Migration, Memory & Memorial

migration memory memorial

Dora and Elise together with Bernard F. arrive in New York on 2nd September 1908.​

2nd September 1908, London

To Abraham from Davis G. Written in English

Did you write a letter to A. Jacobs because I asked her and she said no.

Dear brotherinlaw

I have no news at all to write to you. I am sending you this letter to ask you wether you and Jacky are in the best of health as we are. Please write us a letter or P.C. as we have not heard of you for a good few days. Write us wether you heard of Dora and wether Jacky is longing for her and wether you have work.

Best regards from all & your mother and your niece,

D. G.

2nd September 1908, New York

To Jacques from Elise. Written in French

My dear brother Jacques, I send you a big kiss. I ask you to write to me again. Lisa B.

4th September 1908, New York

To Abraham from Lisa. Written in French.

My dear Papa, I love you so much, your daughter, Lisa B., I ask you to answer please

8th September 1908, New York

To Jacques from Dora and Elise. Written in French.

Good day to my Jacques, from your mother, Dora

9th September 1908, London

To Abraham from Annie L. Written in English.

Dear Uncle Abraham—etc

I was greatly surprised not hearing from you, but when I read the last letter you wrote Davis, I could see your reason. Now in the first place I wish you to understand that I do not know where she is, and in the second place I must state that I do not know of anything. You state in Davis letter that I blam you, but why should I do so? You have done no wrong what I mean by blaming you, is that as you are supposed to be such a learned man, I think you ought to have seen into things quicker. According to my experience I think you could judge that villain by his eyes alone. I would never have trusted him over my doorstep from the first. I am sure he could turn a nuns head to badness. Don’t think I take her part. I am ashamed to think it is my Aunt who did such a mean trick. If you are not cross with me send me a letter and tell me everything. I would very much like to speak to you in person. Let me know how you and Jack are in health. Also how is business. Don’t worry. Keep well and look after yourself. Mother Golda and myself send our kindest love to you and wish you the best.

Your niece

Annie L.

10th September 1908, Paris

To Annie L. from Abraham. Written in English.

Dear Ms. Anny L.,

You must excuse me for not calling you “niece” it is your fault. It is you first who commenced by calling me “Abraham” and not “oncle” and finishing your letter by A. L. instead of “your niece”. Most likely you too found me not worth to be your oncle as Dora found me not worth to be her husband. Therefore I will confirm not to call you “niece” till you will find me worth to be your oncle. I have just received your post card and answer you immediately. I have nothing to do therefore I am very glad to have an occasion to write. You tell me that you do not know anything about it. I think it is not true, you know everything. Why did you tell Davis that I should sell everything and come to London and she will come too. Why didn’t you call me oncle in your first letter. No. I am sure she was in your place and she told you things to put herself righte in your eyes of that shameful act she has done. And you found her righte. I can’t help it. I am sure if you were in our house the whole time long, and you would see what attention I paid her what sacrifice I made fore her, how good I was to her. I let her do everything she would like to do and never compelled her to do anything she would not like to do. You would say I was the best husband of the world. It is of no use to speak now about it, it is all over and I regret very very much what I have done to her. She did not merit it. You tell me as I am a learned man I could have seen things better than another one. I am not so learned as you think, but yet I have seen many things which I could not bear. It came many times so fare that I wanted to throw her out of the house but as I was not sure of it I finished it by forgiving her thinking surely I got a mistake. I have had much confidence in her I could not believe she would have any relations with him. I could rather believe that she hate him. Always she was quarelling with him. She used to call him “swindler”, “fool” that he is a man who tries only for himself it does not matter if the other will suffer or die if only it will bring him in something and it was true. And he used to call her “hurtful”, “evil”, that she is like her sister she wants only money for nothing. Nights and nights passed away in quarelling about your mother, that she robed him his money when he was in London and he would loose much money if he would not have left your place. After that all, how could I think wrong of her.


17th September 1908, Paris

To Dora from Abraham. Written in Yiddish.


It saddens me that I have to write you this letter now, because I thought that I would never write to you. I think that this will be the last letter and that you will no longer be able to force me to write to you. The reason for my having to write to you is this; I want to ask you not to send any more letters or cards to Jacques. If what you tell him is really true, that you love him; if what you tell him is really true, that you have made a terrible sacrifice solely for his sake, which makes me laugh and, at the same time, grieve in the very act of laughing, you should also make the sacrifice of not writing him any more letters. I can assure you that this sacrifice you make for him will bring him more benefit than the first one. You cannot understand how much he suffers as a result of your letters, because he cannot answer you. I shall never allow him to write to you a letter for as long as he remains with me. You understand yourself that I am right. You would also not have been better disregarding the last sacrifice you made on his account I have to laugh again. It looks as if you have undertaken to be false/wrong until you die. I, and everyone else with even a little understanding, have to call it a crime, not a sacrifice. So, disregarding the last crime you have committed against him, for which alone you have forfeited the right to ask him for a letter, you also committed many crimes against him while you were still together with him. He still does not understand what happened, and, so long as he is not in a position to understand himself whether he should write to you or not, I shall not let him write a single letter to you. If you want to know about him, you have plenty of good friends in Paris who will give you an accurate report about him. I think that these few words which I am writing you will be enough to make you see reason and to recognise that I am right and you will not cause him any more pain with your letters and crime, you have committed against him. But what is done is done. One cannot go back.

