Marie Berlin’s Diary

This is a provisional text awaiting checking, completion etc. Translations from Russian are in red, from Hebrew/Yiddish in purple, from German in green.

Volume 1: 1939–40 (mainly in English)


Eve of the New Year which means 13 September 1939. Here we are in Oxford – Bardwell Court. It is truly natural that I want to be with I. And still I think I ought to be in town with M I think I shall go to town more frequently, to the office every exchange of thought helps. I am reading Weizman's confession, of 1931, excellent. His expression about us 'A nation without an address.' His confessions ... how well he knows the English and what an excellent statesman – where did he get it from – how did he manage to kill his Pinsk – Jewish temperament – to suit so well to the quiet attitude he had to perform? How? The Windsors are here – a mistake – the old Queen ought to know better. It is all to fresh. The country was brought up to know him as the first man in the land – and many still think of him with that singular love and devotion no other person shall ever be thought of. It undermines his presence, I mean the tender flower of loyalty and sympathy growing for his brother. It is a mistake and unless he goes to some or other dominion his life here may become tiring for himself. I am curious if I shall be right. I. Is bored but does not think of concentrating like P. – no rest.

23 September 1939.

I's happiness – is what matters. To-day [ ] night. I have taken a great decision – to be like the [ ] What it means is clear to me only.

5 November 1939.

All of a sudden something comes over one – something very clear and logical and frightening. What is it all for – is it necessary and if it has to be – has it to be this or another way – All the shadows of the past – they have lived, surely they have lived – suffered – thought all things are so very important – where are the shadows? Where are their sorrows? And joys? All all passed away for ever and we are in their place. Is it then worth while to take things seriously – certainly not! Somebody lures us into spoiling our own life – but to fight against that somebody is what we have to. It is war and I think the greatest event so far created by the war is – the uprooting of the Germans of the Baltic.

Lord of the Universe! How much you must have wanted [Betty Lurie? – see p. 46 of Mendel's autobiography for reference to the Lurie family – but the word may be something quite different] to come to you!

Well we lived to see how it was done. Just a year ago I would ask the same question about the Baltic Germans – and here I live to see how they like marionettes dance while somebody plays with the strings. What a gigantic event. How clearly and faithfully they are paid for: for all their sadistic, brutality and what is more with the same coin – the same tortures the same downfall as they have brought about on us. I cannot help bowing before the Power who has who has in hand the things of the whole humanity.

6 November 1939.

I suppose people always have and shall have their own Bunburies.' The whole struggle is 'I think for the right to have open Bunburies', but that will never never happen. Discipline in social life – jealousies of every conception, the refined torture of the human mind, used whenever it suits human purposes will always support – Bunburies – an escape – a hiding-place which in most cases is found out and revealed – but which is at moments of despair a wonderful narcotic. Banbury is a classical expression in 'The Importance of Being Earnest', by O. Wilde.

8 November 1939.

I am in Bardwell Court, the noise of one of the next door flats does not let me sleep. It is my lateness – why not try and find another flat? Most of my grumbles I think I ough [sc. owe] to my laziness. I. I think, when without a prospect{ive} of visitors' company, feels bored if not more – miserable [ ] help me. I could not do what Mrs R. of Boars Hill does, be to docile so obedient, I could not but she is right she saves herself her time – her energy, but then what for is it if you have no ambition if you are just making meals I nothing and do nothing – what are the advantages then. Well the only thing is a 'Banbury',

19 November 1939.

To[o] sensitive – may be I am but it is not natural to be as I am when I visit I. and the less the better. There is something abnormal, I was the same with R.F. was not I when at Klimas. Why not remember and not be a little more reserved. As to the anti-Semitic neighbours or neighbours there is one help national help. C'est tous.


10 December 1939.

We are leaving Bardwell Court to-morrow. I am almost sure that I shall not have the same comfort anywhere else but it is to stale here. I am tired of complaints about the food and I cannot concentrate here also P. is constantly on my hands. Prof Berrers[?] desire to see me is greatly puzzling me. What did Bowra tell him? Frankfurters have also been prepared by Bowra but why should I as I or as I's mother be of any interest? Why? I do want to know it and it is not curiosity only? What can we say? How can we speak? How can we justify ourselves? This is Yehuda's expression when speaking to Joseph. How much beauty and how near the language is to my heart. Why is there so much cruelty? Not to let me study it.

18 December 1939.

Randolph. The vacancies have started. I. does not know what to do with himself, he is bored. I am a good target, and both shoot of course so no warmth from anywhere. The Lord help me to do what I ought to no laziness at least.

10 January 1940. A new year. So many resolution[s]. I am 60. I wish I was younger but perhaps I am young. I think it was a great success that from being dead in 1905 I am still alive. There must have been an abundance of Lebens craft in me to go on without inspiration and support. To-day old Snowman was here. He thinks that I. should not touch his wisdom tooth as long as it does not give any pains. Not enough biles-juices is the reason why I cannot digest all the nice things which make life worth living. There is a slight catarrh in my right ear and I have to blow it out. I have to be be with Lion very stiff. Why be amusing? As Lilbe Shaikes used to say. From father a card and not a word about having received the money. The old man, is not it wrong that I should have to support him[?] Well! Where o, Lord are my good intentions to write every day. Belisha is gone. Poor Lesly you see you are a Jew, you are my dear and it is believe one nice to be one. Deana Durbin is a clever little girl and it was a good film, chin up said the old teacher and she did hold it up. I wish I. would do so.

22 January 1940.

There is a bible reading society in London there Hebrew afternoons but I have no time. Why do I get so tired? So terribly tired? I bought covers for I's room. I must look after myself more. I must.

23 January 1940.

I. wants for some reason to meet Jabotinsky. He is curious curious of everything. We intimidate each other and that is why it is better that I was not present at his lecture to the Jew. Society. I think that dignity dignity is everything because you cannot possess it unless brought up to it.

25 January 1940.

A Mr Rouse, a fellow of All Souls, wrote an excellent Review on Marx. He demands more more books from that brilliant young author, I think the Easter Vacations have to be used for it my approach to things is much to slow.

