The Leo Baeck Institute, New York, has in its archive a collection of letters dating from 1938/9, a precarious time for German Jews. The writer is Emma Neumann, née Gutmann, of Mainz. The addressee is her daughter, Margarete (Gretel) Goldstein, née Neumann, who has escaped to England. The correspondence illustrates Margarete’s unsuccessful attempts to arrange for her mother’s passage to England and the increasing harassment and persecution Jews suffered in Nazi Germany during 1938/9.
This is the 5th instalment. For earlier letters see my previous postings.
My dear Gretel, many thanks for your kind postcards. I am always glad to hear from you, and we don’t have to write to each other so frequently now – we don’t want to enrich the post office. You need no longer worry about my health now, since you have also been told by others how I fare. Te [?] has also written to you. She was here yesterday, but she has come every day from the beginning. They are the best and most touching people I know, indeed the best there are. Yesterday morning I also had the pleasure to receive a packet from L [Lilly Lessing, Emma’s older daughter]. It was addressed to W, and I give heart-felt thanks to the gracious donor. In addition, I thank the other dear people there, who make efforts on my behalf. But tell me how you envisage my future and where? I am of course content with the tiniest place offered to me and certainly won’t make any demands, but there a thousand things that have to be considered and discussed first. Obviously, I can’t arrive with just my toothbrush, and I think I could manage to travel, like you, with only a minimum of furniture and other things. I will ask Camilla [unidentified] to come in the near future – right now I always have so many visitors and there are all sorts of things to be done in the house. You won’t believe how nice it looks here again, at least in the living room. Certain things are still missing in the bedroom to make me comfortable, but it will all come about gradually without me spending too much money. It’s not worth it anymore – in no respect. Did I write to you that D. [unidentified] and his wife were here on Saturday to send greetings to Lilly. I think I did. We have had terrible storms and rain over the past two days, so that of course I did not dare go out into the street.
23. 11. I continue writing today because it occurred to me that a long letter is on the way to you and because I also wanted to get out a calming letter to Lilly, who worries more than is necessary because of my illness. In the meantime (this morning) I received, in addition to a very kind and sympathetic letter from Mrs. Aah [? Unidentified], your kind postcard of yesterday – your mail system is very prompt and that gives me great joy. You have become a complete chef and are moving from one “post” to the next. But I suppose it pleases you and the others to apply your skills. We had terribly stormy weather over the last few days, so that on the day before yesterday the electricity was off from time to time. I had no visitors on that day except Ad[ele? – her maid], which was fine with me because I have to catch up on many things in writing and never had enough time for it. Yesterday Mimi [perhaps Wilhelmine Bing, Emma’s sister] was here again and toward evening a very charming lady came, who conveyed kind greetings from children and grandchildren, which was a great pleasure – also her kind offer, of which luckily I did not need to make use. It seems that people there are under a completely wrong impression. My advice is not to spend anything on me and to save the small supply for more dire times, which may come. I mean times in other surroundings – hopefully, the money will be sufficient for here. I arranged to see friend P. [unidentified] this afternoon or tomorrow morning. So you see that I do not want to leave anything undone. I am very stupid in such things and must be told by others what needs to happen, even if others do all sorts of things for me.
Now I must make an end for today and want to tell you all how nice it is of you to look forward to my coming (although there is really no reason for that), and I send you all –young and old – the most heart-felt greetings and kisses, especially to my “miserable” child who bears the main blame in this matter, and without whom I would hardly have said yes.
All my love.
The old woman
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.