 and 2 years old with his mother Paulina at 25 Brighton Road, St Kilda, circa 1900

I sent Greg de Saxe the original photo in 2007 and he has restored and enhanced it.


De Saxe brothers 1902 Melbourne

(The photographic studio Mendelssohn & Co. was situated in the old Queen Victoria Building on the corner of Swanston and Collins Streets - the owners of the studio do not appear to have been related to my family.)(right-hand photo)

(Left-hand photo) Photo of Morris Isaac De Saxe - nearly 4 years old (born 23 October 1898) and brother Wilfred Emanuel De Saxe - just over 2 years old (born 28 April 1900) taken in Melbourne in late 1902, some months after their mother Paulina (born Mendelssohn) had died in Melbourne on 29 August 1902, aged 25.


De Saxe
Morris - grandson to grandfather

At the moment it is not known whether the above photo of Morris De Saxe was taken in London 5 months after the death of Wilfred Emanuel De Saxe on 28 May 1904, or whether it was taken in Melbourne and sent to Morris De Saxe, Charles De Saxe's father, for his birthday on 16 November 1904. There is also no information as to who the photographer or photographic studio was. Charles De Saxe's father Morris (born 1822 in Scotland) died the following year on 2 August 1905 in London, aged 83.

By the end of 1904 Morris had lost his mother and his brother Wilfred, who died of a sarcoma of the shoulder, according to the death certificate.

At some stage, before remaining in South Africa in 1910, Morris was at school in London at Kilburn Grammar School for 18 months..


South Africa 1910

This photo was apparently taken in South Africa, when Morris De Saxe was nearly 12 years old, on 27 July 1910. Morris is standing in the middle of the photo with a party cap on his head. Many of the other people in the photo appear to be members of the Raphaely family, who apparently looked after Morris in South Africa when his father had returned to England.

The school years are difficult to work out correctly, but according to the Royal Flying Corps application below, it would seem that Morris was at school at King Edward VII School in Johannesburg for one year in 1910 or part of 1911, and then went to Marist Brothers College for 4 years, where it seems he matriculated at the end of 1914. Marist Brothers were less than forthcoming when I asked them to look for Morris' academic record, and no information ever eventuated from them.


In 1911 Morris had his barmitzvah. Who was he living with, presumably in Johannesburg, where he was at school? Possibly Siegfried Raphaely and family. Siegfried gave Morris a book as a present for his barmitzvah, "The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley", inscribed as follows:

Barmitzvah present

1911 - 1913

Uncertainty about dates of which schools Morris attended and in which years has some small certainty. He received prizes at Marist Brothers in 1911 and 1913. The one in 1911, a very advanced book for a boy of 12, was "Waverley" by Sir Walter Scott. Here is the inscription:

Marist Brothers 1911 Prize

There may have been other prizes, but these are the ones in my possession, and this is the other one, a Latin prize: "The Illustrious Life and Reign of King Edward VII" by W.J.Jackman" a very differnt sort of prize, considering the earlier one!:

Marist Brothers 1911 Prize


After finishing school in Johannesburg at the end of 1914, Morris entered South African College in Cape Town, the College which was a university college and had grown out of the school of the same name South African College which is still, in 2008, the name of the school. Who he stayed with in Cape Town is also a mystery, although at some stage he stayed with Leo and Monte Raphaely and their family. They told me in 1948 that Morris had lived with them for some time, but it was not clear when and under what circumstances, but Leo and Monte implied that he was almost like one of their own children, so he must have been there for some time.

At the end of what must have been his first year at SACs, 1915, he was awarded a prize for Chemistry called "A History of Chemistry" by F.P. Armitage. Here is the label:

SACS Chemistry Prize 1915

1917 - 1918

Morris applied to join the Royal Flying Corps in March 1917, but because he was rejected as unfit, he must have decided to stay at university and finish his BA degree and his 3rd year of Electrical Engineering. At the end of that year he must have succeeded in getting into the Royal Engineers, and must have left for England soon afterwards.

The South African College was the institute where one studied for degrees, but the organisation responsible for accrediting the award and awarding it was the University of the Cape of Good Hope. At the end of 1917 this body apparently ceased to exist, and the following year, 1918, the University of Cape Town was established. The Bachelor of Arts degree awarded to Morris at the end of 1917 was from the University of the Cape of Good Hope.

