Tuesday 20 February 2024



Mainz, 28.3.39

My dear Gretel, thank you for your kind thoughts on this day. Oh, if only I was already out [of this life?] – I long so much for it. But no one asks about [my wishes], one has to suffer to the extreme end! You should know that, and [I am telling you now] only because I hope that it will not take much longer, or I would gladly have spared you for the time being. I suffer all the time, and all your prophesies of [the growth] stopping or similar developments, for which I myself have long waited like for the Messiah, are worth nothing. It would have been better if you had asked your clever physicians about medications that might help against the pain which gets worse with every day. Mind you, there is hardly any medication that Ernst [Emma’s doctor] hasn’t prescribed, who looks after me every week now. And since Saturday I also receive injections, which Sister Maria gives me …[illegible]. They make me very tired without helping me much. Today I went on strike. I wanted to write to you already in the morning while lying down, and after the injections I doze for hours. But today I was too tired, and now after my tea which always makes me feel a little better, I write to you immediately because I don’t know how I will feel over the next days and because I also must write to Lilly [Emma’s daughter in Buenos Aires] these days. I am bound to think a great deal about poor Julius [Gretel’s late husband], how much he had to suffer, how he lost weight and hardly had the will to eat anymore. I too am almost at that stage, for a long time now I have been terribly skinny, and most of the time I have to force myself to eat, but for certain reasons I want to hang on a little longer. But don’t come to me now – apart from the fact that you have no time, I no longer have a bed downstairs. The one upstairs in the attic is wrecked, and I returned Mrs. Achenbach’s bed to her. Gustel [Auguste Gutmann, married to Emma’s uncle] is living at Mimi’s [Emma’s sister] now, that poor thing is homeless since Saturday and still has no idea when she can leave and where to go, presumably first to Manchester. It looks like it’s not going to work out in Latvia [where Milly had a textile factory]. Milly stayed at first with Berthe [Bertha Goetz, related to Milly’s husband] in London, and I think, she is also now in Manchester – has she not talked with you? I am sorry that Ernst’s [Gretel’s youngest son] hand is still taking a long time to heal, but I can’t understand it. Your physicians don’t seem to be very skilful. I am surprised that H. wants to build a new future so far away, as she did quite well so far making progress. I am very sorry that now, that you have your furniture, you are not using it and are renting a flat – it’s not about the money that I have to pay (that will happen as soon as Dr. Kraus has permission), but that you have to pay 15 Pounds there now. Surely Wolfgang [Gretel’s oldest son] and Hans [Hans Juda, married to Gretel’s daughter Elsbeth] and Elsbeth too can manage that, and you can repay them later if they are in such need. There are many things in which I don’t understand you. For months you press me about your furniture and when you have it, you make difficulties for yourself. Don’t forget about Liebensteins [Emmas’s neighbours], they would like to know more details about you, and you won’t believe, how uncomfortable I am with that. This week a certain Mrs Lautner [?] was here twice, who wanted to have your address. She referred to a certain Mrs. Altschueler from Kaiserslauten, I believe, whom Julius [Gretel’s late husband] knew very well, and [talked] more such nonsense, and although I was in bed after the second injection, I asked her to come in, so I could [talk to her] myself. I said you are in the process of moving, I did not have an address for you, and why did she need it, etc. Of course it was about Woburn House [Jewish refuge centre aiding German and Austrian Jews to emigrate to Britain], so I quickly got rid of her.  Tomorrow, after 5, I expect [a visit from] a gentleman from the local court for the purpose of a general power of attorney, valid also after my death. [It is] for my administrator, who will come along.  I already…

[The end of this letter is missing. Emma Neuman committed suicide on 3 April, 1939].

For the originals see LBI Archives AR 7167/MF 720.The translation is by Erika Rummel and Susi Lessing.

