Postcards from the Ghetto preserved

Written by: Jewish Historical Institute
Specialists from the Conservation Department of the JHI completed works on preserving 45 postcards sent from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Specialists form the Conservation Department of the Jewish Historical Institute completed works on preserving of the collection of postcards sent from the Warsaw Ghetto.

The collection consisting of 45 postcards (including 13 documents and 2 envelopes) was donated to the JHI on 3rd November 2015 by professor Anita Prażmowska, historian from the London School of Economics. 

- This is my will that the postcards sent from the Warsaw Ghetto become property of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland and be deposited in the Jewish Historical Institute. These postcards are unique testimony of the past and show us where a distorted perception of ideology can lead us to. The act of handing over this collection has a very significant personal meaning for me as I knew people to whom it had belonged — said professor Anita Prażmowska during the ceremony at the JHI.

As the condition of the postcards and documents was relatively good conservation works were limited to clearing, glueing of the rips and flattening of the cards.

- We tried to tamper as little as possible with the original historic substance  — explains Violetta Bachur, Head of the Conservation Department of the Jewish Historical Institute. — After completing our work the cards were secured in polyester jackets and placed in acid free boxes.

Then the collection was deposited in the JHI Archive.




Professor Anita Prażmowska took possession of the post cards after Tamara Deutscher, to whom most of them were addressed, passed away. 

This correspondence paints a horrifying picture of life in the ghetto, the constant hunger (“I received two packages of sardines (two cans in each) for which I am eternally grateful”) and cold (“…could we possibly get some clothes? Some warm underwear, stockings and a warm blouse or sweater.”)

Letters sent from occupied Warsaw were heavily censored. When the Germans began the mass transportation of Jews from Warsaw to Treblinka, one of the postcards, written in Polish and sent from the “Aryan side”, contains a hidden message concerning “fighting for survival — as we did hundreds of years ago”, the location of the Jews during Grossaktion Warsaw is signaled by the enigmatic sentence “We live under the idea of »returning to nature«”. 

Tamara Deutscher, a Jewish woman from Łódź, left Poland shortly after the start of the war. When her family was imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto she lived in London. The only channel of communication was the Polish diplomatic post in Lisbon, where Stefan Rogasiński, Tamara’s friend, worked. He sent to Warsaw the packages often mentioned in the correspondence (relating in his letters to Tamara what goods he sent to her starving parents), he passed on the postcards from the ghetto to the United Kingdom which was at war with Germany. 


Where can the postacard be watched

Although the postcards were stored in safe JHI Archive it doesn’t mean they are unavailable for those interested in them. They can be watched online via Central Jewish Library.

Jewish Historical Institute