I would be showing weakness once again, by allowing him to write letters to you now. This would also result in him leaving me in the end. He would probably go to you as you have already written in your letter, stating that you see prospects for a good future for him. And eventually, on top of that I would be reproached for my ignorance and for my silence whilst most probably I wanted him to leave and go away.

It could not be said that I invited Bernard into my home and break up our family life. It also could not be interpreted that I was willing to give you your freedom to do whatever you will and allow you to walk out while I should look after the children. To permit you to go to the theatre or on (illegible) with Bernard while I should remain at home with the children. Then you would say that I treated you as somebody who sold his wife.

It has cost me many sleepless nights. I have gone through plenty of pain and aggravation until now. If I could I would make sure that you should have the same aggravation.

As I understood it you said at the time, that it was only for a short while that you would leave me. You promised that you will take him to America when he will finish school. As far as I am concerned you do not even ask if I will give my permission for him to go. You think that only you live in the world and that only for your sake the world exists. You consider that in reality I have even less feeling for the children than for a dog or a cat. That when they will be taken away from me, I will not even worry about them.

For the time being the children can be brought up with me. I will give them food, wash them, and I will send them to school.

When you stay somewhere and sleep around in hotels with your dirty behaviour, as I later found out, I was at home, preparing tea for the children and giving them food (illegible). And now you want to be their mother. You are upset that you also did not take Jacques with you. As I understand it when you said that it was only for his sake, so that he should be able to enter a school in America, you made the great sacrifice. How much you worry about him was with such hypocrisy. These words will prove the hypocrisy, when he eventually understands why you left.

The story you told me that Bernard wanted to go away and a woman wanted to leave a husband and two children and you were the one. And this was the second or third month that you met him. You may indeed say that you never lied to me and always told me only the truth, and that you were always a faithful wife, and you never thought that you will be able to discard me as you did.


22nd September 1908, Paris

To Davis G. from Abraham. Written in English.

Dear brother in law

I received your post card and answer immediately. You ask me who looks for the house I must tell you it is myself who look for the house. I keep it clean. It is cleaner now than before. She was too lazy for it. I cook myself. When I am lazy I go to the restaurant I am used to it. I used to cook before also when she was ill and as it appened she was ill very often I got used to cook. She never used to wash she gave it to another woman to wash the same I am doing now. I don’t suffer much that she went away I loose nothing in it. The only thing it makes me suffer is why I was so good to her why I paid her so much attention and I have had so much confidence in her. Why did not I make her go away a few years ago I would not have had so much trouble she used to give me. The first two or three weeks I thought I will get mad of it. I suffered very much. I could not eat I could not sleep I could not work. I was afraid I will get ill but on fifth week I commenced to be quite… I was going to forget it. but she did not let me. I will tell you what it happened. Last week I received suddenly two picture postal cards from america from my little daughter Liza one for me and the other for Jackey. She writes me, dear father I send many kisses to you and beg you answer me, and the same she writes to Jacky. When I received the two postcards I felt myself worse than in the first two weeks. There was no address on the cards. It seemed to me that she has sent the cards only to make me sorrow. Three days later Jacky received a letter from her. Not at my address but she sent it to a neighbour that he should give it to Jacky that I should not know and that is what she writes to him in French. ‘My dear child I have much pain that I have left you but it is only for a little time I want you to finish your school in Paris and after you should come to America and go in in a higher school and that you should study and become a learned man. That is the reason my dear child that I was obliged to make that great sacrifice which cost me so much health and sorrow. Don’t you listen to anybody who will try to tell you that I was bad against you I love you very much and the time seems to me very long since I have not seen you. Write to me and ask me any thing you like and I will answer you. I kiss you thousand times and press you to my heart. Your mother Dora.’ And she writes her address. As it seems she is not quite over there. When he read the letter he commenced to cry but he said he will never write to her. What a fals woman she is when she was fals to me before she wants to be fals to him now and tell him that lie that she has don it for his sake she has no shame to tell it I will never allow him to write to her. She sent him another card 3 days ago and that is I would not like it what is the good of it she makes him only cry and he cannot forget her. I thought I have got rid of her, but as it seems you can never get rid of a bad woman. I will not speak now more about it. We will see later on what it will be.

Now I would like you to tell me how you are going on in business how you family is how many children you have got how is mother going on in health let her not worry about me I am very well now. I wish her a happy and healthy new year. My best regards to Simy and her husband and also to Yankel as we ought to call him. Let him write to me a letter and tell me all about him and his mother. Please give that letter to read to Any L. Give her also the address to Dora. Let her write to her if she wants tell her that I am not cross with her I did not write to her because I did not have time for it. Now I must do everything by myself, in the day time I must work and in the evening I must do my housework. Besides I am occupied in the evening in teaching my Jackey english. I have bought for him a book of the english language and I teach in every nighte. He learns very quickly and I hope when the winter will pass he will know the english language. I send her and to her family my best wishes to the new year and ask her to write to me how she is going on.

