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

1938 Letters 1939 Letters George Volsky's Tale
  1940 Letters  

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.




Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 11 January 1938 § 1

Mój kochany!

      I received your telegram yesterday evening (at 7:00 pm) which expressed your worries about the lack of news from Vienna. I phoned the sanatorium at Kikensdorf and talked to mommy. Mommy is much better already. Today she has moved to Vienna to the pension "Wiener" at I Seifergasse 76. The travelling passport expires tomorrow, but Mamusia decided, instead of returning to Lwów and then going back again to Vienna with us, to remain there for some time and, as she told me, to extend the validity of her passport for another month. At any rate, thanks be to God, she is doing well, and she wants to continue to be under the care of the physicians there because she trusts them unconditionally. Things are as always here. I wrote you from Warsaw (on December 31, 1937) and then again a letter which should be in your possession by now. On the other hand, we have received from you rare and, in addition, scarce news. What are the prospects for the future there? Adas would like to have already passed his baccalaureate [and] to follow you. At any rate, he will have to attend university abroad. § 2 We have had a few freezing days, down to - 24 centigrade. Today is the first warmer day. I must supply Adas daily with oranges, § 3 which he likes so much. Stefa spends most of the time outside -- at cafes and candy shops. Very little change on the Lvovian street. Against the will of her father, Rindówna married a Viennese fellow who owns an umbrella factory. Blass has returned from a long honeymoon trip (from Vienna), and he continues to work at my office. I have no idea when his father-in-law (the lawyer Wachman) finally takes him on, and therefore I feel uncomfortable sacking him -- I'll wait some more. I have taken on a law clerk § 4 with a nice name, Zweibel, § 5 who at the same time fulfills the duties of Tewel. § 6 There is not much work at the moment. We have been waiting for the new legislation currently being discussed in the Seym. § 7 The mathematical society is closed. Have you been getting Chwila? The last two issues of Wiadomosci Literackie were uninteresting. The first was entirely devoted to Szymanowski § 8 and the other to Strug. § 9 Therefore I did not send them to you.

      I would be very grateful to you if you could send me a small Oxford English Dictionary, which I am sorely lacking here. Also, receiving a few issues of some American magazines would not bother me because the New York Times generally writes the same thing over and over again. All is as always here. I attend various sports games and the opera. Otherwise, there is nothing interesting here.

§ 1 Often, according to the pre-war Polish custom, which was followed in many elite households, the children were not told about serious afflictions in the family. Usually, no lies were told, but information was withheld or euphemized. Stanislaw Ulam must have likewise been left guessing by his parents, who both downplayed the seriousness of the mother's condition.
§ 2 This was because the family could afford it; and because a graduate of a foreign institution, an American university in particular, had more opportunities to secure employment either in Poland or abroad; and, very importantly, because of anti-Jewish legislation and the anti-Jewish atmosphere at Polish universities at the end of the thirties.
§ 3 Oranges were very exotic, expensive, and hard to come by. During the Great Depression, many, if not most, people in Poland at the time, the peasants in particular, were lucky if they had one solid meal a day. (Adam retained his fondness for oranges for the rest of his life. MU)
§ 4 "Aplikant." In Poland, a freshly graduated law student had to complete the so-called "aplikantura," or practice on his own. The aplikantura lasted usually a few years.
§ 5 Means "onion" in German.
§ 6 Probably a male secretary who was no longer employed at the Ulam law offices.
§ 7 Poland's parliament.
§ 8 Probably Karol Szymanowski, an accomplished composer.
§ 9 Adam Strug was a secret member of the Communist Party of Poland and a radical novelist much lionized by Poland's liberal intelligentsia. Strug in particular must have annoyed the solidly middle class and traditionalist Dr. Józef Ulam.

Andrzej Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 21 January 1938
Mój kochany,

      Thank you very much for your letter of the 14th of this month. Unfortunately, you did not mention whether you received my long and exhaustive letter I had written to you a month ago. It would be a pity if it were lost.
      I would like to remind you that you promised me in your previous letter a book by Lawrence and a few issues of Ballyhoo (old ones will do). You must have forgotten about that. All the Ulams like presents, so I wanted to «remind you: and keep your promis [sic]». § 1 At any rate, you can send me all the magazines that you read (e.g. movie magazines) to Lwów. All this is an attraction for us.
      The situation at the universities and on the streets here has calmed a bit. I do not know for how long. I have been observing the developments in France and other countries, and I fear that this is the end for the democracies. I believe I have already written to you about that, and unfortunately this seems to be the case. This is the season for totalitarian regimes, and even though they won't last forever, they will prepare space for new political systems.
      Lena Daniszewska got engaged to Hermelin. Her father struck oil and supposedly secured enormous monthly income. I called Hilda to ask her to write to you more often. I also arranged for a get-together with her at a café but I completely forgot about it. She was very angry with me, and I can't even give her any excuse for my having forgetten that. I have not seen her at all since your departure. Nothing has changed much in Lwów. Mr. [Herman] Auerbach is the greatest conqueror of ladies' hearts around. When you drop me a line, write the titles of the new hits § 2 in America so that I know which records to buy.
      I befriended Professor Eustachy Zielinski, who knows you well. What kind of a human being is he? Isn't he of Jewish origin? Professor [Stefan] Banach § 3 was elected the king of the beer guzzlers. § 4 He emptied twenty large steins and was carried completely unconscious home, which made his wife rejoice.
      I have been hunting quite a great deal lately. For this Saturday and Sunday alone, three invitations have been extended simultaneously to me from very important people. § 5
      I wonder if [Jan] Rosen turns out lucky in America. I wish him all the best and please convey to him my greetings if you see him. I should have written: «give my love to Janek.» § 6
      How are things on the professional field? I am sure that [John von] Neumann's wife§ 7 will be getting divorced even faster than she got married. Since all your starlets wish to go to Europe, and mine to America, perhaps we can switch?

Cordial hugs and kisses

§ 1 The last phrase written in English with "promise" misspelled.
§ 2 "szlagiery."
§ 3 Arguably, Poland's most brilliant mathematician of the period.
§ 4 "krol piwoszow."
§ 5 "od samych bardzo eleganckich ludzi."
§ 6 Last phrase in English.
§ 7 Klara (Klari) von Neumann née Dan. Although it was her third marriage, she remained with von Neumann until his death.

Stefa, Tatus, and Adas to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 24 January 1938

Kochany Staszku,
      Your letters also arrive very infrequently. I wrote a post card to you from Worochta. § 1 My colleague Grustówna got married and lives in Paris. Otherwise, there is no news.

      What did Stefa's effort consist of? Upon my request, she was to inform you about all the news. § 2 Your last letter of the 11th of this month is very laconic, but there must be something going on over there. The weather is grey here. Mommy is still in Vienna and will remain there probably for some time. Wujcio Michal fell ill in Cannes, and Szymek went there. We are waiting for the news from them. I told your colleagues Luft and Nussrecher § 3 to write to you. No mathematicians are to be seen, and I do not know where Auerbach, Banach, and Mazur got lost. You wrote that the last letter you had received was of December 10, 1937. I sent you a post card once from Warsaw on December 31 and three letters afterward. Your picture did not come out too well because there is no smile on your face and you are too serious. I am sending it along with your letter to mommy. Andrzej showed me the letter which he wrote to you. Remember to save money. Remember not to hot-rod in your car and not to expose yourself to danger. We have a mild winter at the moment. No snow to be seen. It rains all the time. Adas does not attend school too willingly and always asks when the next holiday is coming. However, he is a good student and his grades were very good.
Andrzej constantly goes hunting, despite my warnings. Otherwise nothing new has happened.
Greetings § 4


§ 1 A resort town.
§ 2 Józef Ulam's handwriting. Tatus is being sarcastic here.
§ 3 Both names illegible.
§ 4 No signature

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 9 February 1938
Mój kochany!

