Letters from Sima Shlosberg, Kr. Baroma iela 56/3, Jelgava, Latvia, to Mark Falcon Lesses, 371 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Mass.
Jewish Genealogy has recently added to their extensive web pages a translation of the section on Jelgava from Pinkas HaKehillot (Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities, from their establishment until after the Holocaust of the Second World War), edited by Dov Levin (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem 1988). It tells the story of the beginnings of the Jewish community in Jelgava until its destruction by the Nazis during the Second World War.
Jelgava, 15th June, 1938
Dear Mr. Mark Falcon,
You will be astonished to receive a letter from a person whom you have never seen nor heard anything about. Last week I visited your uncle M. Falcon at Libau. From him I heard that I have a very amiable cousin in America. Therefore I resolved to write to you in order to come into relation with you. It is a pity to have relatives in America, so far from us, and not to know anything of them.
You will be interested to know who I am. I have the pleasure to introduce me to you. My name is Sima Shlosberg. I am the daughter of a cousin of your deceased father. I am living in Jelgava, Latvia, and working in a bank office. My free time I spend in studying the English language. Now I will be very glad to have the oportunity to stand in correspondence with my relations in English. I hope soon to receive an answer from you. Next time I shall write more and all details about my parents and sister.
Awaiting an immediate answer from you, I remain with my best loves to you and your family.
Jelgava – Latvia
Kr. Baroma iela – 56/3.
Jelgava, 4/xii 1938
Coming home from office I was much surprised to find a letter from you. Especially agreeable was the circumstance that your lovely letter reached me just on my 26th birthday.
You wish to know more details about my family and myself. As you know I have one sister, who is working as a teacher at a school.
Till this year she studied mathematics at the Latvian University, but now she had to interrupt her studies, for it is impossible to work at school in the morning, to give private lessons in the afternoon and to study at the University. As you know the situation of the Jews in Europe is very bad. The terrible idea of national-socialism that had brought so much suffering to our nation comes by degrees nearer to us. The possibility of existence for Jews in our country becomes harder. We are feeling that we are Jews in every direction.
Now I shall give you a description of myself. As I have mentioned I am twenty-six years of age and am working as a correspondence in a bank office. Enclosed you will find a photograph of me and so you will be able to get an idea of my outward appearance. My dream is to go to New-York to the World Exposition next year. But it is impossible for me to save money for this journey, for I have to aid my parents who are not able in the circumstances in which we are living to gain the necessary money for the life minimum. As you know Jews are always living with the hope, it gives them energy and strength to struggle with the hardness of life. Also I am hoping that my ticket will win and then I shall have the possibility to go to U.S.A. and to make the acquaintance of all my relations. I hope that you and also I will be satisfied. In English proverb says: “Time is money,” especially if it relates to the Americans. Therefore excuse me that I have written so much.
With the best love from my parents and my sister to you and your family, I remain awaiting your lovely answer.
Jelgava, 9th May, 1939
I am very astonished not to have any answer from you. I hope that there has happened nothing badly and that the only reason of your not writing to me is the want of time. Since I have written to you last time in Europe and also in our country many things had changed. Our position grows every day worse. ___y one thinks of the possibility to leave Europe. As you know it is very difficult to receive an affidavit to enter any country. A lot of people go to America, but as you already know it is very difficult to get a permission to enter this country, if one has no relatives there who are interested in the fate of their European sisters and brothers.
My only hope is to have the possibility to go to America. I am young and full of energy and I think I would be glad to do any work there, only to feel myself free and not to live like on a volcano as we do here. Therefore I beg to ask you to write to me what I must do in now in order to approach my aim. I hope that you will be so kind to do all that possible to help me to receive an affidavit. You would never regret it and would do a good work. Please think of it, do not forget me.
How are you and your family? Please write me as soon as possible.
My parents and sister send their best regards. With much love to you and your family, I remain your
Jelgava, July 20, 1939
As I have heard from M. Falcon you have sent many letters to me. I regret not to have received any of them. I thank you very much for your interest shown to me. It is a great moral support to know that there is someone who is ready to help us in a heavy situation.
