Careful Old Letters by Alexandra Weinbaum is a family history based on 169 letters and postcards from Lodz, Warsaw, Grenoble and Paris, before, during and after World War II. Her parents grew up in Lodz, Poland and studied and lived in Grenoble and Paris from 1928 to 1938, when they emigrated to the United States. Following her parents’ deaths, her son discovered the letters, written in Polish, German and French, in a tattered carton box labeled “Careful Old Letters.” The prewar letters provide a vivid picture of life in Paris for Polish émigré students. The wartime letters written in desperate times tell the story of the family’s internment in the Lodz and Warsaw Ghettos and the survival of two family members.
“After her parents’ deaths, Alexandra Weinbaum found a unique collection of her family’s letters that document the love and anguish of a Jewish family trying to survive the horrors of the Holocaust in Lodz, Warsaw, and Paris. Careful Old Letters tells their story, providing useful historical context to situate these powerful letters in the desperate times in which they were written. It’s also the author’s own story, chronicling the complicated feelings as she slowly takes in the hidden story of her family’s resilience and despair.” -Lisa Moses Leff, American University, author of The Archive Thief: The Man Who Salvaged French Jewish History in the Wake of the Holocaust.