      Yesterday, I received your letter of January 23rd. At home we are all fine. Mamusia is still in Vienna. She is still weak, but the diligent Gizela went to Pressburg § 1 to Dr. Anczi (she is very careful and did not want to sit by mommy anymore). Therefore Minka § 2 went there on Saturday to stay with mommy. Today we received a card from mommy and Minka that mommy is doing better and is in a better mood. I hope that in a week or two she will return to Lwów. Things started in Lwów [this year] under the mark of divorce. § 3 In this elegant but shabby world the following momentous events took place: the director of the Kromers § 4 Schneider divorced his wife and is marrying Tamara Goldschlag. The lawyer Moszkowicz § 5 divorced his wife. The engineer Reissmanowa divorced her husband and she will marry the young Rattler, a law clerk, and a son of a lawyer from Cracow, whom she met in Krynica. § 6 Auerbach told me he had sent you a special delivery letter, which you did not respond to. As I can see, the stock market crashed incredibly again. One must beware of the stock market as of fire. I advise only work and saving. Adas did not get his New York Times this week. He is well and he dreams about America. As far as Stefa is concerned, no changes. Winter is here. There is no carnival atmosphere felt here. Poverty and lifelessness. § 7 I have gone to the movies lately. The action takes place between Brooklyn and New York. The topic is modern love. I'm sure you have seen it. Nothing is happening in mathematics. This letter is the fifth in a row this year. A few days ago I forwarded mommy's letter to you. Andrzej says that he has written you a detailed letter, and he demands an answer to it. He hunts every week. I received the newspaper by air mail and, according to your wishes, I did not show it to anyone but forwarded it straight to Vienna to mommy with the same warning. Wujcio Michal continues his sojourn in Monte Carlo at the Hotel Paris, where he survived a serious bout of flu. § 8 Szmek went to see him there and before Monte Carlo he had visited Mommy in Vienna. This is all that I can tell you today. We all are looking forward to your return home. However, we are begging you to save money so you could have enough for everything you need. Do not buy any presents because it is not worth spending even a penny.
Cordial greetings


Adas is still at school and Stefa -- as usual -- went to the coffee house.

§ 1 Illegible.
§ 2 Minka Kampf née Auerbach, a younger sister of Anna Ulam.
§ 3 "We Lwowie zaczelo sie pod znakiem rozwodzenia."
§ 4 Illegible. Kromer enterprises?
§ 5 Illegible.
§ 6 A mountain resort town
§ 7 "Nedza i martwota."
§ 8 Jozef Ulam downplayed the seriouslness of the health condition of his brother who, in fact, had had a heart attack.

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 14 February 1938

Mój kochany!
      I am enclosing the letters of Stefa and Adas, whom I have shaken out of their laziness.§ 1 Mommy is better and she is in a better mood since Minka appeared at her side. Today we had a snow storm, and piles of snow are visible all over the place. Supposedly, the things are not much better with you, because I read in the paper today that there were snowstorms even in California. Andrzej showed me your letter today and mentioned your escapades which, however, are very dangerous over there and may lead to lawsuits for reparations. Nothing is going on in Lwów. The poor Dr. Jakób Selzer has died who had a heart disease for the past eight months. I prompted your colleagues to write to you, but apparently they are concerned about the postal expense. They are not like you, who does not have the money for your summer holidays. § 2 Two days ago I sent you a letter by air mail. Today you received here from New York a catalogue of mathematical textbooks advertising the works of Saks, Banach, [Kazimierz] Kuratowski, and [Antoni] Zygmund to be had from a Varsovian publisher. The catalogue was put out by G.E. Streichert & Co, 31 East 10th Street. If you need it, I can send it to you, or you can order it yourself over there. Why have you not published anything new during your stay in America? Will the work on probability calculation which you announced ever appear? Perhaps this is my unpleasant griping, § 3 but I would like to inspire you to work. We are very happy for your anticipated arrival in June. Do not buy any presents. Waste no penny. Meanwhile, write diligently and frequently.
Greetings § 4

§ 1 These particular letters of Adam and Stefa are not extant.
§ 2 Józef Ulam with gentle sarcasm suggests here that the high cost of mailing letters is the reason why Stanislaw Ulam's friends (unlike the Ulam family) did not write to him frequently.
§ 3 "gderanie"
§ 4 No signature

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 25 February 1938

      It has been two weeks since we heard from you last. The last information concerning you came indirectly from mommy. You sent her a card, and she told me about your unexpected package. Meanwhile, unpleasant things occurred during the last days of the week. Wujcio Michal fell ill and suffered a mild [heart] attack in St. Moritz. It seems that his stay there harmed him. Therefore he left for Monte Carlo with Lonia and Marysia. Szymek hastened there having received the news about Michal's poor health. Szymek stayed there for over twelve days. Since then Michal's condition had improved significantly. Upon his return to Lwów, Szymek daily talked on the phone with Michal. In the past few days, there had been hope for further recuperation. On the 16th of this month a new heart attack occurred, which afflicted Michal to our great consternation and worry. A day before the stroke, he chatted happily with Szymon, and nothing augured such a sudden catastrophe. You can imagine the sadness among us. The provisional funeral took place in Monte Carlo. None of us could arrive there on time to attend. So it took place with only Lonia and Marysia present.
      Of course, I have not informed Mommy about this sad and hurtful blow. On the contrary, I phoned Minka to make sure that no issue of Chwila or any other paper appear before Mommy's eyes. Mommy knows nothing about that until this very day as is evident from her letter which I received today.
      Lonia and Marysia moved to a new villa in Boalien near Cannes.
      And that is how life is: a constant race, but life is so short.
      Otherwise no changes here.
      I would not write even to you about the above if it were not the fact that I fear that you have already learned about it from Chwila.
      Write soon what you are up to. Take care of yourself. Do not smoke and do not look for things § 1 that attack one's heart. Do not kill yourself in the car. Live peacefully and serenely.
Greetings to you. § 2

§ 1 "urywki."
§ 2 No signature.

Joanna Feldówna § 1 to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 27 February 1938 § 2

Graceful and Dear Sir Doctor! § 3
      You have no idea how much I rejoiced over receiving your letter. I wanted to write back immediately, but somehow I waited until today. I am so happy that you have saved yourself from this European deluge and that you are sitting peacefully in your Harvardian arc. I hope we shall see each other this year (I have begun to put my weight in order § 4). The Lvovian gossip abounds. As the best gossip concerns me, someone else must inform you about that because otherwise the gossip loses its flavor.
      Sygnaly [Signals] is the most famous leftist newspaper in Poland. Its print run is 5,000 and it is self-sufficient financially. The second most important Lvovian paper, Lwów Literacki [Literary Lwów], is considered to be the organ of the fascist reaction. It is supported usually by Jewish advertising. § 5 It is mildly anti-Semitic and it does not want to take advantage of my literary output. My enemies multiply everyday. Aside from the "boys," I have no friends. The boys dress in white, and Mrs. Parnas calls them "artistic girls"! § 6 They are nice and wise but not wiser than me, which is terribly fascinating to me. They visit me with beautiful and real women. That is very nice.
      How was Florida? I have always claimed that, "Whitehead, you are an idealist." § 7 I have therefore lost because of you a number of friends (Jufeld). Ireczek is offended at Colonel Adam Koc § 8 and wants to leave for Sweden. I and daddy shall remain in Poland.
Most cordial greetings and I am awaiting any news from you
Joanna Feldowa § 9

§ 1 Illegible.
§ 2 The author wrote no year in but from the context it appears that it was 1938.
§ 3 "Laskawy i drogi Panie Doktorze": a typical salutation; it should be Dear Doctor Ulam, but, culturally, it is more interesting to translate literally the untranslatable.
§ 4 I am dieting.
§ 5 Reklamy zydowskie.
§ 6 "plastyczne girlsy". "Plastyczka" (fem) and plastyk (masc.) denotes an artist who paints or sculpts.
§ 7 Probably a theatrical or literary reference.
§ 8. Colonel Adam Koc was a right-wing Pilsudskite who proposed to the government to co-opt the radical right and its ideology to retain power. Koc was the leading light of the Camp of Polish Unity (Oboz Zjednoczenia Narodowego - OZON), which became the official government party shortly before the war. OPON was authoritarian, militaristic, and nationalist in contrast to the earlier ecclectic Pilsudskite platform, the Partyless Bloc for Cooperation with the Government (Bezpartyjny Blok Wspotpracy z Rzadem - BBWR), which combined leftist, liberal, technocratic, military, and conservative supporters of Pilsudski.
§ 9 Illegible.

Szymon Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam,
Vienna, 15 February 1938

Kochany Stasiuniu! § 1
      We went to see Mommy today. She's feeling better and will be going back to Lwów soon. When we called Lwów I was connected to you and I could hear you - alas, only a few words. Today I will be driving on. Write!
Cordial hugs,

§ 1 My beloved tiny, little Stas

Stefa to Stanislaw Ulam
no date [5 March 1938] § 1

Father visited Vienna and found mother feeling better.

§ 1 A telegram in German

Szymon Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam,
Vienna, 12 March 1938 § 1

Both parents are in Vienna; no changes; cordial greetings.

