Saturday, 22 March 2008

Letter 5 - February 05, (1919)

Hyde Park Hotel, Knightsbridge, London

Dear Family,-

All visas have been obtained and we are ready to eave for Paris Sunday. We required additional Italian and English visas, an American ratification, and had to be checked in at the Police.

The weather is damp and cold; it drizzles and rains and snows by turns. My rubbers and heavy coat are in constant use.

The subway strike has forced us to do all of our travelling about town in taxis, which are scarcer than lump sugar here. The waiters’ strike has forced us to eat in small places – but all Kosher places are small, and they have very excellent meals. Tomorrow an electricians’ strike is promised, which will compel us to undress by candle. And yet we have no complaint – our conferences convene undisturbed.

Yesterday morning we spent in the Italian and American consulates. All afternoon and evening we were in conference consisting of Drs. Friedenwald, Poole, Rubinow, Jacobson* (a Russian) and Messrs. Szold, Helfin (a Dutch man living in Jerusalem), Louis Robison and myself. Various plans of action were discussed and nothing definite arrived at.

Today we paid our final visit to the French consul in the morning. Early in the afternoon I went to H. Samuels and Co., bankers, to whom Mr. Naumberg* gave me a letter of introduction. They seemed to be very nice, suave gentlemen. I was invited to have supper with one of them but was compelled to refuse because of an important meeting.

Late in the afternoon we all met including Miss Shapiro and Mrs. Poole and walked (not by choice) to Parliament where we had tea with one Sir Alfred Monte*- a most commonplace and wholly uninteresting individual who, however has given the Zionists £25,000. At the conclusion of the formality he kindly consented to grant us permission to look thru the building – an unusual occurrence these days – and provided us with a guide. It is a truly fascinating old building, of gigantic proportions. It is filled with myriads of pictures of historic scenes and persons. Here and there are statues – one a lean gaunt solemn faced old man, another a short, pudgy-faced, sidewhiskered rotund morsel, a third a fiery eyed youth, etc. There was some beautiful woodwork, especially in soe of the committee rooms which line the corridors on all sides. But the most attractive work of all was a series of frescoes in the “King’s dressing room” (where he dons his royal gown etc. before making his appearance before either House). They represented a number of scenes from King Arthur, and were truly beautifully done. Especially the high coloring effects were fine.

We then passed thru the House of Commons (no visitors are allowed when in session) and were told that we couldn’t see the House of Lords as its members were being sworn in – but later it was announced that the Lords had risen – so we entered their abode. Tradition plays a big part in all the operation of these bodies. To accomplish anything must be a severe tax on one’s patience and perseverance.

By six-thirty we were returned to the office where we were to meet one Dr. Eder*, a physician, who since the absence of Dr. Weitzman* from Palestine has been the acting head of the Zionist Commission. He gave a most interesting talk on what had been done and offered some valuable suggestions as to what still remains. He’s an Englishman by birth (there are apparently but few who are Zionists) and a very fine man.

I’m tired. Goodnight!

Lots of love and kisses,


Jacobson, Victor:- b. Russia 1869 – d. Palestine 1934; Zionist leader, member of Zionist Executive, 1913-1921

Naumberg, Mr.:- New York friend of the Sonneborns

Monte, Sir Alfred Mond:- b. Great Britain 1868 – d. London 1930; Industrialist, Cabinet Minister; became Zionist leader after 1917. Founded Tel Mond in Palestine; built own villa in Tiberias, 1929.

Eder, Dr. Montague David:- b.London 1866 – d. London 1936; British psychiatrist, member of the Zionist Executive

Weitzmann, Haim:- b. Russia 1874 – d.Rehovot 1952; Scientist whose work helped save Britain in W.W.1; Zionist activist from youth; instrumental in negotiating the Balfour Declaration of Homeland for the Jews in Palestine; First President of the State of Israel

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