Lunchtime Exhibition Talk: A Letter from Danzig: Understanding Jewish Family Correspondence from the First World War

Monday 24th April 2023.

Image courtesy of George Fogelson

This event is organised as part of the Holocaust Letters exhibition events series.

Letters provide insight into their writers, but how much can we learn about them from one letter?

This talk examines a Jewish nurse’s letter to her brother from the opening months of the First World War. The letter is replete with allusions to the unfolding military situation on the Eastern Front, but it also offers a glimpse into her own journey of self-discovery – a newly trained nurse, a woman who has realised that she ‘likes working’.

The talk will also focus on the challenges of reading correspondence written in archaic German in a near-indecipherable script. How much meaning can we truly recover from textual artefacts that were intended for somebody who knew their author far better than we do?


Joseph Cronin is Lecturer in Modern German History at Queen Mary University of London. He specialises in modern German, Jewish and East European history and is currently writing a book about Jews in the Free City of Danzig (1920–39).

Book here (Tickets available from Wednesday 1st March)