Valli Ollendorff (1874–1942)

Author of Fate did not let me go : a mother's farewell letter

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Valli Ollendorff was a German Jew whose family was split apart after the event known as Kristallnacht, or "Night of Broken Glass," in November 1938. That night, Nazis attacked and murdered Jews and destroyed synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses throughout the country. Valli's son Ulrich fled to the USA; her other sons Wolfgang and Gerhard, who remained in Germany, were killed by the Nazis in the early 1940s. On August 24, 1942, Valli Ollendorff wrote a farewell letter to Ulrich, anticipating the coming end of her life. Two days later, she was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where she died. The letter was lost for 40 years and did not reach Ulrich until 1985. It remained a family secret until 1998, when it was read publicly for the first time at his funeral. The letter was published as Fate Did Not Let Me Go, and adapted into a PBS documentary film.
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