I feel it necessary to clarify the objectives of all the recent intensive publicity.

This is a last, desperate resort.

It was NEVER my intention to turn this into a public scandal. As people who know me and my family personally, we are quiet people and would never have wanted to bring this into the public arena. It is by NO means my intention to shame anybody, harm anybody, take revenge or ‘win sympathy.’ As I have said repeatedly, this is ONLY about the best interests of Sammy and Benji.

From the time of my separation in February 2010, I and my parents approached every Rabbi in Vienna pleading for their assistance to mediate and bring a solution outside the courts. We were willing to cooperate and compromise on everything but custody of the children. I never wanted to deny the father his role and knowing his own difficult childhood, didn’t want Sammy and Benji to grow up without contact to their father as he himself did. Unfortunately, he was insistent that the case must only go through the Austrian courts.

When the psychologist recommendation came out in April 2011, I went to the Chief Rabbi of Vienna, Rabbi Chaim Eisenberg, sobbing uncontrollably, pleading and begging with him to intervene, to prevent a tragedy from happening, to save 2 Jewish souls. If the leaders of the Jewish community of Vienna had taken forceful action even at that point, this terrible situation could have been averted and things would never have escalated so dramatically.

Since it is clear this court case is not following proper legal procedure and we have exhausted every other avenue without success, we find ourselves with no other choice but to expose the ugly truth, even if people don’t want to confront it. We have simply presented the facts as they are. We have not embellished or manipulated the evidence in any way. Everything we have said is fully documented.

Had we not launched this campaign, Sammy and Benji may still be suffering in years to come, regardless of our legal representation.

History has shown that publicity campaigns do work. I repeat, our sole objective is to return the boys to their rightful place with their mother, not to deliberately antagonise or harm anyone. It is unfortunate that this has caused so much shame and embarrassment to the people involved but that is a sad consequence of our agenda, not the agenda itself.

Perhaps, as a result, the publicity may now encourage action that was not forthcoming before. This scandal is only going to keep escalating. Until the children are returned, the story is not going to go away. It is not my intention to deny the father his role in the children’s lives. Of course, he should support emotionally in their upbringing but for their daily care and nurturing, these young children belong with their mother.

Reflections after Visit 27.11.2012

Visit with the boys yesterday was heartbreaking. They communicate love and warmth to me; they are the sweetest-natured children, but they cannot respond to any questions or say a single sentence. They do not even talk to one another. They can make sounds and point at things but that is about all. The 2 Filipinos that are with them all the time speak pigeon English and very poor German. Is it any wonder my children cannot speak? It’s as though their minds have shut down, they are just surviving. Not moving forward, not developing, merely existing; staying alive hour to hour, day to day.

It is apparent they are not being stimulated or nurtured to develop like other children their age and in just 6 hours per week, I can no longer have any real influence on their development.
It is a terrifying feeling to watch my 2 once perfectly healthy, intelligent, lively boys being destroyed before my eyes and feel so powerless to prevent it. I thank G-d for giving them the strength to have coped as well as they have done until now, given the trauma they have experienced. Before they were so cruelly taken, I couldn’t even imagine spending one day apart from them. Looking back, every day I spent with them was such a precious gift. No mother should ever take her child for granted.

I was blessed to bring 2 beautiful babies into the world, both physically and mentally, they were 100% healthy. Like any mother, experiencing every stage of their development: first roll, first time sitting up, first crawl, first steps, first word, brings indescribable joy and pleasure. Sadly, that all came to an abrupt halt. Instead, I am now watching the painful process in reverse, as my boys continue to regress and display increasing signs of disturbance.
When children are sick and suffer due to illness or disease, it is tragic and devastating. Knowing that Samuel & Benjamin’s problems are all man-made is sickening and perverse.

Worse, the realisation that the faith and trust we put in the very organisations set up to protect and support vulnerable children like Sammy and Benji, was so misplaced, was the worst betrayal of all.

Jewish Chronicle, 28.11.2012

Beth Alexander online campaign launches

A young British Jewish mother fighting for custody of her children in Vienna has launched a web campaign to raise awareness of her situation.

