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.

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