Appreciations Homepage Adam Ulam's Memoir
Book Reviews Lwów and America Letters from Lwów, Part I
Articles About Stanislaw Ulam Letters from Lwów, Part II

Anxiously from Lwów: Family Letters to Stanislaw M. Ulam
Part I

1936 Letters 1937 Letters 1938 and Beyond

From: Stanislaw M. Ulam, Adventures of a Mathematician (Berkeley, U. C. Press, 1991):

      "At twenty-five, I had established some results in measure theory, which soon became well-known [internationally]. these solved certain set theoretical problems attacked earlier by Hausdorff, Banach, Kuratowski, and others . . . . I was also working in topology, group theory and probability theory.
      "In 1934, the international situation was becoming ominous. Hitler had come to power in Germany. His influence was felt indirectly in Poland. There were increasing displays of inflamed nationalism, extreme rightist outbreaks and anti-Semitic demonstrations.       "I did not consciously recognize these portents of things to come, but felt vaguely that if I was going to earn a living by myself and not continue indefinitely to be supported by my father, I must go abroad . . . .
      "Early in 1935, I returned from [a visit to Cambridge, England] to Poland. It was now time to think seriously about a university career, although those were difficult times to find even a modest 'docent' position. A series of accidental letters was to change this; in one of them, from John von Neumann, then a young professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, I received an invitation to visit the United States [to gived a series of lectures]. . . .One of the luckiest accidents of my life happened the day G[eorge] D. Birkhoff came to tea at von Neumann's house while I was visiting there. . . . He seemed to have heard about me from his son Garrett, whom I had met in Warsaw. We talked and, after some discussion of mathematical problems, he turned to me and said, 'There is an organization at Harvard called the Society of Fellows. It has a vacancy. . . .There is about one chance in four that if you were interested and applied, you might receive this appointment.' . . .A month later, in April of 1936, I received an invitation to give a talk there, followed by a dinner at the Society of Fellows. . . .[A few weeks later] I found a letter which gladdened me no end. It was from the Secretary of the Harvard Corporation signed in the English manner 'Your Obedient Servant.' . . .It was a nomination to the position of Junior Fellow to begin the following autumn and to last for three years . . . . The conditions were extremely attractive: fifteen hundred dollars a year plus free board and room . . . . I those days it seemed a royal offer . . . .
      "With this in my pocket, I happily began preparations to return to Poland for the summer."

      Meanwhile, in Lwów, the family, although happy at this glowing opportunity for their son, the apple of their eye, can hardly bear to let him go off to a strange land far across the ocean. There survive only the family letters to him that he kept and later left to the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. Those from him were probably kept and read and passed from one family member to another. They were lost in the chaos following the German invasion of Poland and their entry into Lwów in 1941.
      The principal family participants in the letters consisted of Stan's father (Józef), mother (Anna, also Hania), sister Stefania (Stefa), younger brother Adam (Adas), his uncle Szymon (Szymon or Szymek) and his cousin Andrzej.
      On this site there are pictures of all of these except Stefa, of whom no photos have survived.
      Stan's mother died in 1938; the letters written by Józef, Adas and Stefa continue until 1939, when Adam, late in August, left for America with his brother, aboard the M/S Batory, the last ocean liner to leave Poland before the German invasion on September 1.
      After that, the letters continue but written by Józef, Stefa and Uncle Szymon. They stop abruptly in 1941.
      There is a coda of three letters: two from cousin Julek (Uncle Szymon's son) in 1945, and one, in 2000, from a cousin living in Italy.



Andrzej§1, Mamusia§2, and Lonia§3 to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 14 March 1936.

We are sitting in the Café Riz and reminiscing about you. I would rather be sitting, instead of here, in the West, even where you are now. But to accomplish that one needs "ein racher Tatelchen" or, a rich uncle§4.

Yesterday I sent a letter, today a card, so you can't complain. Please write diligently! Nothing new and interesting here.
Kisses to you.

Cordial greetings to you Loni §5

§1 Andrzej Ulam, a cousin (the son of Jakób Ulam and Salomea née Philipp). Andrzej ran the family bank in Lwów.
§2 Anna (Hania) Ulam, née Auerbach.
§3 Lonia Ulam, née Caro, an aunt. Lonia was a diminutive for Apolonia, Leontyna, Leona, or Leonarda.
§4 Yiddish.
§5 Loni was another diminutive used by Lonia Ulam.

A postcard from five Polish mathematicians from a mathematical congress in Oslo, Norway, to JWP §1
Dr. Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 15 July 1936

People from all parts of the world have been asking about you. The program of the congress includes a visit to the local "Moulin Rouge" and the beach.
Take care, Edward S. §2
Alas, I lack time (or wit) to affix anything but my signature:
Tadz. H.[erman] Auerbach §3

Tomorrow we shall be rowing!
J. Procki §4       Witold Hurewicz §5

§1 "Jasnie Wielmozny Pan" - His Serene Lordship, an extremely formal salutation, usually reserved for the nobility or persons very revered. Here it was obviously used in jest.
§2 Unknown.
§3 Illegible.
§4 An accomplished Polish-Jewish mathematician from Lwów.
§5 A renowned Polish topologist.

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam
Lwów, 30 September 1936
Mój kochany!§1
So far we have received from you -- aside from the telegram -- a letter and two cards from beyond the ocean. We have sent you a letter and a card (from Mommy). Nothing special here. It is monotonous and the same. We are all well. In October I intend to travel somewhere but not before the eighth because on that day Blass will take his exam, and I will have to watch the office because we can't afford anything else. The winter is coming. We have read about the elections over there [in the US]. There were short articles in the Polish press about the [Tricentennial] celebration at [Harvard] University, and in the Kurier Ilustrowany§2 there were pictures of the buildings of your university. How do you feel over there? Have you made any friends already? Is the food good? Is life pleasant? Be careful about the car! We read about all those accidents.
Greetings §3

§1 My Beloved. There are many salutations in Polish, depending on the level of intimacy one wants to display.
§2 Published in Kraków, Ilustrowany Kurier Codzienny was one of the most influential Polish papers, centrist and pro-government.
§3 No signature.

Dr. Józef Ulam and Anna [Hania] Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 7 October 1936 §1

Mój kochany!
Today I have received your card number two of the 22nd of this month. I shall send the books to you tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. You write so little. Your mommy would like to be informed about everything. I shall now allow Mommy to speak.
Greetings §2

Mój kochany,
I am happy you are well over there. Watch out for your health. Have you received a letter and two cards from us! Write precisely about everything. Andrzej sent us a beautiful large picture of you, where you stand with a rifle next to the car. This is a very good photograph that he wants to send to you in Boston, but I will send it instead. The books will be sent as well. What do you eat there? Probably a lot of vegetables: but have neither liquor nor fish!! There is nothing interesting nor good here in Europe. Write frequently and a lot!! You promised not to ride around in the car! Do not take any purging medication on your own!
Kisses, Mamusia

§1 Almost every letter was signed Daddy (Tatus) and Mommy (Mamusia, or mama): Dr. and Mrs. Ulam. The Ulams lived in Lwów on Kosciuszki Street 16.
§2 No signature. The handwriting of Dr. Józef Ulam.

Top of this Page

Tatus and Mamusia to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 12 October 1936

Mój kochany!
I do not want to harangue you but you should be thrifty. Put your money into the bank and remember to save money just in case. Devote yourself to science when you are young and you will not regret being creative. Postpone fun for later and do not hot-rod in your car. Remember you are not allowed to fly. Here all is as always. Szymon's address: Zamojskiego 3, and Michal's: Zyblikiewicza 27.

