Tuesday, February 7, 2017

June 16, 1941: Again and Again and Again

Letter from Ella to Opa

Berlin,16th of June 1941
Droysenstrasse 14

My beloved boy,

The day before yesterday your letter arrived, telling me that you spent your birthday rather nicely. How grateful I am to everybody who is so kind to you. Hopefully I can soon thank them personally and be nice to them. In the meantime you must have received my letter, telling you that the affidavit is not sufficient, and asked you to place a request (invitation) for me to come. How that is done, get the information from the Quakers, I don't know how myself. Hunschen did Ellen Ruth congratulate you for your birthday? And how is our beloved Pattilein whose letter should have arrived by now?  It is very hard to be so far away from both of you, and I hear so little. All my thinking, hopes, and wishes are about both of you. For a few weeks I seemed to be living in a dream, but that is over now, I am not able to concentrate, and the longing is much stronger again. Also many lessons have been cancelled lately, so I have much time to think about myself and things, and that is not good for me. I hear from Papa only through Ann'chen, and even then very seldom. I don't want to see anybody, everything seems so strange. The days in Guestrow were like a fairy tale, so harmonic, quiet, in loving (caring) surroundings. Aunt Berta came to stay with me for a few days, I am very happy about that. My boy, I don't care in which way I can come to you. Why should I object against land travel? On the contrary, if only I can come. Even though there too, the trip from the border has to be paid in Dollars from over there. It is pointless to get prices now, especially for the trip by steamer, since they change all the time. First the affidavit has to be in order, then the passage arranged and paid for, then I will get the Visa, and then I can travel. If only it would be soon. Now I am waiting impatiently for your letter.  I don't even know if you can study in Manhattan, but I hope so since you are writing quite positively about living there. I think soon a very detailed letter will arrive.

Did you receive my last letter? Say hello to your friends for me.

I kiss you lovingly
Your Mama

Note on side 
My dear boy. On my return trip from Potsdam I am staying a few days with Putschi (not sure about spelling), my chosen daughter (not really related) and think of you, my grandchild in love.

I just read this letter and my heart filled up and sank down. I don't know how to describe this feeling. I've been reading and writing about Opa's experiences in Kansas and his back and forth with the visa stuff that I kind of forgot Ella's voice for a bit. Here, with her letter, I get her back- a sort of reprieve for this strange homesickness I have for her. It sounds crazy, I never met her, but I miss her. I miss her and I will never be able to sit down in this world and share tea with her. I grieve for her. She is the person I would meet if I could go back in time and meet anyone. I long to comfort her and to have her comfort me. This connection I feel to her is as bizarre as it is visceral. When her letters run out, I don't know what I will do. The mere thought of not having another Ella letter to read brings tears to my eyes.

On this day, June 16, 1941, FDR ordered the closing of all German consulates in the US by July 10. It happens by July 15th. It's not completely impossible for immigration as folks can get to other countries and then immigrate from there to the US (as Opa did from Holland). It's not impossible, but it is now improbable at best. Ella's fate is growing dim.

And here we have Ella, back in Berlin after a reprieve to Guestrow, where the grass was green, the people kind, and her thoughts were free to have joy for a short time. She's back home, with a rejected affidavit, hopes in Opa's power of request, and pleading words for Opa to keep moving forward in his efforts to get her to the US. 

All she wants to do is say thank you to his friends. All she wants to do is teach anyone who is willing to learn. All she wants to do is live and be with her children. All she wants to do is celebrate a birthday with her children again, to pat their heads and embrace them.

I am so angry and sad and frustrated. Again and again and again and again this happens. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

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