Holocaust in words

drawing

It is said that a picture paints a thousand words , and it does, but that also means that sometimes a picture is just to horrible to look at it, for just a glimpse can evoke a thousand emotions. There are so many images of the Holocaust which are just to gruesome to view, However sometimes just the words of victims can have a deeper emotional impact that lasts.

Below are just some examples of last words send to family members, either on postcard or letter. I don’t know the dates but that doesn’t matter for the words are just so powerful.

A message from Margot Triest’s mother.

“Little treasure, I’m sure you have found girlfriends already. Always take care of yourself, little one, always be well and have fun … Always be brave, little girl, and with God’s help, we will see one another again.”

Margot did not see her mother again, The words were written on a postcard, and Margot;s Mother had thrown the postcard out of the train, bur miraculously it was found and given to Margot.

A message from Ernst Bornstein’s parents(excerpts from letters send to Ernst)

“As time passed by we received more terrible news about the “Aussiedlung” (the resettlement of the Jewish population) .

“We are standing in front of our wagons because our town is now Judenrein. Like other transports before us, we are probably going to the extermination at Auschwitz. Stay strong and make sure that you stay alive. And do not forget all this.”

A message from Fanya Barbakow(Excerpt from her last letter)

“My dear ones!! I am writing this letter before my death, but I don’t know the exact day that I and all my relatives will be killed, just because we are Jews. All of our Jewish brothers and sisters were murdered and died a shameful death at the hands of the murderers… I don’t know who will remain alive from our family, and who will have the honor of reading my letter and my proud greeting before death to all my beloved and dear ones tortured at the hands of the murderers.”

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Source

Yad Vashem

 

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Gandhi’s letters to Hitler

gandhi

Mohandas Gandhi, frequently known by the honorific Mahatma (meaning “great soul”), was famous for advocating civil disobedience and nonviolence to achieve his goals.

Starting in 1921, Gandhi led the Indian independence movement through such methods, finally achieving freedom from the British empire in 1947, just six months before his death.

Less known is Gandhi’s efforts through a series of letters in 1939 and 1940 to keep German dictator Adolf Hitler from starting a war in Europe.

 

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The British saw to it that the 1939 letter was never delivered. It seems they did not realise its propaganda value, considering how much Gandhi is revered today. But it did show that the Indian leader was a shrewd reader of international affairs – even a month before the Nazi-Soviet Pact made World War II inevitable, Gandhi had fully realised that the only way to avert war was for the German leader to adopt peaceful means to achieve his goals.

The second letter he send on Christmas eve 1940, it is not known if Hitler ever received it. Below is the full text of that letter.

 

“Dear friend,

That I address you as a friend is no formality. I own no foes. My business in life has been for the past 33 years to enlist the friendship of the whole of humanity by befriending mankind, irrespective of race, colour or creed.

I hope you will have the time and desire to know how a good portion of humanity who have view living under the influence of that doctrine of universal friendship view your action. We have no doubt about your bravery or devotion to your fatherland, nor do we believe that you are the monster described by your opponents. But your own writings and pronouncements and those of your friends and admirers leave no room for doubt that many of your acts are monstrous and unbecoming of human dignity, especially in the estimation of men like me who believe in universal friendliness. Such are your humiliation of Czechoslovakia, the rape of Poland and the swallowing of Denmark. I am aware that your view of life regards such spoliations as virtuous acts. But we have been taught from childhood to regard them as acts degrading humanity. Hence we cannot possibly wish success to your arms.

But ours is a unique position. We resist British Imperialism no less than Nazism. If there is a difference, it is in degree. One-fifth of the human race has been brought under the British heel by means that will not bear scrutiny. Our resistance to it does not mean harm to the British people. We seek to convert them, not to defeat them on the battle-field. Ours is an unarmed revolt against the British rule. But whether we convert them or not, we are determined to make their rule impossible by non-violent non-co-operation. It is a method in its nature indefensible. It is based on the knowledge that no spoliator can compass his end without a certain degree of co-operation, willing or compulsory, of the victim. Our rulers may have our land and bodies but not our souls. They can have the former only by complete destruction of every Indian—man, woman and child. That all may not rise to that degree of heroism and that a fair amount of frightfulness can bend the back of revolt is true but the argument would be beside the point. For, if a fair number of men and women be found in India who would be prepared without any ill will against the spoliators to lay down their lives rather than bend the knee to them, they would have shown the way to freedom from the tyranny of violence. I ask you to believe me when I say that you will find an unexpected number of such men and women in India. They have been having that training for the past 20 years.

