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Finding Freda Rose - part 1

I was in a slump. I had come down from the high of having a book published and finally getting back to Springwater, NY in the western Finger Lakes' region for my book launch and other events.

So, what next? I felt I had no creative energy left. Needing a break, I tabled all my creative projects and research for several months and focused on my family and my work as a content creator for a local university.

One day, I was on Facebook and happened upon my county's community page. A post from a man in Germany popped up. He had vintage letters that were sent to his grandmother, and he wondered if anyone could help him find out who sent them. He wondered if anyone could get more information about the family on this side of the pond (across the Atlantic.)

I opened the pictures he posted of the scanned letters. That's all it took, and I was on board for my next history detective adventure.

Courtesy of Joseph Renz. Used with permission.

Courtesy of Joseph Renz. Used with permission.

I quickly figured out that the woman in Germany who received the letters was named Maria Liste Recker. She was living in US occupied Germany in 1947 and at least four letters arrived to her from a woman named Freda Rose. Freda lived at 428 Crown Avenue in Scranton, Pennsylvania (Not far from where I live!)

428 Crown Ave. today:

Image accessed at Google Street View.

There are four letters in all, and this is the first one:

Courtesy of Joseph Renz. Used with permission.

Courtesy of Joseph Renz. Used with permission.

The handwriting is hard to read so I will transcribe it here: (I have left any spelling or grammatical errors in place to be true to the original.)

Feb 9, 1947

Scranton PA

Dear cousin Marie

We received your letter and sure was suprize, when it came. I often wonder about you if you were among the living. always thought of you in our prayers, so God would help and spare you in that terrible time of war. I hope we will never have any more, or hear about them so we can live and love each other. God gave us a nice place on Earth to enjoy and have it and we make a mess out of it. I am glad you are in the U.S. Zone. We will keep praying to God that time will soon come so you and your loved ones can enjoy Happiness in life again. The secretary to Mayor of City sent the letter down to Brother Christ to see if it belong to our Family so when he came home from work he gave it to me and when I read it I said yes its cousin Carl List daughter.

Brother Christ was Chief of Police of our city but now he is pension for last 20 years and works as police gaurd for the First National Bank of our city. We are both geting old. Christ is 71 years old and I am 65 years and I have a brother Carl 81 and his wife is 72. the make their home with his oldest daughter. they live about 7 miles away from us. My Sister Mrs. Becker, died 14 years ago and one son of 25 years died 5 years after his mother and Mrs. Fred Wolf her daughter died 3 years age after an operation. she all ways was with me and I miss her so much. We have snow and good and cold weather. I wish it warm up a little so I can get out. I close now with Love and and Best of wishes for everything good for you and your love ones.

We got your letter Feb 6-1947.

We will try and do best we can and as soon when our package get to you let us know about it.

my address is

Miss Freda Rose

428 Crown Ave

Scranton PA



The first thing I noticed is that Freda calls Marie her "cousin". And later, when she describes how she got Marie's letter, she says, "to see if it belong to our family." She explains that the letter did belong to their family. So, it seems clear that these two women are related.

I am also convinced that this is their first communication since Freda has lived at Crown Ave., since Marie sent the letter to the Mayor's office. It reveals that Marie didn't have their address. Thankfully, the secretary to the Mayor sent the letter to this man "Christ," who seems to be Freda's brother.

Other references to family reveal that Marie is Freda's cousin Carl Liste's daughter. That would make her Freda's first cousin once removed. Freda also explains that she has a brother Carl who is 81 and has a wife who is 72. I noted these ages and the date of the letter (Feb 9, 1947) so that I could record their birth years. Freda also says she has a sister, Mrs. Becker who died 14 years ago (would have been 1933 or 1934) and Mrs. Becker's son who died 5 years ago (in 1942 at age of 25). She mentions at Mrs. Fred Wolf (unsure of spelling of last name) whose daughter died at 3 years of age. It is unclear, but I am guessing that Mrs. Wolf may be another sister of Freda's.

Right away there was so much to research!

I also noticed the timing of the letter. It is in February of 1947. What was happening in post-war Germany in 1947?

World War II ended in May, 1945. In the first two years after the war, Germany was a mess. Its economy and infrastructure were in shambles. The NATO allies divided the country into occupied zones. Agreements made between Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and General Joseph Stalin in February 1945, resulted in Germany being divided into four zones of occupation, governed by Britain, the United States, France and the Soviet Union.

In 1947, the British and US zones combined to form the 'Bizone' to work together to oversee the two zones. Eventually, in 1949, three western zones formed together to create the Federal Republic of (West) Germany. The eastern zone, governed by the Soviet Union separated to become the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The country of Germany remained split until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the re-unification in 1990.

I wonder if Freda or her cousin Marie ever lived to see that day. I can't wait to tell you what I've already learned about them!

To read my next post go here.

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Douglas Morgan
Douglas Morgan
Oct 27, 2021

Sounds like you are off and running! Good luck. Doug

Replying to

Thanks, Doug!

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