My grandparents, Louis (Lutz) and Frieda Bissinger, escaped from Germany a few weeks before the outbreak of war, and came to Britain. In the spring of 1940 they were able to move to London, but in June 1940 the regulations changed and so even though they had both been vetted by a tribunal and declared “Class C” – i.e., legitimate refugees from the Nazis – my grandfather was interned in the Onchan Camp on the Isle of Man. He was there through Sept. 1941, when he was released to work in Cumberland for the War Agricultural Executive Committee. Shortly after that, he was reunited with my grandmother.
In 1993, when my grandmother passed away, my mother was clearing out the basement storage area associated with the apartment, and found that my Oma had kept all the letters from my Opa while he was interned. Due to water damage, they had congealed into a solid block of paper fibers. My mother donated the letters to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, hoping that the museum’s conservationists would be able to figure out a way to salvage them.
In late 2014, I found the accession record for this artifact in the USHMM website, and sent them an email asking if they’d ever been able to get anywhere with the letters. With recent advances in restoration techniques, they have been able to salvage many of the letters. They are continuing to work on the others, but the archivist sent me photographs of what they have recovered to date.
These web pages contain my attempt at transcribing and translating the letters. My German is not very good, so I’m sure there are errors on both parts. I have added bracketed notes to the translation to explain references to people and places.
Additional context can be found in this PDF of background material.
If you click on any of the images on the left side of the page, you’ll be taken to a full-size image. As the transcript of the original German text is not useful to most readers, it will be displayed only briefly when you first view each page. To display it again, click the “Show German text” link in the lower left corner of the page. (The “page numbers” in the following descriptions refer to the pages in the PDF that the USHMM archivist sent me, and are there only for convenience in cross-referencing the original images.) I have taken the liberty of adding paragraph breaks to the translation; internees were limited to 24 lines per letter and so it would have been a waste to put those divisions in the German.
My mother and I are deeply grateful to the USHMM for their efforts to salvage these letters. We hope that my grandfather’s words will help to illuminate a small corner of that terrible time.
4 May 2015
Update: In Dec. 2015 the USHMM sent me the complete set of 153 letters. I am now looking into hiring someone to transcribe them. If you're interested in helping, or if you want to see the raw files, please see here.
My dear Bielein,
It has happened very quickly and now I am since yesterday here. I have not yet run into anyone I know, but there are so many here that it is impossible to see everyone. One can have here everything that one needs, if one has the money. Write to Hugo that he should send me something.
Hopefully it goes well with you and you reached your goals at the Oversea Department. Have you heard anything from the consulate about the summons? It would be correct if you were to send the immigration papers etc. to Holmes.
I will need warm things if I have to stay here long. I am somewhat worried about you and want to see if we cannot once again come together from here.
Perhaps I can earn some money here as well.
Naturally, it is all very new and unfamiliar. I live together with two others and now my Torquay habits come to me. The household costs are [shared] together and the food is whatever our cook makes. There remain therefore many experiences to have.
Send me please a suitcase with my warm things, rain slicker; the weather is lousy. It will make much work for you, but it is for the best. You let yourself get everything from Dean, and also wait to see with the box, maybe even the good suits in the box. Send me some labels (luggage labels).
And now, much as we wish that we very soon will come together again, is it sometimes very difficult. For today, my beloved beloved Bielein, with many heartfelt greetings and a thousand kisses,
My dear Bielein,
If the weather weren’t so cold and nasty, and if I were not thinking of you so much, then this place would be almost bearable. But it is such as it is, and now I hope only for our America case.
Hugo [=L’s brother] can send me some money; write to him my address. We will also write about it to Mrs. Griffith today.
We Torquayers do not dwell together, but encounter each other daily. But there are only four of us here, that were all interned on the same day. I am together with nice people and from today I am working with them in the kitchen. We are 24 people in the house and we are all trying to make it very nice and clean. Today I have already washed my laundry. Perhaps you can send me a package of Oxydol. My first letter with the other wishes you certainly have received in the meantime. Hopefully it won’t make too much work for you.