We have been trying for the past half a century to throw off the British rule. The movement of independence has been never so strong as now. The most powerful political organization, I mean the Indian National Congress, is trying to achieve this end. We have attained a very fair measure of success through non-violent effort. We were groping for the right means to combat the most organized violence in the world which the British power represents. You have challenged it. It remains to be seen which is the better organized, the German or the British. We know what the British heel means for us and the non-European races of the world. But we would never wish to end the British rule with German aid. We have found in non-violence a force which, if organized, can without doubt match itself against a combination of all the most violent forces in the world. In non-violent technique, as I have said, there is no such thing as defeat. It is all ‘do or die’ without killing or hurting. It can be used practically without money and obviously without the aid of science of destruction which you have brought to such perfection. It is a marvel to me that you do not see that it is nobody’s monopoly. If not the British, some other power will certainly improve upon your method and beat you with your own weapon. You are leaving no legacy to your people of which they would feel proud. They cannot take pride in a recital of cruel deed, however skilfully planned. I, therefore, appeal to you in the name of humanity to stop the war. You will lose nothing by referring all the matters of dispute between you and Great Britain to an international tribunal of your joint choice. If you attain success in the war, it will not prove that you were in the right. It will only prove that your power of destruction was greater. Whereas an award by an impartial tribunal will show as far as it is humanly possible which party was in the right.

You know that not long ago I made an appeal to every Briton to accept my method of non-violent resistance. I did it because the British know me as a friend though a rebel. I am a stranger to you and your people. I have not the courage to make you the appeal I made to every Briton. Not that it would not apply to you with the same force as to the British. But my present proposal is much simple because much more practical and familiar.

During this season when the hearts of the peoples of Europe yearn for peace, we have suspended even our own peaceful struggle. Is it too much to ask you to make an effort for peace during a time which may mean nothing to you personally but which must mean much to the millions of Europeans whose dumb cry for peace I hear, for my ears are attended to hearing the dumb millions? I had intended to address a joint appeal to you and Signor Mussolini, whom I had the privilege of meeting when I was in Rome during my visit to England as a delegate to the Round Table Conference. I hope that he will take this as addressed to him also with the necessary changes.”

gandhihitler

 

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Two last letters

 

04These 2 letter are truly heartbreaking. The 1st one because it was written by a young boy showing appreciation for a gift, not knowing what fate waited for him after his mother had sent his letter. This one actually tore my heart to pieces.

The 2nd one from a young man who knew exactly what was waiting for him and yet he was able to comfort his family. A real Hero

Zalman Levinson was a nine-year-old boy who lived with his mother, Frieda, and his father, Zelik, in Riga, Latvia. They stayed in regular communication with Frieda’s sister, Agnes, in Israel, who would send gifts to Zalman.

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Frieda sent Agnes a postcard from Riga in April 1941. After that, the letters suddenly stopped. it is known  now that the family’s names were included on a list of inmates at the Riga ghetto, where about 30,000 Jews were held captive.

In late 1941, Germans declared that they would be moving the ghetto’s inhabitants and settling them “further east.” Between November 30 and December 9, at least 26,000 of these Jews were killed southeast of Riga along the Riga-Dvinsk railway. It is likely that this is where the Levinsons, including Zalman, were killed.

The last letter that Frieda received from her nephew was a colorful drawing of his house and a brief letter he had written himself. The letter to his aunt was signed with his name and a brief, “Thank you for the present.”

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Wolfgang Kusserow and his entire family were under close watch from the Nazi secret police because of their religious activities. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he believed that God—and not Hitler—was deserving of his loyalty.2-wolfgang-kusserow-family

 

Even after his father and mother were arrested for this, Kusserow continued to hold illegal Bible study meetings in his home. Like Gerhard Steinacher, Kusserow refused to join the German military effort and was arrested in December 1941. He, too, was tried and sentenced to death.

My dear Parents, and my dear brothers and sisters!

One more time I am given the opportunity to write you. Well, now I your third son and brother, shall leave you tomorrow early in the morning. Be not sad, the time will come when we shall all be together again. Those who will sow with tears, will reap with joy. “Those sowing seed with tears will reap even with a joyful cry.”

 

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How great the joy will be, when we see all of us again, although it is not easy now to overcome all this, but through belief and hope in the King and His Kingdom we conquer the worst. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).

So we confidently look forward to the future.

Dear Papa, I am sorry that I was not allowed to visit you early in December. Exactly one year ago from tomorrow I saw you and Hildegard for the last time. In the meantime I have visited Lenchen. It was a special joy for me to see Mummy once again. Well, dear Mummy, Annemarie read me your dear letter during her visit… It is fine that you are busy in the baking factory (prison), so you are at least in a warm room and you have something to eat. Lenchen is now in the concentration camp.

Thus we are all separated, but everybody is steady. Yes we shall be rewarded for all of this. Read this in James 1:12: “Happy is the man who keeps on enduring trials, because on becoming approved he will receive the crown of life, which Jehovah promised to those who continue loving Him.”

“Dear Annemarie, once more special thanks to you for all your endeavors. May this our Lord reward you. I have you all constantly in mind. That was a life, when we were all at home together! – And suddenly separated!