Greetings §1

Mój kochany!
I would like to thank you especially for the last postcard that made me incredibly rejoice because it influences positively one's disposition to know that you are doing fine financially. Now you only have to watch out for your health. Do not drink any liquor. Do not stay up late. You must be very careful at this time of the year §2 and wear warm clothes. Do not push with trips to New York. Andrzej rented a five room apartment and has been setting himself up like a serious citizen. §3 What are your living conditions there like? Do you have fruit, cakes, and crystal at your apartment? How is your stomach [?] Remember do not take purging pills on your own §4 because it is dangerous. Take only natural [medicine]. Eat neither fish nor certain vegetables. How are your lungs, please be careful!!! Nothing new here. As you most likely know, that engineer § 5 Baran has been hired at Papa's factory in Czestochowa with the Kuchers. New elections are to take place to the Kahal § 6 which made Goldberg §7 very worried and the entire [political] club of Michal as well. § 8 H. Bloss § 9 has passed the bar exam. Otherwise there is nothing interesting. Things are rather shabby. §10 Write a postcard to Janowska Street and to Rywka. § 11
My kisses to you


My dear! Remember do not drive around!!! Do not drive anywhere in a car!!!

§ 1 The handwriting of Dr. Józef Ulam.
§ 2 Emphasis in the original.
§ 3 "powazny obywatel". The literal meaning of the phrase was "a serious citizen". However, the old-fashioned meaning of "citizen" denoted a member of the landed nobility, or -- in a broader sense -- a member of the elite (e.g. one who comes from the citizenry -- "on jest z obywatelstwa" --implying that one had rights).
§ 4 i.e. without consulting a physician.
§ 5 In Poland it was customary to include professional titles before names. Hence, a person with a degree in engineering was "Mr. Engineer X" (Pan Inzynier), if talking to that person directly, and simply Engineer, if writing about that person. Incidently, an engine driver, or locomotive engineer, would be Machine Operator (Masynista) and his lowly status did not require the formal "Mr."
§ 6 A Jewish community council.
§ 7 Probably Izio (Izydor) Goldberg, Andrzej's mother's second husband.
§ 8 Michal Ulam served on the Lwów kahal. He was a Zionist, most likely a liberal centrist (General Zionist).
§ 9 A clerk at the Ulam law office
§ 10 "Wszedzie bryndza" - a slang expression denoting the lack of prosperity.
§ 11 Illegible.

Tatus and Mamusia to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 19 October 1936

We received your letter with two photographs. We are surprised that you received our letter but not a large number of cards. We write you diligently. We are well. No changes here. Write us precisely about your life patterns. What does one do during the day and then at night? What do you lecture about and what theories have you worked out?

So far we have sent you three letters and four cards. Your photograph is very good. I shall write you a letter tomorrow.

Michal Ulam, Szymon Ulam, and Zach to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 25 October 1936

Greetings from the Club. Greetings.
Take care

I have confiscated your photograph; send a few more für die Familie. § 1 Cordial hugs to you and I shall see you in April in America.

Taking advantage of this nice occasion, I'm greeting you cordially, beloved Sir. § 2
Zach § 3
My address is 3 Zamoyski Street.

§ 1 Ger. For the family
§ 2 Kochany Pan was yet another intimate honorific, signifying that the author was a close colleague.
§ 3 Illegible.

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 28 October 1936

The letter of the 17th of this month has arrived here. We shall subscribe for you to Chwila § 1 tomorrow. The only mathematicians who come to [Café] Roma during dinner time are [Herman] Auerbach and [Stanislaw] Mazur. The former received a book from us about American polytechnical universities. As far as sending you books is concerned, we were informed at the post office that the price of sending one hard bound volume is 2 zloty. Is it worth sending them then? Nothing new here. We are well. Mommy wrote a letter to you yesterday and set you a photograph. Adas § 2 told me to greet you but does not want to write anything in.

§ 1 A liberal Jewish paper of a centrist Zionist slant. § 2 Adam.

Tatus, Stefa, and Adas, to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 3 November 1936

Today we received the letter of October 20th and your card. Again there is nothing about the conditions over there. There are elections there today. It seems that there is no doubt about the outcome. Mom is well. Michal will be travelling on December 18 on the Normandie [to the US].

I am passing on to you the greetings from Stefa Lelatten. Nothing new here.


Mamusia to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 5 November 1936

Mój kochany!
I am sure that you have already been getting Chwila everyday, and therefore you know how things are in Poland. The subscription is 10 zloty. As far as the shipment of books is concerned, I have written to you already that it costs 2 zloty per book. If you want any, please write! On December 18 Michal and his family will go to American on the Normandie. I have already written to you about the possibility of a relationship § 1 between Marysia [Ulam] and young Hearst, whose father is a millionaire. But Michal is not too happy about that because the young [Hearst] is in the process of divorcing his wife. I am advising you therefore not to associate with them too much because under the circumstances it is not appropriate!!! In America they must be happy because of Roosevelt's victory. You have been so sparse in your writing. You know very well that, while one is far away, one would like to know everything, including even how things are with you at the university. Do you lecture often? Are they happy with you? Do you work gladly? What kind of company do you keep? Etc. What about your coat? The coat you have is absolutely too light for the winter. Do you have any money to buy yourself a new one? Nothing new here. In [Café] "Roma" as usual there are many old Jewesses. Very few mathematicians come by. Once Auerbach asked daddy whether there was any news from you because he had not received any.
My kissses to you
Write immediately!

§ 1 Mrs. Ulam wrote: "o tej partii Marysi z modym Hearstem," which can even denote a possibility of marriage.

Stefa, Adas and Józef Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 15 November 1936

Kochany Staszku,
I went on a trip to Warsaw recently and wanted to write you while there but I did not have your address. I went to Warsaw because of the national holiday - November 11. § 1 The excitement was great, especially at Adria, § 2 where I went dancing. It was overflowing with people. Nothing new in Lwów. Since you've asked what to send from America, you can send me a nice vest.

I wrote in my last letter about the possibility of sending me an American periodical. Currently, I would like to add that the American Mercury is no longer published but one can acquire old issues which, as Isakowicz says, are very interesting. Things are as always in Lwów.

Your wish to have Stefa and Adas write to you has been fulfilled. As far as Stefa's wish is concerned, I do not know if it is worth it because the customs duty may be higher than the cost of the item. Nothing new here. The University and the Polytechnic will stay closed until Christmas holidays. Same in Warsaw. As far as the mathematicians who come to [Café] Roma, there is Strick - always playing chess - and once Auerb.[ach] and Mazur, the latter two less frequently. Otherwise life here is monotonous. A temporary change took place at home because we converted our bedroom into a room for Stefa, and the furniture from that last room we moved to the former bedroom which, as a connecting room, could not be used for that purpose anymore. Stefa sleeps in your room and Adas in the dining room. Of course, when you come for the holidays, your room still will be here and it will be at your disposal. We have not sent any books [to you] because the cost of sending every hard-bound book is 2 zloty. Perhaps Michal will take them when he goes. And if you absolutely need any, of course we will send it by mail. Have you met anyone in Boston? Is life pleasant in that town, pleasant? Andrzej threatens that he may go to American in the spring. Same Szymek. I have read that all sorts of stock went up there. I fear however that a crash will come any day. Here all is suspended because of the uncertainty about the future. § 3
Greetings § 4

Greetings and kisses to you

§ 1 The Independence Day of Poland.
§ 2 Warsaw's most posh nightclub, frequented by the elite, including many dashing high-ranking military officers.
§ 3 This is a reference to the economic and political situation in Poland.
§ 4 No signature.

