Migration, Memory & Memorial

1917 April to December

Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved. With thanks to the British Newspaper Archive.


Though the formal decision of Congress is not yet known, it is now certain that America is about join the Allies.

Yesterday President Wilson met Congress, and in a speech that will be one of the leading documents of the war asked that supreme authority in the United States to declare that a state of war already existed with Germany. Further, he declared that armed neutrality which he previously proposed no longer practicable, and that America must be a full belligerent, sharing the councils of the nations at war with Germany, and determined to assist them to the uttermost of her power.

The speech was welcomed with tempestuous cheering, which even the few Congressmen who were classed as Pacifists are said to have joined.


Close on the heels of the report of the President’s speech came, via Amsterdam, a quotation from “Lokal Anzeiger” to the effect that the Central Powers are about to make another Peace offer. This has been expected, but few believe that the time has yet come when it is possible to secure a just settlement. For that we shall probably have to wait at least a few months more.


TUESDAY, MAY 1. 1917


Why He Had to Sacrifice Great Numbers.


The strength the present resistance of the Germans is not surprising says a war correspondent of the “Daily Chronicle” on the British front in France. Forced back too quickly for his safety upon the Hindenburg line, he is throwing all the weight of his main reserves against us in order to prevent our smashing and imperilling his way of retreat. He must do this or suffer real disaster. Even now his Hindenburg line is no safe place for him, as I have seen during the last few days, when from Lagnicourt I watched our bombardment of St. Quentin, which is an actual bastion of the Hindenburg position. Our heavy shells were falling in storms over Quéant, and an officer told me that we fired at least 20 times as much as he gives back.

Some of the prisoners taken are nerve-broken men. One giant of a fellow weeps continually because of the horrors he has experienced; and another, belonging to a Pomeranian regiment, south of the Scarpe, says that he has lost 80 men out of his company, though he was only in the line four days.

At Lagnicourt I saw the corpses of the Germans who had tried to capture the Australians’ guns, and I am told that the first estimate of 1,500 men caught on their own wire by our artillery and rifle fire was much below the number afterwards reckoned.

The German army is paying a fearful price for Hindenburg’s strategic plan, but the men are fighting now as fiercely as ever they have fought this war, and this battle now raging under blue sky is a most bloody episode of history.




NOVEMBER 30, 1917





The War: 4th Year: 119th Day.

Germany is prepared to treat for peace with the Russian Extremists.

Count Hertling, the new Imperial Chancellor, made this announcement in a speech in the Reichstag yesterday. He said: – “I do not hesitate to declare that in the proposals of the Russian Government, so far as is at present known, the debatable principles on which the opening of negotiations may be based can be recognized, and that I am ready to enter upon such as soon as the Russian Government sends representatives having full powers for this purpose.”

Messages from Petrograd show that negotiations have already begun. Russian emissaries went into the German lines on the northern front, and returned with the official answer of the German Commander-in-Chief consenting to enter into negotiations for an armistice on all fronts. The Bolshevik Commander-in-Chief, Ensign Krylenko, has ordered an immediate cessation of hostilities. The plenipotentiaries are to meet again on Sunday.

The Chiefs of the Allied Military Missions to Russia have addressed to General Dukhonin an energetic protest against any violation of the conditions of the treaty by which all the Allies, including Russia, solemnly engaged themselves not to conclude an armistice separately or suspend military operations. The Russian General Staff is informed that any violation of the treaty by Russia will have the most serious consequences.

On the Cambrai front our line has been slightly advanced to the west of Bourlon Wood. The enemy’s artillery activity on the Ypres front has again increased.

Near Aschhoop, west of Houthulst Forest, an attack by Bavarians on Belgian troops has been beaten off after sharp fighting. The enemy claim to have taken 46 prisoners, with two machine-guns.

For the past two days infantry attacks on the Italian front have ceased, and the fighting has been confined to the artillery. On Wednesday Italian batteries carried out destructive bursts of fire on enemy boats on the Lower Piave.

Further Austrian attacks in Southern Albania, aimed at the Italian hold on the port of Avlona, are reported. On Wednesday determined assaults were made on the Italian positions at the confluence of the Sushitza and the Vojusa, nine miles north-east of Avlona.