Saturday 10 February 2024



 22.3. 1939

My dear Gretel, I just settled down to write to you, that is, stretched out on the chaise longue, as I always do in the morning -- earlier I had called Dr. Kr[aus], unfortunately to no purpose because you always tell me half of everything or less than half -- when Mrs. Liebenstein [Emma’s neighbour] arrived for a lengthy visit. She too had nothing pleasant to tell me. First about Dr. Kr[aus]: You tell me that your furniture is now at customs, for which I was very glad. As you write that everything is working out once I pay, I waited until this morning for a call from Dr. K. telling me to send the money. Then I called him myself, so I could write about it to you, and heard to my surprise that I need not look after anything, that you knew everything from him, from Br. and Roth etc., also the main thing – that the 15 Pounds must be paid there in foreign currency, as for sending the money to the company one first needs permission from the foreign currency office. Dr. K. is of the opinion, which I second, that it cannot be very difficult for you to have someone there pay the 80 Marks or lend them to you. Is Wolfgang [Gretel’s oldest son] not able to do so, or Turk [?] or whoever else there may be? And I cannot understand that you cannot find sufficient time for yourself, to rent a flat. After all that is also important, and mainly, let me advise you not to rent just a place for the summer now that it will soon be warm weather, but rather to think of winter, so that you will have a warm and comfortable place by then. You know how bad this winter was, and we had snow until yesterday and very cold temperatures. Mrs. Liebenstein was very indignant – I promised to report it to you. She wrote to you twice in five months, always with return postage, and you remained mum (she said). She has a very rich brother in Lugano [?], who will give full guarantees for her, and they also want to go to England and would like to know how much money they have to deposit and for how many years. I promised to write that to you, and perhaps you could write to her directly at Kaiserstasse 41 or write to me, and she will pick up the answer in eight days. It would be best if you told her about the office where she needs to apply. If you could do so, I personally would like it if you took care of her a little. She was not wrong to say: if one lives 30 years in a house, well, etc. To get back to your office affairs, may I ask: What do you mean when you say “Tell Oppenh[eimer] and the other relatives that I have nothing at all to do with Wob[urn] House”? [Woburn House was the Jewish Refugee Centre helping German and Austrian Jews to emigrate to Britain.] I know that very well and haven’t been asked for your address or anything else in a long time. Who is Oppenheimer? As far as I remember…Marianne [?] asked for your address. Are the Webers finally leaving you in peace? I haven’t heard from them in a long time. Mar.’s principle is to write to us only when she wants something, and Lilly v H [i.e. from Hanau?] didn’t even think of visiting me. Some time ago I wrote to you “I bet you ten to one, that you won’t guess who visited me” – since it is a riddle, put a “Dr.” in front, and you’ll solve it. That Lilly has an acquaintance in Hanau, you know as well as I do, you silly girl! Did you not at the time take my silverware along? [A decree of Feb 21 1939 required Jews to turn in gold, silver, and other valuables to the state without compensation.]  Otherwise, I don’t understand your doubts. Adele visited me yesterday morning and told me much that was of interest. After years of hesitation on B’s part, she and B intend to visit your hospitable island, but how long will it take [to realize that]? T. Georgi was here just now for an hour in the morning and brought me a very kind letter from Irmgard and a piece of Prinzregenten cake from the birthday [celebration]. Lieschen arrived safely in C[anada] with her party of five. Now, after my tea, I am sitting once again at my desk, expecting Mimi [Wilhelmine Bing, Emma’s sister] shortly, perhaps also Guste [Auguste Gutmann, married to Emma's uncle] and am sending you, my dear child, 1000 heartfelt greetings and kisses for today. Your devoted mother.

FOR MORE LETTERS SEE MY NEXT BLOGPOST. For the originals see LBI Archives AR 7167/MF 720.The translation is by Erika Rummel and Susi Lessing.