Top of this Page

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 29 November 1936

Mój kochany,
Your last card bore the date of November 6; thus I am concerned for lack of news. All is well with us. Am I to continue the subscription to Chwila: after all, the issue certainly arrives rather late and is out-of-date?

Cordial greetings,

Michal is leaving for over there on December 18.

Andrzej to Stanislaw Ulam,
3 December 1936

Please forgive me for being so rude and not answering your cards for such a long time. As an excuse I can only tell you that outside of the office my mind was preoccupied with locating an apartment for myself. It is in our building on the third floor, and it consists of three rooms and a bathroom. I had to renovate everything completely to make anything out of it because it was a complete wreck before. At the moment everything is ready, and I expect to be moving in within a few days. Things have never been so boring in Lwów as they are at the moment. Rapsówna § 1 left for Bielsk two months ago, and some say that she got married, while others that she received a little book. § 2 I think the first hypothesis seems more probable, although a combination of both cannot be excluded. Gewursówna became a model fiancée. As far as the male youth is concerned, Mr. Rechter (the hunchback) and Mr. Zimand got engaged. Good for them! § 3 I have no idea to whom. Besides, things are getting harder with the babes all the time. § 4 Seasonal trips to Vienna start from the New Year's, and only then will I be fine again. The more Lwów stinks, § 5 the more wonderful New York appears. I have constantly been thinking about my trip to America in April, and I am asking you to spend your vacation with me in Havana. How are the affairs of your heart? Are you in love? Sometime ago I met Mrs. Buimska in Warsaw. This is the lady with whose boss and that professor from Warsaw we went to the theatre to see "May Wine." She told me that the beautiful Mrs. Zadroga is in Warsaw. I was there only for one day, and therefore I could not see those ladies in the evening. Look for pretty girls for yourself and for me for our trip to Havana! Do you have a car? How are things at the university? I read Esquire all the time, and these are my only nice moments in this shitty Lwów. There is nothing new with our family. Do you see our mutual acquaintances? I was worried that Miss Du Pont got engaged to the son of Roosevelt! She would have been a great catch for you!

Therefore I'm kissing you cordially and I promise from now on to write regularly with my professor,

Hugs and kisses,
Your Andrzej

How is the winter?
Probably it is going to be a severe one there?
Do not forget to visit Canada in wintertime!!

§ 1 i.e. the daughter of Mr. Raps, implying her single status.
§ 2 Andrzej wrote "dostala ksieczk," which is probably either an inside joke or an obscure allusion that Miss Raps got pregnant out of wedlock and thus had to disappear from Lwów.
§ 3 Actually, the author mocks Rechter and Zimand here: "good for them" (dobrze im tak) can also be translated as "suckers!" or "they got what was coming to them".
§ 4 Andrzej wrote: "z girlsami ciagle trudniej" -- girlsami" is of course a Polish declension of the English word "girls." In this case, "babes" or "dames" is more appropriate for a translation than "girls".
§ 5 lit. "kapcanieje."

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 7 December 1936

Mój kochany,
We have received your card of November 18. We have gathered from it that you had gone to New York, although you did not admit that, mentioning the Gruesses and Wilner in passing. Aside from that, your card is very laconic. There is nothing interesting in it. You do not mention whether you have been receiving Chwila and whether we should continue the subscription. The lack of news about the conditions over there and in Boston. Do you feel well and do you have a nice milieu of friends? Has Marysia gotten in touch with you yet? You still have not mentioned whether you have received mommy's letter of October 26 with her warnings. What is your attitude toward that? Remember that bad company may interfere in your undertakings. Therefore stay away from evil. Here all is as always. It is snowing.
Michal will be over there on the 23rd.

Szymon Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 7 December 1936

Thanks for the card. Soon, a part of the Ulams will appear over there. The rest will make the trip in the spring. Have fun and remember about us! Happy holidays and a happy New Year. When you have time please write about yourself.

Cordial hugs,

Tatus and Mamusia to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 8 December 1936

Mój kochany,
I can see from your last letter that you had good fun in New York. However, you have not mentioned anything about our last letter to you which was you received special delivery because I cared for you to be informed about Marysia's sojourn there! How do you feel?! Take care not to catch a cold because it is the season for that. Flu rules everywhere. Michal has gone already; he came here before his departure. He is not happy with that party [i.e. a relationship of his daughter Marysia with Hearst] at all and he does not know if anything comes out of that!! They will board the Normandie on the 18th. It is very good that you intend to go to Florida with Mr. Nauman. It is beautiful there, but it is supposed to be very expensive. Although you have money, you must consider that you will be coming home for the summer vacation. By the way, nothing new here.
Write back immediately.

Mój kochany,
I expect that you have received my air mail letter containing the aforementioned warnings concerning the arrival of Marysia over there. Remember also that every step causes great expenses that you cannot afford. You may run out of money later, and that may always necessitate incurring debt. Also, there is the matter of the rules governing the currency transfer [from Poland]. One cannot send even $1.00. So, change: live frugally, always with the thought of saving for the future trip to be with us. Nothing has changed here. One cannot see any mathematicians. [Stefan] Banach pops up here and there at the [Café] "Riz." Auerbach told me that he received a card from you. Have you received the offprint of your works which we sent to you? And new works?

Tatus and Mamusia to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 15 December 1936

Mój kochany!
I have received a letter from Michal from Paris that they have postponed their trip to America and that they will go to the south for now.
We have received your letter of the first of this month. Nothing new here. The winter is gentle. As always, the life takes us to the cafes. No mathematicians to be seen.
Have you been receiving Chwila and how frequently? Adas is very excited about getting your [i.e. American] newspapers, even though I buy him English-language dailies here all the time.
Write more often, profusely, and honestly concerning your relationship with Rywka. § 1

Mój kochany,
We have received your letter. The news is good at least but very scarce. Have you seen Utczyc § 2 yet? Take care of yourself. At any sign of trouble consult a doctor. I cannot wait to see you! I wish you a happy New Year.

Cordial greetings,

§ 1 Illegible. Rita? Ziuta?
§ 2 Illegible.

Klara [Auerbach] Weiss to Stanislaw Ulam, Stryj,
16 December 1936

Kochany Stasiu,

Your postcard made us very happy. Although it was addressed to Oles, he's been busy with his bar exam and has been quite tardy. Therefore I will write a few things and he'll write below.

I was very happy reading your postcard but at the same time I also had tears in my eyes because you mention your loneliness. After all, the distance matters a great deal and creates the feeling of nostalgia. As a matter of fact, we must envy you because, first, you have achieved such a [prominent] position and, second, you do not have to live under the conditions which regrettably prevail here among us.

You would like to learn news and gossip because that is the most entertaining for the one abroad. Of the conditions in Stryj you would be interested very little because you do not know the people here and there is very little to talk about; therefore despite my best effort and will I cannot tell you about anything. Perhaps Oles will tell you about something because his mind is younger and has other interests. He has been studying for the bar exam but once he passes it, so what, the situation in the bar is hopeless. § 1 I travel to Lwów very rarely, as if it were as far as America. One is disgusted with the situation and disappointed because of the conditions so that one best sits in one place. I received a letter from Stasia last week. She told me they were doing well and she was very happy because she got a job. Truly, I was not too happy about that because she has to work where she never worked and, physically, she is not a giant, but if that pleases her then I ought to be happy too. Do you write to your parents and do you get news from them? Consider it your sacred duty to write regularly and frequently to your parents because you know how superstitious they are, your mommy in particular, who has been looking forward with longing to your letters. When I was in Lwów last, I had to listen to her [complain] that there was somehow no news from Stas. I've written to you - not much, but the letter from one's family makes one happy.
Greetings and kisses

Your Klara

Do not be put off by this terrible handwriting. Please write to us from time to time a few words and you'll make us very happy.

