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Schimmel’s Wedding Film 1948

  • The film shows Schimmel’s Jewish wedding ceremony at the prestigious Glamis Villa, followed by lunch at the Taj Mahal Hotel. Among the guests were Käthe and Walter Langhammer.
  • Film
  • Schimmel’s Wedding Film 1948

    Word Count: 4

  • 30-03-1948
  • Silent film; compilation of amateur videos; partly colour, partly black-white

  • Glamis Villa, off Warden Road, near Breach Candy Club, Bombay (now 63 Bhulabhai Desai Road, Cumballahill, Mumbai) (Venue of wedding ceremony & garden reception); The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Bombay (now Mumbai), (Venue of wedding lunch); Keneseth Eliyahoo, Fort Synagogue, Forbes Street, Fort, Bombay (now Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, 55, Dr. V.B. Gandhi Marg, Fort, Mumbai) (synagogue of the rabbi who performed the wedding, see wedding certificate; 16.4).

  • 9 min 37 sec film (11 shots)

  • Mumbai (IN)
  • The film shows Schimmel’s Jewish wedding ceremony at the prestigious Glamis Villa, followed by lunch at the Taj Mahal Hotel. Among the guests were Käthe and Walter Langhammer.

    Word Count: 30

  • A fairytale story in a fairytale setting is the story behind this film. Two Hungarian-speaking Jewish refugees from National Socialism, one from Budapest living in New York, the other from a small town on the Austrian border with Hungary living in Bombay, meet at a tea dance in glamorous St. Moritz in the Swiss Alps, shortly after the end of the war, in autumn 1947. The house where they will reside after their marriage and where the groom’s family has lived in exile for almost ten years, is named after Glamis Castle, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. It is one of four grand mansions at Breach Candy named after four British royal residences. In 2013, Glamis Villa was sold to an Indian industrial tycoon for more than 20 million Euros.
    But there is another magical spark behind this film! It was Josef Schimmel who introduced Walter Langhammer to Kekoo Gandhy, initiating a whole new era of art promotion in Bombay. The film also connects immigrant art circles with the milieu of successful Jewish businessmen in exile and the commercial expat community in early post-independence Bombay.
    In 1948 Josef Schimmel (1902–1988) was General Manager of Kores (India) Ltd., an Austrian company producing carbon paper and typewriter ribbons. Kores had sent the engineer Josef Schimmel to Shanghai as technical manager in 1936. In May 1938 Schimmel was transferred to Bombay to open a Kores factory there. In the meantime the National Socialists had occupied Austria and Schimmel’s parents, Klara (née Mayer, 1869–1957) and Adolf Schimmel (1863–1950), were forced to leave their hometown of Bruck/Leitha for Vienna in October 1938. They lived there in a small apartment with no income, dependent on contributions from the Jewish community and the sale of their jewellery and furniture. Due to Josef Schimmel’s high salary and his position in Bombay, his parents were granted visas for British India and the husband of one of his cousins was given a position at Kores (India) Ltd. The cousin, Kamilla (née Wewerka, 1895–?), and husband Julius Thenen (1896–1988) were able to safely leave Nazi-occupied Austria and became part of Josef's close social circle in Bombay.
    In the meantime, Josef and his parents led a very upscale British colonial lifestyle at Glamis Villa. It had belonged to Hari Singh, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, until the late 1930s, and was converted into a luxury home around 1938.
    Presumably, the Schimmels lived on the ground floor of the three-storey villa, which had a total area of around 11,000 square feet (1022 square metres), ten bedrooms, three living rooms, plus kitchens and garages. Joe Schimmel was a member of a riding club, had his own stallion, and vacationed at Indian hill stations – just as the British did. In Matheran, at Porcupine Point, he met Kekoo Gandhy during the Christmas holidays in the early 1940s. Joe’s good friend, the Austrian painter Walter Langhammer, had designed a special frame for his paintings and was looking for a frame workshop in Bombay. After meeting Langhammer and members of the art circle, the spark had spilled over to Kekoo Gandhy.
    Walter Langhammer may have shot the first sequence of the wedding film, as he is the only member of the wedding group who does not appear in it. Both, Käthe and Walter Langhammer were enthusiastic about photography. After the war, movie cameras became affordable for the better off, allowing them to document their lives. The Langhammers shared this passion with their friends, the Leyden brothers, Rudi and Albrecht von Leyden, the sales representative for Allied Photographers in Bombay.
    The film is divided into eleven sections compiled from various sources. It keeps switching from black and white to colour film.
