20th August, 1917

My dear little mouse! I have to write your "birthday letter" in this book already today because tomorrow I want to write you a real letter. In one respect this is very good as it allows me to unload all the accumulated bitterness today, and to write down only clear and balanced feelings tomorrow. It is, of course, unavoidable that some of the thoughts which I will write about today will find their way also into tomorrow's letter.

It is the fourth time in succession when I am not with you on your birthday. How painful is the mere thought of it! For many weeks have I felt its approach, the last days I counted one by one. It meant exacerbating the pain again. Three whole years lost. Fantasy comes to my help. Now I dwell on the days of August 1914 again. Everyday when I go on my walk in the camp I try to remember what I was doing on that particular day. And soon my thoughts will turn to the lovely days which we spent together in Troppau. Interspersed between these memories is always the reality of the present with all its hopelessness.

And tomorrow darling, is your birthday! Oh! How much I would love to be with you on this day in particular, to hug and kiss you! But again, fantasy must serve as a modest substitute. What I would like best tomorrow is to sit all day in a dark small room and dream of you with my eyes closed. But probably I will be in a hang over mood again, that's how it always goes! When I try to think of you with real fervour, I become sad and sentimental, and I torment myself rather than invigorate myself. And in spite of that, darling, the thoughts of you are for me like an oasis in the desert.

My dearest! I cannot write without tears coming to my eyes. You are my happiness, you are everything in the world for me!

Thousand, thousand kisses.

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