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Private Papers of H H Kassman – Letter from Kassman to Mother, February 23, 1941




טוברוק, פלשתינה, צפון אפריקה


H. Henry Kassman


הצבא הבריטי


Imperial War Museum (IWM)

Folder Number:

Gunner HH Kassman 1-6.1941


Letter from Gunner H. Henry Kassman to his mother, from within a file of his correspondence between 1941-1943 compiled by his daughter in 2010. File’s contents are primarily typed letters and other correspondence, occasionally reproduced (often in addition to the typed version), and also include photographs, diary entries from Kenneth Rankin’s book Top-Hats in Tobruk, some other written materials, and some explanatory material. For further information, please see the folder summary. For all posts about this collection, please click on the “H. Henry Kassman” tag in this post.

Page 12: A heading saying “YMCA” – likely the original letter was written on letterhead. A letter from Kassman to his mother discussing slow army life – uneventful since his last letter and very pleasant in the meantime. The soldiers have been swimming, thanks to warmer weather, and Kassman is working on his cooking.

Kassman discusses having recently met Palestinian (Jewish) troops, as well as what they report about the varying welcomes troops have received in Palestine. He says they have met a “large company of Palestine Jews including a fair proportion of refugees” (accompanying note on the following page explains the Jewish connection to “Palestine, formerly a province of the Ottoman Empire” and now “a British Mandate”, including reasons for emigrating there and that immigration “reach[ed] a peak in the 1930s and 1940s when Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe headed for Palestine to escape the Holocaust”); this letter was actually written in their lively canteen. Alec is discussing Freud with one of these soldiers. Alec and Henry are now the only Jews in their Battery; it appears they have missed out, since all the English Jews sent to Palestine have been welcomed warmly. Non-Jewish English and Australian troops who made it to Palestine were not welcomed as warmly. Kassman’s opinions is that “troops are rather intolerant of customs other than their own and are probably as much to blame as the Palestinians.” He theorizes that this is due to long-standing “notoriously pro-Arab” sentiment among “British regulars”, but adds that it is a shame, as they are missing a “great chance” to improve relations.

He also met a Czech [soldier, presumably] from Bratislava three days ago, and has not been getting mail lately. He mentions the last correspondences he has received, including a letter from an Estelle Stone, who was engaged and may well have married by the date of this letter.

Page 13: Explanatory note on Jewish connection to Palestine, “formerly a province of the Ottoman Empire” and a British Mandate since 1923, and refugees who made their way there, in the context of Kassman having met Jewish soldiers from there (see letter from page 12 above). Note appears to have been written after the State of Israel was established, but uses the pre-State name in most of the note due to for historical accuracy.


One page, typed. Dated February 23, 1941. Censor’s signature: R. Nelson [?] (uncertainty typist’s, not ours).

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