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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

My Father’s Letters to My Mother From the M/S St. Louis

Friends and relatives in Havana Harbor shout to the passengers.

Original handwritten page dated June 4, 1939.

(Translated from the German original)

Thursday June 1, 1939

Dear Good Wife and My Dear Children!

As you see we are still on board the St. Louis. The negotiations with the government have been drawn out in length. Since about 14 days a new state-president is in charge, who seemingly is the main… Be as it may. It is an act of God and may be it is blossoming therefore into a great Mazel, since I have a little hope that at the end we will be able to land in the USA, you can understand that. Tonight came the notification from the ship’s management, that tomorrow morning early we will leave Havana harbor into international waters namely at the American coast. From there further negotiations are awaited, which will continue with the Cuban government. We will therefore have to wait the next days, although I have requested to use the paid reply telegram and to notify you that we are free, in good mood and jolly. I hope, my Dears, you are not concerned. Paul sent me a telegram, and Benno already told me yesterday that Paul already made a deposit for me. But on that it does not yet depend, and I hope that I will not need it. Await my further reports. Benno did everything possible in order to help me, this afternoon he sent me 20 dollars, cigars and cigarettes (since I do not have any with me) a nice pineapple and a dear letter. He is a real Strauss with a noble Jewish heart. We are therefore well taken care of, food and service, as before—good.

Everything is in order, also the temperature, one does not freeze. At night I have two ventilators running, without pajamas and cover, but I can stand the heat excellently.

I will close herewith, be greeted and kissed many times. To the siblings also many greeting

From your—Pa



PPS. As a result of connection with Benno, received already letters numbers 1-4, and one from the children, together with all the content. Have a thousand thanks.

Letter Number Four

Sunday noon June 4, 1939 on board M/S St. Louis

My Dears!

Yes, today it is already the 22nd day of our sea trip. Who would have thought, that we still, that means again, are on the high sea, as I already told you on Shabbos yesterday we had arrived 8 days earlier. As we are told during the whole time, when the St. Louis was anchored in the middle of the harbor, intensive negotiations went on. As you see, it did not come to an agreement. It was told, that the Cuban State President insisted that the ship with its 928 passengers must leave the harbor of Havana, since it arrived illegally and he is ready, as soon as the ship has left Cuban area, again, to have a new basis to negotiate. And so on Thursday midnight all preparations were made for an exit of the ship. A giant amount of provisions etc. came on board. That the frame of mind by the nervous people, is not very good, I do not have to describe to you. But with good urging etc. a lot can be arranged. Regretfully, it is so by us Jews, that today we are overly happy, but with the slightest occurrence, let our head hang. One does not give himself too much hope and then you avoid a lot of grief and sorrow. What my Dears should I write you? You see I am healthy and despite everything full of hope. Dear God will also not leave us in this situation. Only the worries about you all, do not really let me come to peace. Cuba is seemingly shut out, to where will we go, will it be possible that you dear Wife and Children will be able to come there? That is what tortures me. And further I have the thoughts of and about all the other dear ones. What is with Rahel and what is with Jonas and Frieda? One does not really know for what all that is good, since in such a small country—suddenly so many people. But what is then still available?

My Dear Wife and Dear Children, I think I already acknowledged your dear letters, in total 5 pieces, numbers 1-4 and one from you dear children. You have no idea how happy it makes me. Dear Wife I don’t have to especially emphasize that because of your so generous lines, and full of love, especially affected my heart. Oh, when I realize, that in the evening, when you go to sleep, you really call out to me, then I want to fly over the big water and rush to you, in order to take you into my arms. Yes, my Dear, not too long ago, at some occasion you said to me: “Once when you are away, you will see what I was to you.” Darling, I have always realized that, and see it today again confirmed. Regretfully, it was not possible to express this acknowledgment and recognition to you every day. It is also not only the esteem of your homemaking abilities, as well as your good advice with our business and private transactions. No, it is not only the esteem and the recognition, which I have from you as my good, faithful life companion and last but not least as mother of our children. It is impossible for me to bring this to expression, because the feelings overwhelm me at the writing of these lines. Let me, Dear good Mother, carry this further in my heart, until the day comes when I will be able to take you and my Dear Children in my arms, then I will whisper the most beautiful words into your ear, which I know, that they will make you extremely happy: words of esteem and love. The day may be far away, but it will come. On that I will work, if it must be, by day and by night. Darling, probably it is not right that I speak to you in this tone, but it oppresses me today..…to that. I know that you understand me.

So that you see that I am quite on top of everything, I will continue to report to you of the days before Havana. By letter and also by telephone I requested Benno to telegraph that everything is well with me. Because I assume that all kinds of rumors and combinations are swimming around. Also I wrote to you and hope that you received the letter from Havana with enclosures for Manasse and Gottlieb. This is now my third letter.

(This letter will be continued next week.)

By Norbert Strauss


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