§ 1 Because of anti-Jewish measures.

Aleksander [Olek, Oles] Auerbach to Stanislaw Ulam, Stryj 16 December 1936

My dear!
      News from you made me happy a great deal. You are so far away from us and you have in your new milieu so many new pursuits but you did not forget about us after all.
      I have been studying for my bar exam which to me is tantamount to experiencing a serious disease. Well, too bad, I must survive this unpleasant situation as well.
      When I'm free, I play bridge and I have achieved a certain perfection in this game.
      If I recall correctly, when you were in Poland Baran told me that you were coming to Stryj. But you never appeared here. Why? You demand news from Stryj but I believe that to tell you that the apothecary's cow had heifers or that the wife of the notary has been flirting with Lieutenant so and so would hardly interest you.
      My dear, as your time and circumstances permit, please write to us about the relations and persons as they are overseas, where you are. All bits of news from you, even the most trivial, bring us great pleasure.

Cordial greetings,

Top of this Page

Tatus and Mamusia to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 29 December 1936

Mój kochany!
      Yesterday we received your letter but why is the stamp on the envelope from Boston? Were you there? Michal and Lonia changed their minds and did not go to America. It looks like the whole business fell through. § 1 Anyway, I care little about that. What have you been up to? Do you take care of yourself? My dear, do not fly around and watch out for yourself now! God save you from a cold!! There is terrible flu going around here and quite vicious one at that. At any rate, nothing has changed in Lwów. Which one [flu] is worse? Write everything precisely. Although this letter will have arrived after the New Year's, it does not matter. I wish you a lot of luck and health and so that we all would always be healthy and joyous were!!!!! Write to your aunts. Auntie Gizela will include her letter here. Write quickly.


Kochany Stasiu,
      Your card made me very happy. I thank you cordially for remembering about me. Nothing special here. Everyone attends the club diligently and plays with numbers. I have already switched from Validge'a to Niemira. § 2 We could use a colleague of yours because you described to mommy Silberfeld, who partied with me; and he mentioned about his history in Paris and his position. Now you know everything. You yourself most certainly spent the holidays beautifully, and things were nice. I wish you a prosperous and joyous New Year.

Write more frequently.
Everyone asks about you.
Lonia § 3

§ 1 An allusion to the Marysia Ulam-Hearst relationship.
§ 2 Both names illegible and reference unclear.
§ 3 It follows from this letter that Aunt Gizela was known also as Aunt Lonia, the wife of Michal Ulam. However, there is a letter from an Aunt Gizela (Gisela) from Vienna. Perhaps it was another relative of the same name. Or maybe Aunt Lonia added her note onto the same piece of paper as Anna [Hania] Ulam, and Aunt Gizela wrote a separate one.



Mamusia to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów,
17 January 1937

Mój kochany!
      We were very worried about the lack of news from you because aside from the telegram nothing arrived for over a month. Yesterday we received a postcard of the 1st of the current month. Why don't you at least write us postcards from those localities. You did not write at all about the mathematical congress you were going to fly to and you know how nervous that makes me. Today daddy went by himself to Zakopane § 1 for 10 days. Lonia is there. I shall go later to Vienna. Nothing new here; complete boredom all over the place.§ 2 How are things with you? How do you feel? How is your health? I have been so scared that America is in the grip of a terrible flu. Watch out always for your lungs and stomach!!! § 3 The newspapers arrive for Adas to read. I beg you do not go skiing and neither fly nor drive around. My beloved, write to Misio§ 4 because he always asks about you. Write to him to learn English because he will travel to America. Send your greetings to Klara and Nana Auerbach. Mail it even special delivery because letters disappear over there. The address: Nowosiólka K.[olonia], mail zone Korolówka near Barszczew. Send special delivery letters also to us because your letters disappear again! What is Marysia still doing over there? Michal and Lonia went to St. Moritz. We received a telegram from there for New Year's. Write back immediately.

Kisses to you

§ 1 A resort town in the Tatra Mountains.
§ 2 "Bryndza na calej linii."
§ 3 Some kind of medication?
§ 4 "Teddybear," a dimunitive of Michal.

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam,
Zakopane, 18 January 1937

Mój kochany!
     I'm certain that you will be surprised. Yesterday I came here for seven or eight days. It is very pretty here, and the weather is wonderful. The sun shines as if it were the summer. Evenings are relatively freezing. The day before yesterday we received in Lwów your card of the 3rd of this month. You mentioned in it that you had been coming back from the south and from a mathematical conference. Apparently, you must have written from there, but we did not receive any news, even though something may yet come. When you will have received this card, I will be back in Lwów already. There are very few acquaintances here.
Write a lot!

Tatus, Maciek Lau, F. Appeurellerówna, and J. Weissglas to Stanislaw Ulam,
Zakopane, 19 January 1937 § 1

Greetings from the dancing club Riviera "Pierwszy snieg." § 2 I have even been to the top of the Kasprowy. § 3 The impression was wonderful. § 4

Cordial greetings from
Maciek Lau § 5
F. F. Appeurellerówna
J. Weissglas

§ 1 These are otherwise unknown Jewish acquaintances of Stanislaw Ulam who, while partying in Zakopane, chanced upon Józef Ulam who supplied them with his son's Harvard address. It was considered politely appropriate at that time to send a message of remembrance to an acquaintance, colleague, or a friend for any reason whatsoever.
§ 2 This is probably a joke. "Pierwszy snieg" means "first snow" has fallen.
§ 3 One of the highest peaks in the Tatra Mountains, accessible by lift.
§ 4 No signature; Józef Ulam's handwriting.
§ 5 "Maciek" is a dimunitive of Matthew, implying a certain degree of familiarity between Maciek and Stanislaw Ulam.

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam,
Zakopane, 27 January 1937

      Mamusia forwarded to me here your letter of January 9 with the description of your trip. I am very happy about that. I sent a little letter to you from here. I shall return to Lwów on Saturday in the evening. Things are very pleasant here. Lusia of Stryj § 1 and a great many acquaintances are here as well. It is freezing in Lwów at - 22 centigrade. However, here the days are warm, and during the evenings the temperature reaches 9 centigrade. Adas asks about the subscription to the weekly Times.


§ 1 Lusia, a niece of Mrs. Józef Ulam's, who lived in Stryj.

Mamusia and Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 14 February 1937
Mój kochany,

      Daddy has returned; he looks better. He likes Zakopane very much. Why do not you write to us about how you feel with your health. Send nothing to Stefa at the moment. Better save the money for friends. Over here, thanks be to God, nothing new.

I'm kissing you,
Write soon!!

      Having returned from Zakopane, I feel rested. § 1 Unfortunately, I spent only a short time in Zakopane - no more than 12 days. We have had a very severe winter here but it is getting warmer now. Your mathematicians are almost absent from here now. Banach visits the Riz café from time to time. The meetings of the mathematical society are very rare, although one hears Kac's name mentioned. Adas wishes the continuation of his subscription to the New York Times. Over here the situation has also improved. In April I shall be travelling to Warsaw. § 2

§ 1 No salutation.
§ 2 No signature. The handwriting of Józef Ulam.