    The first section (colour, 30 seconds) begins with the arrival of the rabbi and his assistants from the Keneseth Eliyahoo Fort Synagogue and some guests. A short sequence gives a first glimpse of the bride, Eva Ormos (translated to Hungarian, née Ornstein; 1921–2008), who emigrated to New York with her Jewish father and two sisters in 1939; her brother was abducted by the National Socialists and disappeared. Eva worked as a beautician in New York and her sister Margarethe was employed at a dance theatre, where she met her future husband, Jack Guggenheim. Working for the MGM film company in Europe Jack and his wife settled in Zurich. When their first daughter was born in 1947, they invited Eva to visit and later sent her to St. Moritz in the mountains to cure her sinusitis.
    The second section (black and white, two minutes) introduces us to Jewish wedding traditions: the chuppah, a canopy with four corners and a covered roof is a symbol of the couple’s new home and during the ceremony the four posts of the chuppah are held by Jewish friends to symbolise their support for the life the couple will build together. The menorah, the candelabra, is lit and the groom wears a tallit or prayer shawl.
    Dr. Hermann David Laemmle (1900–1996), a medical practitioner and exiled ear, nose and throat specialist from Augsburg, was the groom’s best man. Julius Thenen gave the bride away in the absence of her own family. “After their holidays [in St. Moritz] they both returned to their various homes. He kept writing letters to her ‘Come and marry me!’ She did not accept straight away, she came out in March 1948 on a plane, he put her up for two weeks in the Taj hotel and gave her money. She bought him a golden watch with personal engraving," recalled her only daughter, Carol Ross (1948–2018) in an interview with the author."
    In the third film section (black and white, 30 seconds) the wedding gifts are displayed on the dining room table at Glamis Villa, including crystal glassware, a record player and a painting by Langhammer, Bombay from the Malabar Hills.
    In the fourth section (coloured, approx. one minute) the couple and their family hold a garden reception on the Glamis Villa lawn. This is followed by a sequence (coloured, one minute) documenting the departure of the couple and their guests, leaving behind the groom’s elderly parents on the veranda. It ends with the couple getting into their car in Breach Candy and the next section (coloured, seven seconds) shows them getting out of their car in front of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, after a nine-kilometre drive via scenic Marine Drive through south Bombay.
    The following two sections (black and white, 105 seconds) give us a glimpse of the wedding lunch at the Taj Mahal, held in a private room. Next to the groom sits Mrs. Langhammer and next to the bride is Dr. Laemmle. After lunch Walter Langhammer gave a speech that caused a lot of laughter.
    The next sections (starting at 7:26) are all in colour and are shot back at magnificent Glamis Villa: for more than a minute we see the site of the garden reception, now empty of guests, with the groom’s mother, as head of the household, taking charge of the cleaning up process, with the help of the Indian servants. The couple pose casually for the camera, which also captures their dog. The next scene shows the Schimmels in the villa's living room. Joe Schimmel is sitting on a chair next to a bookcase that is decorated with Indian artefacts. The final, very brief, section shows Langhammer’s painting for a second before the film ends with a black screen.
    The film – with all its colonial patterns – is a unique and rare source in many ways: it shows the socio-economic environment of prosperous Jewish refugees in India in the first year of Indian independence; a Jewish wedding conducted in India; historical close-ups of one of the most expensive houses in present-day Mumbai and the social milieu of the networks that co-created Bombay’s particular cosmopolitan environment in the 1940s and 1950s, which spawned various art history initiatives.

    Word Count: 1307

  • Photo of the newlyweds with wedding gifts, including the Langhammer painting Bombay from the Malabar Hills in the dining room of Glamis Villa, 1948 (© Private Archive Joe Schimmel, Cape Town).
  • Joe Schimmel’s family during the wedding. From left: Kamilla Thenen (groom’s cousin), Adolf and Klara Schimmel (groom’s parents), the groom Joe Schimmel, the bride Eva Ormos and Julius Thenen, 1948 (© Private Archive Joe Schimmel, Cape Town; photo montage from the film by Fredi Kuncio).
    The Marriage Certificate from the Keneseth Eliyahoo Fort Synagogue, 1948 (© Private Archive Joe Schimmel, Cape Town).
    The Schimmels at the Bombay Race Course in high society Bombay, late 1940s (© Private Archive Joe Schimmel, Cape Town).
    The Schimmel couple on vacation in Bad Gastein, Austria, 1951 (© Private Archive Joe Schimmel, Cape Town).
    Stallion belonging to Joe Schimmel, before 1948 (© Private Archive Joe Schimmel, Cape Town).
    Langhammer's painting Bombay from the Malabar Hills, n.d. (Photo: Margit Franz, 2010).
    Schimmel’s wedding film, 1948 (© Private Archive Joe Schimmel, Cape Town; revisions, technical adaptations and simplifications by Martin Schitter; entire film on Vimeo, see link below).
  • Anonymous. “Bombay Wedding.” The Times of India, 31 March 1948, p. 9.