Royal Flying Corps Application
Royal Flying Corps Application
Royal Flying Corps Application

Morris apparently joined the Royal Engineers in South Africa after completing a B.A. degree at the South African College SACS), now the University of Cape Town (UCT). He was apparently also studying Electrical engineering at the same time, and had reached the end of his third year when he joined up. I have tried to get information from UCT for some time, but have been unsuccessful.

The following information was obtained by Marian De Saxe in England in JULY 2016 with items concerning the army service of Morris between 1917 and 1919. It provides some of the missing information about Morris's army service which were impossible to obtain in Australia:

1918 - 1920

Two events probably occurred during his time in England, apparently betweeen 1917 and 1919. After he left the army, it seems as if he was briefly employed by British Westinghouse, later Metropolitan Vickers, as an electrical engineering student. Then he met a cousin with whom he seems to have fallen in love.

Morris seems to have felt that engineering was not for him, and the cousin's feelings were, apparently, not reciprocated.

In any event, Morris was back in South Africa by 1920, and, although he may have tried to resume his engineering studies, by 1921 it seems he had given up the idea.

1921 - 1924

This letter to the Star (?) newspaper in Johannesburg is undated, but an item on the back of the letter indicates the year was 1922, about July or August:

Letter about plight of Jews in Eastern Europe 1920s

In any event, by 1922 he had met Annie Kuper, they married at the end of 1922, and Morris seems already to have embarked on studying for his LLB.

Morris and Annie were so different from each other that it is difficult to assess what drew them to each other. One possibility is that they were both on the rebound from affairs that got nowhere - Annie's because her fiance, a Kuper relative, had died in the post-war flu epidemic which took the lives of millions around the world, and Morris returned from England where his love affair hadn't prospered, and so both were looking for other partners.

Annie was outgoing, played golf and tennis, and enjoyed company. She did not read much and had not had a scholarly life in any way. Morris, on the other hand, was studious, keenly interested and involved in Jewish and Zionist issues, read as much as time allowed, didn't seem to have been involved with sporting activities at any time, and did not seem to enjoy socialising. He was also obviously musical and played the piano - how well is commented on by a sentence from my uncle's letter mentioned below.

In any event, there is no knowing how the marriage would have been in the longer term, because it ended after 8 years with Morris's death in 1930.

This photo of Morris Isaac De Saxe and Annie Rachel Kuper was probably taken around the time of their marriage, 22 December 1922.

Photo of Morris De Saxe and his uncle Jack (John Felix) Mendelssohn, taken outside what is believed to have been 2 Young Avenue, Houghton, Johannesburg, possibly between 1926 and 1929. The date of Jack's visit to South Africa is not known

This photo was probably taken at 51 Soper Road, Berea, Johannesburg, where we lived with my grandparents from when I was born on 30 October 1926 till the year after Morris's death, 1931. So circa 1926 to 1929.

Morris qualified as a barrister and was awarded the degree of LLB on 29 March 1924, 11 days after Molly was born.

During 1924 Morris, Annie and Molly moved into the house of my grandparents (Pessa and Morris Kuper) at 51 Soper Road, Berea, Johannesburg, which was round the corner from the flat they had lived in in Tudhope Avenue, Berea, from soon after their marriage in 1922.

This family group photo was taken during 1924, when Molly was not yet 1 year old.

From left to right: Leo, Simy, Pessa, Mary, Annie, Morris, and below Morris, Morris Kuper holding Molly on his lap.


During 1925 Morris wrote to various members of his family to wish them a happy new year for the Jewish New Year and to give them news about his family in Johannesburg. Replies from three of his relatives survive, and are shown here, but because they are difficult to read, I have tried to type out the contents below each letter. One of the letters was from his aunt Lizzie, who was Paulina's older sister, but the other two are yet to be determined where they fit into the family. Here are the letters:

6 Dynham Road,
West End Lane
My dear Morris,

I was very delighted to receive your kind and affectionate letter and to hear that your wife and darling daughter are all well and happy as they all should be this festive season, although here --------- condition anything but ----- ------- ------- --------- --------- engaging ----- is no doubt ------ handsome. I should so dearly have liked to have seen her but as that is impracticable I must be content to hear about her – have enclosed a small souvenir of antique ------- to -------- when older ------, I am ------ will be a great comfort to you as you grow older.