§ 1 A telegram in German

Szymon to Stanislaw Ulam, Vienna, 22 March 1938 § 1

Nothing has changed. Kisses

§ 1 A telegram in German

Klara Auersbach to Stanislaw Ulam,
no place, no date § 1

Kochany Stasiu!
      I am looking forward to our pleasant meeting during the summer in Lwów. Your parents are in Vienna. I have no news.
      You must be very happy that you made it to America. All of Europe is in its death throes.
Cordial greetings,
Klara Auerbach

§ 1 This note was scribbled on the back of the letter following written by Michal Auerbach. It was probably written in Stryj

Michal Auerbach to Stanislaw Ulam, N.K., § 1 24 March 1938 § 2

Dear cousin! § 3
      My best thanks for your kind letter. I am very glad to read, that you have ordered to send me the books I stated. I did not receive them yet, but I will write you again, when I will get them. Please do not be offended, that I did not answer sooner. I was overtaken by a bad illness and had to stay in bed for four weeks. At first I had influenza; afterwards I got an ear inflammation and was obliged to undergo a small operation. The wound is now healing and I got already up, but I am not allowed to go outdoors.
      How do you do? Is the life in America agreable? I would go there even now, but my mother does not allow it yet. She says, I am still to young. Have you heard of the last happenings in Europe. What news are in America? Be so kind to send me some newspapers or detective magazines.

Awaiting soon another letter I am
Yours sincerely,

Best regards from my mother.

Village at night § 4

Village at night:
A peaceful sight;
All still and quiet,
No sun, no light,
No people, no voice,
No traffic, no noise.
All is like dead.
For everyone has gone to bed.
And on the city halls sill
The watchmen sleep
Firm and deep;
And over them is the blue sky. . .
And clouds pass by,
And all is quiet and still.
A peaceful sight:
Village at night.

Mike Auerbach

§ 1 Nowosiolka Kolonia
§ 2 The letter was written entirely in English. No mistakes have been corrected.
§ 3 The exclamation here reflects the Polish letter writing rules.
§ 4 Verse also written entirely in English.

Jan Rosen to Stanislaw Ulam,
no place, § 1 3 April 1938

Beloved and very nice Doc, § 2
      Your response is rather lengthy but the circumstances are not propitious. I have no money to travel. All will be well as soon as the job starts. And things have started to appear bit by bit. Meanwhile, I may manage to come with an invitation to lecture in Boston. Maybe you could arrange something at Cambridge? Think of it, my dear. And please do not make fun of me because I miss you a lot, etc.

Nothing new from Andrzej - what a pig!

§ 1 Most likely New York
§ 2 "Doc'u kochany i bardzo mily."

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 27 April 1938 § 1

No need to make special haste.

§ 1 A telegram in German. Mamusia died towards the end of March. Perhaps this telegram is to reassure Stan that he needn't rush back to Poland on his account.

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 20 October 1938

Mój kochany!
      Finally, we have received your letter of the 3rd of this month. It is good that you left on time because after your departure we had a few hot days. § 1 I believe that things will be peaceful for now. Nothing new here with us. Evenings are cold, although during the day the weather is fair. Adas misses you. I go with him from time to time to the Riz coffee house after dinner, where we meet Wujcio Szymek and Domski. These are the only attractions we have. What are your perspectives for the future over there? I have a request for you not to drink and, as far as it is possible, not to smoke because these two addictions shorten life and ruin one's health. You will think immediately that these are unnecessary warnings. However, I think about that all the time, especially since Szymek told me that you had been dragging them to a bar at Harvard. In Lwów all the young people envy you, and they would like to get out abroad. You received from [Felix] Hausdorff of Bonn a copy of his Fundamenta Mathematica. Should I send it to you? I can't see in Banach's library the Mechanika. Did you take that book with you? Andrzej is doing well. He asked me to give you his best. He always cracks jokes as usual. When a few days ago Adas went on a school trip to Boryslaw, he asked him: "Did the Count Lanckoronski travel there to buy an oil well?" § 2
      Today I sent an article by Professor Eischleyer § 3 (a famous scientist in Vienna), which warned against alcohol and nicotine abuse. Truly, nicotine influences adversely the heart and often the lungs, while alcohol the heart muscle.
      Have any offprints of your works appeared in America yet?
Cordial greetings

      Mr. Thiehel, M. A., sends his best.
      Demski is not around at the moment, even though he visits me twice daily. § 4

      Nothing interesting has happened. § 5 You know about the political situation from the press. Here we still have agitation and joy following the annexation of Zaolzie by Poland. § 6 It seems that Pogon § 7 will drop down from the first league. The other day I saw Auerbach (a mathematical reincarnation) at [café] Roma. I am surprised that various magazines do not arrive which were promised to me in Lwów. § 8 The day after tomorrow I shall probably go to the opera. I went to Boryslaw, Drohobycz, and Truskawiec, and that was quite boring.
Cordial greetings

§ 1 This is undoubtedly a reference to the international situation in general and the belligerent moves of Nazi Germany in particular.
§ 2 Adas must have been an aloof and serious child which made him an easy target of Andrzej's jokes. In this instance, traditionally, one referred to an aristocrat in the third person singular. Therefore Andrzej poked fun at Adas, calling him the Count Lanckoronski, after a famous Polish aristocrat.
§ 3 Illegible
§ 4 This part is still by Dr. Józef Ulam.
§ 5 No salutation. Adam Ulam's handwriting.
§ 6 In 1938 Poland took part in dismembering Czechoslovakia. In revenge for the Czech attack of 1920, when taking advantage of the Bolshevik offensive on Warsaw, Czechoslovakia seized the Cieszyn Silesia from Poland, the Poles recaptured the area (which had a Polish ethnic majority) from the Czechs in 1938.
§ 7 Lwów's favorite soccer club.
§ 8 A reprimand to Stanislaw concerning the subscription for Adas.

Stefa and others to Stanislaw Ulam, Slask Cieszynski (Zaolzie), 21 October 1938 § 1

Dear Staszek,
      I have received your package from Paris. At the moment we are on an excursion to Bielsk and Cieszyn, where the post-card came from.
Józef § 2
Lili, Marian

§ 1 Stan Ulam's relatives and friends must have been curious to see the newly acquired territories.
§ 2 This is probably Stefa's fiancé and future husband, Józef Kruger (although his last name is not certain as it is nearly impossible to decipher fully - see below).

Tatus, Adas, and others to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 29 October 1938

      We are sending our greetings to you from the "Riz" café. Why don't you write.
Tatus, Michal § 1
      There will be no requests, while drinking cappucino.
Szymon, Józia § 2

§ 1 Auerbach.
§ 2 Szymon's wife, Józefa née Flãdra, who was a Polish Catholic.

Szymon, Józia, and Julek to Stanislaw Ulam,
Lwów, 16 December 1938

Kochany Stasiuniu!
      With all our hearts we are sending to you wishes of all possible happiness. We miss you very much, and we have been cheering ourselves up that we shall see you in the Spring in New York.
Cordial hugs and kisses,
Szymon and Józia

      With the approaching new year [sic] I send You my best wishes for happiness and prosperity. § 1

§ 1 Written in English.

[end of 1938 letters]

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Józef Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 13 March 1939

Kochany Stasiu,
      The letter that has just arrived today from Tokio -- I am truly amazed that Arstow § 1 did not follow his advice.
      Thank God all is well with us. Adas misses America and you. Stefa visits us quite frequently. Aside from the monthly allowance, I bought her kitchen furniture, [a] little desk and Zv. § 2 I visited with her during the absence of her husband. She has her place arranged rather solidly, and I got the impression that she is content.
      Nothing is happening here. Everyday news I read in Chwila. Our daily lifestyle has not changed at all. Wujcio Szymek visits us rather frequently and -- mimicking my hugs -- he yells at Adam "You German!" § 3 Selig and his wife have made up, but she does not want to give him her fur coat out of fear that he squanders it away like the rest of the fortune. Therefore he is not in the best of moods. I went to Warsaw for two days on business. Initially, Szymek, Andrzej, and the Goldbergs were there. We still have not heard from you. Have all the letters disappeared? Or are you simply lazy? You could send us special delivery letters or postcards. Otherwise, there is no news from you aside only from the letter of January 25. Nothing goes on as far as mathematics is concerned, and they are not visible yet. Be healthy, and I am awaiting any news.


§ 1 Illegible.
§ 2 Illegible,
§ 3 The words "You German" are written both in Ukrainian (Cyrillic letters) and Polish.

