Postwar correspondence

Letter: 20 December 1945

20th December, 1945, page one

 

20th December, 1945, page two

Newspaper clipping: Echo Weekly, 10/10/1945 – enc. with letter dated 20/12/1945

20th December, 1945, page three


Letter: 16 February 1946

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First postwar letter from Margot, February 1946 – page one
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Letter from Margot, February 1946 – page two
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Letter from Margot, February 1946 – page three
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Letter from Margot, February 1946 – page four
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Letter from Margot, February 1946 – page five
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Letter from Margot, February 1946 – page six

Mr Werner Weissenberg

Sheffield 10

18 Elmore Road

Berlin, 16th February, 1946

Dear Werner,

Your letter arrived on the 15th February and I want to reply immediately. I was very glad to at last receive a sign of life from you. I have been searching for you since November via the Joint. Now listen carefully. A cousin of our mother’s has appeared. Erwin Kohn. You know him. He lived in Renthau in the Rittanstrasse. He was a soldier and is probably still in the army. You should write Air Mail to Willy Weissenberg, Nienberg a/w. Oylerstrasse 13 and enclose a letter to Erwin and to me and he will forward it to me. It is not possible to write to him direct. And now I will give you an address quite near to you – Mrs Edith Strauss, 20 Adamson Road, London NW 3. It is the sister of Heinz, who is married there. We are in close contact with her, and she will tell you everything worth knowing. She has sent a parcel. You can imagine what one possesses when one leaves the concentration camp. Lots of lovely things were in it. In my last letter I asked her for various items and I would like to make a similar request to you. If it is at all possible, send some sweets for the child; it is all new to her and there is nothing like that available here. If it is at all possible I would like a pair of shoes for me – size 37 or small 38, not very high heels, and for Heinz a shirt and a pair of socks size 11 ½ and a few cigarettes. Of course, only if it is possible; you don’t have to send it all at once. Perhaps you have a shirt and a nightshirt to spare; you are the same size. I will be really grateful. Perhaps you could get in touch with my sister-in-law. Perhaps you can write via Erwin; it would be quicker ask him whether it would be possible. He corresponds with his sister who lives in London. It only takes three days if you use Air Mail and you could contact the relatives.

I wrote constantly to Aunt Elsa and Grandma. They left in 1942, they wrote to me before that. You can imagine what state they were in when they began their journey. Just consider an 86 year old – such an impossible occasion. I am sorry dear Werner to inform you that the old people, the sick and the children were all gassed. Those who went to Poland and your mother would not have survived. It is terrible what suffering was inflicted on all; you are the only survivor on your maternal side. We don’t have a single relative in Germany. We also suffered greatly. It wasn’t easy with a small child. It was better in Theresienstadt. Every day we worried. Are we being sent to Poland or not? We were unlucky and lucky, whichever way you look at it. I was very ill with typhoid for half a year and that was the reason we could not move on. I weighed 57 pounds. I had already been given up. The doctors could not do anything for me but God didn’t want to let me go and my child needed me. On the 13th March my daughter will be five years old. Time passes. We were taken from November 1943 until July 1945, when we returned to Berlin. Thank God it is all over. We live in the hospital. It is still standing. Many buildings have been destroyed but they are being reconstructed.

Heinz is a senior nurse and gives massages. I am just a housewife, but I am ill a good deal, as a consequence of my beautiful time in the camp!

At present we live in one room but we should soon get three, so that the child can sleep on her own and we can live like human beings again. We want to move to Brazil (Sao Paulo), where Heinz has a brother. Our papers are already there, but it can still take time. Joint sends us a parcel of food once a month; there are some welcome goods in them. What do you do? Are you working? Were you in the Forces? Have you married? Berlin is Russian. It is divided into four zones – American, English, Russian and French. We live in the French zone; if you travel to the west you see the English. If you travel North, you see Russian. Isn’t that interesting. You go completely nuts with all the different languages you hear. Can’t you come here and teach me English? I am going to attend a course. You wouldn’t recognise Berlin now, it is so smashed. Now I have given you all the current information. Did you actually know that your Father died of a heart attack in Gleiwitz in 1940? My hand is aching, so that is it for today. Enclosed a photo of the child. Do you have one of you? Hope to hear from you soon.

Love from your cousin Margot

Heinz sends his regards. I have greetings from little rabbit. I told her Uncle Werner has written. A pity we can’t see each other.

Greetings from Heinz

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


Letter: 12 January 1947

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Letter: 15 September 1947

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D. Raimer

Hamburg-Wellingsbüttel,

Farmsenerweg 12

15 September 1947

Dear Mr Weissenberg,

You will be surprised to receive from here a reply to your letter addressed to Fraulein Hoffmeister dating from 15 January 1947. We will see whether we can reach you this way after a letter to you returned to its sender, our relative in Altenau / Harz.

