For some time I’ve been wending my way through a very unique new blog entitled “Trudel’s Truth: A Young Woman Writes Home From a New Land.” Here’s a description from blog author Leonard Grossman:
In 1933, my mother, Gertrude “Trudel” Adler, who grew up in Frankfurt, Germany, wrote in her diary, “There is no future for Jewish youth in Germany. I think I shall go to Palestine.”
Her family and friends in Frankfurt asked. “Why would you leave Germany?” What did she see that they didn’t?
She didn’t get papers to go to Palestine, so when family in Chicago sent her papers, the 21 year old young woman came here.
Seventy-seven years ago, on May 8, 1934 she boarded a ship in Hamburg. Instead of keeping a diary, she wrote frequent letters home describing her adventure. On May 9, 1934 she wrote her first letter home. In her third letter she wrote “Please save my letters and if possible get them to me some day since I am to busy to keep a diary.”
More than 50 years later she translated the letters into English. I have begun posting excerpts from her letters. Hopefully, each post will be posted exactly 77 years to the day from the date on which it was written. The letters will be accompanied by snapshots and memorabilia she kept in an album I have recently recovered and supplemented by contemporary materials.
I found the following note with the handwritten translations of Trudel’s letters:
Following is a translation of my letters to my dad and two sisters, not a diary. I figured they had enough worries without my adding to it. Father had lost his seat on the stock exchange, which he had held for fifty-three years. Mother died only months before, I, the youngest of three sisters, left home–maybe forever.
In her memory, I started this blog on May 8, 2011, Mother’s Day in the United States. May this blog be a tribute to all those who bravely set forth for a new world as skies darkened across Europe.
One of Trudel’s sons
I have the pleasure of knowing Leonard personally – as well as his brother/Trudel’s other son Ray (who is a member of my congregation.) Trust me, you will be as thoroughly moved as I was at discovering this blog. Truly a reclamation project of the most sacred kind.
To give you a sense of this lovely time capsule, here’s a taste from one of Trudel’s early letters – dated May 10, 1934, entitled “On Board the SS Manhattan.”
My very dear ones,
It is really too beautiful to be true. But it is true thank God and I am enjoying it as much as possible. We are now in the Channel and on my handwriting you can see our boat is shaking quite a bit.
After I closed my letter yesterday we had to change clothes and after supper we danced on a slippery dance floor. At midnight two girls and five males went to the cabin of two of the men and had a drink, cookies and chocolate. At 2:00 a.m. we all finally went into our own cabins.
At 8:15 a.m. this morning Eugene Hollander with whom I sit at the tables, picked me up for breakfast. At 9:30 a.m. twelve of us went like a little caravan through Le Havre. Since all twelve of us are non-Aryan I heard more Hebrew and Yiddish than I used to hear in a year. I mailed the letter to you there.
We all stopped for a cognac And were back on board at 12:30 for dinner. Ernst Calin, who used to work with Ernst Cahn who used to work with you, Doddo? He would like to join our group but we do not care for his company. Especially my table partner, who is very intelligent guy–that’s why we are friends, ha, ha, ha. He talks many languages and was all over the world in all big cities.
After dinner I rested and then I jumped into the very salty Channel pool and swam for about ½ hour, then a shower and now laying on deck to make my light rose cheeks darker.
By the way all immigrants were thoroughly searched for money etc. Not only I.
This morning before breakfast we ran around the deck about 15x to get a good appetite. We have to take advantage of this excellent food. I am too lazy to write others but you but received a few letters.
This afternoon in Le Havre about 100 more people came on board. I hope I do not get a roommate. It is so nice to be alone in my cabin.
Hopefully the weather stays as nice so I can come to the USA looking like a Negro.
Sorry I am writing so mixed up but I tell you things as they come in my mind. Last night I noticed that our ship can shake much more. The dance floor seemed to slip away under our feet but we all stayed upright. I hope we will dance again tonight, although I am now so tired that my eyes can hardly stay open. Greetings to everybody.
Loads of love and kisses your much to be envied,
P.S. We are all so happy and healthy together and feel so free!
Lovely indeed, Brant. So nice to know this is from Ray’s mother and that he carries this history and inheritance. How very many stories of people struggling to become free are being written now. Different context and circumstances; written in a different medium … but similar stories. From Syria, Gaza, Sudan, North Korea ….
Very Good. I like things like this because sometimes we end up thinking that “history is just dead.” I try to tell my teenagers that “Grandma and Grandpa had dreams, pursued goals, travelled, ran the business, sat on committees, made babies, and made a good share of tis world that we live in.” Thanks for sharing “Trudel’s Truth”. Keep Blogging. Keep Writing.
Accounts like this are truly priceless.