Julius Steiner to Stanislaw Ulam, S/S Conte Biancamano, 16 April 1939 § 1

Dearest Stasio,
      I have hesitated for a long time before bothering you, and also Andzia [wife?] has reproached me severly that I have not done so yet. She means that at the time when a man who is without any fault becomes a victim of indescribable terror measures of a state regime, it does not appear well for his relatives and friends to shirk from readiness to help. Like many thousands of others, I also am a victim of blind hatred and am now dependent on appeals to the humanity of others. Having been influenced by these objective thoughts, I am determined to tell you the following, and next to present a request:
      After the occupation of Austria and the confiscation of my enterprises and posessions, I realized that I must emigrate, and turn to you with a request to procure an affidavit for me. I refrained from carrying out that intention because I did not want to bother you about such a business, which is full of responsibilities. Therefore I turned to an assistance committee in New York, which after a long wait sent me an affidavit, in March of this year, admittedly at the right time. Because my life and freedom were endangered and because I could no longer wait for my quota number [to emigrate to America] (I fall under the Polish immigrant quota), I no longer was allowed to remain in Vienna. Therefore I have decided to head to Shanghai, where one is permitted to travel without a visa, in order to wait there for the [American] visa. I was permitted to emigrate there with 10 Reichsmarks in my pocket (isn't this a farce?). I shall be, when we arrive in Shanghai, without any money and any help! What that means requires no comment! Although there is here [in Shanghai], I hear, an assistance committee, which takes care of the refugees, a minimum amount of money, which I need to complete my journey that must be continued, cannot be had and is impossible to procure. And therefore I want to ask you, dearest Stasio, to assist me with about $200.00, by wiring it to me, if possible, so that when my quota number comes up I can travel to the United States. I am not asking for a gift from you. Because of my profession, I have the prospects to be earning money, and I will then be in a position to repay the loan with the profoundest thanks to you.
      Presently, I have found myself on the aforementioned steamer on the way to Shanghai, and I follow the inner voice of my heart, which tells me that you would not refuse your assistance to me. It is not because that I can think about [doing for you] something in return that I have turned to you with the aforementioned request. This I do because I feel that your assistance will come at the quickest possible pace for you, in harmony with your upright character that I know can understand my situation, in which I have found myself through no fault of my own.
      Presently, on board an Italian steamer, I am not in a situation to provide a detailed presentation of my experiences. However, I believe that you will understand me and that you understand the picture. My impressions will be a bit more fully completed for you at some other time. . . .
      Please send the amount of money I asked for as well as any correspondence to the address of Julius Steiner, poste restante, Central Post Office, in Shanghai.
      Already in advance thanking you profusely, I remain with cordial greetings and secure that at the next opportunity I shall repay with thanks the amount forwarded here.

Julius [Steiner], the one who has a high opinion of you. § 2

§ 1 Written in German on the stationery of the Lloyd Triestino shipping line, while at sea.
§ 2 "Dein Dich schätzender."

Eliza Breumerowa to Stanislaw Ulam, no place, no date

Mr. Staszek!
      Please forgive me that I do not salute you as you amply deserve, but our acquaintanceship has never been characterized by convention. I recall that during one of our enlightening conversations you expressed surprise that we were not already in America which I considered an absurd proposition at the time.
      Well, times have changed however. My husband has been trying to emigrate for the past two years. He has undertaken serious steps toward that end, and today we have a permit to go to Australia.
      Unfortunately, I cannot reconcile myself to the thought of leaving for such distant countries. I am the only daughter, and I can neither take my parents on such a long trip nor can I leave them behind.
      Therefore I would like to beg you very much [for assistance], since -- as my husband stressed already -- we would be under no circumstances a burden for anyone. Sending us an affidavit would constitute no problem at all because as is known such affidavits are arranged by special offices or lawyers. Because we have our permit [to enter Australia], we shall go there but only with a thought that we can reach America from there, having secured beforehand the affidavit. I would like to thank you cordially in advance.
Greetings to you,

Eliza Breumerowa

Aniela Jawetzowa to Sanislaw Ulam, Kololowka pow. Borszczonów, 9 August 1939

Gracious Sir Doctor,
      Not wishing to torment you, I'd like to submit the address of my son:
Ernest Jawetz, New York Cy., 18 East 95th Street.
      Perhaps however he moved to the coast. Therefore [he can be found] between 12 noon and 10 in the evening (or via the phone at the World Exhibition, the Polish Pavilion, where he is "the captain" and the "host" at the restaurant. Please get in touch with him during your trip to New York, and I remain thankful to you with all my heart.
Devoted to you,

Aniela Jawetzowa, the sister of Olga Baderowa (Bader)

A postcard to Stanislaw Ulam, Jastarnia, 14 August 1939

Hugs and kisses from Józef, Szymon, Józia, Marian

A postcard to Stanislaw Ulam, Gdynia, 16 August 1939

Today we are off.
Szymon, Józia, Julek

Tatus to Stanislaw and Adam Ulam, no place [Baltic Sea resort of Orlowo], 17 August 1939

Moi kochani, § 1
      I have received your letter, and I am very delighted that the journey to Copenhagen was nice. I hope that the rest of the trip goes well also. Szymek talked me into renting a room in the vacation house [dom kuracyjny as appears on the postcard from Orlowo]. Together we drank and dined here. The weather is propitious. We made trips to Jatarnia and Jurata. I shall describe my impressions soon.

Szymon, Józia, Julek

§ 1 My dears (plural).

Tatus to Stanislaw and Adam Ulam, Orlowo, 18 August 1939

Moi kochani,
      We are leaving the coast and are headed home. We have spent a few beautiful and sunny days here. We are awaiting the account of your journey and future plans. Take care of yourselves, especially while swimming in the sea and driving in automobile traffic. Truly obey us in those matters.


      Pay attention to what your elders are telling you!
Szymon, Julek

Józef and Szymon Ulam to Stas and Adas, Lwów, 21 August 1939

Moi kochani,
      We have arrived before it became crowded. Stach of course is sorry that you did not remain these few days but there is nothing to be sorry about because things will be easier over there. Write to us precisely, Adas in particular, about your first impressions over there [the U. S.].

      We are asking you for frequent news; briefly but frequently, at least twice a week a postcard. I shall be off to Skole § 1 for a few days.
Hugs and kisses to you,

§ 1 Illegible.

Andrzej to Stanislaw Ulam, Bucarest, 24 September 1939 § 1

Staying Esplanade. § 2 Carl Loeb returned because he was without any means. The family is on the way. § 3

§ 1 A telegram written in German.
§ 2 The hotel in Bucarest where Andrzej and the Goldbergs stayed (his mother Salomea Goldberg and her second husband; her first husband, Adrzej's father, was Jakub Ulam).
§ 3 Andrzej Ulam escaped to Romania before the arrival of the Wehrmacht and the Red Army, which both attacked Poland in September 1939. The Polish Army units defending Lwów fought off the German advance and chose to surrender to the Soviets on September 22nd. The Soviets prevented the escape of the rest of the Ulams to safety.

Józef Auerbach § 1 to Stanislaw Ulam
Czernowitz, Romania
19 October 1939

Mein Lieber Staszek!
      I'm writing in German because I don't have a Polish typewriter handy, and I have to use a typewriter anyway with my at times illegible handwriting.
      Now, my dear, there's been a terrible catastrophe. . . I must get out, and I'm here without any kind of money. . .tragic days, because I'm threatened with death by hunger. Thus I am forced to turn to you with an urgent request that you help immediately; otherwise I will die here, and there is no rescue. Thus I request that you send [any] amount of money as a loan and that you will send it by bank [cashier's] check. I will use the money each month until I go back to Poland, or emigrate to America. I hope very much that Poland will soon be normal again, and then I will gratefully pay you back everything. My situation is probably difficult for you to understand, but simply the fact that I turn to you with such a request will explain to you the catastrophic condition and tragic stuation. . . if it were not for the prospect of help from you, I would make an end to my life here. I am counting on your goodness and kindness and sacrifice to help.

Meine Adresse:
Józef Auerbach
Cernauti, per Adresse: HIAS § 2 Cernauti Janko Flondor 13

Prof. Dr. Stanislaus Ulam
Uniwersität Harvard. In Boston.

Daten für Afidavit: Józef Auerbach, geb. am 4 Febr in Stryj; Vater: Vornamen: Adolf; Mutter: Fanny.

§ 1 A first cousin on Stanislaw Ulam's mother's side. At the time of this letter he was in his late twenties.
§ 2 This letter was accompanied by a cover letter dated 28 November 1939 from the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society [U. S.], as follows:
"Dear Dr. Ulam:
      "From our office in Czernowitz, Romania, we received a request to forward to you the enclosed communication from the above. We hope you will be able to give the matter referred to in the letter your kind attention. . . ."

Antosia § 1 to Stanislaw Ulam, Prague, 7 November 1939 § 2

Liebster Stasio,
      Although letters arrive here from America, why don't you write to us? I would like so much to hear how things are with you and how everything goes. And how is dear Adas? Has he experienced and learned anything already? Perhaps he wrote to Marietta during the summer, but she did not receive anything from him. I wanted to ask you something. Did you get any news from home? I have not had any news for over two months from you. When you know anything please write a lot to me soon so I'd know how things are with Mom and you all. Things are fine with us. We are all healthy, which is the most important. Do you see Stacha often? Tell her that I'm sending her cordial greetings, and she should write to me. Also be so dear, Stasiu, and do not let me wait for your answer. Respond immediately.
      Tell dear Adas how I greet and kiss him.

