- Portfolio -
"Thanks so much for your package, which I was eagerly awaiting. I am particularly pleased with the cap."
Below are selections from my English translations of German texts, many from the early- to mid-20th century and relating to Jewish emigration from Europe.
All source documents and translation samples are used with permission.
Editing help from Penina Scher, Nina Warnke, and others.
Portfolio Collection: Joyce Bloom’s family letters
Text: Handwritten letters and postcards between present-day Ukraine, the present-day Czech Republic, and Brooklyn, New York, among other places. Written in German and Germanized Yiddish. Translated in collaboration with Dr. Nina Warnke, Yiddish-English translator.
Written in years: 1915-1923
Date of translation: 2021
In researching her family history and genealogy, Joyce Bloom of New York, NY, uncovered many touching moments and situations from over 100 years ago, when her grandfather, Isak Hellreich/Holreich, moved to Brooklyn from Toky, in present-day Ukraine, and corresponded with his loving sisters and parents back home. Displaced by World War I, the Hellreichs found themselves in Brno in much reduced circumstances, where they scraped a living together from low-paying work and money that Isak sent from Brooklyn. Years later, when they returned to Toky, their home had been destroyed completely.
Despite speaking Yiddish at home, the Hellreichs often had to write to Isak in German during WWI so that the censors would allow their letters through. This meant that Isak’s mother, Hinde, found herself cut off from writing to her son, as she only wrote Yiddish. Elias, Isak’s father, wrote diligently and often wrote the same letter multiple times so that at least one version would get through. Isak’s sisters also wrote letter after letter, expressing their love and the hope that they would be reunited.
Translating letters written in a combination of German and Germanized Yiddish requires extensive assistance from a Yiddish-English translator. Dr. Nina Warnke provided crucial assistance and expertise on this project. On first glance, some German speakers may have mistaken these letters for ‘poorly written’ German, but Yiddish speakers recognize that they are full of ‘correct’ Yiddish. It has been an honor to get to know this family a century later through their letters.
Handwritten Diary: Manila, Philippines, 1944-45
Text: Diary handwritten in old German script by F. Lange, from Manila, Philippines, 1944-45, covering the weeks leading up to and including the Battle of Manila, February-March 1945
Purpose: For grandson Carl Carlsen and family
Date of translation: October 2020
Mr. Carlsen writes:
My mother's family was among the 1300 Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany accepted by the Philippines before the start of World War II. There are two films and a book about this historic community and my family's part in it is covered in my collection of family Holocaust Diaspora testimonies, available online at the website of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. I have had my grandfather's nineteen-page diary, written in German, for many years and have only now had the opportunity to have it translated in order to read it in English. The events described by my grandfather begin with the American bombing of Manila and include the bloody and chaotic Battle of Manila, which drove the Japanese away and allowed Gen. MacArthur to make good on his promise to return. The diary shows the impact this warfare had on the individuals in my family and thus adds an important and hitherto unknown dimension to my understanding of the history of my family in the Philippines.
Growing up, nobody in my family spoke much about the horror and suffering of war. I was born in 1950, so all of this wasn't that long ago for them. Nobody mentioned my grandmother's emergency surgery and convalescence during the ongoing battle for Manila or the family's frightening escape from fires and falling bombs as thousands of people fled for their lives on foot. Looking back, I think I was being protected from the world's grim realities, something not uncommon among Holocaust and war survivors.
By the way, this translation revealed the true degree of my Uncle Max's heroism, and in a larger sense, reading the diary's details brought my people alive again in a completely new way.
Manila, Philippines, 1945.
Diary of F. Lange.
Excerpts from German original (click to view full images in larger window):
Manila, Philippines, 1945.
Diary of F. Lange.
English translation excerpts for the diary above (click to view full images in larger window):
Portfolio Collection: Correspondence and documents for
Dr. Shulamit Reinharz's forthcoming book.
Texts: German-language letters, first-hand accounts, certificates, and affidavits from the 1930s and 1940s, written or received by the late Max Rothschild. The letters were written in the Netherlands, Germany, Palestine/Israel, and Massachusetts.
Purpose: To aid a research scholar
Date of translation: 2018-2020
Born in Gunzenhausen, Germany in 1921, Max Rothschild fled to the Netherlands after Kristallnacht and his subsequent imprisonment in the Buchenwald concentration camp. After the German invasion of Holland, Max Rothschild became an underdoiker (Dutch, person in hiding). After the Allied liberation of Holland, he married Ilse Strauß. In 1947, after enduring the US Consul's unsympathetic bureaucratic procedures, the couple reunited with Max's parents and sisters in Malden, Massachusetts. With the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, Max and Ilse moved there for one year. The couple were two of the very few Dutch Jews to survive. The Netherlands had the worst Jewish survival rate in Western Europe.
Many thanks to Dr. Shulamit Reinharz, Professor Emerita, Brandeis University, for granting me permission to include her family's letters in my portfolio. Her father's memoir, written in English, and the 125 German letters that I translated are the basis for her forthcoming book. To learn more about her work, contact her at email@example.com.
Mainz, Germany. July 29, 1937.
Max Rothschild, age 16, to his family in Munich.
German original (with a little Hebrew):
Borne, The Netherlands. September 22, 1940.
Max Rothschild, age 19, writing to his family:
German original (excerpt):
English translation (excerpt):
Munich, Germany. April 10, 1941.
Affidavit for Max Rothschild from Josef Schaeler.
Portfolio Collection: Correspondence related to Dr. Norbert Jokl (1877-1942), Austrian Jewish Albanologist and Oberstaatsbibliothekar [Senior National Librarian]
Texts: Official correspondence among professionals and Nazi Party officials relating to Dr. Norbert Jokl's removal from his research position at the University of Vienna and his deportation and death in 1942
Purpose: To aid a private client
Date of translation: 2018
Dr. Norbert Jokl (1877-1942) was a prominent Austrian Jewish scholar of the Albanian language who worked at the University of Vienna and the Vienna University Library. He was removed from his position and forced into retirement in 1938. His attempts to relocate himself and his Albanology library to Albania were futile, and he was interned in the concentration camp Maly Trostinec, near Vienna, in the spring of 1942. It is not certain whether he was killed or committed suicide.
[Image of German source document to come]
[Image of translation to come]