How does it go with our friends? Are you satisfied with the room? Send everyone greetings.
And now, my beloved little Bie, I hope that you have a good time and are not too sad. Have you gotten money? If you make preparations, only warm (?) I hope that it is not necessary. Hopefully I will get __ soon a detailed letter from you and will hear how our case stands. Starting today, we also get newspapers and thus know what is happening “outside”.
For today, it’s over again. Very many heartfelt kisses and greetings and keep up the good work.
Ever yours, Lutz.
Friday evening we had religious services in the house. I was there and thought about you so much.
[Based on context, I’m assuming this was actually written when he first arrived at Onchan, but didn’t actually get processed by the Post Office until some days later.]
My beloved Bielein,
Now every day must the first Post arrive from you, and you cannot imagine how I wait for it.
Now two weeks have gone by, and it is fortunate that I have work. Otherwise it would be deathly boring. My intestines are rebelling somewhat, but otherwise I am at the peak.
For now, please do not send clothing; on the other hand, some chocolate and 10s in a Postal-Order. Packages need only 3 days.
Besides that, there is nothing to report here; we are all waiting here and are actually hopeful that soon something will happen for us. We have here a complete number of artists and also a cabaret. On Sundays we have organized a friendly coffee-afternoon, for a little bit we try to distract ourselves. It just occurred to me that some pastries would be very welcome, maybe also some margarine and orange marmalade, but only in a tin. All desires for improving the food, my dear.
Now I must make an immediate end, so that this letter will still make it out today. Let me hear from you very soon and in detail, and give Gogo and her mother heartfelt greetings. Surely they have taken you in. Many loving kisses and greetings,
My beloved Bielein,
I was not at all surprised by your telegram, because a lot of comrades received the same request. It is very unfortunate that you have not received all my letters, because much is made out-of-date by this delay. Hopefully in the meantime you have received the first letters and calmed down somewhat. We are very hopeful here and expect that our situation will change completely. Hopefully it’s not just rumors and we will finally be properly released. A lot of comrades have now received their summons to the Consulate and are expected to arrive there at the specified period. What’s wrong with us? It is unbelievable that we should hear nothing. Please look for something to undertake. Have you mail from Hugo? Hopefully he’ll take care of you.
I have figured out that these days I must get the first mail from you, and you cannot imagine how one waits for it here. Otherwise it would be bearable, as a person can get used to anything. Do not let your sprits sink, hopefully we will be together again soon.
Until then, I am already a perfect cook and tell you that one can make anything out of porridge. Our food is unfortunately very one-sided and requires the addition of fat, etc. But this also makes a man humble.
I just heard about the ruling of the House of Commons and we are now very eager: what effect will it have? Cross your fingers [lit: press your thumbs] that the sh** will soon be over.
For today, with most heartfelt kisses and see you very soon, your Lutz.
[AMG notes: For House of Commons 23 Jul 1940, see the official minutes]
[This letter was sent to me separately from the USHMM and I need to re-process the images so that they can appear here. For now, they are available at my original blog post.
17 Oct. 1940
My darling Bielein,
Your mail of 11 Oct. arrived and heartfelt thanks. Hopefully you remain healthy and brave. If you found a promising lawyer, then risk the money. But I am very concerned that the money not again be lost. By the way, have you really written to Hugo that he also should once more to our mother [illegible]?
The poor are usually the most nervous. From today, a discharge would make everything nice, but I do not believe in a success.
You write nothing about how it goes with you. You’ve only mentioned that you are in medical treatment. I write you as a result that I see more of a possibility of release and perhaps you have undertaken something in this respect.
Here there is nothing new. For days at a time, I hardly left the house. The holidays require much work and if you want to earn something, you already have your work cut out for you.
One has always but a single thought. What is with the Bie? What is happening in London – hopefully it’s not too bad at all. Everything else is irrelevant and about release one thinks barely at all. One becomes hopeless about it. Days, weeks, and months go by, one makes no difference and one wishes that one could have everything English be behind one.
