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Title: 'Nothing but letters' Ruth Loew and Taddy Rechtmand and their Jewish Families 1933-1946.
Author: Paisner, Judith Meira
ISNI:       0000 0004 5360 0333
Awarding Body: University of Buckingham
Current Institution: University of Buckingham
Date of Award: 2014
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'Nothing But Letters' are the words used by my paternal grandparents to describe what had remained of their family following its dispersal in the years after the Nazi accession to power in Germany in 1933. The letters became a substitute for what was previously a close family unit. Almost eighty years later, these letters are the primary source material used in this thesis to reconstruct the lives of my parents, Ruth Loew and Taddy Rechtman together with their families. The existence of some 1,500 letters, from members of two families and friends, which had been preserved and which had survived for so many years is itself quite unusual. The correspondence and, in consequence this narrative, is restricted to the years leading up to, and encompassing, the Second World War and its immediate aftermath. As the subtitle indicates this work is a family memoir. It is a thesis in Biography, not a historical monograph. The narrative is anchored around my parents, usually the recipients, but sometimes the authors of the letters. Nevertheless, it is a group biography as it tells their story as well as that of their parents and siblings. It is, however, a story not unlike that of many families who lived through similar historical events and who were affected by circumstances beyond their control. My work is based primarily on letters and documents which were kept mainly by my mother. Other letters, family papers and information came from my father, two surviving aunts and some of my cousins. I also found more letters in two of the archives I visited and there are numerous photographs, now in my possession. Of the twelve protagonists in this narrative only four, my parents and two aunts, were still alive when I started my work and I was able to write clown some of their memories. Sadly all have since died. Most of the letters were written in German, often interspersed with Hebrew words. Some were written in Italian, English or Hebrew. While most of the material consisted of family correspondence, a great number of letters were from friends. All these I had to collect, sort and translate, often with the help of a professional translator, and all the material had to be collated. Personal recollections, as well as collective family memories, had to be verified with information gleaned from the correspondence. The letters often presented a different version of events to recollections based on long memory.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available