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Letter From Miguel Gutstein (Moshe Gutsztejn), Cuba, 1935

- Written from Guantanamo, Cuba, to his sister, Chana Gutsztejn, in Israel, on August 5, 1935
- Miguel/Moshe left Radzilow in 1925; Chana left in 1932; All the immediate family that remained were killed in the Holocaust
- Translation from Yiddish*

Dear beloved sister,

Miguel Gutstein and Chaya (nee Kamenshchik) Gutstein,
wedding day,
Guantanamo, Cuba, 1928
Miguel/Moshe went to Cuba, 1926; Chaya went to Cuba, 1928


I received your letter with great joy. I had thought that I would never get a letter from you, and here, suddenly, a letter from my Palestinian sister [Chana had gone to Palestine in 1932]. You were in Tel Aviv and met a young fellow (Bachur) from Cuba who gave you my address. At the same time I got your letter I received a ticket [invitation] from Leitzer [surely their sister, Malka Leja, who married in Grajewo on July 10, 1935] to her wedding, and now I am writing a letter today to Chantzrinke [Chana].

First page of 2-page
letter written by
Miguel Gutstein,
from Cuba in 1935
Miguel/Moshe went
to Cuba, 1926


So what's doing with you? I wish you would also already be married, even though I don't even have anything to help [cut off]. Suddenly you certainly know that I suffer very much from that. You are already in the land of Israel. And I [cut off] not crestfallen. About me, no [cut off] have son of five years old and [cut off] of two and a half years old. We call him Mimi and her Ditta. [cut off] but the fortune [cut off].

... children. I don't have any event happening. It appears that I have forfeited my life. I was ill in my lungs, and was in Havana in a sanitarium for three months and am now better. You can understand yourself that it's all an atonement [illness atones for one's sins]. Therefore times are very bad, and it's impossible even to think of making a wedding. I am impatient for you to tell me about everything. I send you kisses my dear sister, and wish you all the best.

[In a new handwriting, written by his wife Chaya]

My dear sister-in-law, we were overjoyed to receive your letter. [cut off] so lonely and lonesome and realize that only [cut off] home of one's own supports and warm ones [cut off] It's our fault that we haven't written you a letter. But it only comes [cut off] luck. About it, a second time, [cut off] should be there in our own land [cut off] and a happy future and [cut off] about yourself, the country, and what your [cut off]. Many thanks and heartfelt [cut off] Leitze, Allevei... [an expression of "let's hope so" or "may it happen"] I am going to give [cut off] you your two beautiful [cut off] and send it off.

From [cut off] Gutstein  [But obviously Miguel's wife Chaya]

Miguel was known as
Moshe Gutsztejn in Poland

Moshe Gutsztejn,
early 1920's
Left Radzilow, mid-1920's, went to Kovno, Lithuania, then to Cuba

Moshe's sister Chana, to whom the letter is addressed

Chana Gutsztejn and her
Polish Passport, 1932
Went to Israel, 1932

Moshe's sister Sara; Moshe's cousin (related to him on both sides)

Sara (nee Gutsztejn)
and Yankiel Zimnowicz
Both killed in Radzilow, 1941,
along with daughter Shulamit, age 8

Moshe's father

Yisrael Mejer Gutsztejn
Died in Lomza, 1927

Moshe's mother

nee Zimnowicz) Gutsztejn
Killed in Radzilow, 1941, at age 71

Moshe's neices and nephews

Ephraim Gutsztejn
Killed in the Holocaust;
[Read poignant letter
he wrote in 1939]

Children of Jankiel Gutsztejn and wife Yocheved, 1936
[L-R]: Ephraim,
Yitzhak, Rywka, Yisrael and Menachem
Entire family of seven
killed in Holocaust

Additional Material:
Read about his parents, Yisrael Mejer and Pesza (nee Zimnowicz) Gutsztejn and see a photo of their fabrics store on Town Square
Read his 12-year-old nephew Ephraim Gutsztejn's remarkable letter from Grodno Yeshiva

My grandfather Moshe/Miguel Gutstein left Radzilow in the mid-1920's, and went to Kovno, Lithuania, where he taught at a Gymnasium for a couple of years and met his wife-to-be (Chaya Kamenshchik). From there he went to Guantanamo, Cuba, and sent for her. They were married in Guantanamo in 1928. He began peddling odds and ends on the street, and eventually opened up a general store called "La Esperanza - Ropa y Quincalla."

Miguel died from tuberculosis in Havana, Cuba, in 1943. I was given my middle name of Miguel in his honor.

He was one of eight siblings. Two died as young children in Radzilow. Chana emigrated to Israel in 1932. The other four were killed in the Holocaust, along with their spouses and children. Miguel's mother Pesza (nee Zimnowicz) Gutsztejn, who owned a fabrics store in Radzilow's Town Square, was killed on July 7, 1941, at the age of 71.

His sister Malka Leja (the one who sent her wedding invitation to Cuba), along with her husband Bencjyon (Zaidel) Koziol, and their two children, Aviva (born 1936) and Yisrael (born 1939), were all killed in Radzilow on July 7, 1941.

Letter contributed by Jose Gutstein.

*Translated from Yiddish by: David Goldman. Edited by: Jose Gutstein.
Editor's notes or definitions are entered in [brackets].
Copyright 2002 by Jose Gutstein.
All rights reserved to the original letter, pictures and the translation.

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