20 March 1933
Letter from Genia Grünberg to her brother Josef Hurtig
Josef was in a precarious situation. He was short of money and just scraping by. He did not want to return to Romania, partly because he knew military service awaited him there. However, his residence permit was due to expire in the fall of that year and his future in Germany was uncertain. Genia was particularly worried about the political developments. After the NSDAP’s landslide victory in the elections for the Prussian state parliament in April 1932, she had written to her brother: “Hitler! Hitler! The news has greatly depressed all of us here and we’re afraid that there will be dire consequences for all of you foreign Jews.”
Now Adolf Hitler had been appointed Reich chancellor and in a decree issued to the regional governments five days earlier, on 15 March, the Reich Interior Ministry had ordered the authorities to “stave off the influx of Eastern European Jews,” expel those “Eastern European Jews who were living in Germany without a residence permit” and, in general, “refrain from naturalizing them.”
Genia Grünberg saw no future for her brother in Germany. She and her husband, Phöbus, urged him to “take a trip” and seek safety elsewhere. As long as he remained in Germany, she asked him on behalf of her father to write at least once every two weeks.
A[lba] I[ulia], 20 March 1933
My dear, dear Juziu,
Thank you for your last two cards. Since you’ve written so promptly, I’m going to start a letter to you, although I don’t have any special news. At the moment your cards are enough and I am very, very happy to receive them fairly regularly. By the way, Tata asked once again that you write once every two weeks. Sometimes your situation is too much for him and he becomes very gloomy. I have one big worry: what will happen when your savings run out? Everything is fine for the moment. You don’t need to rush things if you’re feeling worn out. You can study to your heart’s content. This last bit of news pleased me doubly. But do you know anything about what lies ahead for you? Since you haven’t written a word about it, I must assume the opposite, and that’s the stupid/bad thing. Phöbus tells me I should ask you whether you wouldn’t like to take that trip you’ve written about. You’re still young enough, he says. Could you go if you wanted to or possibly had to? If you have any information, please let me know ….