This is the first letter we wrote after my sister Lorle left the Camp of Rivesaltes on November 15, 1941 for Pringy (Haute Savoie), to work in a children’s home, operated by the Swiss Red Cross.

Dear Lorle,[1]

Today I want to write to you also since I have time today because it is Sunday.  Last Sunday we went for a walk to Opoul with the Swiss Schwester [2].  That is at a distance of 10 km from here in the mountains.  It was very pretty.  We left in the morning at 10 AM and received our bread from the kitchen before leaving.  At about 12 o’clock we were in Opoul where we had lunch.  We ate our 1/8 bread[3] and each received a triangle of cheese[4], 3 soup spoons of chestnut cream, 1-1/2 cookies and dried apple chips and figs from the Swiss Schwester.  Afterwards we played cops and robbers.  Afterwards we went home.  We did not go on the road, but through the mountains, where we did not know our way too well, so we got home just before supper.  We received a double portion of food because we weren’t there at lunchtime.  We also got dried apple chips and figs on the way home.

On St. Nicholas[5] we received a lot of things from the Secours Suisse[6].  Yesterday some children got 1/2 tablet of chocolate from the îlot chief thanks to donations from Portugal.  I didn’t get any.  Now I have to end as the others want to write too and because I already wrote a lot.  Love and kisses

Your MANFRED

Dear Lorle,

Manfred forgot that the next time he will get his turn to get chocolate.  Some children received sardines or honey.  Yesterday I was in English with Mme. Peardrise.  Our assignment was a composition about Chanukah.  In the little room in (barrack #) 33 there is a warm oven.  In that room Paul Kaufman paints beautiful pictures of French landscapes on the wall for example the Cathedral of Strasbourg and a picture of Brittany, etc…The little room is a cozy reading room.  Manfred and the whole school, Jewish children and Gypsy children went to Salses with their teachers.  Friday and Saturday there was 1/2 mackerel per person.  Delicious and big.  We cooked green salad with turnips and mackerels.  First class.  In our sewing class this week, we have to start sewing 10 white smocks for the camp.

Margot Dreyfus’ father died on Tuesday.  He had diarrhea.  Her mother is also in the infirmary.  But she is getting better.  Hannelore Kahn is also taking sewing.{=========(blacked out by censor)=========}….the other overflows suddenly.  My neighbor has a living coat[7], very nice.  I can imagine quite well what a face you make when you just can’t (eat) anymore.  I would like to be once again in that situation.  On Saturday I was at the Oneg.  The children made a few nice things, but otherwise the usual and there was a piece of fig bread.  On Friday there were 2 spoons of jam for those 14-20 years old.  Many regards to you and Bob from

MARGOT

Many thanks, it is the most beautiful and the best there is.

Dear Lorle,

Monday morning!  My vegetables are ready and I am waiting until Mrs. W. is through with the oven[8].  How I wish to G’d that I could prepare a real meal for everybody.  Now at least you are in good hands.  I look forward to the mail, perhaps something will come from you.  Uncle Sally did not come, in any case all furloughs have been suspended.  We sure could use him as the bottle is empty.  Tomorrow there is pudding[9] from yesterday’s wine, the bits we saved from last week’s jam and whatever will be in your package.  Now you have to laugh, Lorle, that I am cooking what I don’t  have as yet.  Well, eventually provisions will have to turn up. The same is still on the same level as yours[10] and it works quite well by now, at the beginning they did not have the same confidence in me as in you but by now, I believe, all parties are quite satisfied.  The day after tomorrow we’ll have chestnuts (from Albert[11]), we could use some of your dried fruit and fat for them.  In the meantime a little package will come, Opa sends us loads!![12]

Last night we lit very nicely in the barrack.  Already the 2nd Chanukah in camp!  Did you have your teeth checked?  Don’t miss it.  Best regards for your directrice from my part.  I am happy that everybody treats you so well.  This afternoon I will go to see Schwester Ruth who was in Toulouse, hope to meet her.  Now I did the laundry and drank coffee with your bread.  Well, what would we do without our Lorle!  I thank you, dear child.  Tonight everybody gets a cheese sandwich in honor of Chanukah.  Afterwards I go to synagogue.  Papa has Jahrzeit.  He will write you a card tomorrow when hopefully your letter will arrive as we want to mail this letter.  For the time being we only make coffee as we don’t have any more tea, out of spite we eat white bread[13].  If you can get some, include it next time and if you need money, then write.  Did you get shoes by now?  I am wearing your sabots[14]; they don’t pinch me.  Now my dear child, with my innermost feelings and kisses and with my many thanks,

your MAMA

Dear Lorle!

Just this minute I finished my coffee.  A piece of your bread tasted wonderful with it.  I thank you very much for your nice little package.  You can always address it like this, then Mama does not need to walk to (îlot) Q.  With these bread pieces one has something to bite into.  There also was a cheese triangle.  Tomorrow we’ll have wine pudding with your bread.  It still tasted pretty good.  Last night I still had to help unload turnips for the kitchen, 2-3 cars full.  For this we got sweet coffee and wine and for lunch 1/2 can of soup.  I was the first one from îlot F at the post office.  We look forward to your next letter which usually arrives on Monday or Tuesday.  It did not yet arrive today Monday.  I want to go to the canteen to purchase turnips.  Many regards and kisses and again many thanks for the package from your brother

HUGO


[1] Laure was called Lorle, short for her full name, Hannelore.

[2] Social worker.  In German, nurses and social workers get that title.

[3] 1/8 of a 2,000 gram round bread.  About 9 ounces each.

[4] Foil wrapped triangle from a round cheese box like “La Vache qui rit”

[5] December 6th

[6] Swiss Help Organization

[7] Full of lice.

[8] Open fire with pots sitting on stones or small stove made out of a tin can.

[9] Dry bread cooked in red wine.  Sugar added if available.

[10]  Probably refers to cooking on an open fire.

[11] Albert Rosenfeld, living in Lyons.

[12] Actual meaning: not enough.

[13] Sarcastic remark.  There was no white bread.

[14] Sabots:  Shoes in the form of sabots made of hard rubber