27 January 1940

O, Lord when shall I achieve that dignified manner? If I were a Cabinet Minister I would not say it we can hold out without major happenings until spring then are alright is not this provocative? Churchill said it in his speech in Manchester to-day. in Manchester to-day.

2 February 1940.

In his prayer for Finland the Arch. Of Canterbury cited to day through wireless the phrase with which Judas addressed the Jews when mighty Syria was on the way to conquer her. I suppose in the past and present times we are certainly the best people suited to troublesome times. I doubt if we know very well how to do it but we bear it we bear sorrow.

It is a pity that the Anglo Pal Jewry is their representative London Jewry an Englishman sees when he comes to the Club. It is vulgar and ill-mannered.

The poor Aronsons. She must be her own child's nurse or she cannot expect it to develop. Some people think that a baby is a decoration. She may find an English nurse which of all nurses is the best I think. She wants help but her mentality is so different to mine. She [ ]! My house 'takes more room in my heart than some peoples hearts their babies. I cannot go therefore to Oxford. It is a home – and neglected and cold – is it a home? I. is gone on July the 11. The Lord help me. O, god! P, told me to day that (after he found a mistake in my English and I asked him on every mistake to find something to praise me for, but you do not give me any chance for praise! Voila! Awake Mashenka awake!

[blot]unday 24 July. I. my I. what are you doing? Be happy! Nothing else matters. No fetters no, no fetters for you. My mother did not want them for me but did not finish the struggle. I must not do the same. It is I's happiness.

Yes Lenny/Jenny Y.[?] would be very suitable for P. small, good-hearted opportunist – very little personality – just right. P. is melancholical and self centred away away

4 August 1940.

must I from it?

5 August 1940.

Is I managing to be well and happy?

Jabotinsky is dead it hurts almost physically who can replace a man of his magnitude

10 August 1940.

The World – the New and the Old one as much as there is left of the old Jewish world is echoing the cry after Jabotinsky especially [ ] It seems that in a man's life is only true that which is remembered after his death. Death is a thre{a}shing it throws off the valueless part and keeps the rest.

Kl[?] has taken a new forest business. My opinion to visit it 2 a week his only once

11 August 1940.

I am really sorry for P. he has not the faintest idea what pleasure means pleasure of mind – of heart – just comfort. It is comfort mental and physical comfort he is running after all his life. He misses such a lot. It is his mother and not his father who gave him that.

15 August 1940.

The first postcard by mail from New York Thank [ ] [ ] Perhaps this is the better way with P.

To-day is Tisha b'Av 35 years ago I was looking for the way to honestly if not successfully (I gave the latter up) to travel through life and I am still looking for that way God bless my child.

Ashly – 73
Ashly – 8
Freud – 2 paid
Gordon – 5
Gordon – 6
West – 6 "
Reve – 2 "
Daiches – 2 "
Erlan – 1 "
Rau – 1
Kuthnir – 1 "
Wildeb – 1 "
Alman – 1 "
Fenton – 2 "
Kaflovit[ ] – 2
Davidson – 2
Frenkel – 2 paid
Merkin – 2 paid
Balint – 2
Bagrit – ?
Freeman – 1
Hartstein – 2
Maizel – 2
Levy – 2
Huret – [?]
Nachman – 10
Gordon N. – 2 "
Shusterov. – 2 "

Balint for Mrs Kann
Bazeit " Mrs Berlin
Meizel " Mrs Ashley
Shelit " Mrs Ashley
Hartstein " Berlin

Volume 2: 1947–58 (mainly in Russian and English)

1 November 1947.

I think a diary gives an account of all the stupid things [one has] done and said, and how much time they take in order to come to fruition. So it was, the other week, that Shaele was invited by Churchill to look through and correct his historical notes – from the point of view of general diplomatic activities and the coming of wartime, especially Anglo-American, relations. On the 11th? of November Sh[aele] goes to Buck. Palace to receive his medal [CBE?]. Shor? [? = English name Shaw. Or may be = Shar –some kind of diminutive of Shaele = Isaiah?] is anxious. He has a small head and – 'a Western mind'. It/she [ i.e. the 'small head', 'head' being a feminine noun in Russian] also is a dry realist, but thanks to the fact that it/she was born in Russia and was brought up there, it/she has some imagination and it/she won't lose itself that easily. More self-possession. I am please with myself. I think twice about something before acting, in connection with P and for this reason everything went more smoothly and there wasn't this cruel pain which is occasioned by a terrible feeling of guilt with regard to him! Under no circumstances must one tire!

It really is a most remarkable thing in the elections in all municipal councils in Britain, this time, in numerical terms, the Conservative party did three times better in the elections [sic]. They say the women's vote did it. In any event, they are able here to talk without ?words [illegible, sense unclear] and clearly know what they want. Next week I. is going for his medal. And I can't sleep at night. More than my own life, I long for him to love and be loved by someone. Help me Lord ... [illegible] all known and unknown strengths. A. Weinant has killed himself. If he did this of sound mind – then he is a fool. And if he drove his nerves to such a desperate state then he is just as foolish.

13 November

Buck. Palace. I had not quite anticipated all this ceremony. It was good to be a nation and to feel this brotherliness and devotion to one's king, which made itself felt in the gallery. Shaele stands out as a personality. From all sides he receives invitations 'fools ?wear ... [illegible]' [some kind of quotation – incomprehensible]. One's heart sinks sometimes – but one must not permit weakness. Crossman says that 'there is such a thing as a refusal to die'. Mrs. Eisenstadt – how much indestructible strength. She is in totally the wrong place. He cannot and does not want to wage war. Why does she act through him. Let her carry on as though he wasn't there and go through life on her own. Or at least, in my view it's easier to carry a burden oneself [lit. 'walk with a knot'] than to push someone with the same burden [lit. 'with the same knot'].

24 November

I have invited Elton to dinner [or could be 'the dinner'] [possibly Oliver Elton? He gave a Taylorian lecture on Chekhov in 1929] ... [illegible] !. A small operation. Help me Lord. What will happen. In general ... [illegible].

1948, August 15 or 16

The question of what will happen in general remains much the same. How long will he be able to go on clowning? But it is also clear that with his health he cannot work long and hard. 'Put your trust in God and don't be afraid yourself [illegible]. We are going on holiday at the end of the month. No need to think about the weather or the servants. And in the first and the second instance – act according to necessity. [illegible] God shall bless Israel.

