Cape Town, 20 March, 1900

To my dearest wife, Taube Kretzmar, Be well and live in happiness, and to my sons David and Noah, and daughters Leah and Freda, may they be well and live in wealth and satisfaction.


My dearest wife, I have today received your letter of the first of February 1900 – it’s the 20th  of March 1900. I was very unsettled, I could not hold in my impatience anymore because of the letter you wrote me on the 12thof January. Since then, until today, I had heard nothing from you – I can tell you how much it costs me in health worrying when there is no letter from you. That is why I was very happy when I received your letter today especially to know that you and the children are well.

But sadly there is not complete happiness as I see that our luck is going against us, dafke,just to make our lives bitter especially when we blame one another. May the Lord have mercy – we have enough suffering and pain until today. We have lost our own money together with ‘Marrow in the bones’ – very intensely - until we fell into debt, into the Gemilut Chesed– the Helping Hand Society – and had to pay interest on the debt, and this came from ‘Shortened Days’. To go to the Helping Hand meant ‘loss of face’ but we had to endure being caught by the coattails and not be able to move forward. It all depends on the money and we need bread. And the fact that we are accusing each other is something that we should wish on our enemies – and further is that husband and wife, the one is separated from one end of the world to the other, the only consolation being that we can still  get letters each from the other And then on top of it, we still have to suffer that the letters don’t arrive on time.


That I should unwillingly accuse you that because you have a cold winter I should think that your love for me is frozen – you, from your side, blame me and there are others who support you. To say I hate my wife and therefore I don’t write letters and send no money. The Lord should have mercy on us that we should not be embittered in such matters, only He knows how true my heart is and how  devoted to you. My only wish is that God should grant us good luck and contentment. From your side, I can tell you that you are a bit hasty although I know that you are very lonely, but nevertheless you must recognise that the letters that you write when you are cross don’t make me happy. Exchange of letters takes time, and in the meantime you are getting regular letters and even money, and when I get one sweet letter from you it is by me ‘yom ze magoobot’ (an honourable day) and then arrives a letter after five weeks – it is written when you are upset and cross – believe me – it does not look nice at all, because you know that I have written more letters to you than you to me. And it cost me a lot of health when I do not receive a letter. Nevertheless, I did not write angrily – I only asked for mercy to settle me down, but for all that I am not offended – I can appreciate your lonely situation. I pray to God and hope that He will grant us better news to write.


At the moment, I have nothing more to write. I have already written to you about my business. Making a living in Africa is not enough, now every little one makes must be enough. May God grant us good business and we should be able to manage up to now. No one forces us to do it unless we want to do it ourselves – next week, I hope to send you another £3. You must surely have received the first £3, PG you should enjoy it with good health and pleasure.


This letter should reach you, I reckon, before Pesach – Erev Pesach – I wish you a good Yomtov and a happy one. I beg of you a thousand times not to be despondent because TG I am well and I am earning money, easier and more than in the bitter days I had before, and I am not suffering anymore from debts and I hope that from now on I will PG be able to pay everything off. The only thing is that our mail is not regular but this will improve so don’t be despondent and as I console myself with the thought that in the wide, wide world everyone is concerned with himself. I have a gentle friend who thinks of me with esteem and who is happy to hear good news from me. On the contrary, you should console yourself that

I am your ever true and trusting husband, who is earnest and devoted Tuvye Kretzmar

© Kaplan Centre
Letters courtesy of Phil Kretzmar