Hopefully, I will soon have mail from you.
With loving greetings and kisses, forever yours,
My beloved Bielein,
Unfortunately, today I must write to you, that you with your input have had no success. I have just been declared “fit” – which also was not expected to change. Take it easy! You know that I was not enthusiastic right from the beginning, and had more experience than all the windbags who wanted to convince you of something, partly because they were already crazy, partly becuase they were becoming dotty. It is just me, that one loses one’s balance a bit, even if one has predicted the whole thing sensibly, it’s nothing. It would have been nice to be together for Christmas. And if a miracle doesn’t occur, then one sits here for the duration. Well, we will wait as before, otherwise we have nothing left. Perhaps the new White Paper will bring something. So keep on being brave and hang on, just as I must do. Hopefully you will stay healthy for me, and nothing will happen, because that would be the worst thing that could occur. Don’t let my head hang, my love, who knows what it’s good for? Hopefully I will soon have good tidings from you.
With most tender kisses and loving greetings, your
My most beloved Bie,
Finally today, the first mail this week – from the 20th and 22d. I am happy that you are well. You are certainly not not telling me much news, but at least you have great optimism. Have you read the new rules about release? What now? I no longer believe in the U.S.A. [as an option], on the other hand, I don’t believe that I am fit [enough] for the A.M.P.C. Thus, always the same problem.
As of Saturday I am now cooking for two houses (26 people) and thereby the financial situation improves itself somewhat. Hopefully, then, I can send you something soon. Yes, my love, one is always thinking, again Bie is struggling through. It is a shame, that I still sit here, cooking something good for other people, and the Bie is stuck grappling with every possible problem. Now it is already 5 months. To the Deans I have recently written.
Dr. Groser is in Ilfracombe [a town in Devon]
By the way, I need to have here also the original of the U.S.A. summons. If they yet come. Besides this, is it worth a telegram?
Can you send me easy pastry recipes for Christmas? Dumplings for soup? And if you think of something else. I’m experimenting with it here and mostly having luck with it.
And now I’m going to the cinema. For today, loving greetings and many little kisses. Always yours,
[AMG notes: The AMPC was the Auxilliary Military Pioneer Corps]
1 Dec 1940
My dearest Bie,
Today at midday [your] mail from the 23rd-25th arrived. Thank you very much, my dear.
I am pleased that you are so healthy and I wish nothing more than that it may remain so. I saw cheap fur coats advertised in the newspaper and immediately they made me think of something. You really must have something warm for the winter and if you’re of the opinion that the offer is really cheap, then I think you should buy a coat. About the money do not worry, I’ll send you something in about 10 days. It is, after all, better to be dressed warmly than to be sick, you freeze ___? and therefore, you do the same on the legs. Send me please direct from [the] shop a small appointment calendar (diary) and an outstanding mechanical pencil with clips to hold it, and refill-leads. (Boots!) Tissue paper I do not need.
It is said here that unstamped mail will not be permitted. (Surcharge stamps!) Please inquire again. Until now I have not had to pay, but I would like to avoid it if that is the case.
That you only on Saturdays are “easily satisfied” is quite right; should you also always sit at home alone? Besides, the great enjoyment of “self-amusement” I never understood, but I suppose it’s certainly true, and I can understand it. Yes it is boring to the farmer. But what remains for us other than to wait? Funny how the mood always goes up and down. So, now I go to a soccer game, and then comes the wait until the next post. With loving greetings and many heartfelt kisses, Your Lutz
My dearest Hobbylein,
I must write to you again that I do not see any success in our US business. I do not know why the Oversea Department do not accept the thing, I do not know why you took a lawyer, just so we do not get our mail answered.
I once dreamt of justice and after all that we have experienced in the course of the past two years, we would have just as well died in Germany. We have looked on helplessly as to how time is stolen, from greetings (?) that we do not know.
Meanwhile, the submitted papers are invalid again. All this is more than you can ask for. I want to try to start a telegram, so we need not reproach ourselves.