1948, 17 August

It is very likely that ?Isya [ =Isaiah? Writing unclear] and I have destroyed his self-confidence. This constant self-analysis – is it right that I demand from life and people first one thing then another? It puts a strain on self-confidence and reduces it to zero. J. [or I.] Alter's daughter is getting married. It's a joy for her. 'Whence will help come?' God shall bless Israel. may be lost.

18 August

She's a clever woman. M. B. has arranged it. Ann Belova and Chain [? Chaim] . I, with all my practicality, have grown up in a country and in a family of 'dreamers'. 3/4 of my life has been lost in them and the other quarter was but an interjection May God bless [him? them? Illegible].

25 August

What kind of lesson/science is this, the psychology of gangsters? [sentence construction unclear]. I only suspected and did not think that this would all come out in such a ridiculous way. A terrible pair. And I'm much to blame in it, I am just a little to[o] [sic] friendly, indiscriminate – and one must discriminate. Remember Amalek[?]. one must remember. I am going [? unclear] tomorrow. A change. And the house, well that's my only kingdom. Things will work out.

25 September

It was sorted out. She arrived. Everything was all right. I. is calmer and more self-assured. He understands everything. Everything!

19 October

The daughter of ?Gordon [English name?] has evidently gained the bitterness of Zel'ts. [? Abbreviated name of some kind] . One must, on the whole, be more careful with them. They are very coarse. [MB uses Russian word 'gruby' often – vulgar/common/bad-mannered seems more like intended sense.] She is repelling. [illegible] against her. Lord, what to do. My soul is freezing over. Such despair is taking a grip. What will happen to him. Lord protect him. Protect him Lord. Instruct me where to go and what to do.

31 October

I am afraid that he is distancing himself – becoming a stranger, is that really possible. [NB MB rarely uses ? marks] He has another world, different fascinations. Oh [? Looks like R 'okh'], if only I could shine, he searches for beauty in everything. But that is not easy and one must, all the same, try to achieve this. The land of Israel will succeed. May the Lord help us to stand firm in this. What am I to do with the free time when they leave? I will have to spend a little longer 'outside'.

4 December

I.'s photograph in today's J[ewish] C[hronicle] . He was at the evening [held by] the Hebrew University. Mainly because he throws himself on all sides [? Of the Palestine/Israel issue?] He cannot remain on the sidelines [? Last word looks like 'otsest' = sit to one side] . Help him God. For a simple mother like me, it's not easy to be equal to his far from simple [i.e. complex] psychology. I need to think, to ponder, and learn to deal with [it].

5 December

For the Gur'vichs it is also difficult. And they have a liberal attitude towards her daughter. But really there are only 2 approaches – either liberal-bohemian or a strong arm. It can't be done by diplomacy. Mrs. Gord has a despairing 'inferiority complex'. It's a shame that she is stingy [or 'boredom'] . 'Wouldn't it be better to look closely at oneself ! [no closing quotes].

13 December

The other week they both suddenly remembered that they were both [travelling] on the same ship. The older one was to blame – had not realised that his ship had postponed its departure and that I. is leaving on his appointed [ship], and so – calamity. It's hard, of course, that R. [could be English cap. P] has not grasped the fact that I. has spent his entire life on a different ship. Their path does not lie together. Today he seemed to understand that when we were in O.[xford ?] we were not needed – that is, needed, according to Sholom Aleichem – not where we would like to be needed – but where we were needed as a ?home [possibly English word] , as help, and I utterly concede that this is normal.

I. left yesterday and as always was glad to tear himself , encouraged by the fact that [someone?] is waiting for him. Well/good ... [illegible]. Don't put the hands on it [? Sense = don't meddle?] ! Lord help me. The land will move ahead thank God and, it seems, will be ours. [illegible – possibly Hebrew – symbol for Palestine/Israel?, repeated two lines down] will be ours. I. loves Charls'a [Chaim Weizmann]. David C. received distinction – this should be said about us.

1949: 8 January

England has sent troops to the Negev [Desert]. We fired at English pilots and destroyed 5 aeroplanes. God help us! Why, oh God, on our journey must we meet with such horrors as Hitler, Bevin[?] and so on. Why, oh God? Hourani was here today. Why should we [have anything to do] with him? Why does he want to meet with us? I had to put on an act. Who should have to do this? If they do not receive him, he is jealous of I. But we, out of our usual foolishness, without realising it, receive all and every one with kindness.

9 January

It's amazing how tired I've become of writing, of [keeping an] account, of everything to do with the pen. I'm not used to it. They didn't teach me. And I can't anyway. Today ? Mark [unclear] Apter took final leave of us. Perhaps he was not entirely honest, but he is a tactic and that is nice. I really never believed in the kind of sincerity that caused pain, it is never directed to those near to one, always to those who are peripheral, and turns out to be a punishment in the guise of sincerity.

17 January 1949.

Had a cold, unpleasant in 99% it is our own fault. We know very well when we are likely to meet illness – but we just rely on chance. The Foreign Secretary ?His name shall be erased We, I am sure shall win

[nine-month gap]


5 September

There is an article in the 'Standard' a criticisme on I's broadcast, which was repeated in the Listener it is on the attitude of Britain to the U.S. and vice versa. Yes, they are weak but don't want to hear of it. Their behaviour is – [like] a mouse roaring at an elephant and our forefathers saved Rome. They had to agree with every point in the article and, of course since a foreigner wrote – he is not to be trusted – the last is very old and stale, but we jews are not to forget it. Heuss the President of Present Germany [ ] says Die Juden werden nicht vergessen and wir (the Germans) durfen nicht vergessen. [The Jews will not forget and we (the Germans) must not forget.] I have sent to day for [ ] and little [ ] [ ] and Cappa Samunov a coat [...]

26 October 1949.

It was such a shock for P. and naturally for me as well when he heard and brought the news home that Keeling has taken the money. The moral of the event is, I always like to draw morals, that to be an employer as generally a leader of even a small group of people, 6 only, one is obliged to have tact, be a psychologist in other words to appreciate exactly the person you are facing. None of them can do it none. I could, but he is not. Should I help? I think I should. How could we get the money from Rote? I am good in a crisis. I suppose all women are. I must see that a get well card should go to her people only after Xmas. I really cannot look forward to a holiday at the English seaside. All I want is rest, and that I have now at home.

