Letters from Else, 1940

Letter: 5 February 1940

Gl 05 02 1940 side two

Gleiwitz, 5th February 1940

Dear Fräulein Ella,

Some days ago I received a card from your mother, which gave me the good advice to take up our correspondence again. As you can see I hurried to carry out this advice and I hope that my letter will find you in the best of health after your operation and convalescence.

Your mother hasn’t fully recovered yet as much as she would have liked because she is dashing about, which won’t be doing her any good. As for us we are very cold in spite of the fact that we do have some coal for heating. My husband has suffered from a heavy cold and he had to stay in bed. He has heart problems, which is not helped by the extreme cold. Today is a day of memories, because it was a year ago today that we received the telegram from Werner, which gave us a new lease of life, and that was the first time after many months that I got some sleep. Unfortunately we haven’t heard any more from him. The last letter he wrote was to congratulate me on my birthday. I have sent him two cards to which he hasn’t replied.

A fortnight ago, I wrote to his friend in Zurich. Perhaps you, my dear Fräulein Ella, may get the chance to show him this letter, in spite of his inability to write. His Aunts are constantly asking how he is, and send him all our own love. The Mysowitzers we haven’t seen for two months. They don’t wish to travel in the cold, the same as us. We look forward to hearing from you and give our regards to you too. Your letter was read by all of us.

Yours, Elsa Weissenberg

My dear Werner,

My heartiest congratulations and all the best.

I hope we all receive some sign of life from you.

Celebrate your birthday joyfully.

From your loving Father

My dear boy,

Hearty Congratulations.

God be with you. I am tearful. I miss you so much.

From your loving Mother

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

Note: the war had started by this time, and Werner was first in training, then in combat, and then sent overseas. Sending and receiving letters to and from Germany, with which his adopted country was at war, will have been problematic for him, to say the  least.

Letter: 13 March 1940

13 March 1940, page 1
13 March 1940, page 2

13th March, 1940

Dear Werner,

Thank you very much for your friendly reply to my card and the letter I received yesterday. One grows impatient after waiting in vain for almost two months, and nervous as well, which one is anyway. I am very sorry, dear Werner, that you don’t have any woollen clothing; that makes me very worried. Anything other than wool is really quite unsuitable for wearing in our existing temperature. We haven’t had very severe winter weather for a long time – around 27 degrees [minus 3]; this morning it was 18 [minus 8] – lovely sunshine during the day but in the evenings one’s fingers begin to freeze.

Nevertheless, we haven’t heated our bedroom as much in previous winters, but we have suffered much from the cold. The house is very exposed, that is why it is so draughty, and there are no rooms that are heated below ours. Father had to stay put for five days. I just suffered with freezing hands and toes. Grandma complains much about the cold, but undoubtedly she is better off health wise than the rest of us. We had an extra special benefit since the beginning of January – a pipe in the yard; we have to fetch water from the villa – most of the time our lodger fetches it, which is most kind of him, as Father can’t carry anything so heavy. The aunts are fairly well, they were not here in November, they would like some news themselves. We didn’t see uncle for 3 months; he came last Saturday and stayed until Monday. Conditions don’t look too good for him, unfortunately.

Dr Er, thanks to his efforts – I am delighted for his sake that thanks to the impressive title of his exhibition, it was well attended. How sad that you, dear boy, did not succeed in registering; perhaps it is time to stop wasting your time complaining. I will write to F next time. I had a card from Frau F three weeks ago in which she encouraged me to continue exchanging letters with her daughter. Today Frau F visited me herself; she had just received a letter from Ella in which she confirmed receipt of my letter and asked what happened with Frau W.

Uncle Fedor often asks after you, he does not hear from Betty. Don’t forget 24/2 [Leopold’s birthday]. It occurred to me that in the past – the Sunday Uncle Kurt was here – and Fr H and Uncle came to visit you. Have you remembered that? The Aunts were told that Herr K is giving English lessons. I will write tomorrow and ask them to come here on Sunday. Stay well my dear ones; greetings to you Herr Ettlinger and a kiss for you my dear son. Father and Grandma and all your dear ones send their love.



Hut 9/1 Kitchener Camp


13th March, 1940

Dear Werner,

You probably will be interested in this letter of the 17th Feb. With it I am sending you my kindest regards.

