Dearest Friend Finklestein,
A heartfelt thank you for your letter. I received it in a (rare) moment of sentimentality, late at night, amid the tumult of our elections.
Shuh, Let us remind ourselves. From the very beginning. A story perhaps a little comical. All my childhood years, I wished, longed to be one time in Warsaw. Really Pratzes Warsaw (by Pratzes "Chassidish" by deceit, in a German rabbi's study I learned to read Yiddish). I meant, of course, to go directly to the "old market", and find Jonathan the teacher... But it didn't work out, and I had earlier been in Eretz Yisroel, by Rabbi Cook and at the University, became ill, had to return home, and decided, no other way but through Warsaw.
But I had no friends there and no place to recover from my illness. So what did I do? As a Yeshiva student with Rabbi Cook, I used to lodge with other students with a certain Shklaver Chassid, a quiet man, a learned Jew, a gentleman. He had a son in a Kibbutz, a pleasant child, although a heretic, but with respect for his father, courteous, in a Yiddish way. His name was Gravitski.
It was a poor, modest home. I would eat there once a week, on the Sabbath, The rest of the week--tea and old rye bread... his pride was his son Joseph who worked at Haynt.
I came to Warsaw and went to him with greetings from his parents
in Eretz Yisroel. He had recently gotten married, I think. He lived on Kalodny, opposite the editorial office. Around noontime he was still in bed. He had an excuse for this: He was parliamentary correspondent for Haynt and worked until dawn...
He took me in very nicely, especially when he became aware that I am actually a colleague, write in German newspapers, but have not yet tried to write in Yiddish. I told him about my romantic years, my travels, my meetings with Arabs (then I still spoke fluent Arabic). and also with Rabbi Cook. He asked me to write something for Haynt. Yiddish was for me like a piano, probably I will be able to do it...
In short, it was accepted. I was ashamed until with great respect I finally dared to speak with Indelman, who still talks to the older ones who well knew me uncle, Rabbi Doctor Emmanuel Carlebach, who in Ludendorf's time, as an advisor to him, founded The Federation and The Rabbinical Federation, and made not a little trouble for Zionists in general and Haynt in particular...
With a pounding heart I went up to Telemutski 13, and from a distance eagerly watched Segulovitch as he swallowed a fourth of a chicken...And I promised to do some translations into German for publication...I also accomplished my main purpose: I was at Gensher Cemetery, saw the writers row, saw the Pratzes Kahal-Chapel, and a few Pratzes Jews also. And Indelman remembered me. As I recall, at that time, a series of articles came out about Rabbi Cook and Rabbi Zonenfeld, and the whole Rabbinical dispute, in which I was deeply involved, and which played an important role in the politics of Jerusalem. This I believe was at the beginning of my work for Haynt. It must have been 1926, I was 18-19 years old. From time to time I sent in something from Germany, but not regularly, and mostly without a cause.
When the strike broke out and we rolled up out sleeves in "old-new", Goldberg and Indelman sent out telegrams to God and the whole world: Collaborate, beautify, renew. I was a child, and a German in addition--I took it seriously. Klinov at that time sent correspondence from Berlin, and I intermittently from Hamburg. I was at that time editor of "Israelitishes Familly-Gazette", the largest Jewish newspaper in Germany, and I did not need income from Haynt.
Who is talking, when the "siren" came and Klinov had still not
written any Hebrew and I did not require payment--I became very much appreciated, as if I were the correspondent from Germany. Later, as Hitler began to act, and Germany became the most important story, they demanded more of my writing.
The important gain for Haynt was from my travels, on the expense account of the newspaper, to the "black" Jews( Morocco, Algeria, Turkey, Yemen, Greece) and to the Red Jews": Russia (in 1932).
You might think that being there I would fall into the furor over the "inquisition", about which, abroad, nothing was known, or at least people did not want to know or believe, especially after the journeys of B.T.Goldberg and Reuben Brainen, and the wonderful banquets and speeches concerning the new Jewish culture....My revealing articles (also about Biru Bijan and the colonization in Crimea), made a stormy, shattering impression. Their reach was so wide that Einstein,who, as were all liberals, was progressively anti-Hitler, and was very sympathetic to Soviet Russia,spoke publicly of some kind of "League of Friends of Rattenfarbund". That made a great sensation. So, people read and discussed the articles that led them to these issues.
A pair of young assassins were hesitant when they had to "liquidate" me. Somebody made a "contract" on me in Hamburg, and the assassins shot at me several times, hitting my hat but not my head. An uproar followed and for a few days, the condition of my health took up the front page headlines in Haynt.