7 November 1949.

Home P. reading Hebrew – not enough I am not doing enough for [ ]. I must think think. I must also, not least, ask my passport if it permits me to dream of work. I can do nothing nothing for I. God help me. I must ring up and ask the [ ], who the Committee is? [ ]. And, with Marta [? Russian woman's name] , I ... [illegible] have ... At last! That would be a miracle.

[Another gap of 17 months]

7 April 1951.

Yes, forty-five years, what a joke! What a bitter, bitter joke that is. Although my present decision, even if late, but [it is] correct: namely, no attention [NB: next section is disjointed and incomprehensible; the handwriting seems particularly scrawly on this entry – a sign of distress or illness, or possibly written under influence of strong medication?] to have in mind – the minor and the child – this combination if well remembered – then everything will turn out smoothly. [?]. The question simply is – where to get Bambery – and how to live without Bambery? ... [illegible]. 19th. – 3 streams. God help me The main thing is not to push anyone, not to insist, not to admonish. One must avoid simple-minded people such as ? Tanya [illegible – could be a name] like the plague.

[Another gap of almost five years]

5 June 1956.


26 June

Nine years have passed. Much water has flowed past, turbid water; it has flowed softly and sadly, joylessly. The bed was badly made and the dream was heavy, and if I were not of healthy temperament, then the sparks of life and happiness would never light up my horizon. And now the comedy has come to an end. Life is normal, less acting [looks like English word] , but sometimes I get caught up in thought and that brings sadness.

27 June 1956.

My group arranged a luncheon today. Everything went as normal. It was well planned and well arranged. Poor Tosko Fyvel [name uncertain – looks like English] . Broken, agitated, and the sad eyes of his wife cannot serve as a support to him. When I speak then the voice plays a major role. But today the voice [whose is unclear] was rather hoarse, loud, devoid of charm. Never mind, I'll get used to it. It's hard to live without kindness. But to ask, to beg for kindness is stupid and humiliating. I must be very careful about this. Is Harriet Cohen really right as regards Lottie [? Looks like name Lottie, but in Cyrillic]. There is a great element of truth, undoubtedly.

11 July 1956.

I. is setting down to work. He has taken his books with him. That means that at home he isn't allowed. Or, for the most part, P. [English, or Russian R] doesn't let him. Maybe with the first husband, but since then she has never sat [?sense unclear] firmly or conclusively. In her own life she comfortably takes a front seat. Her eldest son is a great encumbrance. She must hurry up and arrange [things] so that these ten fingers might do something, otherwise it will be unpleasant. He runs up debts and unpleasantnesses threaten from all sides. She won't be able to deal with it. And he will have to interfere in something that's not his business. And me – there are moments of quiet sorrow, of being not needed. But like implacable enemies, I send them out of my domain/realm, from normal life and a little . The leg lowers the temperature of life. Was the old man ... [illegible] with his 'Kodeks' [? Russianisation of 'codex'?] . That would be a good thing and funny. My domestic/servant amuses me. What, for example, she has to wear, what she considers is the height of elegance, at night and before sleep. Don't explain, friends understand and ennemies [sic] will not believe. Nobody but I, and then only by chance, nobody sees her. What a strong desire to live – and to live one's own way. Goodbye.

15 July 1956.

It's interesting whether she would have married someone who took care of her [? Sense unclear] who had appeared from somewhere or other. I'm not going to weep – she is not easy. So many desires still remain with me to build, create. At 16 years old I had sufficient wisdom to teach my aunt Schöne who was forever taking offence, that people are not sincere and they persistently disillusion her, that one must treat all acquaintances with a pinch of salt, that her (female) friends are not sisters and men not brothers, and that now I myself have fallen into the same stupid, childish trap. Our treasurer [female] is envious, very simple-minded. I fear simplicity like the fire, but for the most part, a full [? = consuming] sexual hunger gives her the right to be a bully and I was caught out that time. I somehow did not understand straight away, then finally grasped [the point] and how to deal with her coarse outbursts. Unfortunately it is necessary to take drastic measures. She just frightened me. I won't forget this. The reason for everything, is of course, an excess of kindness in the soul and not to pour it out on anyone. But all the same, she needs to lavish it where she can. And disillusion must be accepted as one's due. Goodbye.

14 August

I haven't written in a long time, but I really must write [something]. Even if only a couple of lines, but every day. Isain'ka and Aline have now been in Russia for two weeks. They know how to grasp the joy of life. But one needs to find this happiness in work also. One cannot build a life without work. Boredom, and with it anguish, wait around the corner. It's strange that Aline puts endearments in her letters, yet cannot say them [to me]. When is she going to be more natural? The more truthful I am the better. And it's like that with everyone. With her and with ?Iacoob [name, could be English letters] Y/J. Y/Jamunov [looks like English] have upset my balance. The weakness of Ida is intolerable. Why are people born and live for 70 years without learning how to live and how to stand on their own feet. Hysteria! I can't get on with her. I am the only one, and perhaps Zel'ma, who can disperse these burdensome, seemingly inescapable surges at their onset, like an attack of bad wasps. I know these wasps well, only too well, and I am never, all the while I am mentally sound, going to let them get to me.

24 August

I'm going to Lugano on the 4th. What of it, it's a change. They have been repeatedly asking me whether I will go on my own, unaccompanied, and what is more, shake their heads when I say 'Yes, entirely alone'. My God, at the end of the day, I do everything alone. I live, ?think [possible misspelling of verb] , resolve simple and difficult problems, judge people, and myself, make use of my leisure time, best I can, and I suffer from a lack of time. And in everything and always alone. But when something involves physical strength – then I have to think about it. That's about it. Thus, people are simple-minded[?], they don't allow for originality. Friends have left and Marta was suddenly left on her own. She's the opposite of me, she can't manage on her own, or with others, and thinks about marriage or a change of scene. That's her business – and I must know mine. Whether with her or with another – precious hours must not, in any possible circumstances/by any possible means, be spoiled. She has her dues and I have mine. Goodbye.