Your Antosia
Praha XII. Dolni Blanicka 5
Protektorat Cechy a Moravy

§ 1 An unknown relative or friend.
§ 2 Written in German.

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 22 December [1939] § 1

Received no news. Wire the answer.

§ 1 A telegram in German.

[end of 1939 letters]

The 1939 letters: a coda.
In 1963, Adam received a telephone call from Miami, Florida, from a man who identified himself as George Volsky. He had seen one of Adam's books in a bookstore and was calling to ask if he was any relation to a Józef Ulam. Adam replied that his father was named Józef Ulam, whereupon Volsky said that he had spent the winter of 1939 with him and that a letter would follow, telling how that had come about. Shortly afterward, it arrived.

"Miami, December 22, 1963 :
      "Drogi Panie, Yes, you are so right in reminding me (on the telephone) that it is almost 25 years since those unforgettable days of the summer of 1939. My recollections of Lwów are naturally hazy and, as I come to think of it, unreal. I had never been there before, just passed by it, several times, I think, on the way to, Pkzernyl, but Lwów was always surrounded in my mind with an aura of its fierce pride and courage and peculiar stubborn individualism.

      "I entered the Ulam apartment house in Lwów on a cool, misty and very gray morning in the early days of October 1939. The house was situated near the university on a narrow street in the city's old town. Both the house and the street seemed devoid of warmth, or at least so I thought at the time. I carried with me a small suitcase with a few personal belongings, including a heavy sweater and a blanket that my aunt, providentially, insisted I take with me when I left my Krakow home eight weeks earlier.

      "It was my third day in Lwów, where I arrived via a train full of refugees from the also Soviet-occupied city of Rowno, some 200 kilometers distant. In my pocket, I hid a golden watch and about 350 zlotys, also given to me by my aunt, my only possessions of value. On the trip to the Ulam house, by tramway and on foot, I was accompanied be a middle-aged attractive woman -- a relative of a friend -- whom I had met on my first day in the city. Disregarding the watchful glance of the concierge, we walked up to the first floor apartment, the best one in the building, where my companion introduced me to the owner of the house who she said was a prominent Lwów lawyer, named Józef Ulam.

      "My first impression of Pan Ulam was his reserve, gentleness and what appeared to me infinite sadness. Not more than 5' 5" in height, he wore a dark, three-piece woolen suit. He looked at me and, without asking any questions, said with kindness that I could stay and sleep in one of the apartment's rooms. He exchanged a few words with the woman, whom he knew well, and who had contacted him before to ask if he could give shelter for a few days to a boy (I was 18 at the time) who in effect was an escaped war prisoner. Almost immediately, the woman waved goodbye to me and left. I barely had time to thank her for letting me stay in her place for the two previous nights and for finding me a new place to stay. I never learned her name, and I never saw her again. Pan Ulam then took me to "my" room, a small, dark study, where on a mattress I was to sleep for a week that stretched to more than three months. He told me, almost apologetically, to stay there for now; we would talk in the afternoon because he had to go out to run some errands. So there I sat on the mattress with my gloomy thoughts, alone for the first time in weeks during which I had been constantly on the move. I ate a piece of bread and a sausage that I had brought in my suitcase. I felt overwhelmed and dazed by the events that had taken place in my life in the last several weeks. So as not to think about the past and even less about the foreboding future, or not to cry, I forced myself to sleep.

      "Eight weeks earlier in Krakow, I was preparing, albeit with some apprehension, for my second year at the Jagellonian University's medical school. Hitler's threats against Poland were commented on by all but were not taken with the utmost seriousness they deserved. We were led to believe by our government that he would not dare to attack Poland and face not only what we were assured was a very brave and powerful Polish army, but also the even the mightier armadas of France and Great Britain. Then in the middle of August events darkened. My father, then a 43-year-old reserve artillery Lt. Colonel who lived in Warsaw, was ordered to report to his unit in the field, and so was my uncle, his older brother, who was a reserve colonel in the medical corps and with whom I lived in Krakow. (My mother died when I was 12; my father subsequently remarried and moved to Warsaw; I remained in Krakow with my uncle, a physician and a university professor, and his wife, who were childless and lived in a very large, elegant house in the best residential district of the city.) Then, on August 30, like many young university students who were cadet-officers, I was instructed to report to Krakow's military barracks to be given uniforms and weapons in order to be posted later to various units, in my case, to the air squadron outside the city.

      "On September 1, 1939, when the Nazis invaded Poland, our group, still without uniforms, was ordered to move to Kielce, north of Krakow. We never got there. It became immediately apparent that the Germans had broken through the Polish defenses in the West, and we received information that Nazi tanks were thrusting deep into the countryside near Kielce to encircle Warsaw. It was a glorious September: warm weather day and night, with cloudless skies. We prayed for rain to slow the Nazi armor, but the heavens did not cooperate. Our small unit found itself adrift and almost leaderless. Without precise orders, by train, trucks, and sometimes on foot, we were withdrawing eastward where, we were told, our army was reorganizing for a counteroffensive. That never happened. Instead, in a few days the Polish Army and the Polish state disintegrated; so did my theretofore pleasant, carefree life and secure future. By September 17, fleeing from the Germans, our ragtag unit of some 200 youngsters wearing Polish army caps but without uniforms or weapons, was in a territory occupied by the Soviet troops which, under a secret Hitler-Stalin treaty, were to control the eastern part of the divided Poland, including Lwów.

      "In no time, we were seized by the Soviets. At the beginning, the Russian officers did not know what to do with the bunch of boys. Some said we would be sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in the Ukraine, or the far North. (That's where I found myself later on.) Others told us we would be let go home. The Soviet commanders had more important things to do: to reach the river Bug rapidly, their demarcation line, across from the Nazis. Thus, taking advantage of the confusion, of a temporary disinterest of the Soviet military, and of the presence of civilian refugees in the area, with a friend of mine from Krakow, I escaped from the lightly-guarded Russian compound. We discarded our military caps and became civilians, hoping to avoid re-capture. He headed for Lwów, where he had distant family and friends; and I, by foot, to Rowno, a town not too far away where my family as I recalled had acquaintances. I stayed in Rowno, a small town of about 10,000 people, for only about 10 days, changing abodes almost every night. The NKVD, the Soviet secret police, which arrived in town en masse on the heels of the military, seized control and jailed Polish policemen and other officials. The NKVD's first action was to order all non-Rowno residents to report to a special "census" office. The presence of young "outsiders" (I became friendly with a number of refugees of my age, some from Lwów), who dressed more fashionably than the locals, became very conspicuous, and it was difficult to find places to stay. Some of my new friends were returning home to Lwów and suggested that I do the same and become submerged in a larger population of refugees from Western Poland who fleeing the Germans by the tens of thousands sought refuge in that city of 350,000.

      "As soon as I arrived in Lwów, I got in touch with my Krakow friend. He introduced me to the woman in whose apartment I stayed until she contacted Pan Ulam and guided me to his house. In the afternoon of my first day there, Pan Ulam woke me up gently and explained the rules of my stay even though it was going to be a short one. He said he would mention casually to the concierge (who probably would spread the news to other tenants) that I was the son of a good friend who came to enroll in the University of Lwów as soon as it inaugurated its classes and, as a student, I would then move to a university dormitory. He introduced me to a housemaid, an older woman, whom I later helped to wash dishes. The kitchen, rather large, had a window that overlooked a U-shaped courtyard of the two-story house. From the kitchen window I could look at other apartments. There was one in particular which caught my attention because I saw that an attractive young woman lived there. The woman, the wife of a tailor, saw me and apparently liked me from afar. Later, on several occasions when her husband was away, she signaled me to come up to her apartment, visits that proved to be rather pleasant for both of us. I told Pan Ulam that I would be away most of the time because I had friends in the city. I also said I would try to contact my aunt to seek her advice about whether I should return home. In October 1939 there was no mail between the two occupied parts of Poland. But the border dividing the Soviet and German zones was still very porous, which permitted enterprising and -- I must say -- honest individuals, to move, for a price, people, letters and even packages to and from virtually all parts of Poland. (By January 1941, because of that year's very cold winter and increased German and Soviet vigilance, this traffic practically ceased.) One event I recall that took place during my first week in the Ulam house was that when I came back in the evening, I found another young man whom Pan Józef had also invited to stay, which he did for one night only. After the first 10 days in the house, I told Pan Ulam that I could not immediately find another sleeping place. He replied that I should not worry and that I could stay as long as I believed it was safe. He was slowly warming up to me, abandoning some of his somewhat shy reserve. Most of all, he came to like me, I think, because I reminded him of his younger son and the fact that he was safe warmed his aging heart in spite of the cold.