Unfortunately, I have to inform you that my cousin, Fraulein Hoffmeister from Hameln, died 5 days after you had sent your letter to her. How pleased would she have been to hear from you. She spoke of you often and was very much anticipating a life sign from you!

Your letter was then sent to the niece of Fraulein Hoffmeister in Altenau. Fraulein Johanne Denkler, 20 Altenau / Oberharz, Bergstraße, opened it and wrote you back a letter to inform you of the death of my cousin and attached the last letters that Fraulein Hoffmeister had received from your mother. Unfortunately, all this was returned to her.

In case you get hold of this letter please let Fraulein Joh. Denkler, Altenau, Bergstraß. 114 – and maybe us as well – know, whether she should send you the letters, or whether it is more secure if they go through us in Hamburg.

1942 was the last time my cousin, Fraulein Hoff., visited us in Hamburg where she spoke much of your mother and her fate. She told us that your mother had passed her the watch of your father for safe-keeping and that since then she had been keeping it in her safe in Hameln.

Up to date our relatives have not been able to get hold of the safe because of inheritance formalities, but they made sure that the watch is still there.

How do you think the watch can be transferred to you most safely? Her estate contains also receipts from your uncle over money that your mother had sent him through my cousin.

In the hope that this letter reaches you, and that your own life conditions are tolerable, I send you best regards,

Frau Dora Raimer

24 Hamburg-Wellingsbüttel

Farmsenerweg 12

(Translation by Nina Spieler)


Letter: 19th October 1947

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                        Altenau

19th October, 1947

Dear Mr Weissenberg,

I received your letter of the 5th October. I am glad that it worked out. After your first letter I immediately wrote to them and enclosed some letters from your mother. Sadly, after some weeks they were returned. We know your Mother, she often spent her holidays with my Aunt, Miss Hoffmeiste; that was rather a long time ago – 1906–1910, when they were together in Osnabruck. Aunty and your mother got on well together and Aunty would have been so pleased to have read your letter, but it was not to be. Thank you very much for your words of sympathy. We loved Aunty and we miss her greatly. In the end she was very ill; she was with us for one and a half years, infirm; she couldn’t live on her own any more in Hameln. While she was ill she liked drinking cocoa, but we were not able to obtain any. I live here together with my mother. Mother is the oldest sister of Miss Hoffmeister; she is 83 years old and Miss Hoffmeister was 78. Altenau is in the British Zone. I have some letters from your mother and some from your uncle. Also receipts from when Aunt sent things to your uncle. Well, you’ll see all that when you read the letters. Aunt also received a watch, to keep safe, from your Mother. It is safe in Hameln in the strong room in the bank. Mr Weissenberg, we will be very pleased to receive a visit from a lady from England. Then I will be able to hand over the letters. The rest will be arranged then. Perhaps the lady will know what to do about it.

I hope you will receive this letter before the lady commences her journey.

Best wishes

J Denkler


Letter: 5th January 1948

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Letter: 5th January 1948 – page one
Letter: 5th January 1948 - page two
Letter: 5th January 1948 – page two

                                                                                                          311 Beacon Road, Loughborough,

Leicester

5th January, 1948

Luz Kuttner, Dip. Arch

Reg. Architect

Dear Werner,

I was very pleased to hear from you. So many years have passed since our time in Breslau that lines from an old friend seem like a sign from another world. I don’t hear from any other old members of our group, in spite of the fact that I still belong to the K.C. and my address is in the K.C. address book. Most of us have wandered about so much that we have had to break off earlier connections. Are there any members here with whom you have had contact? I know Rudi Beuther is in London, as is Lothar Nelken, but I have not heard from them. I have been married fourteen years and my mother is living with us. I also had my father and my sister here, but sadly, they died some years ago. We have all experienced so much that we don’t moan to each other. After working in a factory for some years I won a scholarship and spent five years studying architecture. Then I worked for a while as an assistant to an architect, and now for five years I am in charge of the Construction Department at the College. I am quite content on the whole; like all of us, I would like to advance in my profession, but the outlook is not that wonderful. We have just moved into a new home with a large garden, which I built; we spent the entire Christmas holidays doing work on the house.

I would like to hear more about your life and your work. I wish you all the best in your new job and also for the New Year. Perhaps it will be possible to meet each other. The summer holidays would be best, as I only have one week off for Easter, which I have to spend on business in London. I hope to hear from you again soon.

My mother sends her best wishes; so does my wife.

