|Original Letter from Ella to Tom|
Dec. 26th 1939
It’s Christmas here today.(In Germany we have the 24th,the 25th and also the 26th of Dec, all are legal holidays.)
(Cyclamen come in pink, white and red, they are popular houseplants in Berlin. They prefer cool surroundings, perfect to place on the windowsills in older buildings. My mother used to have them also)
I will write right away on Sunday. Today I am at the Stier’s, very quiet and terribly tired.
Hanna is at a Quaker school close to Phildelphia. In my next letter I will send you her address.
I thank you, Henschenboy, that you wrote to me so lovingly and in detail. Please, please keep doing that! Right away I sent your letter to Papa and Patti and can’t wait to have it returned to me.
Your last letter was dated Dec.3rd, and I am waiting every day for the fotos of McPherson.
Henschenboy you go ahead and go to church with them. Everything is good where good people gather with good intentions.
I think there is a lot in this phrase. I think she means that she herself is quiet and tired, but it would work if the whole Stier family joined her in exhaustion- as they really must have. Ellen Ruth, the Stiers’ daughter, had emigrated to New York just that month and they probably were experiencing some of the same emotions as Ella. Also, there was some tension between Ella and her sister Marta. I'm not exactly sure what they were, but I get the impression that she visited and called on them out of obligation. Marta and her husband Erich were more connected with the Jewish community, perhaps Ella's lack of religious practice and divorce made her a bit of a black sheep?
The next part is telling of what she is going through- she cannot make a package (or send a present) for her son for Christmas. I know she’s Jewish- but my guess is that they celebrated a Christmas gift exchange when Opa was growing up. So for her to not send a present, especially this mother that is so very doting, she must have really been struggling.
Many of the laws from the Nuremberg race laws (Hitler's first line of offense against the Jews) not only named a race to be separate and disgraced, but it also purposely created financial burdens to disenfranchise a group of people. Ella was among those. I wish we knew more about the real detail of what she endured in Germany after Opa left. All we know are her doting letters that leave out any great personal detail other than her love of her children. Of course, this one detail is why she did not tell Opa about her woes and her struggles. My guess is she wanted to shelter him from the ugliness so that he could enjoy his freedom and education. She lived, thrived, on information from her children, on their happiness. It has been a year and a half since she had seen Opa...and longer than that since she had seen Patti, her daughter.
Very quiet and terribly tired. She mentions going to Annchen’s (August’s sister) house on Saturday, but that Annchen went to Frankfurt for the holidays. Does that mean she went to her house to be away from her own? Or did Annchen have some comforts that she no longer could afford? Or maybe I’m reading too much into this and Annchen was back this day and they were just visiting.
Either way, Ella is going through life with little to hope for at home, but full investment in her son’s life, his freedom, his happiness.
I do enjoy her blessing that he goes to church: “Henschenkind, you go ahead and go to church with them. Everything is good where good people gather with good intentions.” Sound advice we all could hear.
The year is almost over, and so many things have changed drastically in a year. Change makes for exhaustion, and the kinds of changes taking place for Ella must have indeed made her very quiet.