      "One day he asked me to come home earlier and dine with him. (I would usually have a cup of tea at the apartment and a slice of bread). Then I would go out and, weather permitting, would meet friends at some place in town, or in my Lwów friends' houses, if it rained. A university medical school, to which I was planning to transfer and which was scheduled to reopen by early December, was offering free lunches to regular students and transfer applicants. So several of us who were in the latter category were able to eat at least one good meal a day. Unfortunately, in late November the University under new Communist leaders decided that only residents of the Soviet-occupied part of Poland were eligible for university admittance; consequently, there were no more free lunches for me and my colleagues.

      "At our first dinner together -- Pan Ulam, who was a light eater and usually had only a bowl of soup at night -- asked me about my family and told me a little about his. I learned that his wife had died the year before, and that he had two sons, Stanislaw, then about 23 and Adam, who was my age, who were in America. He was extremely proud of his sons, especially Stan, who by that time already had two doctoral degrees in the sciences. He also said that Adam was an extremely bright young man, and that he was sure that his older brother would help him to chose a right career. During the meal, and even more so later because he alluded to the subject several times, he would express, as though speaking to himself, a feeling of sadness at being left alone. But at the same time he was happy, and convinced of the righteousness of his decision, because he had sent his sons abroad to escape the calamity of a war which he wisely foresaw coming.

      "My initial gloom at being alone in the world and left to my own devices was beginning to dissipate. And it was assuaged by a letter from my aunt who practically saved my life. She ordered me to stay put in Lwów to await further developments and, bless her heart, sent me a large package with winter clothing, including two suits, my sturdy shoes and, most important, a heavy overcoat, which I urgently needed, as well as 200 zlotys. (On many days in October I shivered going out dressed in a light suit and my heavy sweater.) How did she manage to send me such a large package I never found out, but she was always a very resourceful person. I owe much to her. An extremely beautiful, poised -- almost regal -- and very well-educated woman of only 45, she had taught me, by her example, manners and savoir-faire. I sent her the most loving letter of thanks that I had ever written, and later, when I knew my free days in Lwów were numbered, another one. I hope she received them both and was proud of me. I never got a reply. She died during the war in Krakow of an unknown ailment, as I was informed by my relatives after the war. Her -- our -- house was commandeered by the Gestapo, and was destroyed beyond repair by the SS troops when they abandoned the city in 1945.

      "As time wore on, my relations with Pan Ulam became more friendly, or rather he took a more paternal, though still reserved, interest in me perhaps because, by age at least, I reminded him of Adam. Our age difference aside, we were alike because both of us were lonely. I had no mother and did not know where my father was, indeed if he was alive. (He survived the Soviet captivity to fight with the Polish Army and died as a result of serious wounds he suffered in the Monte Casino battle. My uncle died in a Soviet prison.) Pan Ulam knew his sons were in America, but I think he had few hopes of seeing them any time soon, if ever. One day he introduced me to his nephew, a banker who came to visit several times. I do not remember the nephew's name). The only recollection that I have of him is that he was about 40, with sparse blond hair, a round pleasant face and a cheerful demeanor. The three of us discussed politics, a gloomy subject at the time. The southeastern part of Poland, with Lwów as its center, was incorporated into the Soviet Ukraine. The Ukrainian language was rapidly displacing Polish in the city, which had a sizeable Ukrainian population, although not a majority as in the surrounding countryside. On one or two occasions when the weather was nice, Pan Ulam and I would take a stroll along the Lwów streets. He would tell me stories about the city's past, some of which I knew from my history lessons, and about its buildings, plazas and avenues. Until then I had not realized how attractive Lwów really was, having always thought that Krakow was Poland's most beautiful and pleasant city.

      "I still see Pan Ulam in my mind's eye. Even during a few warm October days, he always went out wearing a heavy dark fur-lined coat with an Astrakhan collar. He wore a black derby hat angled to the left side (somehow I remember that detail) that gave him a slightly rakish look. In early November, the weather was becoming inclement, and I was spending more time at home with my host. The apartment was cold, there being very little coal and wood for the stoves. One day I asked Pan Ulam if he had any old useless papers we could burn to warm ourselves even for a while. He produced legal briefs, but they were gone in no time. He and I looked at the heavy books in his legal library, and after a moment of hesitation he picked up one volume at random and gave it to me. It took much longer for the book's pages to be consumed by fire, and we felt warmer for a longer time, too. From that day on, we sat together many mornings and evenings, as though mesmerized, looking at the fire of his legal volumes, each with his own thoughts. I am sure he was remembering his past life of which the burning books were witnesses. He did not bemoan their loss; on the contrary, he seemed to enjoy their non-legal usefulness. At the same time, losing the past, he was probably giving up on the future.

      "Bleak as my present was, with youthful unreason, I was hoping that I would survive, although I did not know how. My situation, which I told Pan Ulam about, was becoming more precarious as 1939 was coming to an end. It was clear that it would not be possible for me to transfer to the Lwów medical school, which would have meant receiving free housing, meals and a small stipend. It was because the Soviet authorities started to differentiate between the permanent population of its Polish provinces and that from Poland's German side. A population census by the Lwów Communist authorities provided the former with valid Soviet residence documents. People like me (I had only my Krakow university identity card and a mobilization order) could not apply for them, and in effect I became stateless. In early December, the omnipresent NKVD began rounding up refugee families for deportation to the Siberia, or other far eastern regions. Rumors that trains full of Polish refugees (and some locals whom the Soviets regarded as politically suspect) were leaving the Lwów railway yard were soon confirmed. Once or twice, Ukrainian paramilitary officials visited our house to inquire if any outsiders lived there, adding that it was illegal to give shelter or lease space to people without proper documents. The concierge, who knew me by sight said there were no strangers in the apartment house, and later told Pan Ulam about the visits. His concern was not so much that the woman, who was a trusted long-time employee, would denounce me, but that it could be done by some tenants who were either nursing an old grudge against him, or wanted to ingratiate themselves politically with the Ukrainian Communists.

      "I knew then that I would have to look for another place to stay. I did not want to compromise Pan Ulam, of whom I have become very fond and who never told me, or even suggested, that I leave. Before we parted, he gave me one piece of advice, which I followed. If I were to be detained by the NKVD, he said, I should tell my captors that I was an escaped prisoner-of-war and as such, under international law, I had the right to be turned over to the military authorities. Christmas and the New Year came and went. In vain, I sought a solution that would keep me legally in Lwów. Finally a local friend told me he would arrange for me to have a bed at a university dormitory where a few other young men like myself were trying to "pass" as legitimate students. After a week of considering the offer, I realized there was nothing for me to do but to take it.

      "So on a chilly night in early January I furtively left the apartment. I said goodbye to Pan Ulam, thanking him with as much emotion as I could express for the kindness and affection he had showed me during the preceding months. I walked away with my small suitcase and cried because I was sure I would not see him again. When we parted, I think he shed a tear too; he knew he would be left alone again with only remembrances of the past and nothing to look forward to. In hindsight, I am glad, thinking that I had brightened his lonely life even though it was only for a short time.

      "Ten days later, the NKVD, apparently tipped by informers, arrived late at night to inspect the papers of the students in the three-story dormitory. Wakened in my tiny cubicle, I immediately knew my game was up. I quickly packed my belongings, went to the ground floor where the Russian political police set up its check point and turned myself in, presenting my military papers. I was arrested, and the next day I was sent to the military police headquarters. I was interrogated for several hours by two officers who inquired about my life since my September escape. Even though they wanted to know where I stayed in Lwów, I said that I had always slept in various university establishments. I was not treated too badly.

      "Several days later, with other former Polish soldiers, I was sent under guard to a prisoner-of-war camp located between Kiev and Kharkov, and a year later to another camp north of Leningrad. We were liberated in July 1941, after Germany attacked the Soviet Union. I became attached to a Polish division being organized in Uzbekistan, where I met my father, also freed from a similar camp. My father continued with his Polish Army division that eventually fought in Italy. I was transferred to a Polish Air Force squadron in England, and later to the Royal Air Force. But that is part of another story of my long life.

      "As I write these lines, I remember many things which I did not know were stored in my memory. And it is because hitherto I thought myself the one and only actor of those memorable days. Now my figure diminishes and other figures appear on the scene, more defined and more tragic than the senseless youth that I then was. I hope I have been able to translate into words the atmosphere of those months. I am told it is generally a forlorn hope. Nevertheless. . . do remember, as I stated, that 24 years ago, I spent them with [Józef Ulam].

"Best regards, George Volsky"

George Volsky is a retired journalist who wrote for The New York Times. He now lives in Florida.