Yours

Luz Kuttner

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


Letter: 15th January 1948

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Altenau

15th January, 1948

Dear Mr Weissenberg

You will have waited a long time to receive a reply to your letter of 11th December, 1947. It is not really my fault. Now the Christmas festivities have passed. We wish you all the best for 1948. Conditions for our life here could be better, but we have to thank God that we are healthy; everything else is then bearable. We don’t have a proper winter. We had snow, then rain, and everything is muddy so we have wet feet. I am sending you, herewith, the letters and photographs I found amongst aunty’s things. The watch is in Hameln in the strong room; aunty told us that before she died. It would have been easier if she had brought it here to us. But at least it is safe there. Please inform us whether you have received letters and two photos.

Greetings also from mother

Yours H Denkler

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


Letter: 19th March 1948

19th March, 1948, page one

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Berlin 19th March, 1948

Dear Werner,

Received your package on 15.3. Thank you. What were you thinking of when you enclosed the socks? You must have got me confused with grandma. Besides them, everything else was most welcome. The chocolate has already been consumed and you can imagine how delighted I was to open the tin of Ovaltine – such a surprise. Obviously I will immediately make a delicious cup. I will give the socks to an old acquaintance. I have swapped the red dress for food items but I have kept the knitted jacket and the gloves. Anyway, thank you for everything. I want to take this opportunity to beg again. If you should send me another package could you enclose 1­­­–2 pairs of leather soles. Up to now my shoes have lasted well but I don’t know where to get them from. I can’t find any. I would be grateful if you could get hold of some. Have you received the letter from England meanwhile, which I sent with a Sister? Rehachen has been gone for 3 weeks now and I miss her very much. She will spend her 7th birthday in Switzerland. I sent congratulations on the 31.3. This time I am drinking the cocoa all by myself. I have just finished it. The children have got fruit every day. I am very pleased for Rehachen; she will at last get the right vitamins – you can get oranges.

 

[no signature: incomplete letter from Margot to Werner]

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


Letter: 5th July 1948

5th July 1948, page one

5th July 1948, page two

                                    Berlin 5th July, 1948

Dear Werner

I have received your last letter and I am replying. You are right, here it is all happening. We are now in the American Sector and we are receiving our food from planes. We are sitting in the dark, that is to say, we only have light for two hours. The planes are in the Russian Sector and the Russians have cut off everything that is in their zone. Coal is sent from Upper Silesia and we are supposed to get some from the planes. The railway connection between East and West is blocked. It doesn’t matter at the moment that the West is without light and coal, but what will happen in the winter? It is lucky that we will find ourselves in the American Zone because the French don’t have anything either. I don’t think there is any chance on emigration. Don’t you agree? We are receiving 60 marks and we live on it. Heinz will be giving me less. I have written to America and asked for food. O. told them that I am poor and my savings amount to 80 marks. I didn’t receive anything from him, as there is no income. I can’t pay the rent until the end of the month. I wrote to America that they should send me some papers to help me. We have Western money but the rail company only accepts Eastern money. It is all a complete and utter farce.

Two currencies in one city! I don’t know if it will stay that way. I am anxious to see Heinz, who is travelling to the outskirts of Berlin with his daughter. There is a shortage of money. Nobody dares to go from the Western Zone to the Russian Zone because there are no controls here and in the West they just stay put.

[no signature: incomplete letter from Margot to Werner]

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


Letter: 22 October 1948

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Altenau, 22nd October 1948

Dear Mr Weissenberg

I received your letter and also one from Hildesheim. In the letter there is a query about whether the watch is the property of Mr W. Weissenberg, and whether it should be classified as jewellery or valuables. The letter was in English. We cannot read English so someone read it out to me and then I had it returned to me in English to confirm that the watch is your property and should be classed as valuable. I had to pay 3D for it. I wonder if you have been informed. The letter arrived on the 5.9.48. First we had a family get-together, so I did not write straight away. I sent a reply on the 23.9 to Hildesheim. I hope you will soon receive news that you can have the watch. It is still in Hameln in the safe in a box. I hope it will not take too long. It will be snowing here soon. There are a lot of winter sports when the weather is suitable. My mother is fairly well. I was ill for 3 weeks in August, but now I am OK. Now I will finish in the hope that by Christmas you will have your watch.

Wishing you all the best

Yours

H. Denkler

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


Letter: 3rd November 1948

English translation to follow

3rd November 1948, page one
3rd November 1948, page one
3rd November 1948, page two
3rd November 1948, page two


Letter: 25 February 1949

25th February 1949, page one
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                                                            156 Greenwood Ave                                                                                                          Cincinnatti 29, Ohio, USA

25th February 1949

Dear Werner,

The main reason why I delayed answering your letter from October last year is that I can only write in English. I had to relearn my mother tongue while I kept you waiting. Another reason is that I wasn’t sure that you would still be at the same address that I received from you. I beg your pardon for writing in English!