Stefa and Adas to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów,
14 February 1937

Kochany Staszku,

      Your letter arrived today, describing the story of your phone call which had been described from our side in one of our previous letters. I have become a "commander" § 1 of our apartment building in charge of the anti-gas defense and I will be attending anti-gas warfare courses. § 2 When you return, I shall nominate you to be my "sub-commander." And you can bring me various things from America but no stockings.

      I do not have much to write to you because there is nothing new. Your phone caused us to sit at home for four hours. I heard some English words but could not understand anything. Until recently we had had spring weather. Today it snowed terribly. As you probably will learn from the newspapers Poland has kicked Germany's butt § 3 by 10 to 6 in boxing. The New York Times has not arrived in a long time. I received one issue once from the previous day which surprised me. Perhaps that was an attempt to encourage [one to take out a subscription]. I have not received the dictionary and the magazines so far.

§ 1 Komendant.
§ 2 Fearing that war was likely, the Polish government introduced a number of programs in civil defense to prepare the population for the conflict. There were gas and air-raid preparedness courses and drills. Neighborhood volunteers headed such efforts. Stefa Ulam was one of them.
§ 3 "Polska nakropila Niemcy."

Mamusia and Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 16 February 1937

Mój kochany!
      Today we received your letter. Thank God that you are well! As far as your plans for the future are concerned, we would be very happy if you remained at Harvard because Harvard University is generally known to be the largest and the most elegant. As far as my trip to Vienna goes, there is no need for your concern. Even if I go there, it will be merely for a check up. § 1 Otherwise nothing new here.

Kisses, Mamusia

Mój kochany! § 2
      To answer your letter of the 2nd [of February], I second Mommy's advice that it would be best to stay at Harvard. There is an article about the University in today's Chwila, which says that this is the largest university in the United States. This information appeared in conjunction with the news of granting the degree of doctor honoris causa to Thomas Mann, the German writer. Thank God we are well. Zakopane served me well. Nothing new in Lwów. Important things about Lwów you can get from Chwila. We have a penal case [court case]. Wujcio § 3 Michal has convinced his department -- Pindes and Dr. Grossheit § 4 --; and now the case has been dismissed and a commissary administration § 5 led by Dr. Parnas [has been established], where Michal became the financial official. These are the Lvóvian matters that excite one very much. The situation is tense, in Mlawa in particular. But things have improved. Therefore, Wujcio § 3 Szymek is financially better off. Things have improved in Warsaw as well; grain is more expensive, wheat is up, e.g., 79 zloty; oats up 27 zloty. However, there has been no improvement yet in the Bar. There is a struggle in the Bar Council, § 6 because the Poles demand at least [a proportionally] equal share [of councilmen]. § 7 Then, they would have a majority together with the Ruthenians, § 8 because until now the Jews held the majority. Since during the elections no compromise was reached and the greater part of the Jews were liquidated, § 9 therefore we are awaiting the dissolution of the Council and the appointment of a [government] commissar. These are the issues that are on one's mind here. Nothing like this applies to the world of mathematics. In [café] Roma I saw Dr. Auerb[ach], and I saw Banach at the "Riz". Mathematical matters appear in the press very rarely, although there was a note in Chwila about the lecture by Kac § 10 and some other grand man.
      Stefa frequents dancing clubs § 11 with Reifruch § 12 . Andrzej, as I mentioned, will be leaving for America in April. We are awaiting your visit here in May. The daughter of Dr. Weintraub has gotten married. Plass will be marrying Wachmannówna, the daughter of the apothecary. Telew § 13 works at my office still but at the moment he has a flu. At mid-day we shall leave for Roma or Jedyna § 14 and in the evening to Warsaw.
Greetings. § 15

      The newspaper comes regularly and is very interesting.
Adas § 16

      He had very good grades for the first semester. § 17

§ 1 Anna Ulam developed cancer sometime earlier. The trip referred to here and subsequent trips were for cancer treatments. She died inVienna in March, 1938. The parents kept her condition a secret from their children.
§ 2 Józef wrote this letter in great haste, and it is hard to decipher.
§ 3 An endearing dimunitive for "uncle."
§ 4 Both names are illegible.
§ 5 Any time the elections to a self-governing institution failed to produce a clear-cut majority, the government usually appointed its commissar to oversee the institution until further elections.
§ 6 In 1936 in Mlawa a deranged individual, who happened to be Jewish, murdered a cavalry NCO, who happened to be a Polish Catholic. A Christian mob rampaged in revenge through a Jewish neighborhood, randomly beating people up and destroying property.
§ 7 Rada Adwokacka was a self-governing body uniting all lawyers.
§ 8 As many at that time in Poland (including Polish Nationalists), Józef Ulam uses the old-fashioned term "Rusini" (Ruthenians), while referring to the Ukrainians. Ukrainian nationalists were infuriated by this appellation, considering its application a Polish effort to deny that the Ukrainian nationality existed. Here, of course, Józef Ulam is traditionalist and conservative rather than Polish Nationalists.
§ 9 "ma to sie nijak"
§ 10 Mark Kac (1914-1984) was also a Polish-Jewish mathematician (and a great statistician) who trained at the University in Lwów. He left Poland for the U. S. in 1937 and became a professor at Cornell.
§ 11 Józef Ulam wrote Stefa "chodzi po dancingach," which denoted disapproval. A neutral way would have been to say "chodzi na dancingi".
§ 12 Illegible. Freifruch? Zeifruch? This is maybe the last name of Stefa's boyfriend.
§ 13 Illegible.
§ 14 Roma and Jedyna (?) were cafés in Lwów.
§ 15 No signature
§ 16 A note by Adam Ulam
§ 17 Added by Józef Ulam.

Andrzej Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 3 March 1937

Kochany Stacho!
      My trip is set. I will be sailing in the middle of April. I shall supply the details telegraphically. At any rate, my decision was based upon the fact that you assured me that we would go south together. Keep your word then! Have you bought a car? Please find out when you are free, so I do not come too early! Your last letter relating the tale of Marysia was magnificent. I laughed my head off. Perhaps I should take an English ship first to Boston? What do you think? Personally, I prefer to go to New York first. What date should I book my ship ticket for? Your father tells me that all cabins are reserved on ships to Europe all summer long. Eventually you can telegraph me with an inexpensive telegraph. Look for it! Do not forget about the trip to Florida!!
      Cordial kisses, and I am looking forward to us seeing each other on the other half of the globe.

PS. I hope that the U. S. Consulate does not deny me a visa.
PS. On our way back we shall see the [World] Exhibition in Paris!

Mamusia to Stanislaw Ulam,
Vienna, 11 March 1937

Mój kochany!
      As you see I have been in Vienna for the past 2 weeks. All is well with me. Szymek is here. He told me that Loni, the wife of Michal will be going to America tomorrow. What a nice story. For God's sake, she will want to drag you everywhere. You will pretend that you have no time and do not go to New York. Do not get in touch with her at all. Remember in every respect it is improper; and she can harm you!! I have already written you that there is a medical surgeon here, a doctor, working with Prof. Rauri. He is an able man and he would like to leave for America. His father asked me to help him.
      At any rate, Write me. What are you up to? I am very worried about this Loni, that she is going to America and that one cannot get rid of them. So do not associate with her too often. The less frequently the better. And Loni can take advantage of anyone a thousand times better than Marysia. Who knows if she does not use the trip as an excuse to get to you. Write me at home.
Kisses to you
Mamusia § 1

§ 1 A nearly illegible note, "Mein lieber Stasiumiu," in German, follows. It is signed Gisela (probably Gisela Auerbach).

