Letter: 7th October 1936
This first letter is written on four very long sheets of paper, so I have cut the scanned images to fit. Thus, each page has a long piece and a shorter piece that makes up one page.
My translator was unable to read the end section of the letter, so if anyone is able to offer any help here, it would be great to hear from you, to know what’s on the last quarter page.
Myslowice, 7th October 1936
If you have a chair, sit down. Your eight-page long letter pleased us greatly, but also disturbed us, as we fear there is no promotion for you as an academic. Probably we should exchange rolls; thus, I will take up your position and you take over my work here. You have known your uncle for 24 years now, and you are disappointed. I know my nephew better than that. I knew straight away that by paying with cold cake a long letter would be the result as payment. For every word, one piece, as often as we want, but don’t tell your Director, otherwise he will want to know where you get the time to be interested in everything – especially sport. I should have persuaded you to do more gymnastics in the sports hall, so that you would have become more athletic and been keener on sport. Besides, you are lucky to have been born, especially as you have a birthday to celebrate, because in spite of the fact that the removal/delivery [?] is somewhat complicated, the gentleman will not believe that the portions are not for commercial purposes but for feeding a penniless probationer who doesn’t normally get cake, otherwise you wouldn’t have received any. For every word you get one piece.
I had to take a 15-minute break because it is a festive day – Saturday – and I will eat scrambled eggs and fried potatoes and I don’t want to let them get cold. I would have liked to have shared them with you, but thus facing the risk that you would have considered my portion bigger than yours, as usual.
An honest tradesman wants nothing to do with cheating. You could devise a new recipe for a letter that long, and I advise you to present it to your landlady and maybe she will fall for this game and give you some money for it. After she has fried a piece to test it, because you will not have given any more and found it so delicious, it is quite likely.
I am sorry the private lessons are so awful, but because you are so short of money, they will help. It must be difficult to learn English and Hebrew and then to give lessons in order to earn some money; it is probably too late. It is more financially rewarding to find a wealthy daughter after diligent searching. It will be terrible otherwise. If your cousin Ruth takes over the management of the kitchen and household duties (she has already started) that will be the end of the cold cake. Her look would have killed you if you had been present when we read your long letter out loud. If there was another way it might be worse. Ruth is already sweeping the kitchen – there will be no more cold cake.
Maybe the academic career is not the one for you to follow. As you are not interested in my workshop, I will advise you to take up a diplomatic career. Something like that could be right for you: you must not meddle with family disputes or take sides, otherwise one or the other side will put salt in your cold cake. If, however, you decide not to take advice from me to change careers, I would be interested to know if you have to take an exam for biology. If that isn’t necessary, I would advise you to attend biology lectures. It should be sufficient to attend the lectures.
Here there is no fine for listening to the radio. I expect you will have time to improve your chess playing and not just play next year with those in Hislowitz, but to compete with those where you are. Since the 1st October, the civic evening entertainment takes place at the Hotel Polonia. There is a new landlord, who is a customer of mine. The week is too short, should be extended by several days – where can we apply for that to occur?
This letter is in regard to its length a severe task since there is no payment. If you want to hear from your uncle more frequently I am ready, even without delivery of cold cake, but not as much as you want, as my stomach can’t compete with yours as regards the amount, but it can cope with more than the last lot I received. There were two pieces – work out what percentage that is from your ration. I want to leave space for your aunt to write at the end of the letter. Write to aunt and uncle again, Seren perhaps slightly less, because she has to work. One can get sick and tired of such precautions.
Lots of love from
Stay well. Your long letter was received with joy.
For your birthday would you rather have cake or cigarettes?
From your Aunt
Postcard: 9th November 1939
Our translator found it difficult to read the writing here; if anyone can offer a full translation, that would be wonderful.
(We are not even sure as to whether the date here is February or November, as it could be a roman numeral – II)
9th November 1939
Top Section [Translator: Guesswork – writing largely illegible]
Rabbi Grunpeta is in England now. Hope you have good news about finding a home. Ilse finds her new surroundings strange. Lunch is very tasty. With God’s help we will see each other again soon.
Greetings from your Aunt Frieda
I have out the cheesecake into a cold place. I hope to see you soon.
Your aunt’s address is Frieda Sack, Kansas City, 160 Walbeck Avenue 3235, U.S. A.
Letter: 23rd June 1942
At this point, Kurt is living in the Krenau ghetto. He sends this letter to request some of the money his sister Else left with a friend for him when she was deported. It states in one of her letters that as his is the greatest need in the family, this is where it should go.
Berg Street 27
23rd June 1942
Dear Mrs Birnbaum
With this letter I would like to ask you kindly to send me RM16.50 from my sister’s friend.
I thank you in advance for your effort and send best regards,
(Translation by Nina Spieler)
Dear Miss Hoffmeister
I confirm, with many thanks, the receipt of your instructions and the letter. Actually, I don’t think I am allowed to accept it, because I gather from the letter that it is intended for you. It should be sent to you at a later date. I have left two articles of value with the baker Hellmann’s wife, in Myslowitz, Upper Silesia, [translator can’t read the street name] Street. My sister knows about it, but I don’t know whether they are still there. If I am not able to collect these at a later date then they belong to my sister or her son, and you will be reimbursed. And if this action cannot take place then the goods belong to you. There has always been a mutual trust between you and my sister. I have ascertained that from the correspondence that I occasionally read and I have just as much faith in you. If you do not receive any communication from me that the goods have been collected, then you will just have to leave them where they are. Please keep this letter safe.
You ask whether I will remain here for the time being. Because I am doing important work I hope that we will be spared for some yet the journey which my sister and mother have had to undertake. Did you convalesce well on your journey? I expect you found it necessary because you suffered a loss at the beginning of the war, I was told.
Many regards also from my family
(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)
Presumably sent after the date of Else’s deportation in 1942; possibly a follow up to the letter above
Dear Miss Hoffmeister
I confirmed receipt of your letter immediately. This was already two weeks ago and I have not received a reply. I would like you to let me know whether you received my correspondence.
Regards from my family too.
Your K. Bloch
(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)
Letter: 28 November 1942
Krenau, 28th November 1942
Dear Miss Hoffmeister,
As there is a directive to avoid regular correspondence, I will avoid that for your benefit. I have not confirmed the receipt of 20 marks. Krenau lies between the route to Kattowitz in the centre towards Krakau. Before the war it was called Chrzanów and was part of Poland; before the First World War it was part of Austria, Galicia. It is now about 30,000 inhabitants.
When after having performed strenuous work and eaten warm thin soup and I lie in bed resting, my thoughts are always with my mother and sister, who are satisfied with my fate. Everyone has to work and I gather from your writing that you do not have an easy life, but we lack potatoes which would provide the necessary strength, not to speak of fats. The few potatoes we were provided with for the winter are already used. We can only live from day to day. Thank you very much for your greetings and concerns.
[Our translator is unable to decipher the signature – she thinks it looks like ‘Grise Bloch’, but it also looks like Kurt’s writing and the context suggests it is Kurt; like Else before deportation, then, perhaps Kurt is using a pseudonym?]