February 21, 1944: “…stay brave, that’s what helps us to go on living.”
It might seem strange to say, but since finding Marcel’s letters, it feels as though other letters have found me. This is one such letter, which I recently had translated into English.The postcard was written February 21, 1944 by a French forced laborer named Emile,* and mailed to an address in Les Vosges. From the return address, we can deduce he worked at the Josef Winter factory (“Fleischfabrik Josef Winter”) in Berlin, which used forced laborers to produce canned meat for the Germany army. The original building was demolished in 1992/93.
My dear little Marie,
Just a few words because I’m in the dumps today. No news from you for quite a while now; I’m wondering if you’ve been receiving my letters. I hope you have. Yesterday I got a card from René; everything is fine with him. I hope that it’s the same for you. For me, health wise everything is fine; for the rest, always the same, the same life as in the past. Nothing has changed in the program, except that the job is going a little better. I got visit the buddies every Sunday to get over the dumps. When I had to leave them, it made me very sad. When you live together for three years, it really hurts when you have to separate. Let’s hope that the end will come soon, because a small home of your own is better that than someone else’s big home.
I’ll leave you for tonight, hoping to receive a good letter from you real soon. Kiss [not legible] for me; he must be a big, strong boy now. My most tender kisses to both of you, and stay brave, that’s what helps us to go on living.
With all my big kisses,
Notes from Carolyn:
1. *Emile’s surname may be Founet or Foimet (or some name with similar spelling).
2. A special thank you to Stefanie G. of the Berlin-Pankow Tourism Information office, who was instrumental in tracking down information on the history of the building that stood at 122-125 Gustav-Adolf Strasse, Berlin-Weissensee.