29 August

Sara S. has bought up everything she wanted. She looked things over and suddenly calmed down. There's something Russian and of the market-place about her. She's become spoilt and is a money-grubber [lit. 'kulak']. But we, thank God – are at peace, and that's important for Ida. Otherwise it's not possible for Ida to live, my heart is heavy – no letters from I..I don't know where he is. Aline does not write. Doesn't know how to address me in her letters. This is a serious barrier between us which it is essential to break down.

14 October 1956.

[I have arrived [in Lugano?]. It was lonely, no radio, no work and always, always in the gaze of strange people, and to hide myself away in the hotel room is depressing. I can't live without work, pleasure is only enjoyable after effort. I arrived exhausted. It's only good at home – only at home. I have to be more parliamentary and resolve everything by a majority vote [i.e presumably referring to her committee work? – or could be figurative, re being diplomatic/tactful?]. I need to avoid Ashlikha. But one must write letters oneself. That's essential – oneself and without a secretary. It would be good to stick to the philosophy I've worked out for myself. How many years I am given in all, not to forget that this is not an eternity. It is later than you think.

18 November

I can't quite believe that more than a month has gone by and I haven't written. I've got in a muddle! Ashlikha [is] cross [?]. They[?] cost a great deal of health. And I am very much, for the most part, also a Jewish woman with all my soul, as well as a Russian Jew. Already [there has been] an awful lot of 'on the off chance' and little solid foundation, much that is not thought through, with the result – in this parliamentary country where the entire life is founded not on magnanimity but on tradition and principle – the result – grief. The English Jewry are like mice: they look out of their hole to see whether it's safe, whether to show oneself in God's light, it's not dangerous is it? It's a bore as far as I'm concerned! They are not attractive and do not attract others. Everything is measured – no more, no less. Today's concert was a lot of trouble – and there won't be much money. How to get shot of the insufferable Ashlikha. Only with a strong hand must show her that she has fallen onto stony ground, more stony than her. Of course this can be got through, but it is boring and a loss of time and energy. I fear this pair. I must be bold. Why is there this tension when I am with I. and [?] A. What deprives me from freedom, this fear, fear of touching things. Cowardice – don't touch anyone – don't be afraid of anyone.

24 November 1956.

I can't sleep. She's a funny one, this Ashlikha. Funny. They are making themselves into gangsters. Further away, further away from them. Helen ?Sev ... [looks like abbreviated name in Russian] is not a bad person – Latvian – strong. Envious. Envious of everyone – absolutely everyone/everything [could be either] .One must accept it as something natural. I hope that God will help me with Philpot Street.

24 December 1956.

It's better to write in English. I shall try.

Today is the eve of Christmas. If there is anything I am miserly about, and so very sorry to spend – it is time. Another year has passed, so unnoticeably too. Of course, Shaiele is married – the greatest blessing in my life, but accompanied by fear, always fear, quickly nagging and scratching at my heart, there inside me. It takes all the strength and mental abilities to bring in the feeling of not being a 'superfluous person' difficult to translate, but it really means a person of no use to anyone. That's my writing, nobody will ever want to read just as M's diary is of interest to me only. I am writing and love to read it after a time. The past time seems not quite passed. It tells of past activities, past vicissitudes, and the time lived seems not at all empty, it is full of human stupidity, joy and grief. To be a social worker means be firm, sincere, and remembering your aim, go straight to it. No looking right left or back, otherwise like Noa's wife you will perish. To perish is our destiny, but one would like to stretch time as far as possible, and I so very much believe that nature could show miracles if we with wisdom would support it. Self discipline in our physical and spiritual life – and our strength could be made to flourish. And Ashlixa has done something, she took the sweetness out of the honey. I shall gain it again.

Isaiah's inner life is becoming more and more settled, perhaps the moment will come when he will spend less time casting pearls [before swine] and take a pen in his hand. And once he has taken up his pen there will be no stopping him. A. Turok [Turk] , in the meanwhile, is not buying the land. I suggested ... [illegible] ... for the sake of the Lord himself, to be careful with Cla. Gordon [possibly English name Clarissa – mentioned later on] she is also a clever one [?], tries to hide it, but it still filters through. With our women life goes along more easily, that is [women of] my class. We Russian women can fly without millions. But for an English woman to rise higher than her humble abode she needs millions – Davidson Sacher – (but not ?Ziv [? unclear] ) We somehow are more honest, healthy, and we laugh and cry.

12 January 1957.

I. rang today. He is worried about his wife, but the operation really is not a serious one. She is tired. She has been through a lot. Well and with children – you have to bring everything in order, keep discipline. With her there are periods of reaction, like after a long exhausting walk. Perhaps this has already started with her, this transition that they call here 'the change', which signifies there will be no children. But what of it, que serra – serra [sic]! I was at the Cooper's today. A contented and healthy union. She loves him a great deal and she is wise, she gives him – peace, shelter, a healthy family – and he has calmed down, for he really was a discontented rebellious young man. They will always need each other. Everything's normal, without philosophy. And I would be like that too, in the same circumstances.

14 January 1957.

I've sort of made things up with Ashl[ikha], but for how long? All the same ... [illegible] is easier. That I. should approach Blumenthal's daughter? I was amused. It always happens – when he is happy he wants more than ever human company. The desire for affection, praise and admiration is so absorbingly great. This I gave him. It is my father who gave it to me. No body is prove against flattery or [ ] but I am I. will go far for a caress.

20 January 1957.

It would make sense to write every day but it isn't easy to arrange. Today I was at the Epshteins [sic] . He is a good, honest person, but she hits out at it. Only I can understand how she feels inside. She needed a roof and she found a roof – and that's that. Not everyone can fight and life is so frightening. Her children, thank God, are behind them, but her spiritual strength is broken and if some time God gave her the creative spark, then this spark is broken, destroyed, trampled over and slowly, stifled, half-blind she drags herself along the dusty road.