The War Office announces that there is no change in the situation in Palestine. In the previous message from General Allenby it was stated that British troops were four miles from Jerusalem.

The Allied Conference opened yesterday in Paris. M. Clemenceau welcomed the delegates in a short address, and M. Pichon made a general statement on the questions before the Conference.

It is understood that President Wilson has no intention of asking Congress for a declaration of war against the allies of Germany, unless a crisis arises which leaves no alternative. The Government view is that such a declaration would only strengthen the bonds between Germany and her allies.

The dispute between the railwaymen and the Railway Executive has been settled by the granting of an additional 6s. a week to the war bonus already paid. The total cost is estimated at £9,500,000 a year.

Casualties to 174 officers are officially reported to-day, and in addition we announce unofficially the death of 16 officers, including Lieutenant the Hon. A. G. Cubitt, heir of Lord Ashcombe. The War Office has also issued lists of 4,070 casualties in the ranks.


3rd April 1917

To Jacques from Elise

2157 Mapes Ave., Bronx

Dear Brother Jacques,

I have been disappointed many many times. Every time a letter man comes around I always ask him if he has one for me but he never has. Dear brother for 6 months I have not had a single letter of you. I hardly received any from Papa.

I have sent you two money orders of 2 pounds each and mothers and my pictures but I haven’t received an answer to whether you received it or not.

Dear Jack I heard that you were put into Home Service from Active Service. If this is true we will be very happy because then you will not have to fight and your life will not be in danger. I heard also that you will be home for Easter and I am very glad. How is the food you get? Do you like a soldier’s life? How is Papa? I hope he is in good health.
Yesterday, April 2, 1917, Pres Wilson called an assembly to decide upon this war question1 It hasn’t been decided yet but it looks as if we will have it. I wish we do have war then it will put a quicker end to the whole. If you were in America now you would see that everyone receives a paper which is a pledge that you will be loyal to the U.S. of America and to Wilson in whatever happens. Only those over 18 are allowed to sign it and mother signed many of them. The Germans do not want war and you ought to see them. If you mention the U.S. having war they will say what do we want it here for leave them have it there in Europe.

How do you like the idea of Russia being a republic? I like it. You ought to see all the Russians going back. It will help Russia a great deal. 2

Dear Jacques I am longing for you and papa. After the war if all is well you must come here. Sometimes I can’t stand it any longer and I want to be near you. Do you remember the time when you came home from the country and we couldn’t stop kissing each other? When I think what would I do if I were to see you now?

I’m getting along fine in school. I am taking French and I find it very easy. It all comes back to me as the teacher teaches it. I am in good health and so is mother. We wish you are the same.

I haven’t any particular news to write but please answer soon and send me your picture. Annie said that she has seen your picture as a soldier and you look fine and brave. I would love to have your picture and please answer.

With love and many, many kisses I am your loving sister


Mother sends you all her love and wants your picture.


To Dora from Abraham.


I received your most flattered letter as well as the letter for Jack which I gave it to him as soon as he came home. I do not intend to answer you in that letter on your reproaches and injuries which your last letter contained. I am glad I got out of that position that compeled me to answer you on your injuries, and I want to rejoice it. The only thing I want by that letter is to remind you that I am quite a stranger to you now, and you have not more right to make any reproaches in regard to my behaviour as you would allow anybody else to do in regard to yours. It is true you consider that the destiny is happiness of your son is attached to my “wait and see policy”, and it may lead him to peril but it is not by reproaches and injuries you will alter my policy. Your lesson which you were so kind to give me as you said in your letter taught me nothing and I had no proof yet that of quick and prompt policy is better. You may think that you were right in what you have insisted and I may think that I was right not to accept it. It is not wise of a blind man to take another blind man as a guide as it will not make his march more sure than without it. As we are all blind people in regard to our search for fortun and happiness, it is the best way – if we do not want to have on our conscience the remorse of mislead him to let everybody go his own way and not to indique him any route, to let him go on his own risk and responsibility. I am his father and you may believe me that I want to see him as happy just as you do but as I don’t know which way is the best for him to go to it so I leave it for himself to do it. I don’t want to have on my conscience the remorse of pushing him in a way if something evil will happen to him on that way. You don’t car may be of such things as remorse, and you can always find an excuse to justify your aim, but I do care and I don’t want to risk it.