Your brother in law

A. B.

8th October 1908, New York

In Yiddish and French—These are the remains of a letter from Dora to Abraham and to Abraham and Jacques from Elise.

[…] to become happy without me and I’m telling you one more time that if you’d been a mensh who holds his wife dear it would’ve have come to this. I asked you long enough to go away somewhere […]

Dear Jacques I embrace you strongly Lisa B.

My dear father I embrace you, your daughter, Lisa B.

Undated, Paris

To Dora from Jacques. Written in French.

My dear mother

I was given your letter and it made me very sad to read it. I couldn’t answer at once because Papa wouldn’t let me write and I didn’t have the money to buy a stamp but we went back to school on Monday the 26th and Madame Bernard gave me 10 sous to go back with. I bought a stamp and when Papa was out I could write a letter. He goes out every evening now Papa, he goes out at eight and I don’t know when he comes back, when I go to bed at half past ten he still isn’t back. I get very bored all on my own, it’s very lonely, when I ask him to take me with him he says no. He says I would be a nuisance, he says your mother didn’t want to take you with her when she went out either. He’s begun to be so unkind to me since you went away that I’m often frightened when I’m at home with him. He’s always cross. He never leaves me alone on Sundays but the Sunday before we went back to school he went out at two in the afternoon and came back at six, we had supper and he went out again at seven and said that he’d be back soon but he wasn’t. I went to bed at 10.30 and he still wasn’t back when I woke up and I couldn’t go up to the Tʼs. because they weren’t in. My head ached all night. Write and tell me why you are staying away so long and when you are coming back. Don’t tell Papa that I’ve written you a letter or he’ll be angry. Tell me how Liza is, and does she ask after me? My fondest love to her and also to you.

1908, Paris

To Harry Bt. from Abraham. Written in Yiddish.

My dear friend Batonik,

Once more, I have to bother you with my letter. I beg your forgiveness. I was about to send a letter to another address, but I felt it necessary to send it to your address. I am asking you to be so kind and pass this letter on to Dora, and to explain to her that the best thing she can do at the moment is to send no further letters to Jacques, if she does not want to cause him or me any more suffering. She has broken and wounded the whole household. Why does she have to scratch our wounds with her nails when they already hurt enough as it is? Does she not know that the more one scratches a wound, the worse it gets? She has her own remedies which anaesthetise her wounds and make it easier for her – The best thing that is now left for all of us to do is, as far as possible not to touch each other’s wounds. Everyone should suffer according to the depth of his pain and at the same time do everything possible to help the wounds to heal. I am sure that time will certainly do it, as it is the best healer for this kind of illness—she will feel completely satisfied in her new life—as for me, perhaps things will get easier. Jacky will surely forget. Please, do not take it as a meanness on my part that I won’t let Jacques write. Consider these few words that I have written carefully and you will see that I am right. With best regards and wishes to you and your wife and children,

Your friend,

Avrom B.

8th October 1908, Paris

To Dora from Abraham. Written in Yiddish.


I thought I would never write to you, but your letters make me so upset that I have to reply. I hope that this will be the last time, and that you will not force me to write to you anymore. I am not going to take up my reply with arguments about who is in the right, because that would take hours—hours of pain and heartache—and you would still consider that you are in the right and I would consider that I am. If we were unable to repair our relationship with each other when we were still together, we certainly won’t be able to on paper.

The only thing I want to do in this letter is to ask you not to send Jacques any more letters, because it is useless to do so. I will never allow him to reply to you, even though I promised, because, when I made you the promise, I thought you were a more honourable person than you were in reality. Why should I do this, why should I let him receive letters from you and let him reply to you. Wouldn’t it mean making the stupid mistake again which will be even worse than the first. Do not think that I am doing this to punish you? It is as good this way for your sake as for [the sake] of others. I also do not want to receive any cards from Lisa and I shall also not reply to her, although it gives me great pleasure to see her handwriting. I would very much like to give her a kiss. I would very much like to receive news of her. I am, after all, certainly not guilty of any crime against her, but I shall not write that to her, because I know that it would be useless to do so—she would not understand me. I am sure that everything will be quite all right for her with you, just as it is for Jacques with me, and that you will look after her better in the future than in the past. I will only write letters to her when she knows what to reply. I wanted to send this letter to the address that you wrote to Jacques, but I restrained myself. On consideration, I felt that you might not want anyone else to know that you still have a husband and a child somewhere else. Also, they might read the letter, thinking that it was for them, and they would get to know everything, which might, perhaps, cause you trouble. That is why I am sending the letter to your sister’s address. Because of all that, I deserve to have my request to you granted. If you send Jacques a letter or card again, you will make me your enemy for life, and I will do as much harm as I possibly can without any qualms of conscience.


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