22 January 1957.

A day in one's life is such a valuable, precious thing – one should therefore not let it go by unnoticed, without bringing joy, whether heartfelt, or a burden. I have lived, I shan't live it through a second time and only those born in my time know the value of hours. The wife of Kor. [? abbreviated name] is a German. In her friendship with people she only sees the wish to flatter her husband – for financial reasons. He is considerably more intelligent than her, but for all that, she might be a bit more honest. I hate the types who ring at 9 o'clock at night asking for jeshivot [i.e. money for Jeshivas] or for themselves, and yet I am pledged to kosher [?]. What a poisonous woman Naomi I. was, and I think gave a part to her daughter.

24 January 1957.

To-day my Oxfordians were here. I think London tires them out too much to do in too little time. She respects me but I am on her opinion to critical to observant to be trusted and to be loved. She has her boudoir screen, whenever danger of too sharp eyes threaten she screens herself to invisibility and all communication is finished. not a superfluous word or glance [ just?] enigma, but it could be so much worse his happiness matters – nothing else.

7 February 1957.

A notable day, thank God. He is happy and so is she. I think the operation will serve to make her feel less tired. She is tired and no surprise. Has was too exacting for her. He ruled and did not give affection which is exactly opposite now. For me it is better to stand afar, I shall know all I want to know which is – that they are happy. When you invite or go out with people – the main care is how they will come home. Yesterday with Poussia it was not well planed. I know that I am wise in refusing Glyndebourne – too much strain Poor Alix – I wonder where she failed. Of course, she never loved him and people in their circle don't wait for happiness to come they grab it wherever they can and how right they are. One thing I am sure of Alix had to behave like a young woman and not let her hair go white. When a woman starts to feel she has to be 'decent/proper' then the woman in her must be considered dead. Poor Alix will never recover.

1 April 1957.

Great happiness. I was appointed Chichele-professor. I prayed for it and the Lord helped me. They both left on 27.3. for Italy. Aline is very proud of him. A wonderful article in the Sunday Times. Jewry is sharing in my happiness, especially some of members of my Society, nobody can live a life without creating jealousy, but as far as possible I am trying to avoid waking envy. The card-evening in Mrs Kiewi's house went down nicely – the result – 30 pounds have got a professorship – Mar'ya Borisovna is a clever woman.

13 April 1957.

This was a horrible time. I miss old Snowman. Why did not Z quieten my pain before? The hot bottles were wrong. It means to down quietly and pills to quieten the pain. To be alone on Seder night is not a punishment to be at someone's table alone is much worse. I shall be glad to be alone. I must train myself to be always always alone. Just as I always was – only nobody saw or knew it. It is more difficult because there is more time on hand. It took always so much time for hiding lying and self-pity. I am normal now, and there is more time at my disposal.

20 April 1957.

I went to seder with some Sephardim in Palermo. We went alone – He did it not entirely for me. There is some thing in him which requires those flickers of tradition. Or is it entirely for me? God bless him selfish not very courageous – he is also noble, very very noble. 'The children do not need us, but we do need them' says such a dull-witted woman like Mrs Rie[?]: Thank God. He helped me.

Isru Chag Eighth holiday [of Passover] 23 April 1957.

Am I cured, I wonder. There are twinges still. But I refuse to despair, short waves or some electricity may help. The housekeeper Mar is a funny person. She only likes me when I am ill, or otherwise [ ] unhappy. As soon as a week passes in complete peace she will find something to hurt me. If nothing immediate is to be found she goes a year ahead. To day she announced that she will not make next year the Passover and I should do like others do – go away for Passover. Considering that it is 12 months ahead, I wanted to laugh, but she repeated it 5 times I will not a s. f.' I only they realised the sadism of it. When you are alone with such a person you cannot help being shocked. She poison's the air, and you wish for nothing more than to be alone. I wish I could manage with a daily, but how? I am some times sorry for her, she wants company, but it is a mistake. Aloof, I must not be so familiar, she takes it as meekness. She is a [ ]ree like all the others I had. From Italy comes I. he in a few days is coming. I want to give him happiness but how? God will have pity. I have to be very short with the cook and Ashlicha. Is not it time that I should give up the fear, that if I am left without help I shall get lost

24 April 1957.

I like to be quiet happy, natural, but the old woman does not wont [sic] it. Of course I never would, but it means persuading I which I shall never manage. Thank God, I feel much stronger. My appetite has improved after 4 weeks. What a horrible time it was, but at least I know where I am. I wonder whether I should consult a specialist about my eyes. I do not see well the sides which is a sign of 'glaucoma'. I may.

Kind people come, ring up, indulge me. And I indulge them in my own turn. I have got rid of Langton and transferred everything to the bank. That's a good move. If I were younger I would not have sold my ?soul [literally 'flesh'] to the City. I would have built an office building and it would have been easy and profitable to hand it over. Yes, I would have done many things differently were I younger, but, still, thank God.

23 April 1957. [presumably should be 25th]

Something very peculiar happened to day. Someone, not the present buyer wants to buy our plot in the City and is ready to pay us a 1000 pounds more. They are making enquir[i]es and let us hope that something beneficial will come out of it. I would like to [do] good to Ida, but how? I still am feeling not too well. It takes a long time to recover from this wretched illness. I shall recover! To have a will that is the secret.

30 April 1957.

Miss C. Davidson says that I inspire her I don't think, this is a pure compliment, I think she also has unexpended warmth and affection and looks for an aim and hearth to warm up for her aim. She will always succeed, because she works and because she has means. I and A are here to day. It is Opera. I don't like their returning home so late. But worry will not help.

7 May 1957.

I is very clever – he understands the relationship between me and A. and is grateful for my discretion. I cannot help feeling that there is tension always when I am there. She is spoiled has an inferior complex in spite of having everything and a crankish dislike for relatives, any relatives. She so much reminds me of the Berlins in Riga – One has to spend on toilette, one has to suffer from servants and pay them well and that is all to be generous does not give her pleasure – and here is the difference the greatest between I and her He is happy when he can be generous. James Rothschild is dead. He was so much – the best of his family and Dolly loved him – he was loveable. The only thing I am afraid of is that A should not tear I from the Land. That must not happen. My life now will, probably be a constant fight with Arthritis. I shall do it as gracefully as possible. 7 May 1957.