That you, my dearest, are very nervous, I can imagine. But what good is all this? We will be pushed around, with only what is watched (?), what one wants. Who will help us? Also about this internment we have our own views. I just want to know what is the point of this shitty life.
Now I have given you some inspiration and maybe something will come out of it. I assume you have already set up a connection with Breuer.
Anyway, I must get out of here. A “Health Application” has no use, besides which it would still be months before it would.
Regardless, I’m glad that I lack nothing. From the cold I hardly suffer. Only my teeth make me worry, but here one can’t do anything about that.
Just keep staying healthy, my dearest, and be tenderly kissed by your Lutz.
My dearest little “Hobby”,
First, heartfelt thanks for all your letters: 30th / 2nd / 3rd / 4th. I’m just really worried, but I wish for you only that in your new room you feel quite well. Even if it costs a little more, that can’t be changed; don’t have headaches about it, I’m still here and will send something in about 8 days. It plagues me, but I can at least do a little something for the Bie and that’s the main thing.
Now for the letters. I am surprised that you do not answer my questions. What have you done? Do you have an attorney? What is the Oversea Department doing? Have you reported the change of address to the consulate? I have asked a lot of things in my last letters and it is a pity that I must use these scant lines in repetitions. Your application I regard as totally wrong and hopeless. Why waste energy on this? The Qeensgarten [sic] is also misinformed. If we fill out questionnaires a thousand times, it still has no purpose. First some light [?] and then the application.
That you want to keep busy is very good, it passes the time. In other respects nothing in my attitude to the United States will change. I will not write to Hugo. He did not bring us out of Germany and he will not bring out out of here. I shit on the whole USA thing, that cost me weeks of sleepless nights. The same swindle as in St. [AMG: I do not know what St. is an abbreviation for here.] Therefore you need not make any accusations. (?)
Please send me official seals, then I can seal up the letters. For we do not like a page at the mouth [to lick the envelope?].
That’s all for today. Just stay healthy and tender kisses,
Yesterday I received your letter of the 5th. Heartfelt thanks.
It does not make me very clever. You have hope for release and I am sorry that you expect it too much. It is very difficult to achieve and there remains only this way: first a job, then the release. You did not read the newspapers completely correctly. It said there about the tribunals, that they will judge us – and yes, you know from my previous letters what I think of that.
A job together with you, I decline, you can think why. I also have no desire to go into housekeeping. The Qeensgarten [sic] should once more try to get a job and then perhaps something will come of it. In this regard, you should talk again with the lady mentioned by Mrs. Griffith. From your note you seem to have somehow rejected this. Why I do not know and therefore I cannot judge whether it was right. Or you wrote something illegible. This unfortunate stationery is easy to misread.
In the meantime I have signed up as a cook in Lingfield [a racecourse that was a transit camp for internees]. Whether I will really go is still uncertain. I did it mainly so that you can visit me often and maybe I can establish for myself a connection there. One just tries everything.
So my dearest, do not be too optimistic that much will come out of it, i.e. I will not be out of the interment.
How do you like the new dwelling? Already settled? You’ve now had somewhat quieter times and I wish that you have some recovery from that.
With heartfelt kisses and loving wishes, Always your Lutz
My dear silly little Bie,
What is with the two desperate letters from the 8th and 10th? Why are you so strange to me? Now, I want to reassure you. I stay just where I am and we’ll see one day what was right. If Hobbylein is so served [?], I wanted it for your sake, too, my dear. About the Lingfield matter I still have no answer. I just hope that you have now realized that your utopian hopes were wrong. One is interned faster than freed. Of course, the world behind barbed wire looks slightly different; moreover, it drags on and one is disappointed all the time.
And with that I come to the first letter. We have written to one another very thoroughly already. I can tell you quietly that I never thought for a second what you thoroughly suspected and believed. By this I am completely convinced by Bie. The quotation marks only meant a repeat of your letters. Furthermore, the size of the letters disturbed me and if you buy new paper, then please change it. With regard to the letter from the Home Office I cannot begin at all.
