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An arbitrary ordeal

Little Herbert waits for a visa

Does Papa remember the “dung beetle”, when Mr. M. said that he would never leave Germany and that a “Jewish Colony” should be built in Germany? Apparently he has been having second thoughts. The first proof was that he took his son out of the Kaiser Friedrich Gymnasium, and the second that he is sending his son to America.

Zurich/New York

Herbert Freeman was born Herbert Friedmann on December 13, 1925 in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. His father, Leo Friedmann, immigrated to the United States first. Herbert, his mother, and his brother applied for a US visa in Stuttgart. During the obligatory health check-up, the perfectly healthy Herbert was diagnosed as a “tuberculosis carrier” and was unable to join his mother and brother on their journey to the United States in 1936. After repeated unsuccessful attempts, in order to circumvent the Stuttgart US Consulate, 12-year-old Herbert was sent to Zurich (permission to file an application outside Germany was obtained in no small part thanks to the intervention of Albert Einstein). The letter was written during Herbert’s stay in Switzerland. He mentions his upcoming visit to the US Consulate and reapplying for the visa, and describes his days while separated from his relatives.



Leo Baeck Institute – New York | Berlin


Herbert Freeman Family Collection, AR 25346


Box 1, folder 4


on the days before