Yours very cordially, Ludwig

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

Letter: 7 April 1940

7th April, 1940
7th April, 1940
7th April, 1940, page 2
7th April, 1940, page 2

Sunday, 7th April, 1940

My dear Werner,

Our news is more scarce. Your letter of the 7th March arrived but looked as if it had been written in haste. Are you short of time? I have so many questions and don’t receive many answers. The questions I asked eight weeks ago have still not been answered properly; only that something was happening. Maybe there was something mentioned in the letter I sent to your friend Ettlinger on the 17th February. Anyway, I am happy about your circumstances and hope they remain that way. As far as we are concerned I had a bad shock, because Grandmother suffered two strokes. It took two weeks for her to recover slightly; the stress we have been under for some time now is affecting us – we cannot bear the constant moving – even Herr T has to submit to it. It is undoubtedly the cause of her strokes. She isn’t eating much – she would be better more quickly if she ate. I often think how nice it would be if you had results for your efforts, it would have such a happy ending. On Sunday 17thMarch I was in Beuthen in the morning. There in the prayer hall there was a very young rabbi; there was a lovely leaving service and sermon for a school girl. I burst into tears because he read parts of your text. Obviously there was much to talk about, also in Moys where I travelled on Monday. By Tuesday I was back. Your Uncle Kurt was in a terrible mood. From the 1st March he was made to give up a quarter of his flat, because the forthcoming sale will take place, it is connected to it. Eight days since the sale, they haven’t found any alternative. I don’t know where they found any place to live. Aunt Freida was to have come here today but she is unable to. Uncle has sold many items. Elle misses school very much. Aunt Hedel wrote recently that she was prepared to look after the child, but who is going to pay the board and lodging? Aunt Hedel is really caring and looks quite well. Recently I read a letter from Bugakewsky, they have found somewhere, just where they wanted to. Frau Buj writes that her son Felix left on 1st September to be with you, probably temporarily, to the O.R.T school! The rooms were not quite ready for all the pupils. Find out about him, because his parents were very concerned that he could thrive under your influence; if he has found shelter elsewhere this will not be possible, but if he is with you the B’s wish could be granted. Incidentally, I sent a long airmail letter to them yesterday. I wrote to Fräulein Hanau as well, but I haven’t received a reply. Is your friend and colleague a teacher or is he giving private lessons Marcel? The news I get from B – Uncle Fedor has not received any sign of life from Beth; he has himself been very ill. Uncle Edgar in Berlin died two months ago. Now you know something about all of them, just as you wanted and I hope you are satisfied. Your friend and guardian with B is still there and sometimes asks about you, although I don’t agree with her views and bless you, my dear boy. Stay heathy. Much love from Grandma and all the others.

Love and kisses from Mother

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

Letter: 22 August 1940

Gleiwitz, 22nd August 1940: side 1 From Else
Gleiwitz, 22nd August 1940: side 2 From Else

22nd August 1940

My Dear Werner,

We have not heard from you for a long, long time and as I have not received a new letter from you I keep re-reading the last one I have and endeavour to gather hope from it that you are well.

I have only recently discovered that I can write to your new address; hopefully my letter will reach you quickly so that you don’t need to worry unnecessarily about us.

Nothing has changed. We still have a boarder for lodger; besides this we may get a schoolgirl to live in our guesthouse. If anything will come of it will be decided in the next few days. It would be very useful, as in this way the rent for our flat will be covered. Otherwise we will not be able to keep up the payments on the flat.

I have written twice to your friend Leopold; about four weeks ago he repeated that he hadn’t heard from you. The Aunts are all well. They were with us six weeks ago and a week later I was with them. Last Saturday Father visited them and returned on Monday. There is no good news from Uncle Kurt, he has a damp flat in Krenau and suffers doubly with the damp there and the bad weather. Ilse sent congratulations to Grandma on her 86th in German writing, with which papa had to help her. On the 29th of this month it is Aunt Klara’s birthday and on the 19th September it will be Aunt Hedie’s birthday. I wonder whether you will have time to think about them. Heinz, will be 29 tomorrow, he and Margot are both well. Uncle Fedor has no news of Betti. Thus we are both fellow sufferers my dear boy and God only knows when we will see each other again. I miss you so much that I could weep constantly and I do so often enough. Stay well my dear child. Father and all your dear ones send you loving greetings.

Meanwhile lots of kisses from your loving Mother.