Sunday 4 February 2024



Thursday, 16.3. 1939

My dear Gretel, for once your dear letter arrived a day late, instead I received a letter from Dr. K[raus] on Tuesday answering my letter of 19.2. It is a good thing that February is over, those people were very stressed with filing taxes, etc. – that’s also how he justifies his late reply. As he wrote that you are informed about everything and that he has sent you a number of copies, I won’t deal further with the contents of his letter to me. Yesterday I gave it to Dietz, so that he can discuss most of the content with him and can then report back about it to me. One matter, about which I immediately contacted the company Zo [?] by phone, as his report that you had received the clearance document for your furniture, and he asked me whether I wanted or was in a position to pay for it. I explained to him that the money was available to him any time (of course he will have to negotiate with the currency exchange office first) and must immediately inform me when he has any information, also from the company Br. and R. because he still has to inquire how much has to be paid. He mentioned ca. 250 Marks – I hope it isn’t much more. I can see, however, that you yourself have contributed to the delay of the matter. First you tormented me for weeks about paying the money for the furniture, for which I had no opportunity however (it is amazing how ignorant you are over there about the circumstances and regulations here), and now you have allowed 2 weeks to pass without informing me what I ought to do. I would of course have instructed Dr. K[raus] to have your furniture released, in which case you might perhaps have had them by 1. April, and for which you are so eager. That appears to be very questionable to me now, although Dr. Kr[aus] is of the opinion that the company can send the furniture as soon as they have the money. For your sake I hope that’s the case. I am glad that you were able to spend a nice evening with F and also that you are now going out more often. The monotonous life you led combined with the heavy load of work does not suit you, and I can also tell from your letters that you are in a better state [of mind] now and not as harassed and upset as you were at first, even though there are quite a few things that seem to depress you now. But that will also be resolved. Ernst St. [Emma’s doctor] was here just now. He looks in on me now every week and regularly prescribes painkillers for me, first Enkodal, today also Optalidon, but unfortunately they no longer help, and I have to suffer the pain and grit my teeth. It is one advantage that the nights are better than the days, and I am able to sleep for a few hours, with sufficient medication, that is. You wanted a report about my condition and you mustn’t have any illusions, just as I no longer have any. Even the nice comforting thought of spring no longer works for me, unless a miracle happened and the growth of the tumour stopped, and I still have a little hope of that coming about. Nevertheless, don’t worry about me, my dear child, you know that I won’t readily throw in the towel and am not easily overcome. The most important thing for me is that you are happy and content, and this is the greatest consolation to me. You know, I overestimated your intelligence! That’s the consequence, that you silly child don’t occupy yourself crossword puzzles and other riddles and did not quite understand the clever riddle I posed you. By the way, letter was once again opened by the customs office “to check on currency exchange”. Have my letters been opened as well? I should have written “Rosenecke” [?] instead of “Hanau” – perhaps you would have understood the riddle a little better then, or perhaps “Tiloit” [?] or something similar. But you did know that L had friends in H[anau]? Well then!! I hope you had good news from Ernst [Margarete’s son], and his finger will soon be healed. Will he get his old job back?  You won’t have such an urgent need for the old fine handkerchiefs, as you write, and you will perhaps soon haven an opportunity to pick them up yourself. One can’t entrust that to another person, or don’t you know that either? In any case they are not that valuable, they won’t make anyone rich. Why would I worry about Kahn [?]? I told you that this business is all the same to me, I don’t even think about such things. Instead, I have a lot of things to do with my administrator and put in order before 1.4. [the date on which an instalment of the wealth tax was due, according to the ordinance of 21 November 1938], we must wait for the decision about the taxes, and other such things. Gustl’s [Auguste, cousin of Emma’s father] affairs are one step further, the day before yesterday their furniture was finally taken away in a small container [?], for which they had to pay a year [in advance] so that it can remain in the duty-free harbour – for first they have to obtain the immigration permit, and during all those preparations things often change completely on account of new regulations, which appear overnight.

            I have to end for today and remain with 1000 kind greetings and kisses,

Your devoted old Mother


FOR MORE LETTERS SEE MY NEXT BLOGPOST. For the originals see LBI Archives AR 7167/MF 720.The translation is by Erika Rummel and Susi Lessing.

