Malmesbury, Wednesday, 25 June, 1901

To my dear and precious wife, Taube Kretzmar, and to my dear children, my sons David and Noah, and my daughters Leah and Freda, may they grow up in wealth and comfort. I have just received your letter of the 18th May and I thank God for the good news of your wellbeing, and I on my side can tell you that I am also in good health and spirits. May God grant that this letter should find you in the same condition.


My dearest wife, I am very sorry about the pain you had when you did not receive your letter, although you knew that I had transferred myself and everything I had in Cape Town, and I was here only one week in which I could write. As you know, it is very difficult to move and everything that was on my heart I was glad that you did not know about it, but in the end you found out.


And you have not yet received any letters in time, and I can understand that you are very worried about it. May God in His mercy protect us in future as he did in the past.


I would like to keep the money, because in these days of unrest and tumult everything is uncertain. In Cape Town it was desolate, one did not know where one was in the world. May God have mercy and reward us with good things, now TG it is quiet, no Jew has suffered, all this trouble was with the blacks, the whole town was afraid, I thank God that it is all over now and that things will improve because after the bad times come the good times. and God is good and kind to us all.[i]


Further news I have nothing to write about. At the end of the month we will make up our budget and I will send you some money, as much as possible. It will be easier for me, we now have a horse that transports the bread and carries to whoever needs it, and I can even keep Shabbat, which is one of the most difficult things in Africa. May God grant us prosperity and good health, keep well and in good spirits, with my greetings and kisses, from your true and loving husband, who wishes to be with you and to enjoy everything together, Tuvye Kretzmar


I cordially greet my dear parents, my father and mother, brothers and sisters, mother-in-law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law and all relatives and friends, may you all keep well in Russia, so that you shouldn’t be like a wandering Jew in a strange country, and make good business and be happy, as is the wish of your dear son and son-in-law,Tuvye Kretzmar


Notes:

[i] Tuvye does not want to alarm his wife. What he is not telling her is that the bubonic plague had arrived in Cape Town in February 1901, with the rats in the fodder for the horses of the British soldiers, the epidemic peaking in May with about 33 deaths a week. Jews did suffer - seven died at the Uitvlugt Plague Camp and were buried in the 7th Avenue Cemetery in Maitland. The Government blamed Jews, Africans and Asiatics – the “other”. The African labourers went on strike – the strike was broken but the hostility and fear, especially in District Six remained. About a thousand attended a meeting on the Parade that was broken up by mounted police. 6,000 Africans were forcibly removed to the first “location” in Ndabeni outside town. See Howard Phillips, Plague, Pox and Pandemics, Jacana, Cape Town, 2012; Van Heyningen, Elizabeth, “Cape Town and the Plague of 1901”, In Saunders, Christopher, Phillips, Howard and van Heyningen, Elizabeth, Studies in the History of Cape Town, Vol 4, 1981 and Schrire, Gwynne, “Immigration Restrictions, Plague and the Jews in Cape Town, 1901”, in Jewish Affairs, 63:3 Chanukah 2008.

© Kaplan Centre
Letters courtesy of Phil Kretzmar