Your example that if one dies in a bed people need not go to bed is not so clever as you think at any rate in that case, I have read somewhere a “joke” similar to that.

And asked a sailor where his father died. The sailor answered “my father died on a ship by naufrage as he was a sailor too”, and “where did your grandfather die?” asked the man again, “My grandfather died on a ship as well by a colision.” “If I was you,” the man replied, “I would never go on a ship.” “Yes,” said the sailor, “and where did your father die then?” asked the sailor. “My father died in his bed” answered the man, “and your grandfather?”, “In his bed too.” “If I was you”, said the sailor, “I would never go to bed”.

Thousands and thousands of people were walking in the streets and did not venture to go to bed when a Zeppelin raid was expected and in the region whether Zeppelin passed for fear that theire bed may be struck by a bomb and I am sure that if you would expect some deadly engine to pass over your bed you would not venture to lay in it don’t matter how heroic and courageous you may be. You see there are moments that you do not dare even to go to bed and you may be the cause of somebody’s death by advising him to do it.

Now as you know by Lizi’s letter and the letter which Jack sent you which I hope you received it. He got out of the Army. I have tried to take him out and succeeded. He is a free man now and in good health. And my “wait and see policy” seems this time to be more favourable to us then your quick and prompt policy.

You may take my consideration as foolish, idiotic, “rotten” as you said in your letter but I will always believe they are the true.

Still a few words in my defence to against to what you insist in blaming me that I am the cause that Jack joined the army, by my opposing of his going to America. I told you many times in my letters that I never interfered and never kept him back of it. He did not want to go there as he does not want even now. He told you that himself in a letter I believe. But you took his words as a shield to me against your reproaches and you read “between the lines” that he was not allowed to say the truth, as you wrote to him in a letter. I need no shield you may be sure. I am quite safe where I am. What you read “between the lines” has nothing to do with the writer from “on the lines”. Because you must not forget that you are the author of them.

Well now as you know Jack has been discharged from the army and is in good health. He is a free man.

14th April 1917

To Abraham from Barnet S.

2157 Mapes Ave., Bronx, NY

Dear Abraham

I am writing to you again hoping to find you and your family in good health Well it’s time to write a letter as Aunt Dora and Lizzie are upset they can’t help wondering Jackie had his portrait taken why not send one on. Is Jackie well I heard he is out of the Army is he sick. Write to me and tell me. Lizzie is upset. She wonders she never stops worrying. Take your hand away from your heart. Be manly think of your child. Why break her heart. She is an innocent child. I know that you are a man of thought so sacrifice a few minutes and write and send Jacky portrait and make Jack write and give a bit of sunshine to your child. She always speaks of her father and Brother so have pity as a man. Do me the favour and write and tell me all the news about you and Jack.

Are you working. How is London. I am working on are turning 18 Dollars a week. Well Lizzie is well but not a strong girl. Nothing makes her happy only when she hears from her father and Brother. So don’t forget I expect an answer and photo from Jack in fact from you also.

I have nothing else to say except that we are at war now and I am sure we will give the Hun a licking and I am sure the war will soon end.

I now close wishing you and all your family Good Health and Good Luck

From me

Your nephew


5th May 1917

To Barnet S. from Abraham

Dear Barney

I received your letter and I must tell you that it made me laugh the way you asked me to write a letter to Elisa. Your exclamation “be a man and have pity on your child” is realy so pitiful that it can break the heart not only of the worst father of the world but even my heart and it brok it. But not in the way as to make me write a letter, because I am not such a father after all need such pitiful words to make him write to his child. In fact I have ritten letters to her more than she replied, and long letters, sometimes 16 pages and I have never left 1 inch of whitespace in my letters, on the contrary, I was always short in my paper, and I had to thicken my lines on the last page in order to make my pleasure in writing to her to last longer. You see that it is not in that way it broke my heart but in another way. I feel in that exclamation that something wrong is in the health of my daughter. Your hint in all your letters that she is a delicate and not a strong girl makes me anxious about her health. Her mother too writes to me that she is very much down hearted and very weack but she says it is because she has agrivation that Jack has joined the army. I wish it was the cause so I am sure that she will soon get better as she knows already that he got discharged and she has nothing to worry about him. But I am afraid it is not that. I will never believe now judging on my own experience that one can get ill or weack of agrivation especialy such a young child as she is.