Tuesday 23 January 2024




Wednesday 8.3. 1939

My dear Gretel, yesterday I received your dear letter of Sunday, as I do every Tuesday, and took great pleasure in it because the contents did not affect my mood as negatively as they do most of the time. It is good that you have a little more time for yourself now, at least you can spend Monday and Saturday afternoons as you please, although you still have to deal with too much correspondence. Forgive my scribbling, I am trying for once to write to you while I lying down, because in the afternoon that is better for my leg. And to lie down and do nothing is terrible for me and only fatigues me. Yesterday I looked through the old account books while lying down, and through he housekeeping book of my dear grandmother, all of which is to be pulped, together with the contents of another bookcase, as well as Der Morgen [a German-Jewish literary magazine founded by Julius Goldstein, Emma’s son-in-law, published between 1925 and 1938] – or should I not do that? But what will happen with it in future? In the afternoon I am more hands-on (although I’m talking about my leg!) and at that time I also have A[delheid]’s [Emma’s maid] help. First the laundry was put away, then the (finally cleaned) bookcase was set up – earlier on, there was still broken glass in it from 10. 11. [a reference to Pogromnacht, when Nazis rampaged and destroyed Jewish property]—but with almost no books, and why bother? Last week I gave away a huge number, including several novels, to Babettchen, to whom Mrs. Schweizer, her sister, has set a good example. In other respects, too, she is a woman who does an infinite amount of good and constantly cares for the poor. This time your letter was opened by the foreign exchange office, and some time ago the same happened with one of Lilly’s [emma’s oldest daughter]. But they miscalculated. They could see only what good and loving daughters I have, so ha-ha! And you write that you are now in possession of the clearance certificate for the furniture – so what’s next? Who notified you of this? I wish you’d write in a little more detail about these things, also if anyone else apart from me reported to you about the tax ruling of 800 Marks, and why suddenly such a large sum. Your friend Kahn [?] threated through his advisor to force an auction. The letter was addressed to my administrator, with a copy to me. I am waiting what the future will bring. I just want to know who will take care of your furniture – since I will shell out the money for it. I don’t want you to be under any illusion that you will have the furniture by 1.4., as much as I would wish it for your sake. Aunt Pauline, who emigrated in May, has only now come into possession of hers. It is true, however, that there were constantly new difficulties and new regulations. On Saturday afternoon I had pleasant visitors, and in addition I invited Mimi [Emma’s sister, Wilhelmine Bing]– indeed, I can’t seat more than 4 persons at the table in the living room. I bet you 10 to 1 that you won’t guess who my visitors were, but not to make the test too hard on your curiosity, I will tell you that they are Lilly’s friends from Hanau. I even let them take along the fine little handkerchief which you left behind in the summer – it would be regrettable if it got into the wrong hands. Well then, they are approximately 2 hours [away], you will find the address in the list of names in the green address book. Besides, Mimi knows about it, and I am sure you will have an opportunity at some time, when it’s worth your while, to fetch the handkerchief or have it brought to you. That answers your question of last month.

            This morning I received a list of silver items one may keep or must surrender. I wanted to tell you in case you don’t know about that, and I am glad I no longer have much silver, yet sorry for every single piece that I must surrender. Last week I forgot to write to you about a letter from Rose which came to my address but was meant for you and asks for your address. She writes from Villars [skiing area in Switzerland] (the highest and most beautiful place in all of “Bexen” [Bex, town at the foot of Villars]), where she accepted a position for a few months. – Now that I have gotten up, I see that the letter is for me after all. She just wants to know whether you are still en France [in France], etc. and where, and she complains bitterly that she has lost a great deal on account of her husband’s brother, that she couldn’t pay the interest (ses intérêts), that’s why she took this job. Yet she kindly invites me, if necessary, to come to her, saying that she had always room for me. She wants your address – should I give it to her? I am sure she will not ask you or me for anything. If you do not write to her, I will, she is there only until 20.3.

            A few days ago someone from the Staedtische Sparkasse [municipal bank] called concerning your taxes. I referred the gentleman to Dr. Kraus [Emma’s legal counsel, former mayor of Mainz]. [I said that Kraus] took over those matters because I am too old and sick, and he ought to call him. Have you heard anything about that? K[raus] no longer tells me anything, I assume that he corresponds with you directly and that you know more than I. Perhaps this matter is connected with your furniture – I don’t know a thing about it. When Milly [Amalie Schwarz, emma’s sister, who later left for Riga and Great Britain] is there, I assume you will talk to her, then she can report to you about Leo herself. That idiot has only now, that is, a short while ago, applied for an extension to his resident permit.  I am glad that family M will come to you shortly, but it is tragic that the poor man has to go on suffering so much, just like poor L in L – which again shows the duplicate nature of the cases. Here the weather has also turned warmer, and I frequently air out the apartment and sometimes also go out on the balcony – but that’s not possible today because of the stormy weather.

            I want to conclude because Mimi will soon arrive, perhaps also Georgi [perhaps Georgine Eller, Emma’s sister], and then I won’t be able to continue writing, or rather to send off the letter, because Adelheid has been participating in air raid safety exercises for more than 8 days, and I want her to take the letter along around 7.30. Prior to that of course she will look after my dinner, and everything is prepared for that.

            Stay healthy, my child, and be especially careful in this March weather. By the way, did you solve my riddle? I don’t think it was hard.

All my love and heartfelt greetings and kisses from your loving mother.


FOR MORE LETTERS SEE MY NEXT BLOGPOST. For the originals see LBI Archives AR 7167/MF 720.The translation is by Erika Rummel and Susi Lessing.