I am very pleased to hear that business matters are improving, hope will continue so. Very many thanks for your -------- present, hope it will arrive all right.

The summer here has been gloomy weather, very unsettled. We see from the papers that you have had many Royal visitors which is very gratifying. I regret to say I have not been able to out of doors for a very considerable time, but, I must not expect much at my advanced age – I shall be 94 on the 22nd of October, and I recollect that your anniversary is on 23rd, so wish you dear, very many Happy Returns of the day in anticipation with every blessing you desire.

I am not feeling very bright but suppose I must expect it at my advanced age. So, With Best love to self, Wife and any number of kisses on my behalf to sweet little Jeannette –

from affectionate Aunt

September 30th 1925
My dear Morris

It was a very great pleasure to receive such an affectionate letter with all good wishes for the New Year. It was just like reading a book – beautiful. I only wish we lived nearer so that I could have a peep at you all. I am sure darling Babe Jeannette Molly gets ---- ------- from the ----- alone. I was very pleased to hear you are all enjoying the best of health. I wish you all every blessing for the New Year. I am sorry to say I have not been enjoying the best of health for some time -- ---- Laurie Barrett has been attending me and has been very attentive so I hope I shall soon feel stronger. Have seen most of your dear family all ------ ----- ----- ----- ----.

With love and kisses to your dear Wife and darling Babe, with ----- for your ---- self.

Always your affectionate Aunt Esther.
PS Kisses for darling Babe.
12 October 1925
My dear Morris,

Your so welcome cable received with much pleasure, but as much as I should have loved to have seen you all in Joburg once again it is an utter impossibility for me to go to you now. You see my ticket is taken right through, besides Uncle Jack is expecting me by this boat, cables having gone backwards and forwards to that effect.

I thank you all most heartily for the kind invitation, may be on my way back D.V. I shall be able to do it, entre temps I am sure we will hear from one another & so keep in touch of our doings. Shall post this from Cape Town where I hope to see Leo and Monty, and where unfortunately I am only remaining 24 hours; but in Melbourne I shall be for 2, 3 days, where I shall visit your poor dear mother’s grave G.R.H.D.S.Omnie!

Your cable I received just about an hour after I had thrown a few flowers on my poor father’s grave, 5 days out from Cape Town, so you see we all have our sad hours, even in the midst of pleasures: -

I hear you have a sweet little daughter, named Paulina, won’t you send me her photo out, am sure Uncle Jack and Aunt Vera would also like to see it, so if you sent it to me in an envelope to Mr J.F. Mendelssohn c/o American Consulate, Sydney NSW Australia, I would get it soon after my arrival there; also perhaps one of your wife’s whom I have not the pleasure of knowing: Strange to say the lady in my cabin with her 2 year old child, know you, she’s Mrs. Dr Mallinick, I believe her sister knows you much better as she’s a great Zionist, they are Joburg people too; when you meet her she will tell you all about our voyage, I’m sure. Tell me, do you still play the piano, I certainly hope you do, talented as you are. Now don’t forget to give my love to all the Mishpocha, & hope they, like yourselves are all well.

Kiss your little darling for her Aunty, so thanking you once again for your cable, with my fond love to your wife & self

from your loving Aunty Lizzie.

P.S. I should have answered your cable if I had known your address, hence my posting this in Cape Town.


P.S.S. Well am posting this from Leo’s house; ever so many heartfelt thanks for your letter and kind invitation but I regret virement that I cannot come now; its more than unfortunate but for more reasons than one, cannot do it at present: D.V. if you will still have me up there, shall be delighted to go on my way back to Europe ente temps we shall I hope be hearing from one another. Can quite understand all you say about your little Molly God Bless her; please pass my letter around & I feel it very much not being able to come but its quite out of the question & really very unfortunate; if only I had known it in Bruxelles. God bless you all with my fondest love again also to your dear Annie

from your loving Aunty Lizzie

At some stage during 1925 Morris acquired a folding camera and started taking photos of his family. The photos below must have been taken between 1925/6 and 1930, and I have tried to work out the years of each of them, but mostly it has just been guesswork!



This photo of Mannie and Molly about 1927 was probably taken by a professional photographer although there is no mount and no name available.

