Tag Archives: history

Welcome to the World of Trudel Adler

Welcome to the World of Trudel Adler

Trudel Adler, my mother, came to the United States 1934 when she was 21 years old. She frequently wrote long letters home to her family in Germany and asked them to save her letters and they did — over two hundred handwritten pages.

Trudel was an amazing young woman who grew into a fascinating warm wonderful woman, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was funny, serious, forthright, and considerate. She worked hard all of her life and gave to the world more than she ever got. The tale of the rest of her life was full of challenge,sadness and joy. These early years are more than that. They reveal the strength of character, the chutspa, the love, that helped her through all those years. Preparing her letters for this blog has been like entering a conversation with her and getting to know the young woman I never met.

Trudel as in Strudel

When asked how to pronounce or spell her name, Trudel, would reply, “Trudel, as in strudel.” She always said the “s” in strudel was for sugar and she was sweet enough without it. But all was not sweetness and light. In 1933, Trudel wrote in her diary, “There is no future for Jewish youth in Germany. I think I shall go to Palestine.”

On May 8, 1934 she sailed for the United States. What happened next is told in her letters  A good way to navigate is to use the month by month by month archives in the sidebar on the right side of each screen.  Her first letter is here. 

May 9, 1934 On board SS Manhattan

Note: Because the usual order of posts in a blog is latest first, the navigation links at the bottom of each screen may be reversed – “older posts” will take you to the next set. “Newer posts” will take you to the previous set.    A good way to navigate is to use the month by month by month archives in the sidebar on the right side of each screen. But if you are on the home page, just scroll down from here.

Trudel on the ship

Trudel on the S.S. Manhattan, May 1934

For more information about this blog visit the About Trudel’s Truth.

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May 9, 1934 On board SS Manhattan.

May 9, 1934  On board SS Manhattan.

On board SS Manhattan. Wednesday, May 9, 1934.

My Dear Goldkinder,

To start with I want to apologize for my handwriting. It is now 4:00 p.m. and I am sitting on deck in a lightweight sweater in bright sunshine in a beach chair. The boat is shaking slightly from one side to the other on a rather quiet and beautiful ocean.

I found already nice company. We found each other even before the ship left Hamburg yesterday. Doddo can tell you much about it.

It is really wonderful here. After departure we visited for a little while, had a glass of beer and sandwiches until we retired about 11:30 p.m. I slept wonderful until 5:00 a.m. when the sun shone one me so invitingly that I first looked out the porthole for a little while, went back to sleep until 7:30 a.m.

We all met before breakfast until we were seated. The nice guy who tried to flirt with me last night and I are sitting at a table together. He is from Budapest and already fifteen years in New York. He reminds me of some other friends. Two girls sit alone because they eat kosher. The others are spread around. After a very large breakfast we went for a walk, then we rented chairs and are resting from doing nothing.

We are always in groups of four or six or more. This morning I also played ping pong to improve my appetite! In between they served consomme and crackers. After dinner we played catch, etc. before resting in our chairs again, three hours except for taking a few snapshots. It is good that my table mate is American. He can read the menu And tell me what it is. Just now we got tea and cookies.

I am getting lazier by the minute. Your know what corns on a certain place are? Well I think I am getting them.

On Deck

On the Deck of the SS Manhattan May 9, 1934

There are several people on board who have given me regards from friends but I am not very interested in most of them.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, a few of us want to walk a bit around LeHavre. Now I want to take a nap before dinner. Hope you can read this o.k.

Love, Trudel

The next letter is May 17. I will try to post more photos from the ship before then.

Shortlink to this page:


Posted by on May 9, 1934 in diary, family, Letters, Memoir


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November 18, 1935 – “For information…” Trudel tells her family about her fiancé and his family

November 18, 1935 – “For information…” Trudel tells her family about her fiancé and his family

A biography of Leonard J. Grossman, as Trudel understood it.
[Note: Remember to click on images for larger or more complete photos.]


For information

Albert Grossman

Albert Grossman

Henriette Mayer Grossman

Henriette Mayer Grossman

Albert Bertold Grossman, Leonard J’s father, attended Rabbinical Seminary in Hungary, where his oldest brother was the director, with the intention of becoming a rabbi. He is a very highly educated person, especially in Jewish knowledge of theology and theosophy.

In order to visit another brother in the USA, he came to Atlanta, Georgia where he settled as an art connoisseur. He knew where all objects of art were at that time and through that, was in touch with many very wealthy families. In one year, he crossed the ocean 12 times in order to bring “objets d’art” to the USA. A very wealthy banker joined with him to form the insurance firm of Grossman and Haas to insure the art he brought here.

The Ship is Sinking

Oil, 1888*

In the meantime, a German Jewish couple, Leopold and Rosa Meyer, lived in New York. He had left Germany under Bismarck, fought for the English in the Crimean War. One of their children was Henrietta, born in New York. When she was four months old they moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Leopold Meyer was a good friend of James A Garfield who later became President of the USA, and who made Mr. Meyer superintendent of the Postal Service in Cleveland. He was a Republican and leader of the German Americans in his town. When he died, he was sitting in a chair and held a cane which Garfield had given him as presents.