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Tatus to Adam Ulam, Lwów, 30 January 1940

Kochany Adasiu,
      We have not had any news from either you or Stas aside from a single telegram of November last year. We are doing well. Stefa and her husband are staying with us. Please write to us soon and a lot.

Greetings and kisses from everyone,

Cordial greetings from Ignacy [and] Józef Kruger §1


§1 Illegible. Józef Kruger was Stefa's husband, and Ignacy Kruger was her father-in-law.

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 30 January 1940

Kochany Stasiu,
      I wrote to you two days ago. Today I'm writing you again. I would like to make sure that the message from us reaches you with certainty. We are well. Stefa, her husband, [and] Szymek and I have been waiting for any news from you and Adas. Simultaneously, I'm writing to Adas to his old address. Please write as soon as possible and make it a special delivery letter. I'm kissing you.

Stefa, Józef.

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 22 February 1940

Kochany Stasiu,
      Today we have received your letter of December 23 of last year [1939] from New York. We are happy that you are well and that you have been enjoying yourselves. Everything is all right with us as well. As I wrote before, Stefa and her husband have been staying with us. Wujcio [Uncle] Szymek and Józia are also well. Otherwise all is without any changes. Please write precisely and profusely about yourselves. I am sending you my warmest greetings and cordial kisses.


      The main thing is that everyone is healthy here! Enjoy yourselves and remember about us. My hugs and kisses to you.

Cordial greetings, Józef Kruger §1

I'm kissing and sending my best to you. Stefa

I am sending my cordial greetings, Ignacy [Kruger] §2

§1 Illegible
§2 Illegible

Tatus to Adam Ulam, Lwów, 26 February 1940

Kochany Adasiu,
      We have received your letter from New York of December 23 of last year and we are very happy that you are healthy and that you are content with your sojourn there. We also are doing well. Please write more frequently and more profusely. I'm greeting and kissing you.

Hugs and kisses, Szymon
Cordial greetings and kisses

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 2 March 1940

Kochany Stasiu,
      We were very happy with your letter of December 24 of last year. According to the letter, you and Adas are well. I am very happy about that and, in particular, about the fact that Adas has been getting good grades. I'm begging you to take good care of him and to continue helping him. I have also written him a postcard to Brown [University]. Please take care of yourself. Do not smoke cigarettes compulsively, as you have been doing, because you will start ailing. We are well. Stefa with her husband and his father Ignacy are staying with us. Szymek visits us every day and also Józia. Please write precisely and profusely about yourselves. I'm sending you the most cordial greetings and kisses.

Tatus to Adam Ulam, Lwów, 3 March 1940

Kochany Adasiu,
      How are you doing? How is school? Do you already have everything there, meaning friends, with whom you associate, and from outside of the university? Don't you miss us? Take care of your health and conduct yourself properly. We are well. Write to us frequently and profusely.
Greetings and kisses,

Kisses and greetings for kitty-mama's boy.
Stefa §1

§1 "Calusy i podzrowienia dla kociusi-lalusi."

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 14 March 1940

Kochany Stasiu,
      Aside from the letter of December 23 of last year, we have not had any news from either you or Adas. We hope that you are doing well. Please write here as soon as possible! We are healthy. I'm already now sending the most cordial wishes for Adas's and your name-days. I wish you health and happiness undisturbed by anything. Take care of yourselves! I'm also sending my greetings to Zochna §1 and Andrzej. I'm kissing you.

Greetings from Stefa and her husband.

§1 A dimiuntive for Zofia.

Tatus to Adam Ulam, Lwów, 24 March 1940

Mój Kochany Adasiu,
      Please accept my most cordial wishes for your name-day! §1 Why do you write so little to me? Besides the letter from December of last year, we have not had anything from you. We are healthy and well. I am writing a separate letter to Stasiu, whose birthday is also in April. Stay healthy. Take care of yourself! I'm kissing you.

§1 Imieniny. But in fact, in anticipation of his birthday. Adam Ulam was born on April 8, 1922.

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 24 March 1940

Kochany Stasiu,
      First of all, I'm sending you my most cordial greetings for your name-day. May everything go in life according to your wishes! We have not had any news from you aside from the letter of December 24 of last year and the telegram. We are well. I am begging you very much to watch out for yourself and for Adas, who because of his weak heart requires diligent care. §1 And you should not smoke, just as I have not touched a cigarette for the past three months; nor should you drink over the limit. And watch out for the car traffic, because you have so many accidents over there.

Ad multos annos;

§1 "staranna pielëgnacja"

Tatus to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 1 April 1940 § 1

Kochany Stasiu,
      Since January of this year we have been without any news about [the two of] you, despite the fact that in your letter of December of last year you promised to write separately and profusely.
nbsp;     Meanwhile, I sent a few postcards to you and Adas, and lately I have sent to you my cordial greetings for your name-days, which are this month. I would like to repeat my wishes now. I would be happy to know how you feel and whether you will also remain at Harvard next year. Does Adas have the means to support himself and does he have good grades? I'm begging you please take care of yourselves and stay healthy. We are doing well.
      I'm awaiting soon the letters you promised! Greetings to you from me,
Szymek, Stefa, and her husband.

I'm kissing you

§ 1 This is the last extant direct communication between Józef Ulam and his family in the United States. The very last communication came indirectly through Józef Gruss in April, 1941. After that, nothing.

Józef Gruess [Grüss] to [Stanislaw Ulam], New York, 15 October 1940

My dear,
      Your letter brought me much joy, in particular that you are happy with your stay and the milieu. I speak with Andrzej every day. He is in Washington today. He left to deal with the visa for your parents. Stacha and Zygmunt [Menkes] are well. They moved to a new apartment. Terrible news have come from Lwów: poverty and fear, everyone is dissatisfied. §1 The situation is still serious, but it is not hopeless. They count here on Roosevelt's election. Today America is already on the side of England, and now we must wait for the results of American [industrial] production; if by spring [1941] England receives 15,000 airplanes and pilots, the cause is saved. I absolutely do not trust Comrade Stalin. Russia's current stance is defensive, and therefore I have no idea what may bloom in Stalin's head in a few months. In a word, the situation is not a happy one. Europe will be unrecognizable. The material bankruptcy has already taken place; a moral one will follow successively.
      As far as your learning how to fly, please accept my irreversible decision that I shall never fly with you.
      The stock market is dead; lately, the only one who makes money is the one with "insider information". The quotes are cheap. I have an impression that after the election taxes will be significantly increased. It is hard to make a penny. Nothing interesting with us. No business has worked out yet; terribly difficult.
Cordial greetings, and I am looking forward to your visit here.

Cordial greetings. When are we going for a plane trip?
Lola Gruess

§ 1 this still concerns the Soviet occupation.

Józef Ulam to Józef Gruess, Lwów, 17 October 1940

My very dear Sir, § 1

      As you have sent greetings to me, my very dear Sir, so I am responding in kind. My daughter, my son-in-law, and I are healthy and well. We miss Staszek and Adas very much. Please send to them our cordial greetings and kisses. How do you spend your time, dear Sir, and how are you doing? You must miss your little daughter undoubtedly. I would like to tell you that Tecia is doing very well. How are the Nenkers doing? Linka has a job as a waitress in a coffee house and is feeling very well. Malgosia is already a grown young lady.
I'm sending my cordial regards.
Józef § 2

§ 1 Kochany Panie, a salutation denoting familiarity, friendship and intimacy, as opposed to a more formal Drogi Panie.
§ 2 Mr. Julian Bussgang contributes these insights into this letter:

      "I sent a copy of the letter from Józef Ulam to Józef Gruss dated 17 October 1940 to Mike Gruss in New York, [asking him about the names of families mentioned in the letter]. Mike (Emanuel Michael) is a nephew of Jozef Gruss (no longer alive). I have known about Mike for a long time, because the Grusses were a prominent banking family in Lwów and later in New York. Please note that the Gruss name originally had an 'umlaut' over the letter 'u.' In Poland the 'u umlaut ss' was sometimes spelled 'uess.' However, in the US the Grusses dropped the 'e' after the 'u,' hence the different spelling. "

In a message dated December 29, 2003, he wrote:

"Dear Julian:
      "Joseph Gruss was my late father Oscar's brother. Joseph and his wife Caroline came to America before the war. They left behind with Caroline's mother their one-year-old daughter, Joasia. After the war broke out, Joseph sent them Guatemalan passports. Lwów was occupied by the Russians, and Joseph intended that they travel to Vladivostok and thence to the Western Hemisphere. To do that they needed travel permits from Moscow. Unfortunately, before the permits were granted the Germans occupied Lwów and closed all avenues of escape.
      "I don't know who Tecia, Malgosia, Linka, and, or the Netters are. I think, though, that at that time Józef Ulam and Joseph Gruss were helping Polish refugees in America to remit money to the families they had left behind. These people would pay the money to Joseph, Joseph would pay it to Stan, and Józef Ulam would pay it out in local currency to the relatives in Lwów.
      "The words Tecia, Malgosia etc. are probably code words for addresses and amounts of money to be paid out. The letter probably served as confirmations of payments effected. One copy was mailed to Joseph and another to Stan. That is why a letter from Józef addressed to Joseph found its way into Stan's files.
      "The letter. . . has historical value. . . as evidence to what lengths people went to help their relatives in the occupied countries. Needless to say, dealing in foreign exchange and such remittances were prohibited in the western countries and punished severely in countries under the Russian and German occupation."