Well Satan knows that his time is short. Therefore, he tries with all his power to lead astray from God men of good will, but he will have no success. We know that our faith will be victorious.

In this faith and this conviction I leave you.

A last greeting from this old world in the hope of seeing you again soon in a New World.

Your son and brother (signed) Wolfgang”

Wolfgang was killed on March 28, 1942. He was 20 years old

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Saw a bird of paradise today

bop_lesser

Contrary to the title and the picture above, this is not going to be a piece on ornithology.

“Saw a bird of paradise today.”were some of the words that,Stanley McTacket wrote as he  prepared to go into battle on the Kokoda Track on August 19, 1942, Stanley McTackett took a moment to write a letter to his mother.

“Mum, we all write these letters and leave them at the base to be posted in case we are killed.When you receive this letter, please don’t grieve too much as we will know that I died trying to help save Australia.I am sorry I will not be able to help you in your old age and repay you for all the trouble I was”

Few of the young men, if any, were expected to survive the enemy’s onslaught.But Mr McTackett made it through one of the toughest battles of World War II, and his letter was never sent.

stanley-mctackett

Not everyone was as fortunate as Mr McTackett, he passed away in 2011 aged 92.But his words are still poignant and reflect the mindset and emotions of those brave men who were willing to sacrifice their lives.

Below are some farewell messages and death notices of those who were less fortunate then Mr McTackett.The letters are from both sides of the divide.

Captain Kuno Last Letter to his Children

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Dear Masanori and Kiyoko,

Even though you cannot see me, I will always be watching you. Obey your mother, and do not trouble her. When you grow up, follow a path you like and grow to be fine Japanese persons. Do not envy the father of others, since I will become a spirit and closely watch over you two. Both of you, study hard and help out your mother with work. I cannot be your horse to ride, but you two be good friends. I am an energetic person who flew a large bomber and finished off all the enemy. Please be persons who rise above me and so avenge my death.
From Father

This letter was written by a Lt. who was with the 34th Bomb Squadron, 17th Group

 

My Dearest One,

Nothing much new and also it is quite late so as usual a short shorty to say hello and to let you know how much I love you.
At present I am listening to Bob Hope guess I forgot to tell you that we now have a radio. It is an Italian job, we bought it from Bohlan. He is going home so we took it off his hands. Spent a very busy day. Can’t remember doing a thing but I guess I did manage to stay on my feet.
Say I believe that a tan is developing, not sure as yet but the red seems to be changing color. At present I am quite a two tone job, imagine I will remain that way too because I don’t dare chance getting my rear sunburned (spend too much time on that thing) Hope you don’t get frightened when you see this two toned job advancing toward you in your boudoirs. Certainly hope that time isn’t far off.
Well sweetheart I must say goodnight for now and a million kisses. Write often sweet I love so much to get your letters and I haven’t had any for three days. I love you darling with all my heart, body and soul.

Always your husband,

HG Johns – War Department Letter of Death Notification – 17 July 1945

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The Acton Family

The letter was sent from the Minister of War Transport to Mrs Evelyn Acton of Whitehaven, Cumbria. It told Evelyn one of her sons was ‘supposed drowned’. Another son, William Acton, was also lost on the same vessel.

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Berkely Square House, W1
19th May 1943,

Dear Madam,

It is with the deepest regret that I have learned that your son, Mr George Acton, who was serving in the Merchant Navy as A.B. has been recorded as supposed drowned whilst on service with his ship.

By command of His Majesty the King the names of those members of the Merchant Navy who have given their lives in the service of their country are recorded in the Merchant Navy Roll of Honour. I am now adding Mr. Acton’s name to the Roll of Honour, and, as I do so, wish to express my admiration for the services he rendered and to convey to you and your family my profound sympathy in your sad bereavement.

Your son worthily upheld the noble traditions of the Merchant Navy and I may perhaps hope that the realisation of this fact may help to soften the heavy blow which has fallen upon you.

Believe me,
Yours sincerely,
‘Leathers’
Minister of War Transport

Mrs. Eveline Acton,
93, George Street,
Whitehaven.

Frank M. Elliott

June 5, 1944

Darling,

. . . This is a beautiful summer evening, darling. I am sitting at the kitchen table (and not even noticing the noise of the refrigerator) from which place by merely lifting my head and looking out the window I can gaze upon a truly silvery, full moon. It’s beautiful, dear — really beautiful, and it has succeeded in making me very sentimental. I had begun to think that I was becoming immune to the moon’s enchantment — so often I have looked at it without you and to keep myself from going mad told myself “It’s pretty, yes — but, so what?”. . . That’s not the way it really is though, darling — the sight of that shining moon up there — the moon that shines on you, too — fills me with romance — ; and even though it’s just a dream now, it’s a promise of a glorious future with one I love more than life. The darned old moon keeps shining for us, darling — and even as it now increases that inescapable loneliness, it also increases my confidence in the future. I truly love you . . .

 

Frank was killed the day after on D-Day

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