Leopold Mayer

Leopold Mayer

Rosa Mayer

Rosa Höchster Mayer

One of his daughters had married the superintendent of the B’nai Brith Orphan Home in Atlanta Georgia. When they had a baby, her sister Henrietta came to visit them. At that time, Albert Bertold Grossman was secretary of the biggest Jewish club there. He was the best dressed, best looking man there, about 20 years older than Henrietta.** He fell in love with that beautiful girl, who all the newspapers were writing about. Although he was expected to marry the daughter of his partner, he married this beauiful young lady one year later. She was the favored niece of Rabbi Emil Hirsch, who was the so-called uncle of the whole meschpoche.

This young couple, Albert and Henrietta, had one daughter, Madge, who married a wealthy lawyer, Raymon Schwartz, a Portuguese Jew whose family came to the USA under George Washington. Her father lives with them in Sumter, SC. The mother, who unfortunately died a few years ago at the age of 58, was for many years the head of the biggest Christian Science church in Chicago. She wrote the words to many beautiful songs and was a wonderful wife and mother.

LJG 6 mos

LJG 6 Mos. January 1892

On July 4, 1891, Albert and Henrietta’s son Leonard Jacob Grossman was born in Atlanta. For a short time they lived in Cleveland with the mother’s relatives. A few years later there was a baby brother, Vivian Bernard (Later: Bernard Vincent) Grossman.
Bernard Leonard and Madge

Bernard, Leonard and Madge

When they left Atlanta Leonard was six years old and knew mostly German. They never talked English at home. Even their housekeeper, who came from Switzerland, talked only German. Of course in kindergarten in Atlanta and in school in Cleveland, he had to speak English. They moved to Chicago when the father was made manager of all the salesmen in 30 states for a disinfecting company. A richer banker, Henry Grünebaum, started a new insurance company with Albert B. G. This life insurance company is still in business but under a different name.

Madge and Ray

Madge and Ray

Leonard attended eight years of grammar school, four years high school, one and one half years of law school. In 1912 he returned to Atlanta where his family had moved back one year earlier. He had worked his own way through high school and university with different jobs – assistant janitor, usher in theaters, salesman, newspaper reporter, etc. He was also president of his class 1908-1910 and also in the Kent Law School.

LJG medals

LJG Oratory Medal (Click for more)

In 1908 he won an award as champion speaker for Illinois schools. He won several awards and a free scholarship to the University of Chicago.


LJG in Atlanta – Click for full image

In Atlanta, he found a job as a newspaper writer. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1913.
For six years he practiced law in Atlanta.

In 1919 he moved back to Chicago and opened a law office. He became Assistant Corporation Counsel for Chicago after four years of being lawyer for the police department. From 1927-29 he was alderman of the ward which included the University of Chicago. From 1929-31 he was Special Assistant Corporation Counsel until Republican mayor William H. Thompson lost the election.

LJG College days

LJG c. 1920?

June 1, 1921 he got married and Feb 17, 1929 his daughter Flora Mae was born. After the defeat of the Republican Party in November 1932, his wife started divorce proceedings, after they had already not lived together for several months. In 1933 the divorce was finally granted with even rights for both parents on behalf of the child. Flora Mae would live with her mother but leonard would hasve the right to visit her at any time, or have her with him. Leonard was not forced to pay more than $10 a month for child support since the judge knew he would do what he could.

Now the trouble is that his ex-wife can go to court and ask for more money if she can prove he earns more. But that is not possible at this time since he does not earn that much, now that his “party” is out. He works 18-20 hours every day and has very big expenses: office rent, secretary, hotel room, food etc. The mother, on the other hand, has an excellent job at a hotel on the south side owned by former good friends of his. She can afford a lovely apartment and a lady to take care of Flora Mae.

Leonard gets many cases referred from his former partner, Albert Goodman, but it is not like a political job.

Since he cannot give the mother as much money as she would like, there seems to be an argument every Sunday either with the mother, aunt or grandmother who all try to turn the child against her father. I am never there when they fight. Either I stay at the place where we eat, or wait in the lobby of the house where they live. I do not want to be involved. As a result we have not seen Flora Mae for several weeks now. But as you heard on that record he is doing better all the time and we hopethinks will improve so we can get married before too long and he can give the mother more money, that is all she is interested in.

*The painting still hangs on my livingroom wall. According to family legend it is one of those from Albert Grossman’s art dealing days. Whenever it hangs crookedly, Trudel used to say, “The ship is sinking,” which became a family expression for such things. To this day when I see a crooked piece of art I use that phrase. People look at me strangely. I wish I could read the artists name.

Closeup of signature

Can you read the artist’s signature?

**That age difference was not so unusual. Trudel’s parents, and both of her sisters married men about 20 years their senior, just as Trudel would.


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