Sunday, August 16, 2015

February 7, 1940: Ella's Kindness

Original Letter from Ella to Tom
(Note red censor stamp from Nazis)

Translation by Rosemarie: Ella to Opa

Nr 13 (letter number 13)

Berlin, Charlottenburg, Feb. 7th, 1940

Droysenstrasse 14

My boy, my very beloved boy, again no letter from you, not yesterday (Clipperday) or today.
Perhaps the airplanes cannot fly because of this brutal cold weather, but I know that you write regularly!!

Yesterday I had a letter from Patti in which she is making a bit of fun of her Mama, but otherwise writes as sweet and dear as our Patti-child is.

I also had a note from Kurt and a great picture. He also is longing for all of us, but otherwise feels happy there. He is happy about your future prospects. Please write to him, he would be so happy.

He is very attached to all of you, cares about you.

You should also write to Herting (we think this is Ella's cousin), she feels very much alone and life is hard for her.

Uschi (that is the endearment of the name URSULA) who is doing very well doesn’t seem to care much about her, she never replied to any of Hertings letters, which as I know Uschi does not surprise me. It is sad that she continues to grow apart from everybody.

Right now I have a foster child, Lotte Wittke from (I cannot read the name of the place)
With the (Parrish or congregation or community, not sure which applies) I pushed through the approval of a cosmetic course for her, since her aunt in New York to whom she is going soon, owns a cosmetic salon.

She lives with me, works from 7 to 5 in a laundry (doing mostly ironing) in Berlin Lichterfelde, to earn some money for the training cost, and will start the course in March.

She is likeable, intelligent and willing but has a hard time concentrating. I believe her stay here will be good for her. I am glad I can help her. She tries to help me a lot wherever she can.

Loewes came on Sunday, Heini did not come with them. He says he cannot really talk to me when his parents are present, possibly he will come next Sunday, and bring me the second Act of his Drama.

I am looking forward to that, he is smart and very interesting.

How about your exams,???? All that will be in the letter I am waiting for so longingly.
Did you write to Hirsch and to Rose?

Have you heard anything from Ellenruth?

Remember that Papa will be 50 (I think that’s what it shows) on March 8th!!!!!

Please write right away and write a lot my very beloved child

I kiss, embrace and caress you,

Your Mama

Will Opa write about his exams for the love of everything holy?! Everyone keeps asking about them.

Ella is desperate for news from Opa, and I'm sure he's written her, but she sure is putting the pressure on if he hasn't!

I talked with Helene (Patti's daughter) about this Herting. She thinks it was Herta Lowenstein, who was Ella's cousin. We have to work out the details, but it seems to make sense. Helene's memories of Herting were that she was always a bit frail and unfortunate. It sounds like her frailty started early. No one seems to be writing her. I bet Ella is. Ella seems to look out for the underdog. She has a deep well of kindness for her friends, family, and even strangers.

Ella's mention of having a foster child struck me. I was so curious about this Lotte Wittke! Who is this girl and what was the situation where Ella would have a foster child? (Is Lotte still alive?!) I asked one of our translators and her sister about this. They both grew up in Berlin, and one of them lives there still. It seems like a foster child there is very similar to what a foster child would be in my current cultural context in America. This is what Rose (the translator) wrote:

“Ein Pflegekind” does not have to be legally adopted, it could just be somebody Ella was willing to take in and help. Sounds like Ella, does it not? With her own terrible situation she was willing to help. Wish I had known her!

I agree- I really wish I could have met her. I am so attached to her. (Attachment seems to be a running theme for this family) So she took in this girl, someone we have no knowledge of, and provided a home. I wonder if Lotte provided some relief of Ella’s loneliness for her children, or if she was just another reminder that her children were somewhere else, in someone else’s home, just like this girl.

Either way, my love for Ella grows. Her ability to love and care for others just barely matches her despair at being separated from her children. I feel like she is mothering me even in her letters.

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