My dear good Manfred!

This time you kept us waiting a long time for mail and I worried about you.  Yesterday your letter arrived with the wonderful drawing.  You drew this very well.  Did you copy it or did you draw it outside in the yard?  In any case it is beautiful.  Your menu doesn’t seem to be so outstanding.  Do you always eat your fill?   Did you send the letter to Lorle?  I am writing in the refectoire as we always have to sit and wait a long time.  Especially now that all those who eat matzos get served from the kosher kitchen, 600 people.  I am helping there already for 3 days, preparing vegetables, sorting peas, etc..  Mrs. Katz is in charge there and asked me to do it.

Now, Manfred you would have laughed had you been here.  A guard is in charge of the refectoire.  All the womenfolk drive him crazy enough so that he wants to tear his hair out.  He runs around like a fool and counts and counts, then he forgets what he counted, gets pencil and paper to keep record.  If one comes too late, he won’t let her in.  Yesterday, he went into a cross-country run with your P….., she got mixed into the crowd and he jumped after her, a comedy to die laughing.  The meal takes 1 – 1-1/2 hours with various interruptions.  During Pessach we are allowed to bring in our own dishes so that there are no plates, spoons or glasses on the table.  Mrs. W. brought her little pot.  When the guard saw it, he said “C’est défendu!” [1] He meant that all porcelain dishes are forbidden as one is not allowed to take the other plates either.  Since last week I have a permanent voucher for food.  Every day I get a ladle of soup. Margot was in Perp[2]. yesterday.  Papa looks much better and I have a permit with “le petit Hugo W.”[3].

Margot could go pour prendre congé = to say goodbye.  Monday in a week she’ll get to go into a Home run by scouts in Corrèze together with 20 girls.  Which leaves only Hugo here but he too will be able to get out, so they say.  Many men had to go to Perpignan to work last week, had to fell trees, Richheimer too.  Did you congratulate Grandpa on his birthday?  I want to see whether Uncle Sally will come before Margot leaves.  We still have a lot to do this week until all of Margot’s things are put in order and then there are 2 holidays.  We already made matzo balls and even a few chemsels[4] for Papa.  I wish to G’d that I will be able to prepare matzo balls, chemsel, charlotte and kugel for all of you to my heart’s content next year.  Perhaps what we wish and hope for will really happen.  There was nothing for the Seder, we were in the kitchen cleaning vegetables.  600 People are being served from the kosher kitchen.  Up to now we received 3 lbs.matzos for 6 days.  If more arrive, we’ll get another pound.  On Shabbat, there is always a very nice Oneg.  Neumann is finished, (the Oneg) goes very well.  Keep writing on time so that I don’t have to worry about you.  With the deepest regards and a thousand heartfelt kisses from your

MAMA

The family’s coat of arms[5] is from me, I have Margot’s fountain pen for the time being, just filled it, it is one that turns, and suddenly the mess was there.  Excuse me, I won’t do it again.

Kisses, MAMA

Dear Manfred!

I went to see Papa yesterday.  He looks much better and feels better too.  His appetite is better than what he has against it[6] Now he has matzos and bread.  They also had Seder but the Rabbi explained in French.  I almost could not visit him because it wasn’t visitors’ day.  After a run around, I finally could go in.  At first, Papa wasn’t in the yard.  Mr. Wolf barely recognized me because my face got so small.  There was nothing to purchase.  There was spinach in the market and salad but I did not take any.  There were no cookies only black ………..  This letter with the ink spots looks almost like the one from a woman from the barrack, only her spot was bigger than a postcard and all black.  Today, the children got a little wooden animal and a little package with a chocolate tablet, cookies and candy.  Did the Easter Bunny lay eggs where you are?  Wasn’t it nice at Pessach when you helped cook and bake?  Today, we had potato soup and yesterday sauerkraut soup with peas in it.  Do you have such a limited menu?  Ilse wrote that you were dormitory chief.  How is that?  Do you have blankets or featherbeds?  Do you draw from nature?  What do you play all the time?  Right now I am so thirsty after the herring and mixed pickles.  Do you get milk and butter, etc..   Mama went back to the kitchen to clean spinach.  We already feel quite at home in the barrack.  I think that in time you will forget how to write.  You never made mistakes except this time.  I bought a hair net in Perpignan and I was wearing my knit dress (the green one) it is very nice.  11 Girls from the sewing class are going with me, afterwards the women go to sew.  As one goes out of our barrack toward the rear, there is a cooking place[7] like in (îlot) K and in front is the John.  It is just far to get water and next to it is the refectoire.  Lorle sent an Easter package 10 potatoes 6 triangles cheese, butter, sugar lumps, banana flour, 1 little can of dried apple pieces, 1 tablet chocolate and cookies.  On Saturday we got a package from Rika (?), as usual half for us.  Papa got the honey cake.

Is it as warm where you are as here?  How many children are there?  Do you speak German?  It would be wonderful if I could get out next week.  It is supposed to be very nice in Beaulieu (Corrèze) and there are no children from camp there as yet.  I found my way pretty well yesterday and because I wasn’t carrying anything, I gathered wood on the way home.  This makes you laugh?  But I found quite a lot, walked approx. 2 hours.

Many regards and kisses from your

MARGOT

Don’t ever send a letter which is not as filled as this one.

Dear little Manfred,

We were very happy with your letter.  I never believed that you could write that well, except that you could make fewer mistakes.  I am still in the convalescence barrack, but am in good shape again.    Right now I am at Mama’s.  But she is eating (in the refectoire).  So I have time to write to you.  I come more often to this barrack after our meal, but not for long as I am taking the furlough (without permission).  For the time being, the weather is very acceptable.  Your drawing was wonderful.  Do you eat your fill?  How are the turnips prepared?  We also got some turnips already which were very good.  Do you manage to converse with the Spaniards?  Hopefully you’ll be able to read this mess.  Margot’s is worse.  I also received matzos in the infirmary.  Right now there are only 3 îlots left, K, J and Q.  The men from F and B are now in K.  Did Albert visit you at Easter?  Did you receive something (extra) at Easter?  As the letter is full I have to close now.  Many regards and kisses from your brother         HUGO.

Write us about your activities as dormitory chief.  Are the other Jews with you in the same room?


[1] It is forbidden

[2] Perpignan

[3] Little Hugo.  Hugo was close to 6 feet tall, taller than my mother.

[4] Type of pancake.

[5] The large ink spots on the letter.

[6] He could eat more if he only had more food.

[7] Place where one can set up stones to make an outdoor fire for cooking.