Tatus, Adam Ulam, and Lonia Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 13 March 1937

Mój kochany!
      I have not had any news from you for two weeks. Can't you make an effort to write to me at least once a week? Because I do not suspect that your laziness in writing has afflicted you to this extent, I am worried by the lack of news. Nothing new here. Mommy is in Vienna and will be back at the latest on the 20th in Lwów. According to the news received from her, she is doing very well and all is fine. No changes in Lwów. Only Auerbach and [Stanislaw] Ruziewicz, § 1 which I have reported to you already. I have heard that Michal's wife plans to visit America. Make sure not to come off like you did during Marysia's sojourn there. Also, because of Andrzej's stay over there, you should not speak up at work and expose yourself to incidents which would not occur under any normal circumstances.
      Please do not forget that because of the currency transfer regulations [in Poland], you cannot count on any financial help.

Greetings § 2

      I received a note of February 15 from the New York Times that because my subscription was not paid, the delivery of the paper was suspended. Apparently there must be a misunderstanding. Despite that, I received the issues of February 14 and 21. However, the last issue has not arrived.

Kochany Stasiu,
      Also I would like to enclose my cordial greetings to you. Probably as always you are doing wonderfully. Here nothing changes with us. I am expecting that you will be returning home for the holidays. Do you remember about my raincoat? I shall pay you back.
Pa § 3

§ 1 An accomplished mathematician.
§ 2 No signature. The handwriting of Józef Ulam.
§ 3 "'Bye" -- an informal farewell.

Mamusia, Tatu, Adas, and Stefa to Stanislaw Ulam,
30 March 1937

Kochany Stasiu,
      We are sending to you our most cordial greetings on your name's day. § 1

Mamusia, Tatus
Adas, Stefa

§ 1 Imieniny, or name's day, was the holiday of one's Catholic patron saint. In Poland, name's day is more important than a birthday. Although the Ulams were Jewish (and never converted to Christianity), they were also thoroughly Polonized. Therefore they simply called a birthday, a name's day. Stanislaw was born on April 13, 1909.

Mamusia andTatus to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 11 April 1937

Mój kochany,
      Adas receives his newspaper regularly. However, your letters arrive late and irregularly. We received a postcard from you on the second day following the letter. You do not write at all how your health is, and that is the most important after all. Do you take care of yourself, of your stomach, heart, and lungs? Please do not hot-rod in cars. I am so worried. God grant that I happily saw you at home!! Andrzej will be leaving for America a week from today. I am begging you not to organize any drinking parties with him (you gave me your word about that) and do not drink any cognac. Loni and Marysia are in America. § 1 I think I had written to you about that already so that you would not become involved and not spend any time in their company and, especially, so you would not go to New York. I have no idea what it is but I am very restless whenever you go to New York! Praise be to the Lord, things are quiet with us. We are healthy and that is the most important. Write precisely how things are at Harvard, are you going to remain there? At any rate, whatever happens, let it be for your happiness!! Adas has asked me to ask you to send him a shaving apparatus. § 2 I would like a fountain pen and something for Stefa, of course only if it is not a bother. Write how you feel?!!
Kisses to you

Mój kochany! § 3
      Although you write every week (the case of Lusia and your card), we receive the news every two weeks. I cannot understand why you were so delighted about Brown when Harvard is a prestigous place. Nothing special here. We would be glad to hear already directly from you how things are with you. In the mathematical life here almost nothing has been happening. According to the calendar, spring is coming, but the mood is autumnal and so is the rain. We would gladly go to the exhibition in Paris, but because of the hard currency regulations one can only take $300.00 with him out of the country. The attitude here is that everyone would like to emigrate to America, and everyone envies you and asks how to do it, how to get there. They prompt me for information. I answer them that it is not so easy and that the streets are not paved with gold over there. § 4 Further intelligence about the current conditions here will be supplied to you by Andrzej, who is already anxiously waiting to leave and who is very happy. Only do not go on dangerous trips with him!
Greetings § 5


§ 1 The wife and daughter of Michal Ulam.
§ 2 Archaic: "aparat do golenia." This was crossed out very lightly and, instead, Mrs. Ulam wrote in "a souvenir," thus hinting what that gift might be.
§ 3 This was scribbled in great haste and is hard to decipher.
§ 4 ". . . tam takie dolary nie przewalaj si na ulicy."
§ 5 No signature, the handwriting of Józef Ulam.

Józef Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 14 April 1937

Mój kochany!
     It was your name day §1 yesterday. Everyone reminisced about that. After all, we shall see each other here. Andrzej leaves for over there [US] on the 16th of this month. I would like to remind you about the ban on flying and unnecessary accidents, hot-rodding in cars. At the most you should drive 40 kilometers per hour §2 and only when it is necessary.

Most cordial greetings of all the best.
Sicher ist sicher §3 - therefore do not set any [world] records, Szymon

§ 1 In fact, a birthday.
§ 2 25 mph
§ 3 A German saying, an equivalent to "just to be on the safe side."

Tatus and Mamusia to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 16 April 1937

Mój kochany!
     We have just received your letter of the 6th of this month in a record time of 10 days. We are pleased that you are well in that world and you will be coming back to Lwów at the beginning of June. Andrzej left already on Sunday. By the time this letter reaches you, he will have arrived there. All is in the best order with us. You've said that you are not lacking for money. That means you've been saving. At the moment Lwów witnesses many lectures with Michal taking active part in [them]. (Note: Michal Ulam was a prominent architect in Lwów. MU) [Hugo] Steinhaus has offered a series of lectures "On the science of mathematics" in the room of the University on Kopernik Street. It is open to all for 50 groszy. Spring has not arrived here yet. Warm days occur interchangeably with rainy days. Adas has been regularly receiving the New York Times and is very content. He also reads The Daily Telegraph and The Manchester Guardian, which I buy for him. Stefa is too lazy to write; after all, she's out of the house for the whole day. Adas, however, writes you back all the time diligently, if one word: "pozdrawiam." § 1 And now I shall pass [the page] on to mommy [to continue the letter].

Mój kochany,
     A moment ago we received your letter, and daddy wrote you before not to worry because in your letter of the 5th [of April] you asked why daddy had written you nothing. All is well with us, thanks be to God. The reason why our letters are with no sense of humor is because the general atmosphere is different in every respect from yours in the USA. § 2 Pylen § 3 is better now; it is better that he did not take the medicine. Or maybe his recuperation occurred under the influence of Miss Waldmanówna, who is engaged to him. Stefa does not write to you because she is busy as usual. Mr. Wut § 4 has also arrived here from Palestine. He likes Stefa very much. He looks for every opportunity to see her, and she escapes from him. He is a very good catch in these times, when young people have nothing to do here, but what can we do about her?!!! Michal came here for the holidays. He sent me a huge bouquet of flowers, I do not know why. Lonia and Marysia left for America on the 30th to study, and Andrzej will be leaving on Sunday. My handwriting is poor but, I am writing you badly with a fountain pen that I bought in Vienna. It cost only 80 groszy § 5 and therefore it is so extra good. And now what are you up to? You never mention how your health is because that is the most important and the rest is not. Be very careful when you drink alcohol; I am very restless about you. Please make sure not to lose weight.
Write back immediately and a lot,
Adas is at school at the moment; he receives the paper regularly.