    Bharucha, Nauzer K. “Industrialist buys heritage south Mumbai bungalow for RS 180cr.” The Times of India, 1 November 2013, Accessed 13 April 2021.

    Franz, Margit. Gateway India. Deutschsprachiges Exil in Indien zwischen britischer Kolonialherrschaft, Maharadschas und Gandhi. CLIO, 2015.

    Franz, Margit. “From Dinner Parties to Galleries: The Langhammer-Leyden-Schlesinger Circle in Bombay – 1940s through the 1950s.” Arrival Cities. Migrating Artists and New Metropolitan Topographies in the 20th Century, edited by Burcu Dogramaci et al., Leuven University Press, 2020, pp. 73–90. Project Muse, doi: 10.1353/book.77990. Accessed 30 March 2021.

    Gandhy, Kekoo. “The Beginnings of the Art Movement.” City of Dreams, special issue of Seminar, no. 528, August 2003, Accessed 10 April 2021.

    Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. “Glamis Castle.” 22 April 2021, Wikipedia, Accessed 25 April 2021.

    Word Count: 135

  • Private Archive James von Leyden, Lewes.

    Archival records from personal interviews between the author and Carol Ross, Néré, France, 20–24 August 2010.

    Archival records from personal interviews between the author and Khorshed and Kekoo Gandhy, Mumbai, 30 April to 3 May 2003; 18 to 22 January 2004; 26 April to 12 May 2007; 13 to 15 October 2008; 24 October 2010.

    Private Archive Joe Schimmel, Cape Town.

    Private Archive Margit Franz, Sinabelkirchen.

    Private Archive of late Khorshed & Kekoo Gandhy, Mumbai.

    Word Count: 66

  • Margit Franz
  • Bombay
  • No
  • Margit Franz. "Schimmel’s Wedding Film 1948." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 22-11-2021.
  • Emanuel Schlesinger
    Factory OwnerTechnical DirectorArt CollectorArt Critic

    The art collector Schlesinger provided primarily financial aid by creating working opportunities for young artists in post-independence Bombay, and initiated the corporate culture of buying art.

    Word Count: 26

    Baumgartner’s Bombay

    The novel Baumgartner’s Bombay provides an opposite picture to that of the successful refugee in Bombay. Anita Desai’s fiction depicts poverty and failure in Indian exile.

    Word Count: 28

    GalleryFrame Shop

    Chemould’s history stretches from its beginnings as a manufacturer of chemical mouldings and frames in 1941 over to a hub for art circulation displaying a variety of artists in Bombay.

    Word Count: 30

    Breach Candy Club

    The Breach Candy Club, restricted to “Europeans”, was a favourite spot for the exiled financial elite with its saltwater pool shaped like the map of British India and sea view.

    Word Count: 30

    Kekoo Minochair Gandhy
    Frame Shop OwnerGalleristArt Collector

    Starting from a cosmopolitan milieu for young local artists, Kekoo and his wife Khorshed Gandhy developed a business model that turned the frame shop into Gallery Chemould.

    Word Count: 27

    Rudolf von Leyden
    GeologistAdvertisement SpecialistJournalistArt CriticArt CollectorCartoonist

    The advertisement expert, Rudolf von Leyden, became a major art critic and art historian in Bombay in the 1940s, advocating an urgent need for modernism in art in post-colonial India.

    Word Count: 30

    The Leydens: Sculpture, Paintings, Cartoons

    In 1948 Albrecht and Rudi von Leyden sold their personal works of art in order to set up an “Artists' Aid Fund”, which became an institution in the following years.

    Word Count: 29

    Open Studio Evenings by Käthe and Walter Langhammer

    The painter Walter Langhammer and his wife Käthe built an informal infrastructure to promote local avant-garde artists and regularly invited them to Open Studio Evenings at their studio.

    Word Count: 29