20 November 1941

Drancy, France

"Don't lose hope that soon we will be together again, as we were in the past.
I hug you very tight, and again, one more time, we will see each other soon"

Last Letter from Drancy

Isaac Joseph Kornowski wrote these words to his wife and sons in a postcard that he sent from the Drancy camp in November 1941. In the postcard, he asked them to each send a few words in their own handwriting, so that he would know that they were all well, and that they were together in the family home in Paris.

Isaac and Chaya Kornowski immigrated to France from the area of Lodz, Poland, and lived in the 20th arrondissement in Paris.  They had a small business making clothes to order in a workshop opposite their apartment.  Isaac was a tailor and his wife Chaya was a seamstress.  In 1926, their first son, Paul, was born, and some three years later, they had another son, Henri.

In the summer of 1941, Chaya and the boys moved to a village outside Paris, as they did every year, and Isaac would come to visit them every weekend.  At the end of August 1941, roadblocks were set up at the entrance to Paris, and all those passing through were subjected to a document check.  Isaac's ID papers bore a stamp identifying him as a Jew.  He was caught at the roadblock on his return from the village, and detained in the Drancy camp.  His family received a postcard from him. A second letter from him arrived on the eve of his deportation to Auschwitz from the Compiègne camp. On 7 July 1942, about one month after his arrival at Auschwitz, Isaac was murdered there.

Chaya and her two sons fled to Nice in the South of France.  Paul drew some protest graffiti, and as a result, was wanted by the authorities. Therefore the brothers were smuggled to Switzerland in September 1943, and from there the boys were transferred to an OSE children's home in Geneva.  Chaya remained in France and survived.

After the war, Chaya and Henri lived in France.  Paul studied art in Geneva and in art school in Paris.   In 1948, he immigrated to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) and enlisted in the Machal (overseas volunteers) forces. In the course of his military service, he illustrated instruction textbooks.  Kornowski, who wrote and drew under the name "Kor", went on to design posters, stamps and banknotes, and won many international awards.  He wrote and illustrated many children's books, among them the "Caspion, the Little Fish" series.

In his later years, Kor dedicated most of his time to drawing.

Paul Kor passed away in 2001.

Drancy 20/11/1944

My dear ones,

I received your card of the 16th.  Darling Paul, it seems to me that in all of your cards except the first one, mother was not in Paris because she did not have time to explain things to me herself… about our home since I left.

My dear wife and sons, I'm sure that you understand that I would like to know more details about your situation, which worries me greatly.  I received the packages that you sent, including a food parcel… Did [you take] the coal?  [Did you make sure] that you took everything in the shop storeroom? Have you heard anything from my brother…?  How are Fannie and the ...  family?

[Reverse side of the postcard]

As for me…  I am fine.  I am still hopeful that we will be together again as we were in the past.  One of my friends was released from here… Ehrlich… Did he visit you?  If you can, send me a little oil and vinegar in a bottle and some onions in the next package.  I ask you my dear ones that in the next card, each one of you three write in your own handwriting.  I am signing off.  [You need to] be even more courageous, and don't lose hope that soon we will be together again, as we were in the past. I hug you very tight, and again, one more time, we will see each other soon.

Your husband and father.

No tobacco or cigarettes in the next package
p.s. regards to little…   Send him a hug from me.
[Regards to all our friends]

 [Only part of the letter remains, and its condition has deteriorated over the years. The contents were therefore hard to decipher, and some sections of the letter are indecipherable.]

  View the letter