If you come to Gogo [=Sofie Guckenheimer] give her and her mother my greetings, and I thank them that they take take care of you.
I know that you, poor one, have no easy life and that gives me such a headache. However, you should not restrict yourself too much because it comes at the cost of your health.
Yesterday I baked 20 Butter-Barches and I got some money from it, which I will send in the next few days. I hope it helps you a bit.
So, only an end to the many worries, Bielein, head high and much much loving little kisses; yours forever, Lutz
I will write to the Deans [=other friends in Torquay] myself.
17 Dec. 1940
My beloved Bielein,
For five days I am without mail and I only hope that you are well. Yesterday I sent £1; I also received the pencil and calendar. Fine! Thank you nicely, my love.
Today Erich Freund, Free German League of Culture, Upper Park Rd 36a was released. Please arrange an appointment with him, and then you can discuss all the possibilities with him. [Footnote: Perhaps also seek help in the USA!] Bring references with you. We were for 5 months together and you will remember him when you see him again. He used to perform with the revue. He leads a division of the Culture Society and I am certain that you will have a good support, because, above all, no Austrians! I have already spoken with him, but it is the way that such people, before your departure, are overwhelmed with orders and then cause a mixup, or forget. Therefore, my way is somewhat more reliable, more so if you nudge him.
Today I will also send a number of X-mas cards to Torquay. Perhaps it will bring something. The Deans are traveling. One cannot thank these people enough. I have already headaches against the ceiling. [AMG: Is that an idiom for “I have been wracking my brain?”]
If I should really come to London as a cook, I’ll send you a package with unnecessary (?) things. In any case, if you get the package or a message, immediately make a request to the House Office, that you can visit me. Perhaps it is possible to get a ___-Permit, if you stress that I am there as a cook. Otherwise, I know nothing to report.
Of Chanukah we will take little notice, but I beg of you, that you really treat yourself to something and I wish also, that I soon can send you something.
Many loving greetings and tender kisses always,
My most beloved Bielein,
Your letters of the 11th and 12th were very sweet and a surprise for me. But not really! I already suspected something and I can not understand why you left me in the dark for so long only.
I know, Hobbylein, you have a difficult life and our situation is damned hard. But I would have written to Hugo, after all, something that he could not frame. But one must be thankful that he has dealt with our mail so conscientiously. Perhaps you are now also slowly [coming to share] my opinion, how much one can rely on him.
In any case, things look different now and I am curious whether now everything is in order. I beg of you rather, write me the truth about it, and immediately, as soon as you know something.
I have, Bie, written that all I can do for release is nothing, much as I would like. You should just work, and I believe, Bielein, you know what you can afford and you certainly have a ready tongue. I cannot advise you because meanwhile everything has certainly changed, and it will take me some time before I’ve come to terms with the new relationship – if I should finally be free.
Why do you want to make a sick man out of me? I am fit, on that you can rely, and I am glad for it. Or do you dream of an illness-release from the consulate? Thus everything has its two sides.
But we will yet make it, Bielein; one has already choked down so much, and I believe that next year will be so much better. You are certainly a brave little trouper and you will somehow get me out of this. That is a hope for us both and one day we will once again be together.
So don’t let the head hang, if I am not with you at Chanukah; we will think about one another so much more.
Many loving little kisses for today; forever yours, Lutz
[pre-printed Xmas card]
From the internees of Onchan Camp
L. ___ Camp Supervisor
POST OFFICE TELEGRAM CT 24 W 2 + 501 7.10 DOUGLAS 23 TELEGRAPH LETTER BISSINGER 24 NORFOLK SQUARE LONDON W 2 = BOOK FREIGHTER OR LINER WHATEVER YOU THINK BEST IF PAPERS ARE ALLRIGHT STOP LOVE = LOUIS + [stamped PADDINGTON/SPRING ST. P.O./3 JAN 41 W.2.]
My beloved Bie,
While I eat the rest of the excellent pastries from you, I acknowlege your letter of the first. Why don’t you really look into getting another room in another neighborhood, if you don’t feel comfortable? I must think about it so often, whether you also freeze so much like me [?], you poor one. It has now become somewhat chilly, even if I personally notice in my kitchen.
