Roli writes to Hamburg from Hachshara Ahrensdorf


Roli writes from the Hachshara camp on May 10, 1938, shortly after he reached the Ahrensdorf.

He is obviously enthusiastic about the atmosphere, the people, the work and the lessons. But mostly, he is enthusiastic about the goal: to train to immigrate to Eretz Israel.

He writes the following letter to his father Georg and his sister Marion, in Hamburg:

Dear Daddy, dear Marion.

I was very happy to receive your letter with Marion’s talented example, and I will answer the letter immediately, if I will have some free time in the afternoon, because we have an exam on Sunday, this is a practical activity, (“You’re prepared to immigration” it is called), which has been done all over the country since April.

I signed up, although I know very little, or at least not like the others. They have at least a year and a half over me. We have each day a conversations in Hebrew from older people and I have to learn everything myself – nevertheless, I can not get less than a failure, and this is definitely a test that will help me know how much I have to learn.

Because of this, all of us who have registered, have at least a lot of free time in the afternoon. Nissi first studied “Jewish history” but it did not work out. (Of course I went to the tomato hill and sat in the sun, at least sunbathing a bit). After that I learned Hebrew, but eventually I returned to “more than reality” (book, LO). This is definitely an amazing book if you can, read it. This is something different about the “world history” and on the other hand full of action.

Yesterday, in complete surprise (at least for me) Hilda Schechter from Bremen came. Her father brought her, and I jumped at the chance to assure her that his daughter was safe. He went and I and the girl remained alone.

Hilda looked very pale. She asked me to let her rest for a day, and that’s why the poor boy was bored with me all morning while he helped me water the young tomatoes. By the way, the weather is not really cold, we worked with rolled up sleeves and shorts in the sun.

On Sunday during the sandwiches, there was lively discussion of technical and practical questions. I loved it very much. Thirty-five boys and five girls sit together on the benches of the dining room (חדר האוכל) what’s in the Israel, in the kibbutz, is the meeting place, they say. Chewing their sandwiches with jam, debating for half an hour seriously and full of interest, about the calves, who will soon meet with the wagons, nad discuessing whether to leave them in their cages or move them to a larger place, which would have to move the horses to another place. We also decided (if there were any means) to purchase beehives (perhaps I will be a beekeeper, I already volunteered).

I looked at the faces of my friends during the discussion, and only then did I get to know the people. And again and again it was hard for me to believe that these people were the same boys and girls who, in other circumstances of reality, were probably more interested in going dancing …

Although the need to use intelligence is great, it is not the main need. One positive thing is that we (I already say we), before we fall asleep in our beds, talk about the number of eggs and liters of milk instead of talking about ordinary things as we did when we lived in the city.

In other words, we live a life that fits a healthy society.
And as I mentioned, our free time is full of life and learning. The “test” (Hebrew, LO) is voluntary, but 95% of the people volunteered. No one wastes his free time, we all work. We chose three courses which are taught by the best students. Today at three there is “Jewish history”, at four in “Zionist History” and five Hebrew. (We also have such a lesson in the morning). And in six, theoretical agriculture.

Afterwards, when I finish dinner (In which Arno whispered to me, we’ll be served herring) Hawy will tell us more about his trip to Palestine. He does it in an amazing and humorous way, and fills the board on the wall with more and more details, while he laughs, for example when he tells about a motorcycle ride to the Carmel, he has many experiences with Arabs, dangerous experiences.
After 21:30 we go to sleep. Starting Sunday, we wake up at 5:30 in the morning.

By the way, I wish you a lot of success with insurance. Hoping that this first success will not be the last in the near future.

Thank you very much for the # 5 (it’s not clear what it says, LO)
In the meantime I will write to you that I was asked to pay more money, the bill will come to you from Berlin. In case you are concerned about moving, you may write to a Jewish Agency accountant in Berlin, asking them for the account number to be transferred.

Right now I’m sitting in the park, which surrounds the house, in the shade bench, there is a wooden table beside me. Next to the water fountain, which is active only when there are guests. Shredded a pile of tamped earth, shrubs and flowers, behind, in the trees, by the lake, a black bird, sings. Although there are about fifty people here, thanks to discipline, and because the area is large, the atmosphere is ideal and quiet. The weather is chill. A little while ago I showed Hilda everything and she was just as excited as I was when I got here a week ago. I was so proud of our work that she laughed at me.

Arno sits next to me and reads about “Jewish history.” Aunt Beata wrote that for my birthday I would get a small parcel. Please write to her (if you agree with me) that she should not spend money on me. Recently, she has sent a box with wonderful cookies.

The ideal quiet is now interrupted by a chorus of people singing from the corporate room window. “Another fire will be saved” is something from Hebrew about being guarded. In the meantime, the pace is rising like a train.

The mosquitoes sing about the sunset and drink too much of my blood. I think it’s time to make it impossible for them, because most of my skin has been completely rented out (mosquitoes).

Because soon they’ll ring for my shift anyway, I’ll just briefly add that Heinz Hirschel sent me a letter today with pictures in which I play the harmonica. One is attached.

Greetings and kisses,
See you soon,

At the end of the letter adds Arno, that was with Roli in the camp, in his writing, the following text:

Dear Uncle Georg.

We sit here outside, everything green and beautiful, and since Rolf has already written you half a novella, I’ll just send you warm regards.


Translation from German: Mimi Sewalski



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