26th May, 1915

My dearest little mouse! During the last three weeks I was unable to write a single line in my beloved book of letters to my beloved wife. Not even when, on 21st May, I got your telegram announcing the birth of our crown prince could I sit down instantly and express my emotions. The reason was the attempt of two officers to escape, following which we have been treated very harshly. Every minute we have to be prepared for a thorough search and all written material must, therefore, be hidden in safe places to avoid its confiscation.

Today I got up already at 5am took the book out of its hiding-place and am writing to you now. Everybody is still asleep, only a few officers-servants go busily to and fro. Our two fugitives, who escaped disguised as Chinamen, got as far as Vladivostok and were only arrested after they had boarded a ship headed for China; they are already back with us and are awaiting their punishment which is likely to be 30 days in prison. For the time being let us forget the prisoners of war and turn to our business.

So my dear, you have a boy! You know my thoughts on this topic in general, that it is all the same to me whether it is a boy or a girl, I was just terribly worried about you and my first feeling was one of fervent gratitude to the Almighty for having protected you. This was followed by a feeling of ecstasy, it seemed to me that I had lost the ground under my feet and was floating on air. Actually, in the first hours I had hardly any time to think about my feelings as I was receiving congratulations from my fellow prisoners, some affectionate, some coarse. Only in the evening when I had gone to bed with a violent headache, could I talk to myself in privacy. Only then did I fully realise that I had a boy! Surely my little mouse, you were pleased by it too! And the jubilation in family Krantz! Then I was overcome by a great woe that I am imprisoned here, thousands of miles away from you and in my pain and happiness I wept, and for a long time I wept and thanked God for his mercy.

Since then I feel stronger and more capable of bearing the sorrows which are our lot, and I hope for a happy future with you and our children. I also feel warm and refreshing gratitude to you, gratitude for all your love and the great happiness that has been given to me by you.

I just heard from the officer in charge of our canteen that Rumania has declared war on us. Yesterday we heard the same about Italy. I have to stop writing, my hand is trembling. I cannot hold the pen anymore. Useless all the sacrifices, in vain all the misery, that of the past and yet to come! World history is the last judgement! We have been condemned. What is now coming is not difficult to guess. I think of you, I think of our old long suffering Emperor, and my heart is about to break! That's life - a mixture of joy and pain! Farewell darling! I cannot go on today. God be with us!

© The estate of Otto Feldmann: Monica Lanyado, Tzafrah Shushan and Aya Shochat