10th December, 1915

At last I am again with you my book of letters. It is a long time since I last wrote but the journey from Krasnaya Rechka to Nizhne-Vdinsk lies in between. On 25th October at 2pm the large gate in the fence of Krasnaya Rechka opened and we marched about one hour to the station where our train was waiting. It consisted of two 2nd class carriages, six 3rd class carriages and four freight carriages; we departed at 4.30pm. Together with my group (Ens. Dr Grossmann, Kahan and Barber) I made myself comfortable in a 3rd class compartment and everybody was in the best of moods since we were travelling westwards, nearer to home. Long before our departure we had prepared a store of alimentation consisting of tins, cheese, salmon, cocoa, coffee, etc. All these important things were packed into a chest which carried the proud inscription "Travelling kitchen". This well equipped we could confidently set off on our journey.

The first night still caused us some difficulties until we had safely stored all our luggage, got ourselves into the most comfortable positions and arranged everything properly. We traveled as a "military train" and, therefor relatively fast. In the morning of the 26th we were in Nikolsh and on the 27th in Manchuria. We passed the time reading, eating and in merry or serious conversation. Our hopes that we could go shopping in Manchuria were badly disappointed. Past the border of Manchuria two officers jumped from the windows of the moving train and escaped. As a consequence of the escape we were strictly guarded at all railway stations and opportunities to leave the train were rare. In Harbin we had to change our carriage at 3 am because the heating was not working.

On the 29th I woke up in a partly festive, partly woeful mood. My lovely daughter Liesel is 6 years old today. However, I had an opportunity to celebrate in a way that cheered my heart. It was now about 12 noon when we arrived at a fairly large station. On the track next to ours stood a train full of "refugees". These are the poor people who have escaped from regions most affected by the war, partly of their own free will, partly under orders. How pitiful those people looked! Scantily dressed, old men, women, girls and children of all ages were crammed together. A picture of misery! We were just eating and I shall never forget the eyes of the old man who stood in the door of his carriage and watched us through the window. They expressed grief, envy and hunger. A beautiful blonde girl squeezed through and stood next to the old man; she may have been 5 -6 years old but her glances expressed the same as his. Then I suddenly felt my heart quivering: today is Liesel's birthday! Without hesitation I took a loaf of bread, a box of cigarettes and a rouble-note, alighted from the train and gave it to the child.

The faces of both lit up and in a trice everybody in the carriage were biting and chewing. Following my example, the officers were alighting from all carriages, brought food and money for the people and I believe that at least 100 roubles were distributed. In this way I celebrated Liesel's birthday.

We left Manchuria and now groups of POW's were successfully taken off the train. On 3rd November we were traveling all day along Lake Baikal; this time the lake was still free of ice, we saw all of it by daylight and the weather was magnificent. On the 4th we passed Irkutsk by night and on the 6th at 4 a.m we arrived here. Our carriage was uncoupled and the train drove off without us. Now they are bringing our lunch so about our life in Nizhne-Vdinsk next time. Many kisses to you and the children.

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