Letters from Werner

The following are (mainly) drafts of letters from Werner Weissenberg to family and friends; where relevant, as elsewhere, the German version is first, followed by an English translation. Please click on the German letters to enlarge.

Letter: 19 March 1939



                        Frankfurt am Main, 19th March 1939

Dear Frau Sack

I was exceedingly pleased with your letter, which I received yesterday. I haven’t found any other person who offered to help me without knowing me personally. For this offer I am most grateful with all my heart. You can have no idea how much better the future looks; it is like using a branch to save a drowning man reaching out for help. I am fully convinced that you will be able to find some way out for me and will continue your efforts. Thank you very much for making these efforts on my behalf and I will never forget how much trouble you have taken on my behalf.

As I have been informed, I have to submit to you my date of birth 7th November 1911, born in Pless. Pless is in a district relinquished by Germany in 1922 and is now Polish. Strangely, my parents are classed as German because their places of birth are still in Germany. By the time my sponsorship has been granted in my favour I hope to be in England. My address there will be transit Camp Richborough, Kent. I intend to register at the Consulate in London. You will be surprised, surely, by my most recent information. Since my letter four weeks have passed. Since that time I have not been idle and have used every means at my disposal to speed up my emigration. It looks as if I have been successful.

The representative organisation for Jews in Germany – you may remember I mentioned in my previous letter – accepted my application for admission to the transit camp and informed me yesterday that confirmation of my acceptance there will be sent from England, and they told me I should make all my preparations to travel to England, but I don’t want to remain there permanently. In order to be accepted by the camp I had to confirm that I would continue with my plan to go to Bolivia. The climate there is unsuitable and there is no professional future there for me, however. These are reasons enough for me to ask you to continue your efforts on my behalf. I am very grateful to you for any success and I would welcome any sponsorship that could be found in the first place. We also want to help my Aunt Frieda’s oldest child. She has two girls – one aged 15, the other 10. The little one is very attached to me. She is already saving up so that she can join me. I wish it were all as simple as children imagine. Could you try and find a camp for the older girl? I am told they enjoy their time there in US camps.

Now I have told you all the news. I hope to receive good news from you, dear lady.

Many thanks again for all you have done in the past for my requests.

I remain yours,

W. W.

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

Letter: 8 April 1939

8th April 1939, page one
8th April 1939, page one
8th April 1939, page two
8th April 1939, page two

Dr Engel, London

Frankfurt am Main

8th April 1939

Dear Brother

Thank you very much for your letter – also, thanks to your wife – in which you ask me for advice on my application for a temporary stay in the country. Also, thank you for your interest in the circumstances regarding my position since our last exchange of letters. As regards the application, I do not think there is any way of speeding it up, because I have great hopes of a quick success. Because I am making this judgement as a complete layman (not a professional), I will report about what has gone on up to now, as you requested.

My parents made the application on my behalf during my absence in January with the Association that gives assistance in Gleiwitz, Upper Silesia, which was forwarded to Berlin on the 1st February. I collected the first decision personally and received written confirmation on 22nd February. The document bore the sign 07/B Gleiwitz 47. My application was accepted in consequence of this written document and was finally acknowledged after receiving another written letter from England dated 17.3. Furthermore, I immediately, as requested, carried out preparations for my travels and completed the required formalities in order to, upon receipt of the visa from the General Consulate, begin my journey of immigration, with a third demand on the 30.3 asking me to submit my passport within three days, which I have done in the meantime. That is as far as it goes with the position at present. I hope as a result of this to commence my travels as soon as I can and I assume that you share this opinion.

There is a second side to this, as there is so often in life. On the one hand, I am really pleased that my journey will soon be a fact; on the other, I am worried that my permission to stay in the camp is only for a temporary duration. The permission is dependent on transit to Bolivia, which my parents supported by making a further application. Certainly I have no interest in Bolivia, with its unsatisfactory climate and lack of opportunity for a future career. I have not been idle in the meantime and much to my pleasant surprise I had success a few days ago. A previous colleague of mine, who only emigrated to the USA in December last year, has managed to obtain an affidavit for me. Now I have to obtain a quota number, which I don’t have, as I didn’t previously envisage any prospect of sponsorship. I intend to register after my arrival in England with the London Consulate. The affidavit will bear the address of Richborough, as there is a prospect of my having to wait there for a long period of time. I hope in this way I will succeed in getting to the USA. I would stay in England until then. That is my reason for begging you to start negotiations on my behalf. Perhaps there is a deciding factor here if I inform you that the former Director of the Department of Education at the Reichsvertretung, Herr Dr Leschnitzer, now in Cambridge, kindly attempted to pass on my papers to Bloomsbury House and perhaps you could, in some way, do something for me in this respect. I am truly grateful to you in advance for all your friendly efforts.