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

Note: The name of the town in which Uncle Kurt was living was unreadable to the translator, but a researcher in Poland who has been helping us in trying to track down family records happened to read the letter shown above in German, and was able to give me the name of the town (Chrzanów/Krenau), which is not that far from where she lives and, importantly, quite near to Myslowitz, which is where Kurt and his family had been living previously. She was also able to tell me something of the history of Jews living there in this period, and I have since done quite a bit of reading on it, which actually explained a lot about why we have been unable to find any records about Kurt and his family. The researcher’s name is Malgorzata Ploszaj – she has been so generous with her time and knowledge

Letter: 18 September 1940

Letter from Else: 18 September 1940

Gleiwitz, 18th September 1940

My Dear Werner,

It is four weeks since I wrote my last to you letter to you. Meanwhile, we hope from day to day that a letter will arrive from you, but in vain. Dr Bresl, Max K and others have sent letters via the Red Cross to their relatives, but there is nothing from you. How come? Do we have the misfortune that just your letters have got lost? You can imagine that I am worried. I go to bed thinking about you and get up with the same thought. The other day I wrote to Vera K to ask her husband at the next chance about you and to let me know. It can be four months before I hear anything, but I very much hope that I will hear directly from you before then. In a fortnight it will be Rosh Hashanah. I wish you all the best – especially good health and a fortunate future. The holy days are somewhat sad, but if there is no sign of life from you they will be even drearier. I do not have any news to tell you. Aunt Klara and Aunt Hedel have naturally missed your birthday congratulations. I told you in an earlier letter that Uncle Edgar in Berlin has died. Furthermore, dear son, Father, Grandma and all the others send you their good wishes.

Lots of kisses from your Mother

Margot sent us a parcel with all kinds of useful things a few days ago.

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

Letter: 27 October 1940

Gleiwitz   Sunday, 27th October 1940

My Dear Werner,

This is the fourth letter that has been sent to you without my knowing if any actually reached you.

The last one contained congratulations for Rosh Hashana. This time I want to give you best wishes for your forthcoming birthday.

One of these days I hope I will be sure that you actually receive the letter, so that  we know that you’re getting them; we will be happy that you are well. In any case, I wish you all the best for your 29th birthday. All those who want to write to you themselves wish you all the best and that you will stay healthy, and enjoy fulfilling work and a happy future. Enjoy a happy birthday in your circle of good friends. You know on that day in particular I will be thinking of you, as I do every day. We are generally healthy. We spent a pleasant holiday.

Uncle Kurt spent five days with us, which we enjoyed. On the first day of the holiday the fact that he was here made us feel less lonely. The only drawback was that we had no sign of life from you. Other than that, Uncle and his family are not doing very well but at least, thank God, they are healthy and so are the aunts, who send you their best wishes. There are special greetings from Fräulein Hoffmeister. She wishes you all the best. Some weeks ago I wrote to Frau Vera K and I begged her to ask her husband to ask after you. God be with you my dear boy.

Once again all the best

Mother xxx

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

Undated letter: written sometime shortly after October 1940

Undated to Leopold and Werner: post October 1940

No date (but, given the other information here, after October 1940)

Dear Leopold, dear Werner,

I was overjoyed yesterday, when after five months’ gap, your letter arrived. It was high time, as such a long delay does not help my nerves, as you can imagine. I hope you are well and lively, as you were on the 12th August. I wrote to you on several occasions on the 24/6, the 22/8 and the 18/9. The last letter contained birthday congratulations for you Werner. If it reaches you at all, it will be late. Nevertheless, I hope my wishes for you will be granted. I am sure the day will have stirred many fond memories for you and will have contributed to the passing of a pleasant day. As for me, of course, I was not at all happy. On the whole we are tolerably well; so are the aunts. Ten days ago we gave up one of our rooms to the mother of our boarder, that is to say, she is sharing the room with grandmother. Our bedroom is now the larger room with access via the entrance.

It involved a large rearrangement. Grandmother thanks you very much for your good wishes. Congratulations for the aunts have not yet been received.

Unfortunately, there is no good news from Uncle Kurt. I have already written to you that he was able to visit us, in my last letter. Your friend and patron also asked Aunt Hedel about you.

We hope to hear from you again very soon. A thousand thanks to you, Leopold; we hope to hear from you very soon too.

I have been asked to convey greetings to you dear Werner. Stay well.

Love and kisses,

Your Mother

Enclosure: one reply coupon.

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)