Abraham B.

10th June 1917

To Louis G. from Abraham

Dear Louis,

It is a long time I did not write to you but I ask you to excuse me because I think it is not my fault. I will tell you the reason and you will judge whether I am right or wrong. The first reason is Jack’s comming back from the army. Of course, he did not hinder me to write to you, but as I am always lazy to write I seized that opportunity, thinking he will write for me. And so time passed in waiting for him to write, till I could not wait any longer, and I am writing myself.

There is another obstacle why I did not write to you before and perhaps, the most important obstacle, and that is my little son Leon. Of course you can understand that he was not an obstacle in the same way as my big son was, I did not wait for him to write to you for me, but in some other way and that was he occupied my hands and it was for me impossible to take a pen to write. When I am at home I had to take him because he started to cry, dia! dia! dia! I don’t know whether he wanted to say “dady” or “devil” but I understand he wanted me to take him. In fact, as soon as I took him in my arms, he expressed his satisfaction by smacking my face as violently as he could, and started to dance and jump up to the cealing. Cuch a performance you can understand, cut every courage to write a letter, no matter how important it may be.

When I am speaking about him I must tell you that he is a very good baby. He never cries, never capricious, but he is always laughing, always jumping and dancing. You never saw such a good baby in your life. Booba told me that you were such a good baby as well. You never cried and never grumbled especially when you had your plate of “cacha” 3 at your side. To tell you the truth Louis, I am not glad at all that you vere also a good baby because as I have read your letters and have heard what a “criminal” you are, and what a long list of “crimes” your “cheet” is filled up I must come to the conclusion that good babies become bad men, and I get anxious that my good little Leon should not become a bad man afterwards.

But always in such a state of depression, I am always trying to modify it by looking for an excuse to your behaviour, and I say to myself: – well, I know Louis, he was a good boy even when he has grown up and before he joind the army. He became a “criminal” only when he joind it and that is not his fault but the fault of the army. What is the army after all then? It is only an institution, a school, like any other civilian school, but instead they teach you in the civilian schools, morality, and politeness. You are tought in the army school immorality and roughiness. You can’t plunge your bayonett in somebody’s heart, and say to him “I am sorry Sir!” Can you? Whilst in civilian schools you were tought how to save people’s lives by medicine, by electricity or by chirursycal operations. They teach you in the army schools how to destroy people’s lives by bayonetts, by rifles or by bomb grenates. Such a teaching forcibly makes you rough, heartless and angry, and the rougher you are a better scholar you make. Your “crime sheet” I think may be regarded as a testimonial to you of being a good scholar. The only thing I cannot understand is, why do they punish you for that! In civilian schools good scholars usually are recompensed by theire teachers but in no way punished? Is it because you are exercising your teaching on the teachers themselves? In such a case, of course you are bound to be punished, because teachers do not like theire pupils to exercise on them. Take for instance a student of chirurgy. The profesor will give him for practicing a man which he thinks needs an opperation, but by misfortune and lack of means will fall into his hands. Here is of man for practicing, he will tell him cut him in pieces, stitch it, cut it again if you did not succeed, and stitch it again. If you fail the second time and he is still alive do it a third time till you learn it properly! But the same proffesor will not allow the student to cut a corner out of a foot, if the foot is that of the proffesor. Well after such consideration and finding the reason of your “bad behaviour” to be the fault of the army, and not because you were a good baby so I became glad of it, because I know when you come back in civilian life you will be the same good boy you were before. But God Gracious! Where am I? I only wanted to tell you the reason why I did not write to you before and what a lot of nonsense I have written! Well now I am trying to get over the obstacle and writing a letter all the same. It shows that necessity caused by remorse breaks all obstacles.