§ 1 "Greetings."
§ 2 This is undoubtedly a reference to the political and economic situation in general and civil unrest in particular, including riots, demonstrations, and strikes (anti-Jewish and otherwise). In addition, health problems plagued the Ulams, their relatives and friends at the time.
§ 3 Illegible.
§ 4 Illegible.
§ 5 Mrs. Ulam is obviously facetious here. 80 groszy was about 15 cents. The handwriting was readable, but the pen dripped ink and caused smudges.

Andrzej to Stanislaw Ulam,
Havana, 11 May 1937

Kochany Stacho!
      Cordial greetings. I'll be in New York on Sunday, the 17th! Things are pleasant here but a bit too hot! Miami is nicer!

Tatus and friends to Stanislaw Ulam,
Warsaw, no date [September 1937] § 1

Beloved Professor!

      We are reminiscing nicely about the pleasant time we spent together and we are sending you our cordial greetings.
Jan Chmielewicz § 2
M. Alterowa
Dr. M. Alter

No drinking, no smoking. Take care of yourself.

§ 1 This postcard was mailed from Warsaw to Le Havre, before Stanislaw Ulam boarded the Normandie to return to Harvard.
§ 2 Illegible

Mamusia, Stefa, Adas, and Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 9 October 1937

Mój kochany!

     We received your letter yesterday. I cannot understand why you have not received our letter which we wrote to Providence. Aside from two postcards, there were two letters from us. We are very sorry about N. § 1 Things were too good for his wife and so she became spoiled. § 2 She will soon be sorry but it will be too late. It would be good if he married. He is a wonderful catch. I would give him Stefa immediately but when and how? Nothing new here. A great crowd in [Café] "Roma." People sit on each other's heads. No mathematicians to be seen. I have a feeling that they do not deal with mathematics at all. There are separate benches at the universities and in general tense conditions. § 3 Aunties have already returned from Truskawiec and your "little ladies" § 4 circle around the streets all day long. I am curious to know what kind of a lady inquired on the phone whether you were in because she was also planning a trip to the USA. I have written you about that already. You have a habit of inviting everyone to America. And if one of them can really go there, the ball and chain will be ready for you. Mr. Menkes § 5 was here, very elegant; he went to Paris and he'll be going to America from there.
      He painted here a portrait of the little daughter of Linka. Stacha § 6 remained in America. They have taken care of everything. She has received her first documents. Have you settled in at home yet? Have you framed the painting? You should always have fruit and "Kogucik" § 7 at home. But do not drink too much because it harms your heart and nerves. Adas walks around all day in civilian clothes; immediately upon his return from school he throws off his school uniform. Too bad you did not leave one regular outfit for him. He will wear a military uniform because he already belongs to the Military Preparedeness.§ 8 He did not do that before.§ 9 Take care of yourself and write immediately!!
Tatus shall order your newspapers.

     Our entire family was "shocked" by the news you sent to us regarding Mr. N. I returned from Paris a long time ago and I spent most of my time on the Côte d'Azur. I sent you a postcard from there - Cannes, Juens, Lepanto, Nicea, and Monte-Carlo, where I gambled at the casino. I met some Americans there, and we wrote you postcards.

     I am still getting the New York Times. However, I have just discovered that you took a great many books, including The History of England by Maurois. § 10 In exchange, you should send me some English-language books, in particular because I am missing them here. All is as usual here. Pogón § 11 will fall from the [first] league. Greetings,

Mój kochany,
     Present correspondence touches on all aspects of life here at home. I do not have much to add. At the moment a psychosis rules over here about emigrating. Every single young person wants to leave for America as if it were a dream country of gold.§ 12 I am looking forward to your new work and notes concerning both of your universities as well as your future prospects and current conditions of life over there.

     Andrzej has been working diligently. He told me to send you his greetings. He will write to you soon. He would like to travel to America again but he is concerned about such considerable expenses. And that is how kids are! § 13

§ 1 This probably is an allusion to a scandalous divorce of a friend of the Ulams.
§ 2 "W glowie jej sië przewrócilo" - literally, things got turned upside down in her head.
§ 3 Massive student strikes swept Poland at the time. Organized by the Nationalists, they were sparked off by the attempts to limit the autonomy of the university by the government. The students made anti-Pilsudskite, anti-Communist, and anti-Jewish demands. One of the most humiliating demands was that the Jewish students sit separately from the Christians on the left-hand side of the lecture halls, the so-called "ghetto benches.
§ 4 "Panientki" - a made-up word, uttered with disapproval, denoting young women apparently thought to be interested in Stanislaw Ulam.
§ 5 The painter Zygmunt Mankes (b. Lwów 1896 - d. Riverdale, N. Y. 1986).
§ 6 Stacha and Stasia are diminutives of Stanislawa. Stasia Auerbach Menkes was a niece of Mrs. Józef Ulam. Stasia's twin sister was "Linka".
§ 7 "Little rooster" - an informal way to refer to anti-migraine pills.
§ 8 Przysposobienie Wojskowe, an organization which offered obligatory courses at Polish high schools, preparing young men for the army. Only a high school graduate with a baccalaureate was allowed (and required) to enter the cadet officers' schools. All other recruits with non-high school education were drafted as privates.
§ 9 It seems that although Adam Ulam disliked school uniforms, like many other Polish youths, he was attracted to military uniforms. That was the spirit of the times.
§ 10 Illegible.
§ 11 Pogón Lwów was a popular soccer club.
§ 12 Józef Ulam's comment about the young wanting to leave for the US was rather sarcastic and disapproving. However, at the time, Poland was in the throes of an acute economic and political crisis. The opposition parties, the Nationalists in particular, argued that the lot of the Catholic majority could be improved at the expense of the Jewish minority. The government began implementing various economic measures favoring the majority. Likewise, autonomous professional associations, including the lawyers' guilds, where the Nationalists were gaining ground, proposed various anti-Jewish restrictions. The most frequent postulate was to limit the number of Jews in the professions (and universities) proportionally to their percentage in the population (numerus clausus). However, some argued to eliminate the Jewish presence completely from Poland's economic and scientific life (numerus nullus).
§ 13 "Tak to wyglãda dziatwa!"

Mamusia to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 15 October 1937 § 1

Mój kochany!

     We have just received a letter from you. I do not understand why you did not receive any news from us. We sent you four letters aside from postcards. When daddy was in Truskawce for 10 days, he sent you two postcards from there and we also sent many postcards from here. We are all well and all is well. A week after you left two photographs arrived from Warsaw, executed artistically. Daddy had them framed and they are over his desk now.

Kisses to you

§ 1 The upper corner of this card was torn off when someone removed a stamp.

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 24 October 1937§1

Mój kochany,
      We received your letter on the 12th of this month. It is very short and lacks description who you spend your time with. Nothing new here with us.
      I hope you have been getting regularly Chwila and Wiadomosci Literackie § 2 as well as other magazines I have been sending from time to time, including Gazeta Polska § 3 and Kontratak. No mathematicians to be seen at the café. They disappeared somewhere and the mathematical society has not been publishing its communiques. Andrzej has left with Plicher § 4 for a few days to London on business. They promised to write. American stock options have fallen down terribly -- as we have seen -- it is very dangerous to play the stock market! People lost their fortunes there. With us, stocks have remained on a stable level. Adas received the New York Times yesterday for the first time. Mommy is about to change from the hands of Milsren to Leser § 5 The fall is very beautiful here. Watch out for the cars!
Greetings § 6

      Gottfried will be getting married on the 30th of this month with Miss Wein Miss Gartenówna and Glass in December.