Your remark that people just disappear and one never hears from them again is quite true. Once they get off the ship they lose all contact with their friends and I sometimes wonder if they know themselves. They are more than 90% American, and live the American way of life. I myself think the habits of the people are enviable and my different lifestyles and habits are exceptional. It will change, as my friend Aptwitzer said: historically, “If one has more money, one can wait”. I am not in that lucky position: I cannot wait. Or I have to do the same as many other people do – borrow money until better times come along, or I become bankrupt. Nobody bothers because of ‘private enterprise’, which includes taking risks of winning as much as the risk of losing everything. There are people who would limit free enterprise, for example; they recommend that the type of health insurance prevalent in European countries will deteriorate.

I am glad that your present position finds you more satisfied. Maybe different companionship plays a part in that. Am I entitled to Freud’s theory? Anyway, he had a similar suspicion.

I am an instructor of maths in a college of engineering at the University of Cincinnati; that is to say, I teach Engineering, Maths, Algebra, Trigonometry, Analytical Geometry, Statistics and Vector Algebra, as mentioned in the Engineering prospectus. I teach for 14 or 15 hours per week but have much additional work lecturing and marking papers, but all the same I find it interesting and want to retain this type of work. My income in the first year is quite modest, but my family is in no way starving.

As for your summer holidays, you can certainly stay in our comfortable flat, which will save you paying out for expensive accommodation in a hotel. You could set out on your travels with £150 or at most £200. Many ex-fellow members of our student society, mainly doctors, have visited the U.S., not just in Cincinnati but visiting relatives in New York, Boston or Philadelphia.

All in all, living here is good, especially if one has satisfactory employment and everything is running smoothly. Compared to Europe the outlook for the next few years is more promising here than in Europe. For the time being I can truly say that we are satisfied with our lives. I could do with a larger income, but it looks promising and if everything works out I should get an increase, as nothing is cheap in the stores.

My brother in Berlin will probably soon be emigrating. One of our Maths professors – Professor Szass, who was in Frankfurt for 20 years – do you know him? – is here. University life suits him, apart from marking quizzes.

That’s all for today. The family is OK and send their regards.

All the best

Rudi

Don’t forget that you can get a reduced price course in English for 43 dollars if you come here as a tourist.

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


Letter: 24 April 1949

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Altenau

24th April, 1949

Dear Mr Weissenberg

We had visitors from Hamburg at Easter and we gave the watch to our relatives, so now the watch is in Hamburg. But if you send someone to collect the watch would you give that person some identification certificate, so that we know the watch has been collected. Now it will soon be in your possession.

We have lovely spring-like weather here. I expect it is the same in England.

Yesterday, everything was festooned with ribbons for the first time; it is a lovely signal for the owner and the children. The school term started yesterday. I hope we will have many summer visitors. That is the only income for many.

Regards also for your mother –

Yours, James Denkler

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


Letter 25th April 1949

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Hamburg-Wellingsmuttel,

Farmersweg

25th April 1949

Dear Mr Weissenberg

I returned from my Easter trip to Altenau in Harz some days ago and actually, that will be of interest to you: with your watch, which our cousin gave me, upon your recommendation, as you are hoping, there will be more of an opportunity for someone to collect it here in Hamburg, as Altenau is a leave centre for the forces during Easter; there are many English people on day trips and guests in hotels and boarding houses on holiday there.

Now there is nothing to prevent you collecting the watch. I am assuming that my cousin gave you a description of it: it is gold, stamped or engraved with the number 585, with ‘Kapseluhr’ on the cover and decorated with flowers/a grooved pattern.

It is most important that whoever collects the watch has full powers/a letter of attorney, which says they are authorised to collect it. I will write two receipts to prove that I gave the watch in good faith, one of which I will send to Altenau to confirm it was received by your authorised person.

To get to us, he has to travel by over ground train [S Bahn] in the direction of Ohlsdorf and then get off at the station at Wellingsbuttel, then turn left to the Echenstrasse. I enclose a map. I hope your acquaintance will then find us. Most people are able to give directions, although here in Wellingsbu, two-thirds of people, like everywhere in Hamburg, are not locals but refugees from the Soviet Zone or guest workers.

As I am writing to you anyway, I am going to try and ask you for a favour, if you are in a position to do so. My aunt, Fraulein Hoffmeister, I think told us that you are a teacher. Is that true? I teach English to a class of 14 year olds; a co-educational class. The girls have pen friends in Nottingham and as a result of this exchange of letters their English has improved greatly, but now I have 24 boys who would also like penfriends; they are interested in sport, football and philately. It is difficult to find such addresses for boys, more so than for girls. I have some addresses for the U.S.A. So in case you are teaching boys by any chance, mine are sons of small traders and tradesmen, shopkeepers, aged around fourteen. I would be most grateful if you could send me some addresses.

