In Search of Parents' Fate:

Rita Rimalower's Postcards from Glasgow 1940-1942

 

Rita Berwald (née Rimalower-Nettler) was born in Leipzig, Germany in February 1924 to Febus and Marie Rimalower.  She left on a Kindertransport to England and arrived at Liverpool Street Station in London in March 1939. Rita was taken in by the Nettler family in Glasgow, Scotland and spent the war years in the United Kingdom.  Throughout those years Rita longed for news of her family and their survival.

Between July 1940 and April 1942, she sent approximately 40 postcards to her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Eskenasi, who lived in Zurich, Switzerland. Each postcard was addressed to her parents in the hope that her uncle and aunt would be able to reach them. She needed to let her parents know that she thought and worried about them daily. Rita hoped to hear from her uncle and aunt that her father and mother had found safety. Lastly, she wanted them to know that she and her brother, Wolfgang, were safe and well. These postcards are filled with expressions of hope, yearning, and anticipation of reuniting with her parents. They also indicate the isolation felt by Rita and many other Kindertransport children as they were so far from everything and everyone they knew.

The six postcards displayed here tell a painful, heartbreaking story of separation and loss.  After April of 1942, Rita never heard from her parents again. With extensive research, it has been learned that Rita’s parents were last documented in Krakow and likely perished in the Rzeszow ghetto in Poland in or after 1942. Her mother and father were officially declared deceased on December 31, 1945.

In not archival, but rather in psychological terms, we may define Rita Rimalower’s narratives as an expression of sensitivity and as her deep attachment to the world of her childhood personified by her parents. She was one of those individuals for whom material well-being and personal comfort was meaningless without her parents and her childhood home.

Charles Apfelbaum, a dealer in rare books and collections, purchased these postcards at an auction. Among other personal correspondence, Apfelbaum donated the collection to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in August of 1992. 

Michele Gold, the daughter of Rita Rimalower, is a board member and an active docent here at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. Michele is energetically involved in sharing her mother’s story through Rita’s postcards and is currently researching the fate of her grandparents.

Postcards on exhibit courtesy of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Michele and Larry Gold