6th March, 1915

(Yesterday I really could not write; we were completely occupied by “spring cleaning” and preparations for our newspaper. Please don’t be angry with me it, because I was thinking of you anyway. At whatever work and at any opportunity I see you standing in front of me, and my yearning for you increases day by day. Here spring is beginning now. The sun is already quite powerful, the masses of snow melting noticeably, the sea is also free of ice in some places and the incomparably beautiful green of the sea forms a picturesque contrast to the still snow-covered spots and the white mountains. The view is a challenge for painters, and I almost envy those among us who are able to capture permanently this remarkable panorama with brush and colours. But about this another time, today still our journey.)

As said before, on 30th Dec, we boarded the train for our journey eastwards. When in our country one has to undertake a “longer” journey which may involve spending a night on the train, one shudders to think of it and remembers it with horror. Well, to introduce this part of the story I must say that we did not travel one night, not one-day, but 22 days and nights, and after an interval of 12 days the journey continued for 17 more days and nights; surprisingly, we felt it was quite comfortable. Of course, the carriages in Russia are equipped for such long journeys. Each person has his bunk similar to those on sea liners, so that one can sleep in relative comfort.

The first town worth mentioning through which we passed was Lublin, well known for the battle which took place in September. On the 1st January 1915 we traveled to Lukow, on the 2nd to Baranowice, 3rd to Minsk, 4th Smolensk and on the 5th arrived in Moscow. Our hopes that we would see Moscow were badly disappointed. Whereas at all previous larger towns, where the train was often delayed for hours on end, we were allowed to go to the station restaurant to eat and buy what we wanted, in Moscow we were standing 4 days but were permitted to leave the carriage only at certain times. Thus not only for the great Napoleon but also for us, Moscow was very unpleasant.

During the journey we were receiving daily 75 kopecks, or 1 rouble 50 kopecks for subsistence. In Moscow this was replaced by almost inedible fare handed out once daily. The coldest day was the 6th Jan, the Russian Christmas day; the thermometer showed -42R. When somebody spat, the spittle froze immediately and reached the ground in the form of a little ice ball which ricocheted several times like a child’s marble. A Captain said: “I think here even a glance must freeze to ice”. So we did not enjoy being in Moscow although the following days were not quite as cold; temperatures of –30 to –35 R we already considered as bearable. Therefore, we were pleased when on 9th Jan, we were taken to an office to be registered; we were told that once this was done our journey would continue. The records were taken for the Red Cross which was to inform the relatives of the prisoners about their whereabouts. Whether this did really happen I do not know. After registration we were returned to different carriages; up to Moscow we traveled second class, henceforth we would have to be in third class carriages.

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