(This post is a continuation of my father’s letter explaining his “reason for emigration,” which he wrote in Cuba in 1938-9. This is part 8 of 10.)
We ordered passage on the Hapag ship, “Orinoco,” for November 26th, 1938, which departed from Hamburg, outer cabin Nr. A51 First Class. Now came the big question: where to collect $1,000?
Through correspondence we turned to our friend, Max Stern, in Antwerp, Belgium, with the plea for a temporary loan of this sum.
Two days later, through a telephone conversation, he gave us confirmation of the sum and we were rid of an immensely heavy and worrisome burden.
The money came to the Hapag Agency, Eiffe and Company, in Antwerp a few days later.
In mid-October, another stumbling block presented itself: A circular published by Hapag Hamburg stated that, effective immediately, any entry into Cuba required a compulsory visa. To secure this visa, one needed to possess proof of evidentiary pre-documentation and accompanying fees that would be determined on a case-by-case basis at the Hamburg or Bremen consulates.
This was now a great difficulty and burden, and we met with our siblings the next morning again in Hamburg.
Through an immense stroke of luck, we were allowed entry into the consulate and were approved with an exceptionally low sum of about $56 – $60 per monthly stay, while other interested parties were required to come up with sums of $2,000 – $5,000 per month.
From Eisenach, we then turned to our cousin Ludwig Wasserberger from Krakau, who had recently been bedridden and ill in Warsaw, for this needed pre-documentation fee. A few days later, he traveled to London for business and we were able to have a telephone conversation in which we confirmed that he would give us $600 for each of us and $400 for each of our siblings through the Midland Bank of London. This would be transferred to the Royal Bank of Canada and then irrevocably transferred to Havana, Cuba, so that our residency fees could not be refuted or denied.
Copies of the banker’s transfer order were received directly from the Midland Bank of London to the Cuban consulate in Hamburg.
Throughout all of this it was already October and there was no time to waste in order to not lose the ordered passage and to wrap up and finish all things pertaining to the business.
On October 20th, we handed in our list for my mother’s belongings to be moved to the foreign exchange office in Rudolfstadt. Two days later, an official, Herr Heinemann, promptly appeared to conduct a customs investigation to secure my bank accounts and any outstanding accounts for the German Reich. The official (around 28 years old) was very polite and allowed us to escape a very high fee, about 13,000 Reichsmark. This all happened during Ruth’s conversation with him, in which she asked if he also had things he planned and needed to move. He answered, “Yes,” and on this day, two flies were killed at once.