1928 - 1930

When he became a barrister it seems as if he struggled to make a living until his death in1930, because, after a short while of living in a flat, round the corner from my grandparents' house, and after my sister Molly was born, the family of three moved in to my grandparents' house, where they were living when I was born in October 1926, and were there when he died on 28 August 1930.

Morris' interest in Judaism and zionism was an interesting development. Much of his early life would probably not have been particularly associated with either, as his father, from family connections, seems not to have been interested in either, and, in fact, many of the De Saxe family married people who were not Jewish and therefore later had no connection to Judaism at all.

Possibly in those years after 1910, the influence of his South African relations with whom he lived and who were involved in his schooling and university education, may have formed his interest and involvement in both Judaism and zionism.

For someone whose income was always very small up to the time of his death, Morris, an avid reader, was also an avid book collector, and most of the books he bought were from second-hand bookshops.

When he died in 1930, Morris left a large collection of books of very varied interest - Judaism, zionism, philosophy, history, and an almost complete set of the volumes of Honore de Balzac - over 50 volumes altogether! Also many other topics of interest were included in the collection, which was ultimately split in two, Molly keeping some and I (me?) keeping the rest.

De Saxe Family Photo circa 1928

This photo was taken around 1928 - Morris, Mannie aged about 2, Annie, Molly aged about 5

Our parents were Annie Rachel Kuper (born Johannesburg, 25 April 1897, died Johannesburg, 28 June 1976 aged 79 - See Kuper family details ) and Morris Isaac De Saxe (born Melbourne, 23 October 1898, died Johannesburg 28 August 1930 aged 31)

When the South African Jewish Year Book 1929 was compiled, Morris was involved with many Jewish organisations,and they were (page reference shown next to the item and the relevant pages are below):

South African Jewish Board of Deputies (page 175)
South African Zionist Federation (page 195)
Member of Board of Zionist Record (elected 1924) (page 199)
Acting Temporary Editor of Zionist Record (on various occasions) (pages 214 and 254)
Office Bearer of Federation of Synagogues of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (page 277)

The South African Jewish year Book was edited by Morris De Saxe in 1929

South African Jewish Year Book 1929
South African Jewish Year Book 1929
South African Jewish Year Book 1929
South African Jewish Year Book 1929
South African Jewish Year Book 1929
South African Jewish Year Book 1929
South African Jewish Year Book 1929
South African Jewish Year Book 1929
South African Jewish Year Book 1929
South African Jewish Year Book 1929

My uncle did a family oral history and included events which occurred while he was still living at the home of his parents (my grandparents) in 1930. He said:

"Now the two girls, Annie was much older than I was - she was the oldest. She used to sort of understand my moods and knew how to soothe me and so on, I suppose in some ways a slightly motherly relationship, and she married - she wasn't an intellectual - she married Morris De Saxe who was very much an intellectual. A good scholar, an unsuccessful barrister. He couldn't get going as a barrister, and he would do part-time work as an extension . . . teaching of some sort. They had two children, Molly and Mannie, and then he contracted a rather terrible disease called myasthenia gravis, which was a collapse of the muscles. He got weaker and weaker and was more bed-ridden. One day I came up to the bathroom and I saw him struggling, struggling and struggling and I called my father and we more or less lifted him on to the bed and I ran to call the doctor, Isaac Silove. He came pretty quickly, but Morris was really suffocating to death with the collapse of his lungs. So then they were in the house and Morris I think, must have made most of his living teaching at the Technical College in the evening. And then there were the two children there and then Molly developed this mastoid and she had a terrible time with it."

Some of what was in the oral history was included in slightly different form in 1990, when my uncle wrote a personal, very "from the heart" sort of letter to me, explaining many of the traumas with which he had lived for so long, and not being able to tell even his closest about.

Here are some extracts from that letter, written when he was already in his 80s:

"You were all staying with us at the time of your father's death. He suffered from a progressive muscular failure and was bedridden. I came upstairs, the bathroom door was open, and your father was bent over the basin, and clearly in agonizing condition. I called down to my father - I don't know where Anne was (she was probably at the hospital where Molly had just had some very serious operations on a mastoid - and maybe I had just had my tonsils out too!)- and we half carried your father to his bed. I then ran to call Isaac Silove, and he came quickly. (A family relative and the family doctor) Whe he came up to your father he was obviously suffocating, and he died shortly after."