Under no circumstance is there be any intention to speculate for packages or goods! There will be no expenditure involved, but I found the correspondence for the girls of such benefit to their learning of English, and perhaps one day this can be a little contribution towards peace keeping/preventing wars.

Sincerely yours,

Helen Raimer

N.B. I really don’t want to encourage exchanges of goods. The girls – sometimes there is a reciprocal exchange of small handiwork – such as handkerchiefs, for their pen pals.


Letter: 1 August 1949

1st August 1949

 

Berlin 1st August, 1949

Dear Werner,

Many thanks for your last letter including contents. At the same time as your letter, a letter came from America with 1.60. I exchanged it at the Polish exchange and got 14 for it, so altogether it amounted to 20 marks but money is, as you say, scarce. I could become sceptical. I fear that in two months time I will travel by ship to America; I have already been to the American Consulate and all I need is the medical papers now. There are delays here and more and more demolition is taking place. Who knows what will happen with the Russians. Recha has already landed in Palestine, I haven’t heard from her, but acquaintances of hers have. She works in the outpatient department at the hospital from 6 o’clock in the morning until 7.30 pm. It takes an hour on the bus to get to work. She won’t find life as easy as it was here, and then there is the heat. Well, we can see what life has to offer over there; I can only imagine. Please enclose a reply coupon dear Werner, because without it I can’t get an airmail envelope. How are you spending your holidays? The weather here is terrible. No summer. Well, enjoy your holidays.

Greetings from your cousin

Margot

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


Letter: 12 October 1949

From Margot to Werner

 

Berlin, 12 October 1949

Dear Werner,

I already wondered why I hadn’t heard from you for such a long time. You will be surprised nevertheless that I am travelling to the US on the 14th October. At last I have been successful. I am stopping off in Bremen for 4 days and I am travelling on a military ship. I will write to you about my experiences and send you a precise account. I just have to wait and see what turns up there. I received some mail from Recha; I was sent congratulations for the Jewish holiday. Recha is living in a foster home in Switzerland and has Yiddish lessons. The poor woman, both she and her husband have to work. The distance is too great and she only receives visits once a week. She is supposed to have written. The child is well. I think they were promised they would see mountains. I have a lot to do to before leaving but I will write once I am in America.

Until then, much love from your cousin Margot.

Ps. We are not travelling via London but Marseille

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


Letter: 28th October 1949

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Letter: 7th February 1950

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Helene Raimer

24a Hamburg-Wellingsbuttel

Farmsener Weg 12

7th February 1950

Dear Mr Weissenberg

Many thanks for your letter of the 8th January, in which you request information about progress on the question of the location of the watch.  Now the news is available. Today I found out that a colleague, Mr Otto Reimers from Hamburg-Sasel – the location of my school – is leaving for England on 1st March in the company of three other colleagues, and so I immediately remembered your watch, so I am writing to you today, to find out from you what steps Mr Reimers should take with regard to the watch, which he could take with him. I think I will prepare the watch for mailing. It is not permitted to put string round it, because a license for export will be required and evidence of payment of export duty. The difficulty for me lies in the payment of postage and insurance costs in England, because one is limited to taking a very small amount of cash. Mrs Reimers thinks it is 40 DM and that will be spent very quickly on rail fares, and I can’t expect anyone to pay out even the smallest amount on my behalf. From the colleagues I spoke to last year, I understand that they were not allowed to take any German money, only pocket money, and they had to accept money from their hosts, which embarrassed them. They didn’t even know them before. I want to know from you that it is possible for you to receive a package and pay on receipt thereof. Or do you have any other suggestions for methods of payment? By the way, you do not have to worry about the watch. Mr Reimers is a very responsible, conscientious person, whom I can entrust with the watch.

I expect you will ask what is actually happening. Tomorrow I will make further enquiries. Mr R’s wife, who is Scottish, teaches an English conversation course, which I attend with a friend once a week. It is very interesting and I try hard to follow it all. I understood Hardborough, something like that, in the North of London. It is a place which is very concerned about its schooling, seemingly quite wealthy, there are discussions about the 9th school year, concerned with school reforms at this point. In the summer there were 30 English teachers here for a meeting with Hamburg teachers, and this year just as many teachers from Hamburg are going to England. I have been waiting on the list for two years and I think I will be lucky enough to join them.

