21st August, 1918

My sweet Else!

A year has passed since I last sat with this book of letters, excepting the few lines which I wrote on our last anniversary, the 6th January. How much has happened on that time!? On 14th February I started work at the Nizhne-Vdinsk town pharmacy as the pharmacist's assistant. I moved with two companions into a flat in town and I was doing very well. I had my regular daily occupation, I lived quietly and contentedly, had agreeable relations with two middle class families and intended to wait in these conditions for the journey home. Then began the mass exodus of prisoners-of-war to their homes. Through several of those I sent you my greetings. In mid May I received two cards from Oskar, one from the journey, the other from the border town. On that day I decided that I have to be back with you on 21st August. Both my room mates, who for some time had been itching to leave too, agreed readily and we started to strike our tents in Nizhne-Vdinsk, which means that we were selling everything that could be sold.

In the afternoon on 24th May, having said cordially good-bye to my colleagues at the pharmacy and to my acquaintances, I set off on my journey. The first two days we travelled without any problems. On the third day a new Siberian revolution led by Czechs broke out, and from that day we had immediately enormous difficulties. After a delay of 4 days in Kainsk-Barabinsk and 8 days in Novo-Nikolayevsk we continued our journey, still hoping that we would arrive in Chelyabinsk; the train did not go any further, the fronts between the fighting factions were nearby. We found accommodation in a hotel, hoping that we would soon be able to continue on our journey. Unfortunately this was a vain hope; the days passed and with them our finances, so that on 24th June we were forced to move to the prisoners-of-war's camp. Here we found 50 officers, almost all of them stranded travelers. Since then I am again a regular POW. How am I doing? I had better keep quiet about that. When I tell you about it one day, your flesh will creep.

So on your birthday I am sitting here. I think of you with a heavy heart and I shudder to think that on 6th January, our tenth wedding anniversary, I will not be with you either. This thought causes me physical pain. I fear that I may not come back to you at all; the prospect is horrible. I am feeble and I ache and I cannot even hope anymore. May the Almighty continue to protect you and our beloved children. My thoughts are with you, my dearest, my purest, I kiss you and the sweet kids and I will go on suffering since I cannot hope anymore.

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