25 December 1933
Letter from Herbert Schwalbe to the Persian Minister of the Interior
The dentist Herbert Schwalbe (1899–1963) had been living in Tehran for three months when he wrote this letter to the Persian Interior Minister. In a note on his old stationery from Berlin he asked for permission to open a dental office in the Persian capital or in another large city in the country. In his eyes, this was the only way he could build a future for himself and bring his family over from Germany.
Herbert Schwalbe was finding it difficult to endure the separation from his wife, Ilse, and his two children, Reiner and Steffi, whom he had left behind in Berlin when he emigrated in October 1933. Waiting for permission to open a dental practice was wearing him down and gradually depleting his savings. To make matters worse, some of the belongings he had brought with him from Berlin, including dental equipment, had been damaged in transit, which meant battling for compensation from the shippers and insurance company. In addition, he was finding it difficult to learn Persian.
A letter from his wife dated January 1934 reveals her concern about his situation and poor state of mind. At the same time, Ilse Schwalbe urged him to be hopeful: “No doubt a telegram will soon arrive telling you which city you have been assigned to.”
Herbert Schwalbe had to wait a long time before his life returned to normal. When the Interior Ministry proposed the cities of Shiraz and Mashhad as alternatives, Schwalbe chose Mashhad, close to the border to Afghanistan. The thirty-four-year-old settled there in March 1934.
Lea Weik and Jörg Waßmer
Dr. H. Schwalbe
Tehran, 25 December 1933.
Pension: De Trey.
I have the honor of informing you that the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs has authorized me to practice my profession as a dentist in Persia (Authorization No. 28213/13205).
Please permit me to take the liberty of expressing my desire to practice in Tehran. As a German immigrant, I would like my children to receive a solid education in Persia, and I am concerned that, compared to Europe, I may encounter a number of difficulties in this regard in smaller towns.
However, if it is impossible for you to grant me permission to practice in Tehran, may I humbly request that you consider Mashhad or Shiraz?
I have the honor of naming Doctor Hentschen as a reference.
In the hope that Your Excellency will consider these requests, and with assurances of the highest esteem, I remain,
Dr. Herbert Schwalbe
To His Excellency
The Interior Minister,
Ministry of the Interior,