A few months later, Hitler came to power. Goebbels remembered that I at one time exposed that he was able to study only thanks to a Jewish stipend. For this and for other good deeds, I was arrested--one of the first. Actually, far enough from the very first that it turned out well. The Gestapo was not yet well organized, the jails still being run by the old officials, who did not yet know that one can be arrested without a warrant. In short, with a little due to luck, and a little due to a favorable misunderstanding, I was freed.
In truth, as soon as I realized I was free, they came looking for me again,and I barely escaped from the hotel with my life (and in total, with only the shirt on my back). I wandered all over Germany with false Nazi papers (stories within stories, not so interesting today), and with
dyed hair, like a genuine S.A. Really, going to the book burning, where they also burned my books, I saw the anti-Jewish acts as if I were one of the S.A. men, and every day I sent reports to Haynt. My pseudonym was "Levi Gothelf", the excitement was great, and the frivolity of the adventure even greater. It took a while before Haynt could arrange for me to get papers of a coal miner, and for certain people not far from Katovitz to smuggle me across the border into Poland.
When I came to Warsaw, I started to publish a long series of articles in Haynt, the first truly "Inside Story" of Nazism (at the same time the series was published in the "Forward"). Myself, I travelled over Poland with Dr. Gottlieb, S.Stupnitski, and others with "Literary Judgments Over Germany". The "Judgments" had a giant success. I remember in the first session, in Warsaw Circle, in the first row sat the German ambassador...
This, no less, was the beginning of my regular work at Haynt as a member of the editorial office (although not of the cooperative). The pay was not good, I think, but "Novi Jennik" in Krakow, and "Civilia" in Lemberg, and "The Yiddish Voice" in Kovne, and "Morning" in Riga, and partially, the "Forward" in New York, according to an agreement, always reprinted the articles.
Soon, Haynt began to assign important missions to me, mainly abroad, as they considered that I had the face of 'A European". At first to Zionist conferences, you understand. Later, meeting with the national minorities. There was such an obsession at that time: "We, minorities",will fight all together for "our" rights. Germans were a minority in Poland, Polish in Germany. Ukrainians and other minorities, all "good brothers" in the partnership fight. Together with the tumultuous Catholics in Spain, with Deputy Henrik Rozmarin from Lemberg, with Margolis from Czechoslovakia. with the Bernhiem Petition from Silesia and with the Council of Lands with Matzkinen as president. We presented petitions, accusations, even a debate in Felkerbund.
"The world will not be silent", was then the watchword. A half literary and half political theme: "The conscience of the world"...And I ran after it like a reporter and like a publicist, and a bit ot a social worker and a member of various committees in Bern, Geneva...
One time, I remember, Goebbels called a large press conference
in Geneva, before the Germans left the Felkerbund. There, developed a sharp discussion between me and Goebbels, necessarily...about the cooperative nature of Haynt.
After that came the conferences on the refugee-question. A High Commissar was appointed, and commissions were named, as is customary...A little later, a disturbance in Austria began, after that came Prague...In the years 1933 and 1934 I was almost continuously travelling on missions for Haynt.
By myself "on the road" I was without an editor, so they had me reined in.
In 1935 I was called out by the then still daily "Jewish Post" in London to become editor-in-chief of that newspaper. And as English politics were the main theme of Jewish politics at that time, and as it was also the time of the first great Arab uprising, of the Chaluka-Plan from the Piel Commission, etc., Haynt seized the opportunity: acquired a correspondent in London.
After 2 years in London, in 1937, I went to Eretz Yisroel, and it just happened that the main correspondence from there became my responsibility. The other correspondents, Joseph Gravitski and Simcha Pietrushki, did little work: A.S.Lirik would mainly write criticism, and Isaac Grinbaum, publicity, as if he were a member of the management.
Several months before the World War, in Spring1939, I visited Poland, Warsaw and all the old friends for the last time...
You must have by now the most important dates you asked me about in your last letter.
One more detail: The first name of the Kelner Rabiner and director of the Orthodox Teacher-Seminar, who was, together with Dr. Pinchus Cohen the ":Commissioner for Jewish Matters in the German Occupation-Force" in the First War was Dr. Emmanuel Carlebach.
With Warmest Regards, in Old Friendship, Yours,
P.S. After writing this letter, I had a heart attack, laid in bed two months, and just now, at the beginning of November, I looked for it, and sent it, perhaps, after all not too late.