Mrs. Marie Strakhow (sometimes spelled “Strachov” or “Strachova”) was a longtime family friend from Russia and AR’s first English teacher. She had written to AR that AR’s father had died in 1939 and her mother a year later (actually in 1941).
10000 Tampa Avenue
United States of America
August 8, 1946
Mrs. Marie de Strakhov
Neumarkt bei Salzburg
Thank you for your letter. I have heard nothing from Europe for eight years, and the news you told me was a great shock to me. But I am very grateful that you got in touch with me and let me know.
You mentioned that you would tell me of a strange dream on the day of ZZ’s death [Zinovy Zacharovitch, AR’s father]. Would you write to me what it was?
I stopped writing to Europe when I stopped receiving letters from them, realizing that it was probably dangerous for them to correspond with people abroad. At present food parcels are being accepted here for delivery to all European countries. I have sent a parcel to Nora, and I hope that she will write to me if she gets it. I do not know whether I should write to them first myself or not. I have become very famous here as an author of pronounced political views. I think you can guess what these views are. Because of this fact, do you think that a letter from me would prove embarrassing or dangerous to them? I would appreciate very much your advice about this.
Also, if you have any information that you can safely give me in a letter on the names or addresses of people who might assist me in locating Natasha and Nora [AR’s two sisters], I would be very grateful.
I do not know whether the mail going to and from you passes through American hands, or whether it is handled by representatives of other countries. Therefore, I hesitate to send you my books, as I do not want them to cause you any embarrassment. If, however, you tell me that the mail is handled only by American authorities, I will be glad to send you my books. They represent the strictly American philosophy of life.
I am very happy to know that you are now free. Would you like to come to America? I would like very much to see you and to ask you a great many things that cannot be covered by letter. I would like to have you here with me, as you are now my only link to the
past. The financial part of your trip would not be a burden to me in any way. I am now quite rich, and I would be more than happy to pay for your passage to America, and to have you as my guest here. Do not consider it as any kind of an imposition on me, but rather as a favor that you would do me, if you say that you care to come. I remember the many favors which you have done us, and this may be my chance to reciprocate. I would like you to enjoy a rest in a free and decent country, and a chance to do the things you want to do.
I hope very much that you decide to come. If you do, you must apply for a visa to the American consul nearest you. I was told here that the Resident Representative of the Intergovernmental Refugee Committee (the Mr. Ross, who first wrote to me about you) can accept your application for a visa and assist you with the necessary formalities, if there is no American consul in Salzburg. The application for a visa has to be made by you, but I will send you an affidavit of support which you must submit to the consul with your application. The American government is now permitting refugees to come here under a quota, if they have an affidavit of support from an American citizen, which I am.
Would you give me the following information which I need to fill out the affidavit: your birthdate and place, and marital status. The affidavit asks the circumstances of my acquaintance with you. I shall state, with your permission, that you were my teacher of English.
In the meantime I have sent you two food parcels, and hope that they contain things which you will find of use. I shall continue sending them; so please let me know what particular food products you like or need more than others, and I will try to send those.
As to news about myself, it is a long story which I would like to tell you in detail when I see you. In brief, I have had a very hard struggle for many years, but have finally achieved a great success. Three years ago I wrote a novel which became a sensational best seller and which has made me famous. I now live in California, where I own a house and ranch of my own outside of Hollywood. I have a long term contract to write for pictures, at a huge Hollywood salary, besides my income from my books. I mention this so that you will see that financial considerations are no longer a problem for me.
Both my husband and I would like very much to see you, and perhaps we can help you to feel a little happier than you are at present. At least, we would like to try.