Beth Alexander, a Cambridge University graduate from Manchester, married her Austrian husband Dr Michael Schlesinger in 2006.

The couple had twin boys, but following a bitter separation, in which she struggled to gain a “get” – a religious divorce – she lost custody of the three-year-old boys. According to Ms Alexander, there have been claims that she is suffering from mental illness. But a court commissioned medical report found earlier this month that at no time had she suffered from any form of mental illness.

As part of the effort to push the Austrian courts to restore full contact with her sons Benjamin and Samuel, a YouTube video has been posted entitled “Save the Schlesinger Twins in Vienna”.

The video accuses the Austrian justice system of turning “two innocent children’s lives… upside down”.

A website has also been created to draw attention to the case and provide updates.

“There are many people – all over the world – that feel very passionately about correcting this and are doing all they can to try to help the twins,” said Ms Alexander. “I receive so many messages of support each day.”

972 hits on YouTube in less than 24 hours


Thank you to every single person for all your support. The video has had 972 hits in less than 24 hours! I’m overwhelmed by the amount of support Samuel and Benjamin have and how many people deeply care.  So many people have asked how they can help. We are working on finding ways to mobilise this incredible amount of support into powerful action. Will keep you posted. In the meantime, please keep dear Sammy & Benji in your thoughts and prayers. x

Response from Schlesinger’s Lawyer Following Custody Decision

Response from Schlesinger’s lawyer in response to my urgent request to see the children after they were taken:

“After this traumatic experience, the children now need calm above all and must not be re-exposed to stressful situations. Therefore, any contact (with the mother) in the next 14 days is inconceivable…..her and her parents must first learn to accept the new situation.

Following the adjustment phase of the children, (visits) will depend on the state of the children and the behaviour of your client.

However, only fully supervised visits in a visiting centre are conceivable in the coming months.”

Email, Marina Breitenecker, Wedenesday 27 July 2011, 6pm

Von: Marina Breitenecker
Gesendet: Mittwoch, 27. Juli 2011 18:00
An: ‘Mag. Irene Oberschlick’
Betreff: AW: Schlesinger

Die Kinder brauchen jetzt nach diesen dramatischen Erlebnis vorrangig Ruhe und dürfen nicht erneut belastenden Situationen ausgesetzt werden, sodass ein Besuchskontakt in den nächsten 14 Tagen nicht denkbar ist.

….sie und ihre Eltern erst lernen müssen die Situation zu akzeptieren.

….Wie es nach einer ersten Ruhephase weiter geht hängt maßgebend vom
Zustand der Kinder und vom Verhalten Ihrer Klientin ab.

Jedenfalls ist nur ein begleiteter Kontakt beim Wr. Famileinbund in
der nächsten Zeit denkbar…


Article in “Heute” Austrian newspaper 26.11.2012



It is the nightmare of every mother. Beth S. (28) is feeding her twins, Samuel and Benjamin (three and a half years old), as the doorbell rings. Four police officers enter the home and take her children away! Reason: A court in a custody battle granted the father sole custody on the basis of a dubious report.

The sad story: Since January 2010, Beth has lived apart from her husband and the father of the children; the battle for custody of her sons landed in court. The children’s father, a trainee doctor, repeatedly alleged his wife was “mentally ill” and even tried to commit her to a mental hospital. In response, the court commissioned a psychological examination. The result: the mother had “reduced child raising capabilities.”

And so, a judge in the second district court of Vienna ruled against Beth and ordered her children to be taken away. But the dubious report, on which the judge’s ruling was based, is a scandal: Two new reports (of which this newspaper has copies) have proven that Beth is not mentally ill in any way. On the contrary, these psychologists have challenged the first psychologist report: The mother has never had any history of mental illness. The first psychologist report is unreliable and illogical.

The mother, a Cambridge graduate, is fighting for her children. “My husband was violent during the marriage,” she says. “I had to flee to a women’s refuge. He now has the kids and they are in a terrible condition. “It breaks my heart.” The father declined to comment.


Isabella Martens

Please sign this PETITION and urge others to sign.



International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

We’ve launched this website on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women as it seems befitting. On this site you can follow developments of the case and read updates of Samuel & Benjamin’s welfare.