From here on, I can undertake absolutely nothing to get a job. Everything must be done from
here the outside. I am very curious, how the case goes with the ship tickets. And how long will the Consulate then need, and what will they find fault with next.
The Lingfield situation has fallen through, because there are currently no more transfers being issued. But everything can change daily, and I personally believe it, that one day our efforts will become useful.
Anyway, it occurs to me, I can drive a car, after all. They need farmers. Perhaps there is somehow a possibility of becoming a tractor driver. I have already practiced so many professions, what’s one more? The main thing is, how can we eventually reunite? Because I have no desire to leave you to wander alone for half a year.
Anyway, how is your new job? I am extremely interested to hear about it, and at great length. At worst, write to me by hand in the shelter.
Just continue to be brave and healthy, Hobbylein. Tender greetings and heartfelt kisses,
My most beloved Hobbylein,
This time I have so much dirt to talk with you. For two days I lay in bed and was grandly served. I’m feeling much better again, it’s my annual thing and in the morning I stand up again. So there’s no reason to worry. For this I was finally able to get some fruitful sleep. And because I am writing in bed, therefore the beautiful handwriting. I have not been getting mail because of it, but I hope today even to get it. So there’s no reason to worry, and you should be happy that this time you have not had to work with the difficult installments.
And I was so proud this year to have managed the Bronchitis. But it’s such a crazy weather that almost everyone catches cold.
Any moment visitors will come, so I will make a direct effort to bring the letter to an end. Today it is not very nice, but no less sincerely meant. I will write to you again soon. Many many loving little kisses and heartfelt greetings always,
Your two such dear letters of the 22d and 29th deserve so much more than to be answered in 24 lines, but that can’t be changed. In the meantime you have certainly heard that I have volunteered to Cumberland and so I am feeling ___ ___ deceived and our spirit connection has helped with it, that I was actually not that disappointed.
C. [=Cumberland?] will work out, there are already a lot of us there and I would also be there a long time ago, if the League had not perhaps worked so.
I do not mind trading information, because I have no desire with the employer to _____ and then again [illegible]. Anyway, it is a matter of character.
It is just a shame, that the rejection letter took so long.
But dearest, we will survive the next few weeks and then the Bie will once again be by me. Everything everything will soon be completely forgetten – that which has been so terribly difficult. Most tender kisses and stay brave
[Postmarked 24 Jul 1941] To: Mrs. F. Bissinger, 137 Sussex Gardens "I am being transferred to another camp" Louis Bissinger 65619 "N" camp Dated: 25.7.41
[“Onchan was run down and closed at the end of July . It stayed closed until September, when it reopened with Italian internees; its original Germans had mainly been released, and those that were still interned were transfered to Hutchinson.”