Now dear Louis I can tell you that your mother gave me your photograph which you have sent her lately. Though you look very thin on the photo and caused your mother much anxiety and tears, but I can see that you look in good health. You look a real Tommy! I am sure if the Germans would see you as a specimen of the british army (I would not like them to see you all the same) they would not use the word “contemptible” anymore. I have read all your letters which you have sent to your parents and I have heard all your sufferings and privations you had to endure and I heartedly pitted you. Yes Louis! I am sure, when the war is over, and in a cold winter evening, sitting with your face to a nice fire, your children on your knees will ask you, “Dady, what have you done in the big war?”. You will not blush of shame, of which the inventor of this enxiety was so enxious in the begining of the war, and you will have stories to tell them! Not like the most historians will tell the people stories about the war, what they have never witnessed, never felt, but stories of real heroism, of real sufferings and endurance, and your children will be proud of you. They will tell to theire comrades in school, in time of recreation, what theire “Dady” has done in the big war. Theire admiration for their “Dady’s” heroism may come to such an extend as to invent even acts of heroisme on the part of theire “Dady” that you have never done and never told them. They may tell for instance to their comrades that theire “faver” once met a company of 100 Germans and with one finger kiled all the lot. Or theire “Faver” once saw a tank on the battlefield which could not move. He caught it with his hands and has thrown it on the wired barage of the enemy, broke it and thus made way for the british soldiers to pass. Don’t laugh! Children are capable to invent such things for the sake to make theire “Faver” “grand” in the eyes of their comrades.

12th August 1917

To Elise from Abraham

My loving daughter Elisa,

At last I received a letter from you, and you can imagine how happy I was in getting it. Your letter gave me much pleasure in many ways. The first way is, that I had a lot to read and all very interesting to me. It is the first letter so far as I can remember that there is so much written and in so good a style. The most pleasant thing in this letter was that you did not leave any blank spaces in it. What a striking impression it made on my feeling, when – after a long time of waiting for a letter from you – I received one and two of them were empty, blank. It made on me some impression as one would feel when one is waiting in the street for a loving person to come to whom one is longing to speak, and when at last the person comes and says to you “good morning” and goes away. Have you experienced that feeling in your life? I don’t think so, your life is so short yet! But older people have, and they know with what an offending and grievous feeling that person is struck. It is not the same when you send postcard. It is not the same when you send a letter of 2 pages but the 2 pages are filled up with words. In that case my feeling is satisfied. I may think: “well! It is not her fault, she did not write more, she had no space for it, next time she will have more paper and she will write more.” But when I find in the letter 2 empty pages, 2 pages on which you could write a lot of things and prolong my pleasure, there is no excuse for my feeling and I must consider it as if you had come only to say good morning, but don’t want to speak to me, and it caused me much aggravation. Can you remember when I have sent you a letter on which there was even 1 inch of empty space in it? I don’t think so! Anyhow, with that letter I am fully rewarded.

The next way your letter gave me pleasure was to hear that you have passed your examination with good results. I am quite pleased, because it shows that you realise the necessity and value of education and you have worked for it. There is nothing more useful in my opinion, and more pleasant in human life than education. When you are rich it gives you a good position and a high place in society. When you are poor it gives you honour, respect and admiration of all your friends and neighbours. It is very often a good guide and you feel a personable pleasure and satisfaction a good position, and it is the right key to many a door of intelligent and educated people. You are only a young girl now, but the time is not very far off when you will become a woman and an educated woman, I find, is much nicer and more useful in a family life, than in an educated man. An educated man is mainly an ornament to the family and is of no other use than to give to the family the pleasure to look at it, to embrace it and to touch it. An educated woman, is the education itself of the family, it is the source of which all the descendants take their mental nourishment. In a worth she is the happiness and blessing of the family. I beg you to excuse me for speaking to you in that way. Maybe it is too early for me yet to speak to you about these facts, but as these facts may come I find myself obliged to give you my opinion. I am not educated myself. I am as ignorant in education as ignorant can be, but I always appreciated the value of it and I have tried to get it and sometimes I have worked very hard for it. I did not succeed because of lack of means but I have tried to get it. I have never envied rich people but I have always envied educated people. Therefore my dear child I wish you to be educated. Go on in that way even better if you can because it is never too good to be educated. Seize every opportunity which may lead you to a good education and I am sure you will not regret it.

