Just a little of the background... from the transcript..
MARTIN FLETCHER: When the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, tens of thousands of Jews applied for visas to anywhere.
And among them, Paul Strnad and his wife Hedwig, nicknamed Hedy. Their best hope to save their lives was help from their cousin Alvin, thousands of miles away in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
So on December 11, 1939, Paul wrote him this letter.
NARRATOR: “You may imagine that we have a great interest of leaving Europe as soon as possible.”
MARTIN FLETCHER: And Paul hoped he had an ace up his sleeve. These drawings. Eight beautiful dresses. And all accessories, down to hat pins and shoes, purses and gloves. Modern. Elegant. His wife Hedy was a seamstress — a dress designer.
Could Alvin find a firm in Milwaukee who’d hire Hedy and sign an affidavit to grant the couple visas to the US?
In his letter, Paul wrote:
NARRATOR: “I hope the dress manufacturers you mentioned in your letter will like them.”
MARTIN FLETCHER: Karen Strnad is Alvin’s granddaughter.
KAREN STRNAD: “It was a letter that was pleading for, you know, a savior, for you know survival. And using the dresses as a tool to be able to get out of there.”
MARTIN FLETCHER: Alvin Strnad tried to find Hedy a job and visas for them both. But too late.
Paul was declared dead January 31, 1943. Murdered in either the Treblinka concentration camp or the Warsaw Ghetto. Hedy’s fate is unclear, but her dresses live on.
Almost sixty years later, Karen’s parents found the letter in the basement, complete with a Nazi censor’s swastika stamp, and the colorful drawings.....