– Connery Chappell, Island of Barbed Wire: The Remarkable Story of World War Two Internment on the Isle of Man (Robert Hale, London, 1984), p. 93]
Sept. 3nd, 1941 [3nd = sic] My dearest Bie I am happy to tell you, that I am released and I am going to Cumberland. My new address: L.B. c/o Crofton Hall Thursby near Carlisle As soon as possible you will get a long letter with all the new details. Mean- while many many xxxxx always yours Lutz
My beloved best Bielein,
I am released. But a release-letter should look somewhat different, but it is nevertheless that everything makes me sick [figuratively]. Yesterday, instead of holding my Bie in the arms, I arrived here exhausted; everyone told me the misery would be brief, I have imagined that it would be somewhat different. I am near to howling from powerless rage, but that changes nothing of the fact, depite every little thing that I try to undertake. Yes, Bielein, we still have it damned hard. And so to business:
Crofton lies about 10 miles from Carlisle. The bus, which runs roughly all hours, costs 1/4 [1 shilling 4 pence] there and back. By bus it’s still 1/4-hour journey. The hostel houses refugees, Italians, and Englishmen; about 60 people. I earn 50/- [50 shillings which is 2 1/2 pounds] a week, from which the hostel gets 20/- [20 shillings]. If I can find an apartment I can get out and the Bie can come. And that, then, is the main difficulty. There is next to nothing to get near here. I want to attempt what is in any way possible, but the hope is enough. I wanted, naturally, most of all with you to discuss it with you, but if I get leave, the journey costs 6/1 [6 shillings 1 pence] there and back and naturally, I don’t have the money. My luggage is also not yet here, and therefore I cannot even begin to work. Again, lost money. The area is not “Protected” and you naturally get permission immediately for the train. In any case I am striving, that we will celebrate the holidays together. In Carlisle, which one could compare to Torquay, there is no synagogue and no [Jewish] community. I have already inquired about this aspect. Maybe you can think of something to do, I really don’t know any more at the moment. I have a couple of thoughts, but I must first consider them carefully, because a stupid mistake is easy to make. And one must yet be careful. This whole damn war and that swine Hitler. I am all as exhausted as ever, and as I wrote to you on my second day of release, so you will come to believe, that you are the only support, without which they could do with me what they want. And so one must simply stimulate and exert one’s energy to somehow bring everything in order. Don’t be angry with me, Bielein, that I write all this to you, how it is, but I cannot rejoice as long as I do not have you with me. The only thought throughout 14 months, and now they give me the freedom, but without the Bie – that is no freedom. But it is useless at the moment, perhaps it will yet have a change.
Bieber took my shoes with him, since otherwise another pair would have been lost. In the next letters please continue to write, one to Bieber, the other once you have requested Bieber’s new address. Or just send Bieber’s address, please.
I still have an awful lot to tell you, my Hobbylein, but I can do no more today. Hopefully I will soon have mail from you and hopefully I can soon tell you something good. In any case, I would encourage you to make yourself somewhat ready to travel; it couldn’t hurt. One travels about 8 hours from London, it is quite nice. I just wish it were already done.
Many loving greetings and once more tender loving kisses,
Today I was again at it the entire day but unfortunately I had no success. Rooms are hard to come by here, and even if I strain my brain nothing much comes of it. I was thinking, whether you shouldn’t come first to Carlisle and if we can initially only be together Saturday evening and Sunday, that would still be better than nothing at all. But even there are rooms hard to come by, and one must have the money even to be able to stay in a hotel. It’s awful, Bielein.
I have written to people via an acquaintence who, with his wife, has found a good place somewhere in Shropshire, whether he knows of a farmer who might also have an idea of where you could __ find accomodation. The people there seem to be very nice and I will see what answer I get. In any case, something must be done, to bring me to my Bie. It would also be possible that one of our married people goes away, and then one could possibly get his accomodation. On a different matter, my beloved, and that must be very cautiously tackled. I have registered by the Labour Exchange [in] Wigton for the International Labour Branch. Take again the copy of reference letter [testimony?] in English from [Photo] Schaja [his employer in Munich before the war] and go to the Intern[ational] Lab[our] Branch in London and explain to them our suffering. Perhaps they can find another position that corresponds to my skills and that would help us. But you should be very careful, perhaps you should talk with the League beforehand, or hear something else about it. And above all, it must be done by you, because getting out of here is very hard. Perhaps you can create any connections, perhaps I’ll write again to Mrs. Griffith, but I first want to hear your outlook on that. That, in a nutshell, is all. I must be very thrifty and therefore am writing this letter in installments.
My beloved Hobbylein,
I was not ___ in the meantime and if something now appears out-of-date, it testifies to you in any case, how I am bestirring myself and worrying ceaselessly so that my Bie can come. Today is Sunday and one does not know where to begin. Oh, if only the Bie were here! One could let oneself spoil her, on a Sunday afternoon – but it’s simply not so. One also doesn’t get enough sleep.