Now my dear child I will answer you on the question you asked me. What do I think about America’s entry into the war. First of all I must tell you that I am as I have always been against the war. No matter if your mother reproaches me in becoming a patriot. Of course I don’t feel myself offended by that but I am a very poor patriot in the sense she thinks me to be. I am against war because I am always with the opinion that no dispute, no offence, can be settled by blows. It may result to a humiliation of the weaker party but never to satisfaction, as it would have resulted by arbitration and mutual understanding. The humiliated party will always look out for a chance to avenge itself and that chance he can always find. Besides what use is it to settle a quarrel by blows when the offender receives the same blows or even more blows than the defender? The war is also a quarrel of 2 parties about a thing which they both consider to have a right to it. But instead of finding a resolution by peaceful mutual understanding they find it necessary to resolve it by blows and such a resolution must always lead to the ruin and exhaustion of both parties, to the victorious as well as to the defeated party. Let us take for instance two fighters, Carpantier 4 and Wells 5 for instance, two champion boxers, who had a fight a few years ago and which was resulted, if I remember, by the victory of Carpentier, of course. He was cheered by all those bloodthirsty people who call themselves “sports men” for his victory. But the victor himself! Capentier himself! What a pitiful aspect he had, after his victory! What an ugly face! His red eyes were embraced in a dark red frame which will become dark blue in a couple of days time. His nose swollen and in size bigger than his head. His lips were split and his mouth was bleeding, all his body was feverish and bruised and he had to sit down on a chair for fear not to fall down on the ground himself. That is the look of a victor after a fight! To appease all the victors after the previous wars! After the present war if there be a victor he will look still ugly, because the exchange of the blows are fiercer and in a more savage manner.

Well after you have heard my opinion about the war my dear child you can understand that I do not give much praise to America for her entry into the war, but if by fortune her intervention will bring quicker piece, she will merit, all the same, thanks and blessings of millions of people who are suffering on the battlefields.

Yes my dear child! Animals in this world more lucky than men because nature has created a superior being over them, who leads them and defends them against agression of one against the other and that is the “human”. When two dogs are fighting, men are doing theire best to saparate them. When two cats are fighting, men usually pour a can of water on them in order to separate them. But when men are fighting each other, there is no superior beign in the world to separate them, and they are condemned by that human vice which is called “Honour” to fight so long till one of the parties lays exhausted, unconscious at the feet of the other party.

Well my dear child I see I have to finish my letter otherwise I will trouble you without a finish. I only want to tell you that I am in good health. I have plenty of work and I am not very much affected at present by the war. Jack is writing a letter to you.

Tell me whether you received my previous two letters. Tell me how you are going on in health and how is your mother’s health.

With best love

2 September 1917

To Elise from Abraham

My dear beloved daughter,

I have sent you a long letter last week, and I hope you received it. If not I would be very sorry, because that letter was written by me with the greatest pleasure after I received a long letter from you.

I am going to answer your next letter which I received just when I was finishing the other letter and in which I have mentioned it.

I told you already in the other letter that you were born on 14 December 1901. Consequently you will be 16 years old December the next. 16 years already! So quick time passes! If I would not look at your last photo and see what a beautiful girl you became, tall and ladylike, I would still think you to be the same little girl I have known from before. 9 years already since you have left me, and I can still see your face, so fresh and radiant as I saw 15th August 1908, the last fatal day (it was not 1st September as you think).