Thanks for your support




The current situation:

The father has temporary custody pending further investigation

On 25th July 2011, my twins Samuel and Benjamin Schlesinger were just 2 years, 2 months old when they were removed from my care. The custody decision was a scandalous document and offered no real justification for such an outrageous decision. The judge, Susanne Gottlicher, awarded the father full and immediate custody, without allowing the children to stay with me until an appeal decision was reached.

No Austrian lawyer of the many I have consulted has ever read such an outrageous legal document. Children are only removed so suddenly if they are considered to be in imminent danger. The judge did not cite any danger as grounds for her decision. I was not awarded any visitation rights. The judge left it up to the father to decide when and how often I could see my boys. It was 8 weeks before I saw them again.

My lawyer wrote a 30 page appeal listing all the irregularities in the case and evidence of professional misconduct. The Higher court reduced the father’s custody to temporary and referred the case back to the lower court for further investigation. They gave the judge the following instructions:

a) to confirm whether the mother was suffering from any form of mental illness

b) to assess whether the father was as was tolerant and cooperative in granting the mother access as he promised to be (when asked how he envisaged having custody, he said he would grant me a 50-50 split, would allow me to take the children on holiday to England and see them whenever I wanted)

c) to see whether the children develop better under his care.

Since then……

a) The judge in January commissioned a second psychiatric assessment. He assessed me in August and it has taken until now for him to publish his results. The psychiatrist concluded, ‘neither at the time of the examination nor at any time in the past has Beth Rebecca Schlesinger suffered from any form of mental illness.’ Dr Werner Leixnering, senior psychiatrist and psychotherapist.

b) the father regularly cancels my visits at the last minute. Recently, he denied me access for 7 weeks! He has employed 2 Filipinos to ‘care’ for the children. The court has no idea who these women are or what their qualifications are.

c) the children are in a terrible state. They are 3.5 years old. They don’t talk, are still in nappies and are extremely disturbed and confused. In April the father had Sammy’s 4 front teeth taken out.

We are now awaiting a final decision. The situation is critical and desperate. Samuel and Benjamin have suffered long enough.


London Jewish News, 16.11.2012


JewishNewsReadableFull online newspaper (see page 3)

Wembley demo for custody battle mum

DOZENS of community members demonstrated outside Wembley shul last weekend in support of a Jewish mother who is battling an Austrian court ruling that grants her only limited access to her three-year old twin sons.

Manchester-born Beth Schlesinger moved to Vienna six years ago after marrying Austrian doctor Michael Schlesinger but the couple divorced in 2011, after which judges ruled she could see her boys for only six hours a week and every other Sunday. The custody decision came in the wake of a report, which she insists was “flawed”, alleging her to be mentally ill.

Nearly 50 protesters with placards supporting the mother targeted the shul last Sunday in order to raise awareness of the case among guests at a concert featuring Vienna-based Chief Cantor Shmuel Barzilai. The event was selected because of the expected presence of the Austrian Ambassador, but he didn’t appear.

Her brother, Adrian Alexander, who helped organise the demonstration, said: “This was our first demo, where we could gauge the mood of the public. There was a strong voice from the crowd.

“We now want to organise much bigger protest in the next few Weeks with a bigger impact, at a venue that will catch the eye of Austrian diplomats.”

Speaking to the Jewish News from Vienna, the mother said: “The demonstration really strengthened my resolve. I was really touched. It has made me even more determined to get my children back.”

Her supporters include former head of London Beth Din Dayan Ehrentreu and Vienna’s Chief Rabbi, as well as 7,000 members of a Facebook group set up to highlight her plight.

She was also buoyed by the conclusions of the latest court commissioned psychiatric assessment, submitted this week.

In the 17-page document, senior psychiatrist Dr Werner Leixnering states: “Neither at the time of the examination nor at any point in the past, has [she] suffered from any form of mental illness.”

“It’s momentous,” said the British-born mum. “It shows the original report was flawed, and the basis for the original custody decision unsubstantiated.”

The next court hearing is due to take place on 26 November.

Dr Schlesinger could not be reached for comment.