Letter from home

July 10, 2010

It appears that Sybil was the conduit for communication to and from home throughout my father’s captivity.  Of the five postcards he was allowed to send home between February 1942 and August 1945 four were addressed to her.  And she wrote to him frequently at least until March 1945, though it is likely that he did not receive all of her letters.  At the same time, I have found only one letter from his parents.  I have to think that they wrote others, possibly many others,  but it is odd to say the least that none of them have have survived given how much care he took to preserve envelopes.  Even in this one letter, shown above, it is clear that communication was going through Sybil.  Could it be that they simply didn’t write?  My paternal grandparents were not known for their emotional warmth, it must be said, but such reticence seems scarcely possible even by their standards.  And yet what little evidence I have seems to suggest it.

Something else doesn’t add up either.  The letter is dated February 15, 1943 and refers to a card that Sybil had received from my father and shown to them over Christmas.  But my father’s own records indicate that the only postcard he had been permitted to write prior to that time had been sent in July 1942 and in any case had been addressed to his home rather than to Sybil.  His next postcard was not sent until February 22, 1943, a week after this letter is dated.  If this is one small example of what historians do whenever they try to make sense of personal records from the past it’s a wonder any history gets written at all.

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