Žuži Jelinek, Croatian fashion stylist, designer and writer, Died at 96


Žuži Jelinek/ Suzana Ferber was born in 1920 in Budapest and died on January 23, 2016.

She was a Hungarian-born Croatian fashion stylist, designer and writer.

Miss Jelinek was only 17 years of age when she started to work in Paris as a seamstress in a factory of Nina Ricci.

During her time in Paris, Jelinek met Coco Chanel, for whom she briefly worked.

As World War II started, Jelinek returned to Zagreb in 1939.

Žuži opened a tailor shop in Zagreb, where she made cloth for wealthy Jewish families.

Žuži met and married her first husband, Zagreb’s dentist Dr. Erich Jelinek, in 1941.

The couple had two children, son Ivica and daughter Dijana.

Along with the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia in 1941, the infamous Ustaše policy soon led her brothers in the camps where they were both killed, one in a Kerestinec concentration camp and more in the Jadovno concentration camp.

Her time in Sušak, where she moved to escape the Ustaša and Nazi persecution, Jelinek learned that her parents were about to be transported to Jasenovac concentration camp.

Žuži went to an Italian officer, whom she seduced, and thus saved her parents from deportation.

During the war, Jelinek joined the Partisans.

Just after the war, Jelinek started to sew again, and at age 40 she moved to the United States.

In the United States, continued to work very successfully.

After Jelinek returned to Zagreb, Jelinek found out that her husband left her for maidservant.

She continued to work hard and traveled the world.

She has written 8 books and since 1994, she became a regular columnist in the Croatian women’s magazine Gloria.

The Croatian Radiotelevision recorded the documentary which recounts the life of Jelinek during early life poverty and later success.

Some time ago, she received an offer from Steven Spielberg, who wanted to make a film about her life, because he had heard the story of a single Jewish woman during the Holocaust who risked her life to save her parents.

Steven Spielberg invited her to be chief adviser in the movie, but although she was very flattered by the offer, Jelinek declined it with the conclusion that she has too little time to set aside for two years in the United States.

Jelinek lived in Zagreb, Geneva and Opatija.

She got married 3 times after her first.

Before her death, she was married to her fourth husband Milorad Ronkulin.

She has been a longtime council member of the Jewish community in Zagreb.

Steven Spielberg passed away at 96 yrs old.