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Love Letters of the Holocaust

Elisabeth Luz, Swiss woman who enabled correspondence for Jewish families during the Holocaust (Photo: Luz family)

So many of the Advocates and Allies we feature are those who directly provided shelter or escape for Jews during the Holocaust. But today, JNS' Deborah Fineblum tells the story of Elisabeth Luz, who helped enable correspondence between German Jewish families and their children who'd been moved into hiding:

In all, several hundred families are represented in the collection. Many of the letters were from parents and kids reassuring each other that they’re alright, as both sides walked gingerly across the land mine of loneliness and worry.

he letters’ dates span the years beginning in late 1938, when the Kristallnacht pogrom and the general anti-Semitism of the time mobilized the Jews in Greater Germany to try to send as many children as possible to safety.

When war broke out the following year, civilian mail stopped moving freely and Luz managed to keep the correspondences going by taking a more central role as letter writer. “Dear Tante Elisabeth,” a child might write to her. “Please tell my mother I am fine and doing well in math.” Or a father might ask her to convey, “Dear Elisabeth, please tell my son to dress warmly and that we send our love.” 

Most of the families’ correspondences stopped cold by 1945, by which time the majority of the parents were presumed murdered; others continued into the 1960s. It is still unknown how many of the children survived, but presumably far more than the parents, most of whom were unable to escape the Nazis’ murderous net.   

But one of the enduring mysteries about the collection of letters is that they are all originals, written by these parents and children. No one knows for sure why, in the era before Xerox, Luz rewrote each of the 1,000 letters by hand and sent them out...

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