I hope that everything is well with you and send you and your wife fondest regards.

Your brother

W. W.

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

Letter: nd, WW to Steiner

English translation to follow

Until I have this draft of a letter translated, I am not sure where to place it chronologically. For the time being, I am assuming it is one of a number of letters to the USA, in which Werner is trying to find a route out of Germany.

1939, WW to Steiner, page one
1939, WW to Steiner, page one
1939, WW to Steiner, page two
1939, WW to Steiner, page two

Letter: 9 April 1939

9th April 1939, page one
9th April 1939, page one
9th April 1939, page two
9th April 1939, page two

 Letter: 9 June 1939

Werner to Frau Sack, June 1939 – page one
Werner to Frau Sack, June 1939 – page two

Kitchener Camp,


Nr. Sandwich,


Hut 30/11

9th June 1939

Dear Mrs Sack

I expect you will be surprised to get news from me only now. The reason is that my travels kept being delayed and I only arrived in Richborough three days ago and only received your letter then. Thank you very much indeed for your message for which I waited a long time and which I received with great delight. You provided a generous service to me for which I will be eternally grateful; thank you so much for your kind help. I am so glad that my emigration has finally taken place because every second in my original home, where conditions for us were a senseless gamble with our lives, entailed superpower for a human being to survive. Hopefully I will soon be able to emigrate to the USA so that I can earn my daily bread and not be so dependent on others and be able to support my relatives who unfortunately have not found a way to escape. I must confirm that you have contributed so much to my emigration chances.

I want to tell you a few remarks regarding another matter. I assume that you received a letter from Aunt Frieda, about the same time I did. I am very depressed about the circumstances in which my aunt and uncle are living. My uncle, a German in Poland, has lost permission for employment and has not received any funding, through no fault of his own, but because of the strained relationship between Germany and Poland. If he has to return to Germany the consequences are unimaginable; he doesn’t really know how terrible they will be. Apart from the fact that he would be unable to feed himself or his family there, because there are no employment opportunities for Jews, he would surely end up in a concentration camp, as has happened to the Jews who have arrived there from other countries. I can tell you from my own experiences what that would entail in all its gory detail, but I don’t think I need to tell you that. Those who get away with their lives can talk about being lucky. We have suffered much of its consequences on our health and our life. For these reasons I am begging for a way of escape for my aunt and uncle, which has to be found, if we don’t want to give up. For we ourselves unfortunately can do so little for our emigration. For my part, dear lady, thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you have any news you don’t want to inform my aunt about directly I will tell you in that case our present address is the one above

I remain yours, gratefully,


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

Letter: no date

Draft: Werner Weissenberg to Leonora Goldschmidt, no date, June 1939 – September 1939

No date

To Frau Director Dr L Goldschmidt, Blu

With reference to my letter of 19.3 of this year and my telephone conversation with Dr G., I am taking this opportunity to inform you of my address since immigration to England. Our address is Transit Camp Richborough, Kent.

I would be very pleased to hear very soon whether my harsh treatment in the concentration camp would be taken into consideration in your claim on my behalf. I hope to get a job teaching in an infant school.

Yours faithfully

Werner Weissenberg

Letter: 25 June 1939

The following is an interesting letter: one side shows Werner’s German version, and the other his translation into English. I can’t imagine the strain this must have put on one’s ability to translate into another language – having been told that your life depends on being able to write to a high standard in a second language …

1939_06_25_German version
25th June 1939, German version
25th June 1939, English version
25th June 1939, English version

Red Cross Messages: 18th February 1942

On the following image, Werner is drafting both messages he has received from home, and his own short notes home. Because of wartime censorship, his letters are now reduced to a maximum of 25 words, including his missive to his mother, which he writes with condolences when he finally gets news of his father’s death from a family friend.

It seems clear from extant letters that many were not arriving by this point, in both directions. Werner was also in the British Army now, and being moved around a lot – many letters seem to have gone astray.

Red Cross messages - 18th February 1942, page one

Red Cross messages - 18th February 1942, page two

News (date 23/7/41; 4/8/41 Geneva 18.8.41)

Dear Werner

I hope to hear from you soon that you are in good health. We are all well except Father. Much love from everyone, especially him.

Reply (5.3.42)

Dear E your news arrived very late. Do not worry about me. Rou will receive news from me more frequently now. Love to all.


Draft from Werner to Red Cross in English

I beg to ask you to post the enclose reply message to the International Red Cross Committee. Would you be so kind as to send further messages that might arrive for me, to my present address: c/o Sondheim, 5 Clifton Gardens NW11. Thanks in anticipation.

