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  K A U N A S,  L I T H U A N I A  

Kovno Letters From 1938

By Zvi Goldberg

Preface (By Abbye Brenner):  There are two letters, one from October 1938 and the other from December 1938. The December letter was the last one my grandmother received from her brother Israel (Zvi) Goldberg. The letters were written in Yiddish and were translated for me by the uncle of a Rabbi in California. My grandmother "Bessie" Goldberg lived in New Bedford, MA. She married Abraham (Abram) Miller and had five children, four boys and a girl (Martha, my mother). If anyone remembers the Zvi Goldberg family from Kovno or Semeliskes, please contact me, Abbye Brenner.

The First of October 1938

Beloved, Dear Sister, Brother-in-Law and Beloved Nephews and Nieces. In reality my beloved dear Sister, I already 2 weeks late in answering you. Besides the letter I just got from you can probably understand, my beloved and dear Sister how crazy my life is and I hit the wall. I feel totally isolated. I leave At 6 in the morning to go out to work and I was in Semelishok [Semeliskes] but I find myself remain hungry.

Now beloved Sister, how are you doing, all my dearest and healthy, they all ask about you who are living high up. Imagine my beloved Sister, they are all thinking that everything is fine. I Imagine my Beloved Sister that we are all doing thankfully well.

We came up with fear, imagine my beloved sister with your poor health and so much fear that happened to you. So we need to permanently accept. Donít think my dear sister that I refused your advice to go shopping. With the various troubles the whole world forget you.

You are in America and your life is safe and you have a democracy and you are safe and relaxed at home. Until now it was here not bad as well but going forward is a question. We are not looking at better times.

Now my dear sister write me all that is happening by you and with your health and how is our dear brother-in-law, your husband doing, and also your kids and grandkids.

You are thank G-d a grandmother, until 120 years, write me dear sister of everybody.

You donít know how happy you make me with your letter and there will be something to read. Now I can write you that Mendelís daughter came to us. She makes a living, she bakes at home. She lives with the child Rachel. She is using the clothes that you have sent my dear sister. The shoes were too small for Rachel and thank you for all my dear sister.

We are all wishing you good health, and strength and wealth to you and your entire family. I enjoy writing you and I wish that my letter finds you in good health.

From me your brother and brother-in-law and uncle Zvi Goldberg.

Now a special greeting from Rachel and the kids. She wanted to write herself but she does not feel good for two days already. She wishes you health and good business from me as well.


Return Address on Envelope
Italijos gatve N 79B5


December 9, 1938

Dear Sister, Brother-in-law, Nephews and Nieces, you should live happily and satisfied.

Dear Sister I donít know what to think that such a long time I did not hear from you. So please write me a letter so that I will not be worried and filled with fear and that will know what is happening with you. So that I will know that everything at yours is all right.

We are now in Kovno and not in Semelishok because my wife is having the other thing G-d forbid. We did not know what it was so she went to the Doctor. He said they need to give her a shot and they need to operate on her or she will die. They said that maybe the last operation was not good and needs repair. I canít tell you what it is but I thought it was much less serious. My wife has refused to go to him and show him what she has. She also refused the shots and the operation. She went a second time to a second Doctor and the second doctor also told her the same thing. Now she is talking about going to a third one and it is going on for five weeks already.

Hershel is staying up with me and never mind, what shall I write you, I called the doctor over and the other doctor and imagine my dear sister that doctors have told us how the operation will come out and they are asking me to sign. What shall I do, they are making me crazy so I telephoned my brother from Semelishok and I asked to come right away on Saturday morning at eight. They immediately operated and took three and a half hours. Now it is Shabbat, five weeks ahead and she canít even be alone. You have to watch her like a little kid. It is a wonder now that she is still alive, never mind the high cost and we did not have to ask anybody for anything. Imagine my dear sister that the five days and the operation cost me four hundred LIT. The best doctor of Kovno operated on her and now we have to pay the most expensive and the best but she is with us again. So much fear and troubles. So I begging you my dear sister write me soon what you are all doing and your health. Why my dear sister I get all these troubles that I am so unlucky. Write me soon why, why and what you are doing .

Be healthy. Your brother Zvi Goldberg.

Postscipt: Zvi Goldberg, wife and family were all killed in the Holocaust.



Copyright © 2006-2021 Jose Gutstein. All rights reserved.

Material and photos courtesy of Ephraim Romm.