Letter from Adolf Frankl to his family, 1944

He wrote it in the Slovakian collecting and concentration camp in Sereď. Father’s long-time devoted employee, Ms. Gizela (Gizi) Somogyi, smuggled it out of the camp under life-threatening conditions and gave it to Frankl's wife, Renée, who at that time was in hiding in a bunker in Bratislava.

Sereď, 12 October 1944
My dearest Reninko, Tomile, Erika, dearest father, parents Jancsi, Arpi, Steffy, Lajos and all dear ones!

Tomorrow it is almost two weeks since cruel fate tore me from you. The only thing that gives me strength to carry on is the thoughts of my faithful wife and children.

We arrived here after a long journey. Being here – other than having to work – means being with many other people one knows. The food is good. In the morning coffee with bread, stew (Gulash) or soup at mid-day, and the same in the evening. Additionally, we can buy cigarettes, salami, fruit, etc. We also often have roasted potatoes.

The first big disappointment was seeing those who arrived with the deportations. I never imagined this in my worst dreams. Zsiga* was here. The acquaintances from Mariental* arrived today.

Due to the fact that you are Aryan**, I have had the good fortune to be put in the mixed-marriages group, and have survived three transportations. I urgently need the blanket you sent and hope to get these tomorrow. I am employed in the carpentry shop. I don’t have the “Yellow mixed-marriage legitimization” (identification) paper here with me – perhaps you could send it, or the marriage certificate.

I am very happy to know that you are living with the dear children and ask you to drop me a few lines so that I may see your handwriting. Look after yourself and your health. I am healthy, thank heavens, and hope I will remain so.

The other great disappointment is that from our “Aryanists” of our company, nothing happens. (An Aryanist could be only a non-Jewish person). They don’t seem to realize how grave the situation is. I have been given two pairs of flannel pyjamas, two shirts, one pair of trousers and some other small things. Instead of a blanket, I have a thick bed cover. My coat was stolen. What is Bedrich doing? (the adopted child.)

Ms. Magda (daughter of the Aryanist, Anton Cseh) should expedite things by telegraph, as everything depends on this. They say the transports are going to Vienna? I still have some money, but that is of little importance here.

Dear Reninko, I hope we will stay here. If we should be moved, we will certainly be better off than the others due to our mixed marriage**. I had diarrhoea for the first days here, but am better now and have a good appetite.

13 October
The most important thing would be if we were to have connections*** who could intervene so that we could leave this place by one means or another. Please take care of yourself, because for the love of G’d, I certainly don’t want “cholile” (G’d forbid) you to visit me here.

The days pass quickly. Today, I am working in the upholsterers at Schönfeld. We often laugh, thanks to the good humor of some people. Unfortunately, it's futile, and I've stopped blaming myself for the mistakes I made in thinking I could rely on the old connections. Today we moved to a dry barrack and I was able to shave and have a haircut. My washing is done regularly at the laundry, so you don’t have to worry about that. We had a very good mid-day meal today – steamed yeast pastries (Dampfbuchteln). Due to the “laf-strenuous” work, (it should be understood that the work there was, at that time, not strenuous), I have a large appetite. I eat a lot of fruit, drink little water as it is not good, but instead drink tea, coffee or mineral water from Zobor in Slovakia.

Yesterday in the carpentry shop, we loaded beds onto a carriage. The horses bolted and took me – without the carriage – between the barracks to the main gate, which, however was locked.

The camaraderie is great; we share everything. Rabbi Goldstein and his son arrived. Wife and child have already gone on with the transport. I wrote to our former shop several times but never received an answer or result.

14 October
The family of Hugo, Dudi, and Martha* came alone. I got the blanket.

15 October
Grandmother* arrived. Tomorrow will be a difficult day. I really long for you all but have to suffer this as I was unprepared and never dreamt that such a tragedy would come to pass. We are only pawns in this great game and are at the mercy of fate. I spoke today with Gajduschek and his wife. Because tomorrow will be a difficult day, I must now take leave of you, my dear one, with a heavy heart. However, I really hope that I will be able to stay here. We are still young and I sincerely hope that we will see each other, as the war will not last long.

Greetings, I kiss you a thousand times and my poor heart bleeds with pain; but in spite of everything, I am happy in the knowledge that you have peace and quiet.****

My dear children please forgive me all the mistakes I have made and through which I have to leave you. Be happy, and pray to G’d for your father who always thinks about you and dear mother.

16-19 October
I have remained here and hope that the dear Lord will hear me, and that I will see you once again. Greetings and kisses to everyone. (Father’s signature is illegible)


Explanation by Thomas Frankl. After his homecoming, father told us that he had deliberately written some positive things in the letter about his stay in the camp. He justified this by saying that if the letter had been found on Ms. Gizi Somogyi, no additional hardships would be inflicted on either him or her. Happily, Ms. Somogyi was not searched upon leaving the camp and was therefore, able to be delivered his letter to our mother in her hiding place (a bunker) later on.

* They were members of the Rosenberger family, mother's relatives.

** When we were arrested, we had to march to the railway goods station. There, mother lied to the SS Commandant, Alois Brunner, saying that father was not a Jew and she had come to collect him. Whereupon Brunner answered that, "If he was not, then his parents, grandparents or great-grandparents surely were." He ordered two soldiers to take father to the barracks and to put him on the wagons bound for Sered'. Returning to mother, Brunner asked her what she was still doing here. She answered that both she and her children were Aryan. On the basis of this assertion, he called two guards over and ordered them to lead us out of the station. In Sered' father declared himself a mixed marriage partner. His impulsive lie that mother was not Jewish was found out at the beginning of November. It was because of this that father was deported to Auschwitz.

*** Magda Cseh was the friend of the German, Dieter Wisliceny, who was the commissioner and advisor of Jewish matters in Slovakia.

**** During her visit to Sereď, Mrs. Somogyi told father that his wife and children we were in hiding in different bunkers in Bratislava and had not been deported.