…it leads to more questions. Some of those questions are waiting to be answered through discoveries of resources in archives, some will remain, regretfully, unanswered.
At one time I had a stack of letters in many different languages – Polish, German, Yiddish, Russian – none of which I could translate. I still have that stack of letters, but they are now, almost all translated. These last few are from my great-grandparents in Romania in the 1920’s, all are handwritten. Four letters are in Yiddish, two are in German, with Yiddish (in Hebrew letters) scattered throughout. Three Yiddish letters have, to date, been translated.
I have records of my family in Romania dating back to the 1870’s and all of the records, no matter what their origin (local, regional, union, personal) all have the surname spelled exactly the same way, in Latin letters, in German and Romanian. The handwritten letters are different.
The Yiddish letters are all written by (or for) my great-grandfather to his children in the United States. None of these are written by my great-grandmother. The German letters, written a few months after my great-grandfather’s death are written by my great-grandmother.
The Yiddish letters include messages from my great-grandmother or are clearly being written on behalf of both of them, and are signed with a first and last name, not “your father” or something similar. Although my great-grandfather’s name, in Yiddish is spelled exactly the way we would think to find it, his surname is spelled differently than we would expect, based on ALL the Romanian and German records. The questions arising from this are:
- Did he write the letters or did someone else write them for him?
- Why are they signed with his full name?
- Why is the name spelled the way it is in Yiddish?
Then there are other questions based on the content of the letters in which the complaint is of constant ill health (my great-grandfather was in his mid-70’s at this point), and poverty. The questions:
- Why didn’t they come to the US – all their children were grown and all except one were in the US – my great-grandmother left Romania for the US by 1928, after her husband’s 1926 death.
- The letters speak of acrimony and neglect by their children and allude to disagreements – what was going on within the family?
- The letters mention a lack of communication with some of their children and even not having current addresses – what was going on.
Questions layered upon questions. No answers in sight. Maybe this last Yiddish letter or the 2 German ones, still to be translated will provide some answers.