Today I received my first “acceptance letter.” You might be thinking I am talking about a literary agent or a publisher. Sorry, nothing that bold as yet. Today’s letter came from the resident of one of my mother’s addresses during the war.
I am preparing for a trip to The Netherlands to do some research. I wrote a letter to each of the addresses where my mother lived while the Nazis occupied Holland. Her family was forced to move several times as the Nazis took over the nicer neighborhoods and gave the Jews less and less space and freedom.
This is the letter I sent:
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing you to ask you for your help in a research project I am doing. My mother and her family lived at your address during WWII. They lived there just a short time from 16 Sept 1943 – 28 Oct 1943. I am currently writing a book about her childhood during the war and will be coming to Amsterdam in mid-January to do some research.
I have no idea if any of the architecture of the apartment is the same as it was during the war, but if it is, I would love to be able to see the apartment and take some pictures of it. I know this is an odd request from a total stranger, and I apologize for that. You can look me up on my blog at popjeandme.com and you will get a sense of what I am doing. I have also included the Amsterdam family card that is in the archives to show that this address is where my family lived. My mother’s maiden name is Ruth Lichtenstern and her parents were Heinz and Margret Lichtenstern.
I would be happy to meet with you and tell you a little about the German-Jewish family that once lived in your house and how they survived the war.
And here is the e-mail I woke up to this morning!
We received your letter with your request to visit our apartment in Amsterdam (Afrikanerplein). What an interesting request to receive! Of course, you are welcome to come have a look at our place.
I have been living in this apartment for eight years now. Four years ago my boyfriend joined me. Unfortunately I couldn’t tell you if it looks much like it did during the war. I can ask my landlords if they have any information about that. The layout of the rooms is more or less the same as on the other floors in my building, so I can imagine it hasn’t changed much.
I am finding that the Dutch people are incredibly friendly and accommodating, and luckily, they are completely proficient at English.