Postcard from Zina

Adek, Zina and Henry were in the city of Łódź in Poland in 1945 and 1946. (I had speculated that perhaps Henry may have gone back to Warsaw, witnessed the degree of destruction there and retreated to Łódź, where Adek and Zina joined him. However, Henry’s description of his trip to Łódź doesn’t mention Warsaw. It may have been that due to the destruction of Warsaw, it was off-limits to travel. See Henry’s description of his journey to Łódź here.)

Wikipedia says:

Until 1948 the city served as a de facto capital of Poland, since events during and after the Warsaw Uprising had thoroughly destroyed Warsaw, and most of the government and country administration resided in Łódź.

Adek and Zina came to the U.S. in January, 1947, Henry in September, 1947. They were probably in Łódź until they emigrated.

The Duke University collection of Leo’s papers has correspondence from Łódź in those years, mostly in Polish, but also including the postcard shown below, written in English by Zina on September 24, 1945.

I found this quite moving: “… happy to see the first time your hand-writting [sic] after six long years.” One can only imagine.

She mentions going to see a “professor Lange” in Warsaw. This was certainly the well-known Polish economist and diplomat, Oskar Lange, whom Leo had met and studied with in Chicago in the early 40’s. Lange, by writing a glowing recommendation, played a major role in Leo obtaining his first job in the U.S.: a position as a research assistant for Paul Samuelson.* Until reading this postcard, I did not realize that Lange probably also played a role in getting Adek, Zina and Henry into the United States.

In September, 1945, Lange either was, or was soon to be, the Polish Ambassador to the U.S. According to Wikipedia: “After the war ended in 1945, Lange returned to Poland. He then renounced his American citizenship and went back to the USA in the same year as the Polish communist regime‘s first ambassador to the United States.” So he would have been in a good position to help Leo’s family emigrate to the U.S.

One other thing I find interesting about this postcard is Leo’s address on South Dorchester Street. In later years, when we visited Adek in Chicago, he was living on Dorchester. (Based on Zina’s obituary, I believe the address was 5112 Dorchester.) By the time Adek and Zina came to the United States, Leo and Evelyn were already in Ames, Iowa. (Leo became an assistant professor at Iowa State University in 1946, according to the Wikipedia article on him.) So the proximity of the Chicago addresses may be coincidence. Both addresses are within 15-30 minutes walking distance from the University of Chicago. However, Adek was teaching Russian at Roosevelt University when we visited him.

* Lange wrote, “He has an excellent mind, and is in my opinion, the best of the candidates on this list. He has quite a background in mathematical statistics, and has quite extensive knowledge of analysis. Before becoming an economist he was a theoretical physicist. He also did numerical work in experimental physics. He is really one of the very best I have had among students. In addition, he needs a job very badly, because he has no income at all.” [11]

I wonder if the building shown in the pictures below is the building where they lived – as shown in the return address on the postcard.

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