A Love Story Hidden in 20th Century Drama

 

Hitler's rise finds Polish youngsters Moses Waldmann and Natalia Haber living in Germany's capital and biggest city.

Berlin was a major magnet for Jews seeking to escape the traditional religious (and for many, oppressing) lifestyle in the shtetls and medium size cities of Eastern Europe and engage in contemporary global community.

 

The passage from 1932 to 1933 found Moses and Natalia living their conventional Jewish middle class lifestyle among their families and friends. Natalia - or Netty as she was called by the closer ones - was fond of dancing and outdoor sports, while Moses, aka Martin, took part in the then widespread Zionist movement and was absorbed mostly by books.

With the following rise of the Nazis, fear and uncertainty spread thru Jewish communities all over Germany. But the new regime’s real threats were still unclear by then, and not all Jews felt the same sense of urgency. Moses, a jew from Wielkie Oczy - a shtetl in Polish Galicia, near the border with Ukraine - thought he had no choice but to flee, to avoid deportation to Poland… or worst. His fiancé Natalia - a proud Berliner though born in Krakow - preferred to remain in Berlin, a city she loved, where life was comfortable and pleasant, and where she had a job she was proud of.

In early May, 1933, Moses embarked on the steamship Eubee, in Hamburg, after vows of love and the promise to send letters to his beloved Natalia as often as possible. Moses hoped to persuade her to join him in a new, safer life in the tropical shores of Brazil. Though the letters reveal the clear path of Martin's plans and sentiments, it's impossible to know exactly what went thru Netty's mind during the months to come.

By Eitan Rosenthal