Shoah-era postcards delivered to writer’s descendants, 75 years later

The postcards were never received by their intended recipients – most of whom died in the Nazi genocide.

Shoah-era postcards delivered to writer’s descendants, May, 2018. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Shoah-era postcards delivered to writer’s descendants, May, 2018.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Two postcards sent some 75 years ago by a man to his family in Hungary amid the flames of the Holocaust were finally delivered this week to his descendants in Jerusalem.
The postcards sent from occupied Poland, which were never received by their intended recipients – most of whom died in the Nazi genocide – illustrate the intense emotions of those caught up in the horrors of the Holocaust.
In 1942 and 1943, Meilech (Ignatz) Grunfeld, a Jewish man from Hungary who was trying to help save his brethren from the Nazis, sent several postcards to his family back home in the town of Satmar.
As the massacres and deportations gathered pace, Grunfeld became increasingly anxious, asking in one last postcard for his family to help him flee the country.
The postcard, sent to his wife’s brother Lazar Weiser, never made it to his family. Grunfeld himself was shot dead in or around the Bochnia Ghetto in southern Poland, two months after he sent his call for help.
Grunfeld’s wife and three of his children were also murdered during the Holocaust, as was Lazar along with his children and grandchildren who were deported to Auschwitz in May 1944. Just one of Grunfeld’s children, Bruchie, survived along with only one of Lazar’s children, a son who went to the US before the war, and his son Sigmund Weiser who survived Aushwitz and the death marches.
Then, in 2008, a stamp collector from New Zealand by the name of Bruce Chadderton – who specializes in Holocaust-era correspondence – made contact with Sigmund, having seen his request for information as to the fate of his aunt during the Holocaust in the Yad Vashem online database.
Chadderton said that he did not have information about Sigmund’s aunt, but that he did have one of the postcards sent by Grunfeld to Sigmund’s grandfather Lazar Weiser. He sent scans by email to Sigmund.
In the postcard, Grunfeld writes to his wife – “My beloved Tini” – and to his children, telling them that he is healthy but “begs” them to quickly assist him in getting permission to leave occupied Poland.
The Weiser family gave Chadderton permission to keep the postcard to exhibit in his collection, but this week he came to Jerusalem for the 2018 World Stamp Championship, currently being held in the capital.
On Tuesday, Chadderton was finally able to show the postcard to Sigmund. At the same time, he presented him with a second postcard, written by Grunfeld in November 1942 to his wife and children, which he had also obtained.
Chadderton said that he had been quite emotional to meet Sigmund, and also shed a tear during the meeting, adding that he was the first Holocaust survivor he had met in person.
He explained that he began to specialize in the field of Holocaust-era correspondence after he learned in 1999 that the school his daughter attended was holding a debate about whether the Holocaust had really happened and if indeed six million Jews had been murdered.
Chadderton said that an affinity for the writings of Leon Uris had had a deep impact on him, and the topic of the debate therefore upset him and led him to try to find physical evidence and proof concerning the victims of the Nazi genocide.
He went onto eBay to try to locate such items, and soon found a wealth of artifacts such as books, letters, postcards, and other documents.
Marilyn Adler, a daughter of Sigmund, said that when she, her sisters and her father saw the postcards, their eyes welled up with tears, and that they had been incredibly moved by these historical family documents.
“This postcard with their handwriting is like going into the past – like going back to the horrors of what they endured,” Marilyn told The Jerusalem Post.
“How sad it is that these people’s lives were taken from them and everything was destroyed. To have the postcard is very poignant, especially because [Grunfeld] was asking for help to get out because he knew his life was in danger.”
She said that her father, Sigmund, had said he felt pain reading the words of his great-uncle Meilech Grunfeld pleading for help, but was comforted by the fact that despite that, Grunfeld and Lazar had numerous descendants, many of whom live in the Jewish state – including grandchildren and great-grandchildren who have served in the IDF in order to keep Israel strong and secure.•