Emanuel Michael Gruss

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The last Letters:

There remain but a few letters, none from the immediate family. A letter from Józef Gruss contains the last (indirect) communication from Józef Ulam to his son. Two letters from Cousin Juliusz (Julek) Ulam confirm the deaths of nearly all the Ulam family. And a much later letter from a cousin living in Italy explains the tragic deaths of Stan and Adam's sister Stefania and her child.

Józef Gruss to Stanislaw Ulam, no place, no date [New York, summer 1941?]

Kochany Stasiu,
      Hallo! Hallo! My most cordial congratulations and wishes of all the best and of happiness. Hugs to you and your Lady! Cordially and once more I am wishing you all the best. Yesterday I received a letter of April 26 [1941] from Lwów written by my father-in-law, where your father inquires about you and asks about any news. Temporarily, there is no communication with Lwów. Therefore I have no further news. As far as Adas is concerned, I cannot do anything. However, I think that he should register for military service via mail with the [Polish] Consulate and write that he cannot come for lack of funds. When you come here for Christmas, you can take care of this yourself. However, I advise against going to Canada. At the moment, Adas must finish his studies and that's that. Explain all of this to Adas. As far as the situation in the Ukraine is concerned, this is what I think: We had the Miracle on the Vistula and on the Marne as well as the wonder that Hitler attacked Russia. The Germans will loose a great deal of blood during the entire time of fighting in Russia without any result because even if they take Moscow, Russia barely starts there. The war is not won yet, however, because they still play tricks on FDR: If America moved immediately to war, the cause and the result would be settled.... Hugs,

Gini §1to Stanislaw Ulam, no place, no date

Kochany Stasiu,
      We cannot register Adas in New York because he must appear before a military draft board. He can do it at the locality where he lives at the moment. Namely, he should report to the veterans' commission. Once he has reported, please send me the confirmation of his appearance before the draft board and I shall extend the validity of his passport.
      You have been registered. Adas must file an application for a deferment because he is a student. His request must be confirmed by the university.
     As far as Szymek is concerned we wrote to London and we telegraphed to Moscow. We have no news from Lwów.

P.S. You will receive from the consulate [of Poland] the confirmation of your having reported [for military service].

§1 A relative of Józef Gruss.

Juliusz Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam, Lwów, 16 March 1945 [Written in English.]

Dear Cousin!
      It is for the first time during the war, that I have the possibility of sending You some news. Alas, these news are without exception sorrowful, as can be the news from the theatre of war.
      From our whole family, I and my mother are the only alive. Your father and mine, your sister and her husband fell from the hands of Nazis; and these five years of war, from the very beginning, are for us a story of constant terror and persecution.
      It would have no purpose to relate this story with details; I shall do it, when we meet again.
      As to myself, I am still in Lwów, but not for long. After the flight of Germans from here, I got a post on the University, owing to the help of Stephan, and I was accepted to the IIIrd course of mathematics, after having passed all necessary examinations. My incessant study of mathematics, which I continued in spite of most unfavourable conditions, enabled me to do it.
      Stephen left for Moscow in January, and got perhaps a contact with You already. I leave in the nearest days for Cracow, where I shall enter the University, most probably the IVth course, if my material conditions, very heavy now, will allow me to study.
      I am wearing now my mother's maiden name; and if You would like to write to me, write to the University of Cracow, for Julius Flondor. If You could make the departure from here possible for me, I would be most grateful to You. With kindest regards for You and Adam, I remain
Yours faithfully,

Juliusz Ulam to Stanislaw Ulam, Cracow, 14 June 1946

Kochany Staszku,
      Because I was not sure whether my last letter, sent to Harvard, would reach you, I am sending the current one to the Annals of Mathematics, where they probably know your address.
      It may be that you may have learned indirectly from relatives and friends some details of the war-time events in Lwów. As I wrote you in my previous letter, only Mother and I were saved out of our family. Everyone else perished between 1942 and 1944, in various circumstances at the German hands. It would take up too much space if I were to describe everything for you. Our experiences throughout these 6 years, 1939-45, would provide enough raw data for an entire library of adventure stories, thrillers, and, unfortunately, macabre tales.
      One emerged from that period intact and healthy only because of some extraordinary accident. [I can say so] as a member of a small handfull of those who were saved. Each of us lived throughout the period with an unpleasant perspective of sudden death at any time and in a constant struggle for life that gave us laughable small chances for survival. Therefore I am not even attempting to describe for you the incidents which directly caused the deaths of our closest relatives. I shall tell you about them when we meet.
      My greatest wish is that we meet as soon as possible. I left Lwów a year ago; I am about to finish my studies in Kraków but, overall, I have no idea what I will do upon my graduation.
      I would leave here most gladly. If there are any possibilities that could allow you to help me achieve that, I beg you let me know about that. Even more importantly, take advantage of those opportunities as soon as possible. Many of my acquaintances have already left, and I see no wiser way than to follow into their footsteps. I would have done it last year already but being a senior (majoring in mathematics of course!), I wanted absolutely to graduate here first.
      I really care to get in touch with you as soon as possible. I still know nothing about both of you. I have not had any news, even indirectly. I believe that this is because you were looking for someone in Lwów. I beg you, when you receive this letter, write to me to the address as indicated on the envelope. I am awaiting your reply with great impatience. Give my cordial best to Adas and accept my firm handshake and kisses.

A letter from Michele Jamiolkowski to Molly Burgwin Ulam, 20 February 2001 §1

      I have long hesitated before bringing myself to put on paper the memories of a sad time of my life. This was the period when, together with Stefania Ulam, and her little child, we lived secreted in the house of an . . . indeed generous, [Christian] woman who gave us hospitality without any compensation.
      There were three adults in the hideout: my mother Lusia, her father (Mr. Weis, an attorney) and Stefania, together with two children, myself (11 years [of age]) and Stefania's little child. This toddler was about 1 year old, but I can't remember whether a girl or a boy; while my reminiscence of Stefania is that of a young lady in her early thirties.
      I remember it was early spring when our neighbors betrayed us. We were arrested by the Gestapo and brought to the "Janowski Lager" in Lwów, the same concentration camp where my father [Isidor Moldauer] was shot. Our generous [Christian] benefactress was shot and our group brought to a small detention centre called the "bunker," waiting to be shot the following morning at dawn.
      But the evening before, the commanding officer, Hauptsturmfuehrer Warzog, came to interrogate us. During the inquisition it appeared quite plain that he was open to bribery and that, against compensation, he would carry us to a camp instead of shooting us.
      Accordingly, my mother took him to a hideaway in Lwów, where she had hidden jewellery and valuable carpets, after recovering which, he decided that the valuables were not of an adequate amount to save everybody's lives. He would only save two individuals from being killed and gave my mother a few hours to make the tremendous choice on whom he would save from certain death and be taken, instead, to a concentration camp.
      I have no memory of the following hours; thank God I have repressed it from my reminiscence. Only I remember that at dawn my mother and myself were brought to the camp, while Stefania, her baby and my grandfather were killed.
      Afterwards, while the Red Army moved forward, in September 1944, my mother and myself were taken to Plaszów concentration camp [near Cracow] and next, in October, we were moved to Auschwitz-Birkenau. We were parted [from each other], my mother and I, but, luckily, I managed to get away [through] the "selection" [made] by Dr. Mengele and, after many misadventures, I was rescued and set free by the Russians, at the end of January 1945.
      Please excuse my poor and very condensed picture of such a tragic occurrence, hard to even imagine nowadays. I have searched my memory intensely but there must be a sort of biological self-defense of the organism that clouds terrifying and upsetting events; besides, my unconscious has probably just switched off this [dreadful] time of my life.

§1 Michele Jamiolkowski is a renowned civil engineer living and working in Italy. He has participated in the stabilization of the Torre Pendente at Pisa and of the flood plan for Venice. His grandmother was Klara Auerbach, whose sister Anna was the mother of Stan and Adam Ulam, and their sister Stefania. He is Stefania Ulam's first cousin once removed.

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