Monday, December 14, 2015

November 20, 1940: Small Joys

Letter from Ella to Opa


Berlin, Charlottenburg, Nov. 20th 1940
Droysenstrasse 14

My beloved boy, By now I have been without news from you for over 4 weeks, and I worry.
This time one year ago, you were ill, hopefully you are not ill again. I tell myself of course, that the mail does not come regularly, and that my boy writes to me every week, the letters do not arrive, and you know mamas are always worried about their children. Through a friend of Pattilein, I heard that she is well, and also received a few darling pictures of her and her husband. I do believe she is doing well. Did you receive my letter in which I replied to you letter in details about your feelings for Esther? It was the last one I received, I think every day about how it looks inside of you (your inner most feelings). Every day I wait for mail so longingly.  

Hunschen, there is a possibility (chance) to go to the “small Antilles" islands if somebody will guarantee to cover my living expenses. Might that be possibly for me? Do you know somebody who would do that? From here I cannot do anything, would not know who to turn to. Do you think the “Friends” could do something? Or perhaps Hanna’s brother? Hanna sent me a rather cool birthday letter, and did not respond to the matter of an affidavit at all.

Also Rose states only vaguely the she would handle things, when the time comes. Hunschen, please get in contact with Rose, without that affidavit nothing can be done from here. Once on the small Antilles, one can wait there until the number comes up. How great that would be. Sometimes it is hard not to lose courage, but we have to be brave. And every day also brings small joys. Anni and Gis were going to visit me today. Sadly I had to cancel, because I have no time this week, we rescheduled for Sunday after next. The Saturday before I will go to a lecture at the “Friends”, I have not been there for a long, long time, and I am looking forward to it very much. Yesterday I was at Ann’chen’s for dinner. She says to tell you hello, and will write a Christmas letter to you within the next days. I wish for you a happy Thanksgiving day my boy. Maybe there will be a letter today, when I get home. I am writing this on the road, first at the H-V (must be the school) where I was transferred to, and now, since I ran out of ink, at the post office. 

I am always, always with you and Patti, and also with Aust, and I am thinking very much of all other loved ones. My boy, I kiss you dearly.

Your Mama

Did Shelley’s receive my letter?

Ella is looking for any way out, ANY WAY. I want to remind my readers that the Wansee Conference (you know- the one where they come up with the "Final Solution" for Jews?)- it hasn't even happened yet. Right now the Nazis are just be supreme jerks and also highly encouraging all Jews to leave the country, while also taking away all of their rights and means of financial independence. Things are bad, but Ella knows that now is the time to get out- and I think she sees the writing on the wall- that things probably won't get better for a while. She is daring to be hopeful. This practical, humble, pragmatic woman is considering moving to the small Antilles on the sponsorship of a family member or Quakers. For Ella, that is a huge swallow of pride and a giant leap into the unknown. That's how bad it is. And they haven't started shipping people out yet.

Ella hasn't gotten news from many people lately, it seems the mail ebbs and flows. She knows that, but it doesn't help her anxiety and worry. She can't stop being a mother- she still worries about Patti's happiness and safety. She still worries about Opa's colds. She still wonders if he is heartbroken. She still hopes Patti's marriage is happy. All her worries, concerns, and wishes- they don't disappear when her own anxieties overwhelm her. In fact, Ella focuses in on her children so that her love and concern for them will hide and push away her worries for herself. 

Ella stays busy, working however she can. She's been so busy she hasn't been able to stay as connected with the Quakers- and had to cancel a visit with Gis and Anni (I'm so glad they are visiting her!)- but she is making time to go to the lectures that the Quakers held for folks like her. It gives her an opportunity to connect with other folks, to get spiritual/intellectual inspiration, and to not feel isolated for an evening.

Ella continues to hold on to hope, and to her love for her children. That connective thread to her family is stretched so far across the world- America, France, Amsterdam. It's a challenge to hold them all - but she does it for hope. She holds on to the small joys that make her journey bearable.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I would love to hear feedback! Share your thoughts and your stories.