I have nothing to write you about me. I live as usually, go to the office, do my work at home and so the days run away. About the political position of our country you know more than me. The newspapers of your country give the best information. The material state of the Jews in our country is very bad. It is impossible to gain for the livelihood. How do you do? How are you children? Please send some pictures of them.
My parents and my sister are well and sent the best regards to you and your family. Please write to me as soon as possible.
Awaiting your answer, I remain with the best regards to your family and yourself,
Jelgava, 22 of September 1939
Today is day before Jom-Kipur and I send my best wishes for a happy New-Year to you and your family.
You can be glad that you are living in U.S.A., because we are there in Europe on a volcano. Yesterday we received a letter from uncle Falcon, and he is very excited that he have not got a letter from you the whole time.
I remain with my best wishes and loves to you and your family and hope to get as soon as possible a letter from you.
(Enclosed with this letter in the envelope is a letter from Mordechai Falkon, but it is unclear to me when it was sent or whether it was sent in the same envelope as Sima's letter of 9/22/39).
I have received the papers and thank you very much for the pains you took in arranging all necessary. I have been in Riga and was ordered by American consul to come back after three months. As you will know out of the newspapers the political state in our country has become much bedder, so that we begin to hope to avoid war. I must tell you that there is a great difficulty in my affairs, because we are not allowed to take money with us when we leave our country. Besides write me please what you think in connection with your brother in law and if he can arrange the necessary things. As to Miss Schlossberg I may tell you that she is a near relation of mine and besides a very well aducated and knows English perfectly. She earns in Jelgava too, but she wishes to go to America and of the wish to help her parents. If you would be so kind to help her you would do a real good deed.
With the best regards for you and your family, your uncle
Libau, 18th October 1939
You will be astonished to receive from me a letter written at Libau. I had to go to Libau because Aunt Dobre has became ill. At first she had typhoid fever and then an inflammation of the lungs. Last week she was seriously ill, but yesterday the doctor visited her and said that she will get healthy.
Uncle Mote is very sorry as he is alone and has nobody to help him. There is no good hospital in Libau to bring her to and he has no nurse. He himself is also not well. His material position is not so good as at former times, for the petroleum trade for private persons is forbidden by our government. Now he would be very glad to go to America, for he feels here lonely. He is astonished not to receive letters from you. He had written to you sometimes without receiving answer from you. He has received a letter from his stepmother from Detroit in which she advises you are not receiving his letters. It is possible that now letters are lost, therefore he begs you to write more often to him and to inform him about your thoughts concerning his emigration to U.S.A.
Concerning the political position in Europe you are better informed than we. As I have written to you I also wish to go to America if it is possible. Uncle Motke has expressed his desire to take me with him to U.S.A. I would be very please to travel with him and I hope that you will do all possible to help me in this matter.
With the best wishes and regards to you and your family I remain your
[This letter was mailed in an envelope with the return address: M. Falcon, Liepaja Latviya, Barenu iela n. 19].
Jelgava, January 19, 1940
I am in receipt of your esteemed letter and thank you very much for your greetings and good wishes. Unfortunately I have not been able to answer at once for I was ill. I had caught cold and have been to bed for some weeks. Now I am well and will answer to all your questions concerning the affidavits.
1) my name – Sima Schlosberg
2) date of birth – 27 November 1911
3) country of birth – Latviya – Salaspils
4) occupation – clerk of a bank office
5) my relationship to you: I am a cousin of your father and also of uncle Motke
My name is already noted in the waiting list and I hope to have the possibility to go to America after having received the affidavits.
About myself I have nothing of importance to tell to you. After some weeks I hope to go [to] Libau to visit Uncle Motke. I supose that you know the political condition of our country and Europe and therefore I will not write about it.
Please receive the best greetings of my parents and wishes and do not forget to answer and to do for me all possible, as we have nobody else to do anything for us.
With the best thanks and sincerest greetings