Born: Hvozdnice, Czechoslovakia
May 14, 1874
Josef was one of seven children born to a Jewish family in the Czechoslovakian village of Hvozdnice. After graduating from school, Josef worked as a salesman in Vienna. In 1912 he married Ida Kohn, and the couple had a son before he left to fight for Austria in World War I. After the war, they had a daughter.
1933-39: Because of the economic depression of the 1930s, it was difficult for Josef to make a living in his wholesale shoe business. In 1938 the Germans annexed Austria [the Anschluss], and soon after the Edelsteins' children both fled to Prague, where they felt it would be safer. Josef's business was seized and he and his wife were forced to relocate from their large apartment to a one-room flat. Since Josef had no income, he and Ida lived on their savings.
1940-44: In 1942 the Nazis arrested Ida, and Josef went to the collection point for the deportees hoping to find her. He did find her, and together they were deported to Czechoslovakia. There, in the Theresienstadt ghetto, they found their daughter, Alice, who had been deported there from Prague and whom they had not seen in four years. In late 1943 Alice was scheduled to be deported on a "labor" transport; Josef and Ida volunteered to go so that the family could remain together. The transport was sent to Auschwitz.
In March 1944 Josef died at Auschwitz from illness brought on by starvation.