" Maurice - was that how he spelt his name, I have forgotten - or Morris - was a scholar, wide education, musical. He used to play the piano - a Beethoven concerto - but was clearly not in full technical mastery at that time. He did not relate easily to people - I think he was perhaps a little unworldly, and did not make a living at the bar, so supplemented his modest earnings by teaching at the Technical College. I think he was a man of high integrity. After their marriage they lived in a pleasant flat, but could not maintain it, and it must have been very humiliating for them to move in with us."

"I haven't mentioned your grandfather de Saxe (sic), with his brittle class conscious and I think class pretentious wife. (Ella Lazarus, Charles De Saxe's second wife whom he married in 1916) They came out to South Africa - I suspect not to lend help to Anne and the grandchildren, but looking for lucrative investments. In any event, your grandfather sought advice from uncle Israel and Cozilla. We thought it was to make provision for Anne and you and Molly. Oh no! They converted their capital into annuities, and sent Anne three dresses, suggesting to her that she start a dress shop."

The following obituary appeared in the (South African) Zionist Record on 5 September 1930:

Morris died on 28 August 1930 and the following obituary was published presumably in a Johannesburg newspaper, the Rand Daily Mail or the Star in the week following his death:

newspaper Obituary

Photo of Jeannette Molly De Saxe circa 1948 in Johannesburg, just before she married in 1949. Molly would have been about 24 years old at the time.

Photo of Emanuel Joshua De Saxe (Mannie) circa 1951 in Welwyn Garden City, UK, around 1951. Mannie would have been about 24 years old at the time.

21 NOVEMBER 1958

In 1958 the Zionist Record of South Africa celebrated its golden jubilee with a supplement, to record the story of the first 50 years of the paper.

Page 2 of the paper carried the following item:

Remembering an acting Editor

I copied these two obituary items from some newspapers many years ago, and am not sure of the details of their origins, but I have transcribed them and hope they are correct.

“The Africaner” 1930 (is this the South African Yiddish paper?)
The African Jewish World – 12 September 1930 – page 2

South African Jewish Board of Deputies

A meeting of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies was held at the Jewish Guild Building, Johannesburg, on Sunday week. (31 August 1930?) Mr S Raphaely was in the chair.

The Chairman referred to the untimely death of Advocate Morris de Saxe (sic), a member of the Board’s Executive, and in moving a vote of condolence to the family said that among the young men in South Africa, Mr de Saxe (sic) had been eminent in his work for Judaism and Jewish institutions, untiring in his effort, unstinting in sacrifice, and he would leave a name and reputation that would serve as an inspiring example to the youth of South Africa.

The Jewish Chronicle 1930 Volume 2 (UK?) Page 2


De Saxe (by cable) On 28th of August 1930 at Johannesburg, Morris, aged 31, the beloved son of Charles de Saxe (sic) of 49 Clarence Gate – Gardens, Regent’s Park and of the late Paulina de Saxe (sic) God rest his dear soul in peace.


This was probably my first visit ever to Brixton Cemetery to visit my father's grave, in June 1968.


Brixton Cemetery Johannesburg - Morris De Saxe's grave

Photos by Mannie De Saxe, Brixton Cemetery, Johannesburg, 1977. I was leaving for Australia early in 1978, and as I had only been once before to visit my father's grave I went on my second visit and took these photos.


Brixton Cemetery, Johannesburg - Morris De Saxe's grave

Photos by Ken Davis, Brixton Cemetery, Johannesburg, 1998. Ken took these photos, at my request, on one of his many trips to South Africa


Morris died in 1930 at the age of 31. I am now 82 and so have lived 51 years longer than Morris did, and also, it is 78 years since his death.

The world has turned over so dramatically in that time that it is difficult to record all the major events of the 20th century which have so affected our lives and the beliefs we hold now and might have held then.

When Morris died he was deeply involved in Judaism and zionism and anything which related to providing a homeland for Jews in Palestine.

It was at a time when there were still terrible ongoing pogroms in Eastern Europe, when Stalin was in power in the Soviet Union and anti-semitism was rife throughout the world and still growing.