13 May 1957.

There must be something done with Ashl[ ] she is useless. The old Baroness is silly, but not so silly as I. and A. think, extremely good-hearted. I wish she was here. A's attitude to her is humiliating. Behrman and the Americans are here – I's not my horse and not my cart' ["]Oh, to be [ ] again," as one octogenarian said. Poor Dolly, what will she do? There is prayer in the house after Jimmy so there is something flickering in her – some Jewishness. Kamisha is nervous – no charm – she said about Rie. Exactly what her daughters miss.

15 May 1957.

Yesterday a good but funny meeting. Is it right to make it so social, even Mrs Rissman kissed me, Funny! I. told me that A. is suffering from an infir [inferiority] complex. Why? She has everything. Her parents didn't oppress her. Hans did this. Why are there Germans in the world? Gans [Cyrillic for 'Hans'] purely and simply deceived her. Küss die Hand! I would so like to show her affection, but she is so reserved. I only it were all right for him.

19 May 1957.

To-day the concert in Wigmore Hall. A dull affair I am not surprised Clarica did not come. I should not have mentioned about I. keeping the [ ] and other holidays to Livingston, but at the other hand I have not asked the Chief Rabbi and that was wise. J.H. [or T.H.?] = thank God. I must start to wear the street glasses. I did not recognise Henry Snowman. I did not My hearing is a little worse – but not terrible yet. I should really write daily. I shall try.

3 June 1957.

A television ha arrived. I never wonted it. But conventions press it on one. It is taking its place in life, and it is no good standing aside. It is not a bad thing – so why avoid it. I is in doubt about his coming distinction. Cole (Professor) has refused distinctions and so has Churchill – because they fed through centuries with it, their fathers and fathers' ancestors in his case it is so different. I would like to have M's portrait if I could. Somebody good. And I's as well. I must be careful not to use so much time on nothing. I am glad I manage all I need. The sable-collar is done. I have just signed the cheque for television for 110 pounds, why that faintly feeling, why so much thinking and calculating. No breath of mind. Slavery imbred [sic] by that horrible Riga. Never never was anything mine.

14 August 1957.

So much has happened, that I really don't know where to start. I'[s] Professorship. I's knighthood. It was a long chain of happiness. Nobody, nobody could mar it. Just inner joy deep in my being, without compromise – without need to act to hide or demonstrate anything – just pure undiluted joy. A feeling which is the first in the experience of my life. Never never was there anything which overtook my whole mind and soul for a stretch of time, and gave it a full measure of quiet happiness. All those who mentioned in there congratulatory letters. Dear M and how deplorable it is that he is not here to share it, are not the best of friends – no – it is probably, customary to mention – but the real motive is jealousy and they were all the so-called friends I expected it from The blissful feeling would perhaps be too much – that little pepper is perhaps the necessary addition to avoid to much envy. Efraim is married. Rivro is bound to suffer the first year or two. Nobody seems to be born whom one can entrust that only child. Our Cantos B. is not that clean. He was here to-day.

19 August 1957.

It is distressing that I should have those fearful attacks of tension, which affects his health this trembling of his eyelids is only the outcome of fear, lack of confidence and the feeling of oncoming lectures. I know those attacks. Only he himself can help himself. God help me.

20 August 1957.

At 73 to be left alone, so very late I have it all to myself, my time energy, ideas initiative, my life all all I so much wonted it is all my own now. And am I doing as much as I should? Yes, I admit there is freedom of movement. I open the door whenever and to whom I wont.

But there is still this nagging feeling. It isn't loneliness, no, but this sense of my existence being superfluous. It's not needed by anyone, no one – only M. needed it, and that's past. Ida is strong, she is tougher than they think, she is loveable and realistically sees her way. She has a broad view of everything. She makes the best of things. Like our mother she knows that one has to pay for everything. And I still have not learnt the art of the latter. Before me, my former friends are dropping, dying. They are leaving everything, but this doesn't/hasn't [possibly teach/taught] me. But all the same, one must make economies somehow, somewhere. I inherited little good from my father – and of this he left me plenty. I. does not need me when life is smiling [on him] . He is able to breathe his fill of joy and has the ability to shine at such times like nobody else. [following section is tricky because subject and object are unclear – I'm pretty sure that BH mistranslates it as MB referring to herself, when in fact she's referring to Isaiah] I am useful to him in those difficult, dark days when his self-belief ebbs away and with it, sleep and peace. And he feels sick and ashamed for his feebleness. [When he is] in that state it's the only time he's good to me [not sure about this – does it seem right?] , just like his father was [i.e. does she mean they were both more dependent on her when in low spirits?] , and he [father] was deeply grateful for the support at those moments. I pray to God that his wife may cure [? unclear] him of this weakness.

26 August 1957.

A letter from I., impossible to read it. The Lord grant my eyesight will get better. And that his weakness of spirit [= anxiety/nerves?] about the professorial lectures will pass. May he once more laught in a carefree way. Poor Natiya Rau wasn't able to come to terms with being widowed and died at the age of 44. Poor thing! M-te [could be abbreviation of English Madame?] Tsyn [or Shchyn ? name unclear] has died. She was a lady and out of her children only Gedi [?] loved her. That an old and sick person should die has served Ina as an excuse for her own impatience towards her mother during her illness. One must pay [i.e. use hired help?] and acquire friends – and in no way whatever be dependent on one's children.

28 August 1957.

To day is one of those days, when the spirit is oppressed. [I feel] Heavy-hearted and in pain. People of my age are dying quietly, almost unnoticed, and I am amazed because my time really is going to come too. I'm not going to start thinking that I am [late for?] them There is something like a death association [Sterber-Verein]. We talked of this some time in Riga. But [?my] mood is not lively, especially Natiya Rau. ... [illegible] of age! Fred [is/was?] so successful, a real businessman [word unclear, looks like 'kupets' = merchant], yet all the same, one wouldn't have thought that a rich, very rich person can't get things in order, and the children were left behind with modest means, and the unsuccessful sharing out of the money sent her to her grave – she couldn't cope. The main thing, always and in everything – is to cope with things. Cast aside hateful preoccupations and live Everything for the sake of life.

