Sunday 19 November 2023



This is the continuation of the correspondence between Emma and Gretel. For earlier letters see previous blogposts.

Tuesday, 19.11.38 [Something is wrong with the dating/day of the week; 19 November was a Saturday].

My dear Gretel, don’t hold it against me if I don’t write to you as often as you and I would like, but I don’t get around to anything. There are always people around, I can’t get the glaziers out of the house [During the Nazi rampage of Kristallnacht (9/10 November) windows and mirrors in the house were broken], and there are many others. And from noon on, after my rest, there are almost always visitors, yesterday until 7.30. A little while ago an agent from the insurance company was here with plumbers who turned off the gas meter. At least I still have a stove. Poor Mimi has only gas appliances. But she has her children! Don’t be sorry that you are not here, that is my only consolation: you, Lilly [Emma’s older daughter, Louise (Lilly) Lessing], and the children. As you know [the following is quoted in English]: “Better to sit and watch what may and think thee safe though far away than have thee near me and in danger.” In any case the gas was cut off (at least that’s what I think) because so many people today opt for suicide. Yesterday Lilly of Ingelheim [married to Emma’s nephew, Karl Neumann] was here – she lives with her brother-in-law. What we have to deal with here is child’s play by comparison with what’s going on there and at Babette’s, who also lives with relatives here. You have no idea. I wrote an airmail letter to Lilly, and I am sorry that it will take 8 days for her to hear from me. Karl N[eumann] and his young son went on a “journey” [he and his son Hans were taken to the concentration camp Buchenwald; he died there on 10 April 1944] like a thousand others. Today S. Bl. returned to me the letter and the money. I am supposed to send immediately 23 Marks and 8.75 to the tax office, etc. (the money, however, has been sent on the 5th of the month). I had L. come here, and he faithfully looked after everything. Adelheid has a lot of work and a lot of running around. I can’t use her for such things. I had Mrs. Pertelan take me to the bank because I am still somewhat weak in my legs, but it would not have been necessary. Why is Jakob not with his father? If you are absolutely sure that I must leave, one could embark on the necessary steps, and then we’ll see. I myself am unable to do anything, nor do I know how to go about it. I have surrendered my passport. [ On Oct. 5, 1938, the Ministry of the Interior invalidated all German Jews’ passports and required them to have a “J” stamped on them]. I haven’t gotten around to request an ID card, which one gets only toward the end of December. I hardly go out anymore, nor is it necessary. I have very many good friends, also of the “other faculty” [i.e. non-Jewish?]. Actually, the action was not aimed at me but, I understand, at Mr. L [Perhaps Ludwig Friedmann, who lived in Emma’s house at 27 Kaiserstrasse, Mainz and died in Auschwitz, 1943] – they were searching for him in the house. It is fortunate that the company name of the new tenant [because his name was not obviously Jewish?] is on the sign at the front gate since the 1st of the month.

 I must end today’s letter. Have you spoken to Mrs. I., who phoned me before my consultation with you and who wanted to calm you down regarding my situation. Do write to me frequently. I still have my note, which I enclose as my response. Farewell, my dear, good girl, and let me greet and kiss you with all my heart. Your devoted mother, and a thousand greetings for the others.

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.

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