Morris did not live to know about Hitler, Germany, the Nazis and the Holocaust which, together with Stalin's ongoing treatment of the Jews of the Soviet Union, helped zionists win their cause by eventually forcing the British to end their mandate in Palestine, and, with the blessing of the newly-formed United Nations, establish the state of Israel in the middle of Palestine where thousands and thousands of Palestinians were expelled and have lived in migrant camps around the Middle East since.

How would Morris have responded to the fact that his son is a gay, anti-zionist, atheist activist?

Would he have responded to the brutal behaviour of the Jewish state he so hoped for and would he have supported their behaviour as an apartheid state perpetrating genocide on the Palestinians of the land the Israelis stole from the Palestinians?

South Africa became a brutal apartheid state in 1948 and was still one in 1994, when at last it came to an end with free and fair elections for all of South Africa's inhabitants, irrespective of the colour of their skin and their economic status.

How would he have responded to the activities of many Jews in South Africa who became communists and members of the African National Congress and who fought for the rights of all the citizens of South Africa?

One can only surmise that the views and beliefs he so strongly held regarding Judaism and zionism would have tested his faith in all aspects of his life which he no doubt hoped to pass on to his children by his own activities and inspiration.

How disappointed he would probably have been at the outcomes of the lives of those he had nurtured until his untimely death.

My mother told us that Morris used to say, "So much to read and so little time to read in." Apparently he also used to say that he was often both parents to the children, and one wonders why and how he found time to be in that position.

For me, writing this imagined story of the life and times of Morris De Saxe, the most amazing aspect of it all is that, what I have just written here will be able to be read in every part of the world as soon as it is completed, thanks to one of the most amazing inventions of the 20th century, the Internet and World Wide Web.

The fact remains however, that in 2008, 78 years after Morris died of Myasthenia Gravis, and despite all the medical advances of the 20th century, a cure has not yet been found for this dreadful disease which caused Morris to die an agonising death for which neither he nor his family could have been prepared.

Would he have tried, young as he was, to have died using euthanasia methods to prevent the dreadful way his death played out?

The chances are that it was unlikely, given what appeared to be the conservatism of much of his belief systems.

28 AUGUST 2008

78 years since Morris died and in an extraordinary twist to a very short life there are now items available about him and this seems to indicate that maybe he was a person who was out of the ordinary.

A CD Rom has been produced of the 1929 South African Jewish Year Book, and early in 2008 a book was published in South Africa by Richard Mendelsohn and Milton Shain: "THE JEWS IN SOUTH AFRICA - AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY" published by Jonathan Ball Publishers. Five consecutive pages talk about Morris De Saxe and the activities and people he was involved in and with during his very short life.

Here are those pages:


Derek Walker of Johannesburg sent me this photo of Morris De Saxe's gravestone, taken in May 2012. One of the interesting aspects of the gravestone is that it appears to be in very good condition, which is surprising because, up until the early 1980s, it had been regularly maintained, but not since then. So it was very pleasing to find it looking clean and still completely legible and undamaged. Many thanks to Derek for his contribution.



Wilfred was born at 25 Brighton Road, St Kilda, Melbourne when Morris was 18 months old. Their mother, Paulina, died on 29 AUGUST 1902, aged 25. The death certificate states that the cause of death was Cerebral Haemorrhage - Purpura Haemorrhagica.

The only photo of Wilfred is this one with Morris, taken in Melbourne at Mendelssohn & Co. Photographic Studio in the old Queen Victoria Building on the corner of Collins Street and Swanston Street:

Photo of Morris Isaac De Saxe - nearly 4 years old (born 23 October 1898) and brother Wilfred Emanuel De Saxe - just over 2 years old (born 28 April 1900) taken in Melbourne in late 1902, some months after their mother Paulina (born Mendelssohn) had died in Melbourne on 29 August 1902, aged 25.

Wilfred died in London on 28 MAY 1904 aged 4 years. The death certificate states that the cause of death was Sarcoma of shoulder and chest - 6 weeks - heart failure.

The following photo was sent in August 2013 by Leonard Shear and Melvyn Hartog from the United Synagogue Burial Society.

The grave is in the Willesden Jewish Cemetery, London, UK.

In the space of 2 years Morris had lost his mother who was 25 and his brother who was 4. Morris died in 1930 aged 31 and his father, Charles, had lost his whole family. No doubt marrying Ella in 1915 helped to keep him going!








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This page updated 24 OCTOBER 2013 and again on 25 OCTOBER 2016