5 September 1957.

Sometimes it seems to me that I am feeling my oats [Russian saying meaning 'feeling well'?]. I understand I. so well. I really am a 'liability', a walking conscience. One doesn't want to serve [literal, but here = 'he doesn't want to have to look after me'?] , but not to do so is also somehow uncomfortable. Perhaps I too in my time was like that with my own people. But my God, what a difference. From me there was as incredibly much as they demanded, not only did they not let one live but also not breathe, and I really demand so little. I am paying for every sin in the past. I did not harness straight and went all crooked. My honesty, loyalty, simplicity of soul and service to my mother; after all I saver her from a lot; they coped with me; otherwise it would have been Roza Sh. or even worse. The workmen have finished I's bedroom, in which, in all probability, nobody will sleep, but this week has worn me out dreadfully. Marina is leaving next week – never mind, things will turn out all right.

1 October

Yet another month has gone and I haven't written. I must, absolutely must write. I'm just praying about I's heart. Something isn't quite as it should be. And yet several doctors say that everything is all right. The fulfilment of his wishes is so strong, that there are no limits to the intense efforts he is prepared to go to in order to achieve everything. And then there is always this anxiety about something or other – this time it's his lectures – [that they should be] worthy of a professor, and of course ... [illegible – could be English 'escape'] – that's health. Lord help me. In a few days is Yom Kippur. There is so much to ask for. I pray that he will be well and that they will love each other. The rest is in God's hands. The evening of Yom Kippur.

4 October

Something very important today. Summing up of the year, Balance Sheet of the year. What has been and what will be? Bill of the soul, as Ida calls it. If someone were to take a look inside my brain, then they would find written in large letters: 'Heart ... [? Looks like a capital I.?] , Help me, Lord, have mercy! I am going to Ida's – she loves, understands and forgives. It's good that tomorrow I shall think only about one thing – the cleansing of my soul.

7 October 1957.

8 October 1957

Yes, I am going. I must think about when and how. After all, there are Marta and the house. I must accept I's invitation to the Cote D'Azure. But no doubt with him it will be rearranged a thousand times. He's suddenly becoming sorry for me – and is ready to make a warm gesture. After half an hour his egoism returns and everything's forgotten. Some excuse or other obscures the promise. But I myself taught him to be an egoist! And she is weak, she doesn't believe in herself. And like all who suffer from inferiority, she is mistrustful, envious and would give a lot to separate him from me. We can't, unfortunately, be friends. I refuse to die – for the time being, I am still alive.

19 October 1957.

And so I am going on 2 January going with I. He does not want her to go to U.S.A. but she is not able to sit very long in one place. That is clear. He is coming with me. She adores Paris. Is it ecomomy? I think jes. But he very tactfully refused to follow. I am glad that I still am needed. I always felt, that there is still some hole I can fill. Ashlikha is bad-mannered. I must avoid quarrels. They're all bad-mannered. Anna O. isn't bad-mannered. Clarissa P [or could be Russian R] isn't bad-mannered There aren't many who aren't. I must be more careful in order myself not to become bad-mannered.

27 October 1957.

It is amusing how other people notice which I would expect them to notice, that Ash. is trying hard to undermine my authority. The gay G. noticed it. Little by little to get out of her clutches. That is the thing! I have fa[ ]ricities[?] to-day. I hope it wont last long. I shall use [ ]odex. Ida writes a clever letter. According to her writing she should be a different person God help me with I's health. May God heal him!

2 November.

I was here. He is his normal self when he is here, feels a little guilty, but I cannot help that. I ask for nothing and claim [ ]. I arrange my life best I can, interfering with nobody. The fibrositis is gone. But there are twitches in other places, and my fear of repetition of pain coming back is fearful. Ash is an obsession. God help me to get rid of it. And above everything. [two illegible words] For God's sake!

4 November 1957.

In the course of 4-5 months many people have left. Lusk, Zinn (Mrs), Kirshner and today Evnin, without counting Mrs. Philipp's brother and Irene Zinn's husband. It's as though they have been carried off. Perhaps what I feel is not altogether natural, as though I stand to one side and it is no concern of mine. Someone once made the comment: 'Es gibt ein Sterber-Verein aber ich gehorte nich zu ihm'. [There is a death association, but I don't belong to it.] Of course that's not all of it with me.

8 November 1957.

I sent a telegram to Evnina. I don't know how to be with Israel. January – February is rainy and may be cold. But I don't want to leave [it?] until spring. We shall see ... This crook of a tailor made me a coat, but badly, and nevertheless I still need a dress. Yesterday I gave the Philharmonia £25. £40 for the coat. To my I... tu [?Isaiah in diminutive of some kind?] 10. The tickets, from all sides [?sense unclear] will cost 10. A lot of money, but it makes life bearable.

14 November 1957.

Today a meeting and a rude outburst on the part of Ash[likha]. My God, how can I get rid of this woman? How? I. will have a heavy day on ?Tuesday [if so, misspelt] , 19 November. 3 lectures in one day. Lord help me, let him be well. I am prepared for everything, everything, only let him be well.

19 November 1957.

Today I. lectures on Weizmann. I would like him not to ruffle anyone [literally 'disturb' – does she mean not say anything controversial?] , so that the audience might show it's approval, that his heart may be warmed and that it may not be too exhausting. Ahslikha is distancing herself little by little, is losing her good name thank God for that. Gary [ = Cary] Grant says that Grace Kelly had her life mapped out [?a reference to her 1956 marriage to Prince Rainier, presumably sense is that she set her cap at him?] and he is right – everything was foreseen.

26 November 1957.

I inadvertently become frightened when the whole world shouts about my little sun [diminutive of sol'ntse = sun]. Merciful God, his health is everything. The rest is so unimportant. Late in life I have lifted up my head, but at least I have managed to lift it.

29 November 1957.

How funny and stupid it is that I think so much about Ash[likha]. It's trivial, but it sours the air. Some time I will laugh remembering it, but ... [illegible] isn't easy. Kadish rang, this provincial, scum. I don't like meeting him.


1-14 March 1958.

1906 I got married – 52 years – that much has flowed past. A long time of bad days. And what and how much could there be? Well, never mind. We live out our lives as best we can. I left and I came back. With difficulty postponed it. But we can't not be together. But Israel taught me a lot, especially the fact that an hour has sixty minutes and every minute is valuable and is given for work. My cyst has been operated [sic] and there is no need to listen to Tsimler [?]. They should have operated before Israel. A. is getting better. Thank God.