Yours faithfully



News of death received mid-March. Utmost sympathy also for the aunts. You have suffered greatly. I am very worried about you.


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

Letter: 12 November 1948

Letter, 12th November, 1948

12 November, 1948

Dear Frau H.,

If these lines ever reach you, you will probably be astounded to hear from this country with a letter. I will therefore have to start by introducing myself: I am the nephew of Mister Bloch, who before the last war had his store and flat in Plesser Street.

Recently I got hold of some letters written by Mister Bloch to another address during the war. My uncle writes that he gave you several things for safekeeping. Since I have only learnt about this now, I do not know what happened to these things in the meantime.

I would appreciate to hear back from you regarding this soon. Maybe you could also let me know more than I know right now about the fate of the rest of the Bloch family, although I do not expect to hear anything good in that regard…

I hope this note finds you well and remain with best regards,



(Translation by Nina Spieler)

 Letter: 23rd September 1960

23rd September 1960, page one
23rd September 1960, page one
23rd September 1960, page two
23rd September 1960, page two

                                  Elland, 23rd September 1960

Dr Max Heyn

Berlin Wilmersdorf

Dear Sir/Solicitor

In view of the sad occurrences in Cologne and other places, which have taken place, I have completely lost faith in any credibility of German officialdom. I therefore regard the constantly increasing and senseless demands for requests of papers, which have already been submitted earlier, or which are obviously unobtainable, a real irritation; in any case, these demands are incomprehensible.

The cost of four certificates obtained from a Notary with Power of Attorney converted to German currency would amount to 100 marks. Those involving a visit to a German Consulate would be at least 70 marks. I am no longer prepared to meet those costs, so you will only be able to receive such authentications if the German authorities pay such expenses in advance. I therefore suggest that:

  1. You inform the Cologne Authorities that it is impossible to provide a Death Certificate for my Father because Gleiwitz is part of Poland;
  2. That I sent my Birth Certificate to the Authorities in Schoenberg previously, but that it has not been returned and it is either there or in Cologne;
  3. That the President of the Administrative District of Cologne – for the letter requested by you – has already been forwarded to the authorities in Schoenberg and that this should be sufficient.

It is furthermore strange that my Mother’s death is not dealt with at the same time as my grandmother’s. Please ensure that all documents submitted are returned. I have absolutely no intention of submitting my Birth Certificate or other documents to other authorities as a gift. In case you should obtain a confirmed explanation regarding my father’s death then I would be prepared to comply with your request.


Werner Weissenberg

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

Letter: 2 November 1960

Letter: 2nd November 1962
Letter: 2nd November 1962

Elland 2nd November 1960

Dr Max Heyn


Dear Sir/Solicitor,

The request for a death certificate for my Father cannot be complied with, as the authorities after years of searching know well enough – the reason being that my Father died in Gleiwitz, which is now in Poland. I received the news of his death from a friend, a family resident in Switzerland, as you can see from the enclosed letter.

My Father, who spent the war time years from 1914–18 at the front and was wounded twice, could not understand the development of events in Germany since 1933 when, in gratitude from the Fatherland, he was captured in 1938. He could not come to terms with the collapse of his outlook on life. In view of his condition, in deterioration of his health, sadly this led to his premature death; in my opinion German officialdom alone was responsible.

Yours faithfully

Werner Weissenberg

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

 Letter: 4 August 1962

Letter: 4th August 1962
Letter: 4th August 1962

118 Luck Lane


4th August 1962

Dear Frau Raimer,

You will, I am sure, be surprised to receive signs of life from me, after all these years. I hope you will remember the correspondence between my mother and Fraulein Hoffmeister. I feel obliged to return to the matter once again. I am presently claiming compensation for the deaths of my mother and grandmother. The authorities in Cologne, with whom I am dealing, require witnesses about their deportation. Fraulein Hoffmeister would have been the ideal person, in the first instance, after her death. I hope you will permit me to ask you or another member of your family to provide some statement. It would be simplest if you could inform your notary about the regular exchange of letters between Fraulein Hoffmeister and my mother, which ceased upon the deportation of my mother and grandmother. I would like you to send the sworn statement to Dr Richard Goldberg, Lawyer and Notary, Berlin Wilmserdorf, Bundesallee 56, who will no doubt get into contact directly if any questions of doubt arise. The statements will all be free of charge, like all other compensation claims.

I am sending a similar letter to Fraulein Johanna Deckler. I am sorry to have to bother you in this matter but I don’t have any choice. I very much hope that you are well and remain yours sincerely.


Dr Michael Goldberg

Berlin – Wilmersdorf Bundesallee 56.

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