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September 16, 1944

Letters from Theodore Katz

Street scene featuring a bar across the street with people seated outside

A cafe in Montparnasse

Sept 16, 1944

Dearest Helen,

Censorship restrictions having been relaxed, I can now tell you more of where I have been, though not what I’ve been doing. Now I can tell you that I’ve seen towns and cities which were headline names a short while ago – Coutance, Branville, Rennes, St. Lo, St. Malo, Laval, Chatres, Les Mans, and many others. However, most important of all I was able to spend one day in Paris.

I know that even in normal times Paris is an exciting city, but a Paris freshly liberated after 4 years of Nazi domination is almost indescribable – a sort of carnival atmosphere. Flags and bunting draped and hanging from practically every window – the variety of colorful uniforms, the smartness of feminine dress and the bizarre vestments of the men. People thronging the wide avenues like Champs Élysée see the signs “Welcome Liberators,” the scarcity of cigarettes. Every few feet another person waves money in one’s face requesting cigarettes, and offering anywhere from one to three dollars from one package. I suppose some men have sold cigarettes in this manner, but, as for myself I found it rather embarrassing to have an impeccably dressed, distinguished looking man approach me shamefully begging for cigarettes, and offering such a fabulous price. On these occasions I find it better to give them a few cigarettes and hurry away amid an avalanche of “mercis.” The same applies for the people who would offer their personal belongings such as bracelets, cigarette-lighters, etc.

The Germans took most of the luxuries commonly associated with Paris – for instance the best perfumes, & champagne. However, in case, I am ever able to visit there again I’ll try to find something for you. In my previous visit to the shops, I was able to find only common run-of-the-mill articles, and it may be that next time I may discover something in one of the out-of-the-way places.

My time there was all-too-short, and I wasn’t able to visit all the places I wanted to see. I saw the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Montparnasse, but all hurriedly. I missed the Louvre – not enough time.

How I wish you could have spent the day with me. I know you would have reveled in it – and I remember the thought coming to my mind of how Paris would be a perfect background for you.

I received four letters from you yesterday – all wonderful, as usual. In one, you enclosed the concert program, with the added note from Edith. You may tell her to have no fears, regarding the French girls though from what I’ve seen, they just love to be “liberated.” However, I’m waiting for you to “liberate” me.

I also received a letter from your folks, telling me that although they hear of me from you, my direct communication made them most happy. So, I will write to them again soon. If I have time, immediately after I finish this.

The afternoon mail has just come in. I caught three letters, one from you, home and mon frere Art, and everything seems fine on the home front.

Tomorrow, I hope to send you the pictures we took in England, and of course I’m still waiting for the ones you’re sending me.

You might was well have the supper started – I’ll be back soon. Also have all the sticky windows fixed.

Regards from Sam, Jack & Dave. Mine to everyone.


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