Camp de Gurs|
Ilot I, Bar. 12
June 4, 1941
My Dear Children,
I was quite convinced to be able to report pleasant news of our early
emigration today, but instead we find that the prospects for that are ever
diminishing. You too will have become aware of that through Father's cable and
I'm sure you're better informed than we about the present situation.
Unfortunately, today's report by Father is nothing less than hopeless. For
that reason, there is absolutely no use to wallow in great expectations, all of
which would only lead to new disappointments over and over again. None of us
can alter one iota of the entire situation and we must accept it as it comes.
We cling to the thought that with God's help the day of a reunion may yet come
soon; we already have so much behind us that we will, God willing, overcome
this too in good health.
As you may be aware, we have a notice to appear at the [American] consulate on
June 24, and can only hope that after that the possibility of a departure will
still exist. We are anxious to hear what your cabled answer will be, dear Max.
People stop by daily, all of them in the same situation, and all of them
believing that they'll be able to attain their goal sooner through your
intervention [at the travel bureau where he worked]. And one person clings to
the next, asking for advice. All the while, we don't even know how to help
ourselves. How happy it would make us to be at that point ourselves!...
I got still another letter from Mr. Thalheimer who notified me that I can
expect remittance of Ffrs, 900 [approx. $20] Do take our most heartfelt thanks
for it, dear Children! It would be of interest to us to find out by what route
you made this remittance. Thus far, nothing has been delivered on this end and
it is too bad that these days only Ffrs 400 are being paid out every two weeks.
I am also still in the dark about the previous two remittances of $10 each.
Did you remit them via the same route as well -- or how else, dear Gerdi? I
hope [their arrival] will still be announced while I'm here [in Gurs]. You
see, no matter how thrifty we are, the money runs through our fingers all too
quickly, because everything is so expensive. In spite of all that, I can still
save on many an item that I would otherwise have to buy, thanks to Frieda and
Mrs. S. At the same time, it does depress me a lot to always have to be on the
receiving end without being able to return the favor for the time being.
If, God forbid, we should still have to remain here for a longer period, the
most practical approach would be to have food packages sent to us through Mr.
Thalheimer, via France. That would take us much further than having to buy
every single thing for exorbitant prices. Once in Marseilles, we'll need Ffrs.
1000 for both our visas and medical exams for which we applied. But it looks
like, additional funds will be needed, much of which we couldn't have
anticipated; unfortunately none of your many clothing packages ever reached us.
That meant we had to acquire miscellaneous items. We held off with that until
it simply had to be done; after all, one can't walk around in total rags. I
obtained a nearly new summer suit for Father from Aunt Franziska which is
urgently needed and of course I'm not asking for it for nothing. As to shoes
and a topcoat, I'll have to see where I can get those because Aunt Franziska
needs the topcoat for herself [Uncle Sigmund having passed away recently.]
You might think how unimportant everything is that I'm writing, yet it's quite
important for us. You can't imagine how many things are being altered, sewed
or knitted in this place; also by people who packed well [at the time of
deportation]. Dresses, blouses and aprons, etc. are being fashioned from
nightgowns, shirts or a variety of other things! We are thoroughly fed up with
that and everything else, to the point where we just don't want to hear any
more or talk about it!
I'd much rather have a conversation with you, dear Kurt, and want to avail
myself of the opportunity now already to express my heartiest congratulation on
your upcoming birthday. What I feel for you and ardently wish you, I would
much prefer to tell you in person. Who would have thought that on the
completion of your 21st year we must still be separated? However, by no means
do I want to spoil this day for you with maudlin sentimentalities. Rather, may
you be privileged to spend it in the most pleasant manner. Be assured that our
thoughts are constantly with you and all the others. If only we can keep our
health, so that we may once more experience some pleasant hours in your
company. Even now, we look forward with delight to getting your details about
I almost forgot: about a week ago, I received 1lb of coffee, half a pound of
cocoa, and a nearly empty tin of cookies via Lisbon, for which I thank you,
dear Children, so very much. In case we should have to be here for a prolonged
period, we'd be most grateful for some butter.
As much as I'd like to continue this conversation with you, I do have to
conclude now. I really meant for these lines to go to your address, dear Max
and Suse, but inasmuch as I cannot send another special letter to Kurt on his
birthday, this will go directly to him. We gladly look forward to your next
letter and I ask you to extend our best regards to all within the family. To
you, dear Kurt, once again, my most ardent wishes for happiness, a day of fun
and most heartfelt regards and kisses, to all of you from your loving
June 6, 1941|
...As mentioned in my previous letter, I hope to receive the preliminary visa
on June 24. That will enable me to apply for Mother's transfer to Marseilles
[from Gurs], because she has to be present at the time the actual visas are
issued. The date for that to happen depends on my furnishing proof of suitable
passage. The [necessary] Portuguese transit visas can only be applied for
after the real American visas have been issued and will take approx. 2 - 4
weeks, despite telegraphic application through the Portuguese consulate in
Marseilles. In that case, also, BUDD [Jewish aid organization] cannot be
counted on for help, however HICEM [Jewish aid organization] may be able to do
something on our behalf in Lisbon.
The Spanish transit visa and the French exit visa can be obtained within a few
days without any difficulties. You can see from the foregoing how complicated
everything is here and how much time it all takes. Aside for that, you
encounter every conceivable kind of difficulty wherever you go and you soon
learn that you must never lose your patience if you expect to achieve anything
at all. Otherwise I am all right, something that Mother also confirms about
herself in her letters which usually take about 8 - 10 days. We have to get
used to the prevailing tempo of life here...
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