Letter from the Schwimmers to Mrs. Irma Szirmai

November 30, 1945.

Beloved Mrs. Szirmai:

Yesterday a door was opened in the steel wall which had shut Hungary off from contact with the outer world. We are at last permitted to write letters and to send packages to Hungary. Yours is the only address we have; we therefore write this letter to all our beloved Hungarian friends, co-workers of our movement since 1904.

We are overjoyed to know that you dear Mrs. Szirmai and our Doctoressa Steinberger and old friend, Gergely Janka are alive. If we knew their address we would send them today packages (not more than 2 kilograms can be sent in a package) so we are sending off one addressed to Mrs. Irma Szirmai, whom we expect to divide the contents amongst those who need them most. As soon as we have your and other friends’ addresses we will send each of you individual packages. So, please give us all addresses, – and will each of you write what to send you within the small limit of 2 kilograms.

When at the end of April correspondence was permitted with several countries, we sent out letter to many friends whose addresses we had. At that letter we summarized some od the facts you, beloved Hungarian friends, will be interested in, I enclose a copy of that April letter. I also enclose the circular letter I sent around to old friends of our deeply lamented Eugenie Meller and Melanie Vámbéry.

I had many letters from Sweden and also a new book written by Anna Lenah Elgstrom entitled “Women of Today”. In this she devoted a long chapter to me and my past work. The Swedes have always been particularly demonstrative of their unchanged loyalty, and so have individual men and women, past co-workers from different countries. The leaders of the American Feminist and Pacifist movement, however, have absolutely refused to permit me to work and even done everything to prevent other organizations to accept my work. This is not a complaint, and I only mention it to explain my inactivity in public life.

We learned that Uncle Kohlbach died peacefully, in a street-car accident before the Hitler invasion, and that our Aunt Kohlbach escaped the very day of the invasion to Switzerland, where she is living comfortably with her daughter, who is married to a Swiss, a professor of engineering at the Zurich Politechnikum. They have saved many Hungarians by smuggling them over the border into Switzerland, or getting South American passports for them. We are not able to find out what happened to our cousins, Dr. Miranda and Richard Oblath. We understand that their mother (our mother’s youngest sister) died several years ago. They lived in Buda (Fő utca 2.) If any of you can find out whether they are alive we would be very grateful for getting into direct contact with them.

I do not start to enumerate the names of all the men and women in Budapest, and all over the country, about whose fate we would like to hear.

Enclosed the list of the contents of the 2-kilogram package so that you may check up whether anything is missing. I enclose also 3 international stamps for answer-letters. We make a point of noting down the date of delivery of mailing packages and letters and beg you to do the same.

We have today a hurricane-like snow-storm, a shudder to think of all the people lacking heated shelters and warm clothing.

We have assembled things for you, but have to wait until larger packages will be permitted. If the warmth of our love and affection could heat you, you would all be comfortable. Please, every one of you, do take the trouble of writing us fully of yourself, your families and any one whom we know.

Very, very affectionately yours

Rosika and Franciska Schwimmer


Mrs. Szirmai

¼ lb tea

6 oz. prepared coffee

¾ lb cocoa

1 veal loaf

1 tongue

800 saccharine tablets ¼ gr

1 pr. silk stockings

New York Public Library Manuscripts and Archives Division. Rosika Schwimmer Papers, Box 424.

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