§ 1 A partly damaged card, which concerns a trip Józef Ulam took and other issues.
§ 2 A leading liberal literary weekly magazine.
§ 3 The main semi-official pro-government paper of a slight center-right slant.
§ 4 Illegible.
§ 5 i. e., changes physicians?
§ 6 No signature. The handwriting of Józef Ulam.

Szymon to Stanislaw Ulam,
Budapest, 27 October 1937

      I am sending you cordial greetings from beautiful Budapest. Why is there no news from you? Cordial hugs,

Tatus, Michal, and Andrzej to Stanislaw Ulam,
9 November 1937

      Greetings from [Café] "Roma". Michal is planning a trip to America in December of this year. § 1
      It is not certain yet but I will be there most likely in December and then I shall report to you. Take care § 2

Kochany Stasiu,
      I greet you cordially. Miss Lena Dani.[szewska] § 3 does not go out anywhere because her mother does not allow her to! She is scared that she [i. e., the daughter] walks around the Bagatela § 4 too much. Rosen will tell you the rest when he comes to see you.

§ 1 No signature. The handwriting of Józef Ulam
§ 2 "Serwus" - informal salutation.
§ 3 The name is abbreviated: Daniszewska.
§ 4 A park.

Józef Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 16 November 1937

Mój kochany!
      Your last letter was of October 18, a month ago. I am a bit worried. Mommy has left for Vienna. Adas has received a notification from the New York Times that his subscription was not renewed. Wet snow has fallen here; the winter is coming. No new gossip. No changes. Lwów has degenerated into an insignificant provincial backwater town. § 1 Movie and coffee houses are the only attractions. The movie theatre "Europa" has lately shown an American film called They Were One Hundred and She Was One. Rather nice. Michal will be leaving this week for Paris and says that his trip to America is quite possible. The son of Wujcio Szymon, Julek, celebrated his 13th birthday and we had a party. § 2 You can write a postcard with wishes to him (3 Zamenhoffa Street). Do not fly. We hear about accidents.
Greetings. § 3

§ 1 "Lwów stacza sie do rzedu podrzednych dziur."
§ 2 Probably a Bar-Mitzvah. It should be noted, however, that Julek Ulam's mother, Jozepha, was gentile.
§ 3 No signature. The handwriting of Józef Ulam.

Andrzej Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 23 November 1937

Kochany Stachu!
      I did not have time to enjoy your letter for too long because your father hijacked it to send it to Your Mother in Vienna. Your people were very worried about the lack of news and yesterday they telegraphed to you for 27 zloty. If you have a chance to get a present for me, do not give the book about Lawrence to Rosen; just send it to me! The day before yesterday I bade farewell to Rosen, who moved to America permanently. I thought you knew about that because he told me he had written to you about that. He went to Warsaw, then to Paris, and on December 4th he will be sailing on the "Empress or Duchess" of Richmond to Halifax. Next, he'll go to Boston, where he'll be with you for a day, and then on to Washington, D. C. It seems that you were the most important reason and inspiration to his departure. Before his departure he sold his entire apartment, and I bought from him very many nice things, including pictures and furniture. I am sorry a bit because he was my cordial friend, and we lived together very well. As you read this, do not smirk. § 1
      Did you receive my letter from London? In Paris I attended a splendid cocktail party at Marysia's, and I became acquainted with the high society and the highest circles of Paris -- until I was bored. A complete lack of freedom. They are elegant, but how can they always live like this for the others?

II. Lwów:   The life of the society:
      Since you left, I have not seen Hilda. Alas! I have no faintest idea where and with whom she is. She is nowhere to be seen. I shall call her tomorrow and I shall bow to her from you.
      Gusta: She's looking great, as never before in her life. She is always at the scientific society, never alone. This Modres is a lucky guy.
      Repsówna: her charms are gone completely! § 2 She goes to church all the time, and her hair has turned even more red (bright!). The number of her followers has decreased; [she partakes of] ever more youthful entertainment. § 3
      Szajerówna: she stars at the National Theatre in Warsaw; she's already spoken for by a musical director and she is loved by all!
      Bol. § 4 Auerbach § 5 lives unmarried with a dancer from the cabaret "Maskota." He has acquired wonderful employment for himself in the field of pimping. § 6 Different starlets parade through the salons of Natowa Street than during the summer. § 7 Perhaps some are prettier; others are more interesting. However, the society life has been increasingly pushed into the ghetto! Everything exists under the heavy heel of the Depression! It is influenced by constant street brawls § 8 and treating Jews as if they were even less than of a secondary importance. § 9 One can observe this even at the coffee houses. My main entertainment is movie-hunting. We have a worry in our family because my uncle Jakób Selzer, the surgeon, has been in bed for the past three months following a serious heart attack. Nothing augurs any possibility of improvement. The organism has not been returning to health. The address of Mazuorek: 2153-78th Street, Brooklyn, N.Y., Phone: BEnsonhurst 6-1133. The situation of the American stock market is serious. Even Roosevelt cannot stop a running train. Unfortunately, I did not make any money even though I had assessed the situation so clearly. On the other hand, I believe that things will improve in America, and these people who have nerves [of steel], who swim against the current, and who today buy stocks low will make money in the long run.
      I am sorry that you cannot see my apartment! It is much nicer than before.
      Please forgive me that I have not written for a long time but I shall mend my ways from now on and I will write. Rosen will tell you precisely about all that is interesting in Lwów!

Lots of kisses § 10

§ 1 It would seem that Rosen and Andrzej quarreled frequently and made up as frequently.
§ 2 "Wiednieje jak stary rzepak": an unkind observation that roughly can be translated as "she's withered away like an old weed" and, in modern US English, "Not a babe anymore."
§ 3 "ciägle mlodsze rozrywki." This probably means that Miss Reps dated younger men.
§ 4 Illegible. Boleslaw?
§ 5 "zyje na wiarë."
§ 6 This does not mean that Bol. Auerbach was truly a pimp. It simply means that the family, including, somewhat hypocritically, the bon-vivant Andrzej, strongly disapproved of an Auerbach "shacking up" with a cabaret dancer, many of whom customarily also worked as prostitutes.
§ 7 It seems that Natowa Street was the adult entertainment quarter of Lwów.
§ 8 "awantury uliczne" - Andrzej refers here not only to the common thuggery (crime was significantly on the increase because of the acuteness of the economic crisis) but also primarily to the political violence. Polish Nationalists attacked (and defended themselves against) all sorts of leftists; government supporters beat up the opposition. Poles (the Nationalists in particular) fought with Jews and Ukrainians and vice-versa. Finally, the police beat them all.
§ 9 "traktowanie Zydów za cos bardziej niz drugorzëdnego."
§10 "Calujë mocno."

Jan Rosen to Stanislaw Ulam,
Washington, D.C., 27 December 1937 § 1

Dear Doc,
      Only yesterday did I get your phone [message]. Many thanks and I apologize that I have not called but it is too late. Therefore I kiss and hug you most cordially. My beloved Sir, § 2 I would like to go to Cambridge and see you (very much!) and Harvard as well. I have no idea however how to do it at the moment. I have many social engagements, important ones, and I can't leave Washington. Therefore I cannot go on such a long trip in the nearest future.
      There is no news from Andrzej. I wrote and wrote and telephoned and nothing! Please write to him to tell him that he is a regular PIG.
Till I see you, my dear! Be good -- drink hard . . . .

§ 1 Written on the official stationery of the Polish Embassy.
§ 2 "Mój kochany Panie."

[end of 1937 letters.]

Top of this Page

  These letters have been translated and annotated by Dr. Marek J. Chodakiewicz, The Institute of World Politics, Washington, D. C.