Israel State Archives in Search of King George's Penpal

Yehudit Ya'avetz, a 12-year-old girl who immigrated to Palestine from Germany, sent the King of England a blessing from the Holy Land in 1935 for helping Jews escape Europe.

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

On May 6, 1935 a girl from Palestine wrote a letter to George V, the King of England. The girl, Yehudit Ya'avetz, was 12 and had immigrated to Palestine from Mannheim, Germany 18 months before.

She decided to send the king a blessing from the Holy Land on the 25th anniversary of his coronation. In good, even flowery Hebrew, she wrote to thank him and Britain for its aid to the Jewish people and the Jewish national home in Palestine. She apologized that her English was not good enough to write a letter and hoped that the Hebrew language would be music to the ears of His Majesty. She described the Nazi attack on the Jews of Mannheim and the destruction of the local synagogue, which led to the family’s decision to emigrate to the “land of their fathers, the land of the past and the future.”

Israel State Archives published this letter to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Nazi rise to power and the Fifth Aliyah (immigration), the aliyah of the Yekkes, the German Jews. Now the archive is trying to find out who Yehudit Ya'avetzwas and what happened to her.

The seal on the letter attests to the fact that it arrived at Buckingham Palace, but apparently was not brought to the knowledge of the king himself. From Britain it made its way back to the Mandatory government in Palestine, and from there it eventually ended up in the State Archives.

There are few details known about Yehudit. She was born in 1921 in Mannheim, Germany, immigrated to Palestine between 1933 and 1934 and lived on Hakishon Street in Haifa. Anyone with additional information about her is invited to contact Haaretz.

“Even I, a young girl, cannot refrain from blessing their Royal Highnesses in honor of their silver jubilee and to express to their Royal Highnesses my heartfelt wishes,” wrote the girl. “And I pray that God will guard and keep and elevate their Royal Highnesses and let them reign over Britain and the other peoples sheltering under their rule, in justice and honesty for many years.”

The letter was addressed to the king and queen. At the top of the page Ya'avetz wrote: “In honor of their Royal Highnesses King George V and Queen Mary. By the grace of God the rulers of Britain ... on the 25th anniversary of their coronation.”

The young girl thanked the king for Britain’s help in establishing the Jewish homeland six years before the deterioration in the relations between the pre-state Jewish Yishuv and Britain with the publication of the White Paper. In the letter she also told about her own and her family’s personal history.

“I am a 12-year-old refugee from Germany and have been here in the country for about a year and a half. Before that we lived in Mannheim (Germany). After Hitler’s faction took over there and attacked innocent Jews and destroyed the synagogue in our city, we decided to leave Germany and to immigrate to the land of our fathers, the land of the past and future of the Jewish people. We lost everything in Germany, here we can hardly make a living, yet we are happy in the land of our ancestors,” she wrote.

Despite the situation she ended the letter on an optimistic note. “In spite of everything I hope that I will be able to congratulate their Royal Highnesses on the golden jubilee of their coronation as a loyal citizen,” Yehudit wrote, “and I pray to God for the welfare of their highnesses and the welfare of Britain and Palestine-Land of Israel and all the nations sheltering under the rule of their Royal Highnesses.”

King George VCredit: Bain News Service
The letterCredit: National Archive