My luggage is still not here and so yesterday I did housework. But it smells damnably like Cardynham [= their first job in England]. But what can one do, when one has no money? Now I have alerted the milkman and the mailwomen and I have even gotten an address which I will go to tonight. Perhaps we will have luck and it will finally work out. I was almost as happy as if I had found our small sweet apartment. Ah, it would be nice, to be able to receive the Bie here and finally hold her in my arms and to say “Bielein, finally you are again with me!” I would gladly make any sacrifice, if it were only possible. But I can only write about it in the second installment.
Now the Bie doesn’t have to complain about the short letters any more, and I have quickly abandoned the 24 lines. I want to tell you some mrore about the hostel. It is a former castle or something like that with enormous rooms. It is for our needs somewhat adapted, we have bath, shower, and hot and cold water, but far too little ___ and that is itself a problem. The food is not bad, but I have eaten better. Basically I have become used to such accomodations over many months, but I’d prefer a room with Bie. As always, it comes to the same thing. Get out of here and live anywhere with Bie. Someplace modest, that is what we are reduced to, but Bie must be there. And despite all my despair, we have made it through so much in our lives, so I’m not likely to give up, and I will work with all the energy until it is accomplished.
I do not yet have my clothing coupons, which takes about 14 days; I have 8 [days] remaining. Can the Bie soon get me 1 pair thick woolen socks, size 10? I have two pairs of work boots that are plenty big, but they fit me, but I could not get enough socks in the camp. And since I always put on two pair is the consumption large. Foot-cloths I make for myself out of old underwear and that’s how it goes. The work-clothing is pretty much in order, except for rubber boots and work gloves. But for those I must first earn money. If you could somehow scrape up strong canvas and make two mittens from it, that would be very nice. Thistles sting if one touches them and sometimes that’s necessary. On beauty one cannot put any value.
Because of the suitcase I will wait until I have clarified the housing question, a moment I come through as in the camp [?]. Thus must I bring this to a close, and I hope to be able to tell you more tonight. Kisses, Hobbylein!
[blank line in original]
So, Hobbylein, I was there. It is a small house, Bus Station, and we can perhaps get one room and use of the kitchen. But that can be settled on Friday at the earliest because first others must move out. Hopefully it will work out, or I will find something else in the meantime. O, if only it would come!
Well, enough for now. Many many tender greetings and yet many more sweet sweet kisses,
My beloved beloved Hobbylein,
Heartfelt thanks for both your letters, which finally put me in a somewhat better mood. Today for the first time I was outside, potato-gathering[?]. Three hours travel time with the lorry is no pleasure. Work-time, departing at 7 [am] and returning again at 7 [pm], therefore 12 hours on the road. Therefore there does not remain very much time for one has so much to do. And that’s why this letter is also very short.
Darling, regarding the prospect of an apartment there is initially nothing, but I’m not very troubled by that, because we have lived in better places. In Carlisle there is nothing, because I have no bus that early. On the other hand, perhaps in Wigton. But everything will be all right.
Here there is also a young married couple – I know him from Onchan – that have to vacate their current apartment. It is possible that together we could take a house, if we get something.
Only now do I have a little time and must prescribe [put off?] everything to Sunday evening. But I hope yet, that the Bie can come next week. By the way, it is called Thursby [b is underlined twice] and it lies about 15 minutes by bus from Carlisle and it is insignficant.
Yes, I need the Bie damnably much, so-and-so, and moreover I am becoming terribly backwards. [?] How it will be with you, once you finally are here, we will see. You’ll have work in any case. Phone calls cost a lot of money, my darling, and besides that we will have to converse in English. And you will need the pair of pounds [sterling] for yourself. I’m coming through soon. On Saturday I get my first money, of which 10/- [10 shillings] remain and then things will get better. I know it’s a lot, but the Bie must wait until Sunday, when I have more time.
All, all love and many heartfelt little kisses and until I see you again very soon,
And that's the last of the letters that we currently have. Are there more still to be found? We know that it was not long after this that my grandmother did, in fact, join him in Cumberland, and so I wouldn't expect more than one or two letters, if that. Perhaps he found a place and rang her up to tell her to come; we just don’t know at this point. We do know that four months later they were back in London.
And so the research continues....