20 September 1933
Salo Horn’s New Year greetings to his mother
In 1933 the Jewish New Year festival of Rosh ha-Shanah began on the evening of 20 September. The Nazis had been in power for eight months, during which Jews had been stripped of their rights and ostracized, persecuted and expelled, arrested and murdered. It was therefore with trepidation and uncertainty that German Jews, both individually and collectively, looked toward the new year—the year 5694 on the Jewish calendar.
The gravity of the situation is reflected in the affectionate New Year’s greetings that seven-year-old Salo Horn sent to his mother. The family had gone through some difficult times. In 1929 Sara Horn had separated from her husband and moved with her three children from Saarbrücken to Frankfurt am Main. Here, Salo and his brother, Bernhard, who was three years older, lived in the Jewish children’s home run by the Flersheim Sichel Foundation. Their mother earned a living for the family as the proprietress of a men’s clothing store in Frankfurt’s historic center. Salo was quite worried about his mother and promised in his letter to be “more diligent and better behaved” in the year to come. He prayed for God’s support for himself and his family. He decorated his letter with a Star of David, a Torah scroll and a shofar, the ram’s horn that is traditionally blown during the New Year’s service in the synagogue.
Five years later, on 28 October 1938, Sara Horn and her three children Rachel, Bernhard and Salomon were deported from Germany to Poland as part of the Polenaktion (“Polish Operation”), during which approximately seventeen thousand Jews of Polish nationality were expelled from Germany within the space of a few days. Together with a large number of other Jews, the Horn family was forced to wait for several hours in a railway tunnel at the border in Upper Silesia before being told abruptly that “by the grace of the Führer” they would be allowed to return home. During the November pogroms a few days later, Sara Horn’s shop in Frankfurt was looted and destroyed.
In April 1939, the family finally received a visa for the United States—four years after filing an application. Sara Horn and her three children left for America from the French town of Le Havre.
1 Tishri 5694.
This year especially I would like to wish you greater happiness than in the past. I also want to try even harder to bring you joy. Thank you for providing for me so lovingly during these difficult times so I can be happy. I promise to be more diligent and better behaved in the coming year. May G’d help me and protect all of us.
A New Year’s kiss from your Salo.