I asked Mr Reimers himself; he was already standing at the door. He was in a hurry to speak to Mr Jones. He is arranging it all and he assures me he is taking the watch and will write a card as soon as he arrives. Do you know this expression? Hopefully this will be the end of my problems.

Incidentally, you mention in your letter that you are into winter sports. What do you mean? You probably need a raincoat – they are our most popular pieces of equipment. I hope to hear from you soon with your proposals.

Regretfully, the Russian notepaper has no lining in the envelopes and I don’t have any southern notepaper, so I have some that is falling apart.


Letter: 9 June 1954

1951_06_09


 

                        New York, 9th June 1951

Dear Werner,

This time you are right. You haven’t heard from me for a long time, but one is very weary by the evening. I am always worn out and very often have headaches. The climate is most unhealthy. The temperature always changes – one day it is 80˚, today its only 50˚ and quite cool. Last week I went to see the doctor about my constant headaches. Dr Grampmer, from Beuthen. I think you were at school with him. He is your age. We talked about old times. He naturally knew my ex-husband from doing sports. He has a son with a large practice in Chicago, who married a mixed race person, always had strange ideas, so Dr G. says.

In July I have 8 days holiday. That is very necessary here. I have letters from the child always; she sent 3 photos on my birthday. She has grown into a young lady. Everyone says she is very nice. What happened to your journey across the ocean during your vacation? Above all, many thanks for the congratulations. I was very pleased that you hadn’t forgotten. On the 23rd August Aunt Paula will be 75. Cousins and friends will speak to her. Well, Werner, you have given me signs1 of life. I hope to hear from you again soon.

Love from your cousin

Margot

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


Letter: 24 January 1954

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24th January 1954, envelope, showing change of address in UK
24th January 1954, envelope, showing change of address in UK

            New York, 24th January 1954

Dear Werner

I have received your letter and as I had two days off this week because I worked overtime, I will write to you once again. Thank God it went well and I am feeling much better. It is really good to get up early and be free of pain. The operation did not take much time and after three days I had to get up, and after ten days they got rid of me; then I spent 14 days recovering. The Orvecyclin injections are very beneficial. For 10 days I had daily injections. I also heard from my child. She, thank God, is well. I sent a package last week. She will be 13 in March. It is by looking at the children one realises one’s age. Is it cold where you are? Here, for the last 8 days it has been 10–15 degrees. But in spite of this it is better than the heat. I like it better this way; otherwise, I have no news. I just work hard to earn my keep. When your vacation is over you too will have to work hard and don’t correct too many mistakes. What is your health like? You always used to complain of it.

Keep well, dear Werner.

Much love

From your cousin Margot

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


Letter: 16 February 1955

1955_02_16_001

 

1955_02_16_002

New York, February 16th 1955

Dear Werner,

Now I will finally answer your last letter. In the meantime, I have been ill again. This time it was a completely different illness. I had an infection on my left hand and I had to have my finger lanced because there was a lot of pus on one of my fingers. For 8 days I had penicillin injections. It came like a bolt from the blue.

In the meantime I am introducing myself as an American citizen. At last the time has come. I have been here five and a half years. It seemed just like school. I had to reply to political questions, which I had been learning from a book for eight days. They asked 10 questions but they could not catch me out. I had to have witnesses who had to answer personal questions about me. Now, thank God, it is all over; my legs were shaking. I wanted to wait until it was finished and then write to you. I certainly would not have written if I had failed. That would have been a great disaster. What are you doing, apart from working?

From the child I have continuous news. She will be 14½ in March and soon I will have a daughter of marriageable age.

Well, dear Werner, now you have another sign of life from me to show that all is well – and I hope you can say the same.

Lots of love

From your cousin Margot

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


Letter: 26 March 1956

26th March 1956, page one

26th March 1956, page one

26th March 1956, page two
26th March 1956, page two
26th March 1956, photograph enclosed
26th March 1956, photograph enclosed
26th March 1956, photograph reverse
26th March 1956, photograph reverse

Margot Kornfeld

557 West 174th Street

New York 33, NY

New York, 26th March 1956

Dear Werner

It is almost two months since you have not replied to my last letter. Are you so busy or have you totally forgotten your cousin, especially as I sent you a beautiful picture. Now you receive one that I had taken a month ago, as I wanted to have it as a present to the child. She will be fifteen on the 31st March. Soon I will have a marriageable daughter.

For a change I have been ill again. I am going to the doctor once a week for an injection. The climate here is unbearable. You will have heard about our snowfall. It is the first time I have experienced it. I have been here six years. If it snows, it snows for half a day – that’s all. Well, one has to put up with it. I prefer that to the summer here. I am miserable when I think about the heat and the sweating. Well, what can I do? Unlike you, I can’t just take two months off every summer to rest. I can only do that for a fortnight.