Si painful time may seem to you to be, si long, si impossible, but as soon as it passed it seems to you that it has passed with the space of a lightning. During those nine years I had moments especially in the beginning of them, when days seemd to me as long as years and nights as long as centries. That awful night of the 15 August 1908 seemd to me, will never be finished. I thought the sun was extinct and the daylight will never appear again. I did not know what I had that night! I did not know even whether I was asleep or awaik. I only felt that my head was burning and all my body was trembling like in convulsion. And when at last the day broke in, all the same in my room, I thought I have passed in that dark suffering for about a century. I went down from my bed to see whether Jack was still in his bed. So long seemd to me that night! And you see that night passed, and many others similar to that passed, and now thousands of nights passed sinse you left me and you are still as fresh in my memory as in the first night. It seems to me that only yesterday all this happend. Time is a very spiteful thing in human life. When something evil happens to you, something disagreable, and you wish that thought time should passe quick, on the contrary time sticks to you and seems to have no intention to go away, the more you are trying to poush it away, the more you are impatient, the more she seems willing to stop with you. On the contrary when something agreable, something delightful appens to you and you would like it to stop with you, time runs away with the greatest speed, and before you can enjoy these happy moments, you find time all gon already. The only consolation we have is that, the spiteful “time” must go even away, she can’t stop, even when something evil appears to you, si slowly she may seem to you in her march and unwilling but as soon as she is gon you notice only that she went with the same speed as in the other case.

They are of real comfort to my heart and I am eager to answer them. But my dear Elisa let us not look back to that terrible time because it will only give us agrivation especially to me! Let us see what it is now and I can only see satisfaction. I can see of your photos that I have got a nice big daughter in exchange of that small one of nine years ago. I can see of your letters that you are an inteligent and goodhearted girl. But the most plesant thing for me at that moment is to hear that you love me, that you did not forget me, and that I have been always in your heart. I quite believe your words to be the expresion of your heart and that makes me happy. I am only very sorry that I am not able to prove to you that you are not mistaken in your feeling to me as you are so far from me, but I am sure if you were near me all that time your love and esteem for me would have been still greater, as I would know how to gain it, just as I have known how to gain it from Jack.

I can also understand of your letters that you are not in a bad position, that you were very well cared for by your mother all that time, and that makes me glad too. If only I could be sure that, that incident of nine years ago was the cause of your wellfare in your future life that it brought about to you a position that you could not have without it, then I must consider all my sufferings I have endured in the beginning of it is a price paid for your position and consider that sufferings recompensed. Well my dear child I can tell you that I have sent you with the same post but in another envelope the photo of Jack when he was in the army. If you will receive it he will send you another one of the present time, as he will have his photo taken presently. I will try to send you one of mine. Jack sent you a letter a week ago did you receive it?

23rd October 1917

To Elise from Abraham

My dear daughter Elisa

I received your letter of the 6th Aug. And am very glad to hear that you are in good health.

I am very glad indeed to hear that you are learning piano playing and I wish you good success. I can see my dear child that you are going in the way to make your future life as agreeable as possible. It will be a real pleasant past time for you in the future when you succeed in that beautiful art. I am only anxious that you may meet some dificulties in your course of learning and that may hinder your full success in reason of your grown-up age that you started to learn it. When you start to learn music at the age of 5, 6 or 7 years, you are advancing gradualy, finishing one tutor after the other. You are not poushed by anybody and yourself you are not in a hurry. But when you start at the age of 16 – besides you are impatient yourself to go on with the essential thing which music requires, that is “exercises” and you would rather like to play some melodies, dances, or operas, you are still more urgent by the impatiens of your friends, even of your parents, and they all want you to play something “nice” instead to hear you exercising. So you lose all courage for practicing and with it all tecnical capacities which a good player requires. I speak it of my own experience, and I just want to tell you it, may be it will be of any use to you. When I was a boy of 17 or 18 years I have started to learn music, not the piano, it was too dear for me, but the violin. For 3 roubles I have bought a violin and I paid 3 roubles a month a teacher who gave me lessons twice a week. I was going on all right the first few weeks and my teacher even saw some capacite in me for that art but unfortunately I had a lot of friends at that time, a lot of comrades, and as soon as they were aware that I was learning the violin they started to trouble me I should play some dances and they would dance. Only the first few weeks, when the bow seemd to me as heavy as “stone” and the violin as heavy as a hudered weight, they wanted me to play “Shulamith”  6 “Kouny Lemel” 7 or “Shmendrick” 8 the most popular Yiedish opera’s at that time. They used to laugh at my practising and used to snatch the violin out of my hands to show me that they would play better than me they were not thought. To show you how far the insolence of some of my comrades came, I will tell you of one incident which happened to me whilst I came one Sunday evening to my company where I usually use to come to have a dance or to play some games. There was a boy in the same company who lived in the same house where I used to live and who thought him self to be the cleverest of the lot. As soon he saw me entering the room, and before I had time to shake hands with every body, he said to me in the most serious manner “I am sure Abrahamchic (they used to call me Abrahamchic) that you are wrong in going on with your practising the violin at 3 o’clock in the morning. You wake me up and I could not sleep the rest of the morning”. I was surprised to hear it. I told him that he made a mistake, that I have never practised at such an hour. “Then” he said “probably it was the cat who made such a noise. I thought you were practising”. I felt that I blushed but I did not lose time and answered directly that only a donkey cannot distinguish the sound of a violin to that of a cat. I saw him blushing in his turn as the company laughed, but this incident as many others of that kind cut all my courage for practising and as soon as I have learnd how to find the notes with my fingers and befor I have learnd the positions, I have started to play some songs and dances, my teacher warnd me not to do it and better to go on with the exercises, but the influence of my so-called friends was stronger and the result was that I have never learned the violin. Therefore I would like you to be more careful, and not to be in a hurry to play songs or dances but only practising. Only in that way you will be successful.

