Monday, October 24, 2016

May, 1941: Family Dynamics

Letter from Ella to Opa


Berlin-Charlottenburg 4
Droysenstrasse 14
(May 1941 estimated date, no date on the letter)

My very beloved boy, what a joy, when last week the copy of the affidavit and also the letter from your president to the consul arrived! However, you do have a strange idea how a visa is issued here. The affidavit is the very first step required. And if it is sufficient is also very doubtful. But I do believe the recommendation from the president of the college is very valuable in this. Until the money for the passage has been deposited, nothing at all can be done. Day before yesterday I visited with the friends, they were asked by Philadelphia to look after me. But naturally they also cannot speed things up. You know that my number won't be called for quite a long time. When a request or demand from you gets here, I could be considered earlier. I see you are trying hard in this matter, the friends want to write to Philadelphia also. The fact, that you know nothing about Herting worries me very much.  Ellen should contact Uschi.

Hunschenkind, you know how much Herting means to me, I would love to know how she is. If I had the address I would write to her through the Red Cross. I am afraid she feels abandoned by all of us, which could depress her very much. Please, please try to reach her. Gis and Anni also have not heard from their aunt for a long time. Have you received any news? By the way, you did not read my letter correctly. H.H. did not come to see me! He visited Ann'chen and Hilda, took the picture to Ann'chen, who in turn gave it to me. I was and still am angry with Papa, especially since he does not write to you either. If possible I will send the picture to you otherwise I will send it back to him. Without any word, it is of no value to me. Too much is too much.  

By the way, Hunschen, if you really don't know where your Mama was born, you can see it on the papers: Not in Guestrow, but Ottensen by Altona. It is incorrect on the affidavit. I was born on August 4th, 1889 in Ottensen. Please find out how and where it must be corrected. Also the name Judith does not show on the papers. I still don't have a picture of myself. I wrote to you that I had my picture taken, but the pictures were so impossible, even the photograph recommended to take new ones. But I am afraid they won’t be much better.  

I am glad you spent Easter so nicely. When will be together again to celebrate and invite dear friends? I had planned to go to Guestrow for Pentecost, but it won't work out, because of my lessons I have to stay here. A few days ago I wrote to Shelley's and at the same time a letter to your president and the Friends. Since I have not given  English lessons for a long while, I feel a bit uneasy about my expressions. Well, it will work out, once I am there, in a few days I will be able to speak well again.

Hunschen, I am longing for both of you so very much. I know you do the best you can, and so do I. Hopefully, hopefully we will see each other soon. I am waiting impatiently for your letter.

I kiss and embrace my dear, dear boy
Your Mama

Just now Aunt Juling comes with a Red Cross letter, news from Herting. So we do at least know she is well. Aunt Juling will write to her this month, I will do it later also.

Dear boy (actually an Austrian or Swiss word for little boy, Bubi), How glad I am to send you greetings and to hear you are doing well, I cannot tell. I would be even happier if you would send a few lines to me. Loving greetings from your, often thinking of you, 
Aunt Roza

Herting is a major character in this letter (Ella has mentioned her several times in past letters), and the best Jason and I can figure (with research and family input)- we are assuming that Herting is Hertha Loewenstein, Ella's younger cousin through her father's family. Herting may have been around 10 years older than Opa, and therefore much younger than Ella. Also, I'm pretty sure she is in England at this time, which is why the communication would be via Red Cross (England and Germany are at war, so regular communication via letters would not be allowed). I think she had to take a menial job in some service industry, which is why Ella was concerned for her. 

Helene, Patti's daughter, said that this concern for Herting and general need for the family to look out for her was a lifelong thing. She was always frail and a bit lonely. I'm not 100% sure who Uschi is or why she in particular should be concerned about Herting. I assume it is her family as well (there are a few options for who Uschi could be). Perhaps Uschi is also in England? Maybe that is why Ella assumes she should be keeping tabs on Herting? 

One of the great joys and frustration of this research is trying to figure out who half of these people are that Ella mentions in her letters. Like H.H. We have no idea who H.H. is. 

Other than bringing in lots of people for Opa to write and be concerned for- Ella writes about her hopes for her emigration. She still has the same plan, and is grateful to Opa for the affidavit and letter of character reference by President V.F. Schwalm. It seems like the American method and the German method for getting a visa are slightly different- even though it's all the same government (the USA) doing it. Ella is hopeful that Opa can demand or request for her to come to the United States. I wonder if she knows just how complicated that is for Opa- is she aware of how tentative his own status is? It seems she understands that he is not able to do it easily, or else  I'm sure she would ask what is taking him so long. But I doubt she knows the full story, as then she would likely be chastising him for letting his own visa expire. (Not that it was his fault.) 

Ella is a little persnickety in this letter. She's angry with August for not writing to Opa or her- and she offers to send  Opa the picture of August or send it back because she certainly has no need for it. She's pretty much done with him (but I suspect she doesn't stop caring and isn't actually done with him). Ella also chides Opa for not knowing where she was born.

Poor Opa. This letter was likely a little hard to read. Lots of family dynamics to navigate. More names to write and worry about. More pressure on getting his mother to the United States. She is grateful that he has had a good Easter, and if nothing else Opa must know how deeply, stubbornly, lovingly she cares for him. 

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