Well, dear Werner, I hope you are well and I expect to receive a sign of life from you.

For today, all the best

Your cousin

Margot

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


Letter: no date

Mrs Margot Kornfeld

New York 33, NY

248 Audobon Ave, Apt 1

No date

You are correct in wishing that you are waiting for a reply from me. But so much has happened in the meantime that my thoughts were not concerned with writing and the only correspondence I keep up with is my daughter. My cousin Fred for whom I work had a heart attack and has been ill for two months and is still not allowed to work, so my cousin and I have to run the shop all day. By evening I am too tired to collect my thoughts. At least I have TV in the evenings. We did have extra help – but you know how it is. Now it will be Christmas and in February we have 2 weeks’ holiday when we will all have a rest.

Now I have some good news for you. At the beginning of July my daughter is coming to visit for two months. We will do a lot of travelling, and it will be so good. I am sending her her ticket from here for the boat. When are you coming to see me? I got money from the concentration camp – that is why my daughter can come to stay. I am working on the affairs regarding daddy. He too perished in the concentration camp. I should receive 1000 mks. The more I receive the better. I don’t want those to benefit. If you like I will send you the address of my lawyer in Berlin so that you can contact him personally. He is a very good lawyer, so you can put in a claim. He will tell you exactly what you have to do. Your mother also perished in the concentration camp. He will need witnesses. The date of your mother’s entry in the camp can be checked. Why don’t you consider it? I think I have written enough this time. I am quite well at present and I hope you are too.

Werner, I will be pleased to hear from you. For now, love from your cousin

Margot

My new address is 248 Audobon Ave Apt 1 New York City 33 NY


Letter: 1961

1960_02_01_001

1960_02_01_002

   1961

My dear Werner,

I certainly didn’t expect such news. I am therefore more than pleased for you that at such a great age you have become a daddy. You probably think what Bing Crosby can do, I can do!

I wish you all the best anyway; I hope it will thrive. I can’t advise you anymore because my daughter is already 21; it won’t be long before I am a grandmother.

Once again I wish you all the best.

From your Margot

I am enclosing a gift for the newborn.

Mazel Tov

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


Letter: 17 December 1961

17th December 1961
17th December 1961

            New York, 17th December 1961

Dear Werner,

As I have in the meantime been ill again I will answer your letter today. I was pleased to read a few lines written by your wife. I will reply to you, yourself. If you spot too many mistakes, cross them out with red ink, so that you don’t lose practice. I am pleased to hear that the little one is thriving and you have great pleasure from his company. You will have to get accustomed to being woken up at night. I don’t know whether you can remember – your great-grandmother, your grandmother and your mother shared that experience. I informed them of Reha’s birth at the time, and your grandmother was delighted. She wrote to me from Gleiwitz and one month later, sadly, at the age of 86 she was taken to the concentration camp.

As far as the solicitor is concerned, I only received the letter last week. It is far easier for me here, I have all the necessary documents and it is all black and white. I received a small sum for being in the camp and having to wear a yellow star. Then I claimed compensation for my father’s death in the concentration camp. You are right about my birth certificate. He has all the necessary papers. But if you want to know anything about earlier times, then ask your solicitor to contact me and I will provide the information to the best of my ability. I have gossiped enough now – hope to hear from you soon.

From your cousin

Margot

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


Letter: 22 August 1962

22nd August 1962, page one
22nd August 1962, page one
22nd August 1962, page two
22nd August 1962, page two

Hamburg 22nd August 1962

Dear Werner

After our return from our holiday we found your letter to our Mother, who died on 30th May after a long and difficult illness. I am sure you will be very sorry to hear this news after such an extensive correspondence between your mother and my aunt Wilhelmina Hoffmeister, as she was so closely connected to you and your cousin, and because the fate of your mother and grandmother were often the main topic of conversation in their correspondence (even in the last years of her life, the worry of the tragic circumstances of your mother and grandmother were of great concern in her letters). My aunt’s mind was so confused (she was senile) during the last two years of her life, so your question a few months ago would not have met with much response, although she would have been concerned had she been less confused.

In order to be of help to you we tried to find something in the correspondence our aunt left behind, but unfortunately she destroyed most of her old letters, with the exception of a few letters with reference to particular instructions; we didn’t find any notes regarding your family, with the exception of one letter dated 15.9.45; she didn’t mention anything in the letter but on the envelope in pencil (the letter itself had been written in ink) she wrote, ‘I never heard again from Frau W.’. This was probably written in connection with a question of my mother’s.

I don’t know whether this short message is any use to you. Not even the name has been written in full. In any case, I am not sending you the letter, but I will present to the Notary whom we will contact when we have ascertained that we cannot find any other useful documents.