I was very pleased to hear my dear Elisa that you have answered your cousin Louis’s letter, and you have sent him a few things, this shows again your kind character and sympathetic feeling you have to all those who need it. He has been really unfortunate since he joined the army, and if he comes out unhurt he will be really lucky. He is a good boy, the best of all the children of my sister, and I pity him very much. I don’t know yet whether he received your parcel, as I did not receive any letter from hime for about a month but he will surely answer you as soon as he receives it.

I have sent you the 2nd of September letter and the picture of Jack when he was in the army, did you receive them? Jack did not want to send you that picture because he did not like it but I have sent it to see whether you will receive it so he will send you a recent one, and I will send you one of mine. You ask me my dear child, I should advise you what course to take up in your study. Really I don’t know what to advise you. I don’t know in what circumstances you are, your means and your capacities. Of course to learn medicine is very expensive, and hard work too, but it is much nicer when you can get it. Tell me please how long do you reckon will it take you to finish that school. I suppose you will have to go to a colege if you want to take up medicine, or even teacher. Well now my dear child I will finish my letter in telling you a few words about myself as you ask me about it. I can tell you that I am in good health and have plenty of work and earn good money. Everything is very dear and some articles we can’t get at all, but we got used to it. The only thing we can’t get used is the air raids, though we have had plenty of them the last four weeks and very exciting ones. We expect some air raids this week and some next week as it will be a full moon.

The moon happens to be an important accomplice to the air raiders, and we are afraid of her more than of the raiders. Never was the moon so noticed by the people than the last two months. Everybody is looking at the moon with anxiety seeing in her the messenger of an air raid. Tonight it is half-moon and everybody expected an air raid for tonight as last month was the first air raid at that stage of the moon, and was continued for 10 nights, one after the other. It seems that we have faild in our prophecy as it is already 2.30 and there was no warning yet.

Well my dear child answer directly, please and tell me a lot about yourself. How are you going on in music, in study, in health and many other things.

It is unclear when this letter was written but it is presumed to be in 1917

To Elise from Abraham

My dear child Elisa,

…I am afraid you will see that letter so much written, you will be discouraged to read it. But it does not matter! If you are not disposed to read it now or you have no time for it, then leave it for another time when you will be more disposed. You will loose nothing, as it does not contain any particular interess that you must know at once. As I have plenty of time to write this week of the bank holiday (and I have a whole week). So I want to enjoy myself in writing to you. As I wanted that my enjoyment should last long so I have tried the most I could. I don’t know whether I am right or wrong in what I have told you. I leave it for you to judge. If I am wrong in some don’t be afraid to tell me. I will wilingly admit if I find your opinion right. Just when I have finished that letter I received your last letter. I will answer it a few days letter. By the time I will only tell you as you are so interested to know, that you were born 14 December 1901. I have your birth certificate and even your vaccination certificate. If you are in need of them tell me so I will send them over to you. Now my dear read the letter if you have time.

Elise B. November 30th 1917

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