From Poland with Love: The Case of Leib

Rypnik, 18th October 1937

My dearest Leib,

I am very sorry that you had to wait so long for my reply. As you know, sending letters from Poland is quite impossible at this moment and so I had to wait for Helena to travel to Paris to visit her in-laws, thus forwarding my letter to the two dentists, who have just received permission to go to Palestine. The talks about war are more than just talks now and we are struggling to sort out as much as we can in terms of valid documents to leave as soon as possible. I don’t even know if we will be able to sell our home, because no one wants to buy it.

Dad isn’t feeling very well. The business is doing very poorly and with it dad feels like he’s failing. Mother’s still robust in terms of health, but you can see worry written all over her face. We received the money you sent us through Mendel. Thank you for that, my love. Please, please, promise me that you didn’t take away from your mouth to help us. I can’t bear to think about the fact that you may not eat enough or have nowhere to sleep only because you chose to send us that money.

How is work? You’re telling me that you’re working long hours. I miss you very much. It’s been over a year and a half since we have seen each other. I’m happy however, because I know that we are meant to be together. Your dad travelled here for our engagement. I know that this is how things had to be done, but I would prefer if you could come here, just marry me and we could go to Palestine together without all the hassle with letters. I know that it’s not possible for you financially. Then again, what is another several months while the whole lifetime together awaits us? I hope that now that we are engaged you are less worried about me toying with your emotions and you have been reassured that I don’t want anyone else but you. Why would I, darling? You’re the only one I love.

We received a letter from Stanislav in which he informed us that he plans to leave Palestine with Tamar and return to Poland. Please, I urge you to do what it takes to stop him from doing so. It’s neither safe nor there are any means for us to support ourselves here. It’s impossible to earn even one zloty and he wants to bring the family into this? Dad is only talking about the life in Palestine. I already miss Poland, but I am looking forward to the new life with you and our families together. Poland has been my home and I can’t understand why things cannot remain as they have been. But living in Palestine is a dream much bigger than that of staying home, and so is the thought of seeing you.

Have you managed to do anything to further your application for residency? I know that it’s a lot of hassle, so I am not pressuring you, but it’s important that you sort it out sooner rather than later. I know that formalities take even up to a year.

I still feel bad that you helped us financially, even though I am not only grateful, but also pleased that we mean so much to you and we will hopefully raise all the money we need to get out of Poland as soon as possible, but in the meantime, I hope you won’t mind, that I also sent a letter to Samuel, one of the dentists. I hear that they are quite well-off so perhaps they will be able to help you to get a better job so you’re more settled by the time we come.

Darling, you haven’t yet told me anything about the building of our new home? I understand that it still isn’t ready, but why is it taking so much time? I suspect that you employed a hochshtapler to handle it and therefore it’s taking not only time, but also more money and this is something that we can’t spare at this moment. Oh, I can just imagine our salon and the kitchen, and a little balcony… I hope you don’t mind me talking like this. After all we are engaged and soon will be married.

Apart from this nothing new has been happening. Please don’t follow my example, but rather reply soon so that I can hear from you!

Yours fully,


Disclaimer: Names, dates and places have been changed to protect confidentiality. All stories, however, are true.

The purpose of this publication is to present the nature of my work and to show my take on the lives of people, who for the Nazi system were nothing more than numbers.  I wanted to present them as more than just case numbers, give them voices and build a story based on nothing more than dry facts.


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