During my search I found all your letters with regard to the watch (from 1949 to 1950), which I kept as evidence that I handed it to you. All this correspondence seems to me evidence that your family and my aunt were in close contact. We can certainly confirm the correspondence between the two, especially how shocked my aunt was about the last comments received from your Mother and about the circumstances in which your grandmother found herself at such a great age. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide evidence of the dismay, nor of the dates when the events occurred and I am afraid that is exactly what they will demand.

We are pleased that at least we can help a little in this matter but it still seems to be of little use. We will certainly do our best in making the effort.

Fraulein Johanna Denkler wrote to us immediately on receipt of your letter. We were there a few days before as guests, but in that small village everything is more complicated and they are somewhat inexperienced in dealing with officialdom. We advised her to enquire about a court in the area, or perhaps a Notary with whom she can make a statement. As far as we know the relatives in Harz no longer have any letters either.

We will inform you as soon as we hear from the Notary about his opinion regarding our statement. Until then, my sister and I send you regards.

G. Krimmer

(Translator cannot read the name)

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


Letter: 5 September 1962

5th September 1962, page one
5th September 1962, page one
5th September 1962, page two
5th September 1962, page two
5th September 1962, page three
5th September 1962, page three

 

 


English translation to follow


Letter: 5 September 1962

1966_12_13


 

                        New York, 13th December 1966

Dear Werner,

Many thanks for your letter. I wrote to you from Florida. Now that is in the past. Above all, I want to congratulate you and your wife on your charming children and wish you all the very best and that they will grow up strong and healthy. The boy looks just like you when you were a little child. They are sweet at that age at any rate, but sometimes they can be difficult. My daughter writes that hers can be a little devil. He always wants his own way, but at other times he is sweet. During the summer my ex was here with his wife. I gave him several things for my grandchild. I expect to be travelling there at some point in the next two years. Many congratulations on your new appointment.

I am travelling to Washington this Christmas for the first time. Friends who live there have invited me for three days this time, otherwise, it is not worthwhile. Apart from that I have to work really hard. By the evening I am very tired but what can I do about it? One has to do it in order to have something for one’s old age. I also have a daughter and I have to send her something now and again. Otherwise, thank God, I am alright and hope you are as well. I was really pleased to hear from you after such a long interval. Stay well all of you, my dears, and write to me again.

My best regards to Sybil and the children and to you and yours.

From your cousin

Margot

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


Other letters

There are many other post-war letters from the 1950s and 1960s from English friends of my father.

However, I am unsure about who may be living from among these, and so do not feel that I should reproduce them here. As lives continued after the drama and trauma of war, people of course started to write about both everyday matters and the personal tragedies that beset them and their families – births and marriages, visits and Christmas plans, certainly, but also of the sad deaths of husbands, wives, and children. Theirs is not part of the larger historical context explored here, and some of those affected will still be alive today.

One aspect of the letters puzzles me – by the early 1960s they are dropping off, and by the late 1960s there are no more letters. It could be that my father stopped writing back once he was married and had children; or it could be because he was taken ill shortly after I was born and so his own correspondence dropped off; it might be that once my mother was housekeeper they weren’t kept in the same way. I simply don’t know.

One of the nice things about these letters for me, reading them today, is the affection in which my father was clearly held by these people. That such a number of families in the 1950s and 1960s looked beyond my dad’s past nationality, and beyond his one-time refugee status, speaks volumes about the kinds of people they were. And given the tone of many of the anecdotes described in the letters, this also speaks to a light, humorous, affectionate side of my dad and his relationships with others before his illness, as can also be seen in the photographs of him that I recently found around from this time.

Finally, I am touched by the different names with which friends and teaching colleagues addressed my dad – he is Dear Mr Weissenberg, certainly, and My dear Werner, but he is also Dear Weiss, W2 (in reference to his skill with mathematics: “You are celebrated for your neat solutions!”), My dear Weiss, Dear Wise, My dear Weissy, Dear Wernie …

On this note, I have reproduced below a few of the tokens from the children and colleagues at the schools at which he taught: he was known for helping to get his bright mathematics students into Oxbridge, I gather – something of which he was rightly proud of them for in relation to small northern schools at that time.

And finally a letter from a friend and colleague on hearing of Werner’s marriage to Sybil in February 1960. Where most letters on this subject are both congratulatory and traditional in their response to hearing this serious though joyful news, this one has a lovely cheeky tone, making reference to my dad’s skill at chess – with which he would have been delighted!

1960_03_15


And so Werner’s life – one life from among all his close family members – continued on to its natural end – in a marriage with his beloved Sybil and with their two children and, all too briefly, with two of his five grandchildren.

From numbers to names.