Excerpts from a Letter by Survivor Edi Weinstein to by katiealibrandi


									      Excerpts from a Letter by Survivor Edi Weinstein to a
                     Relative, Soon After the War

January 13, 1945
Dear cousin,
My dear, I received your letter and was very delighted to read it. You cannot
imagine how happy I was when the Lieutenant handed me the letter, the letter
I had been hoping to receive for five years, the letter that allowed me to hope
that someone close, to whom I can write a few words, has survived after all.
That hope is you—my only cousin—because I still have no idea whether any
other member of my family has survived. My dear, I know that the letter you
received from me must have caused you much disappointment and sadness,
since I told the whole truth and left nothing out. I decided to tell you whole the
truth because otherwise it would be worse for you and harder for me. I write
these lines with a heavy heart, knowing how much pain they will cause you
when I tell you how your closest family members were murdered. Rachel, it
would be much easier if I could cry as I write these lines, but I cannot. My
heart has become as hard as molten steel that is poured into cold water. I
cannot cry for my pain.
My dear, you wrote that you would try to send me some money. Thank you
very much, but I don’t need money. If I had a way, I would send you many
thousands, as much as you ask, because I still have money left over from
Treblinka, and Father, who visits me every two weeks, brings me as much
money as I want since he is making a good living as a tailor…
So, my dear, I will begin by describing our lives in Łosice under German rule.
From early 1939 until December 1, 1941, the Germans murdered Jews on the
basis of their Jewishness only, whereas the others managed somehow to live.
People aged 12–60 were sent to slave labor at a location near the forest, or to
a camp. On December 1, 1941, the ghetto was established in our Łosice. This
is how matters looked: all the Jews were packed into a very cramped area,
each apartment shared by several families. At all the entrances to the ghetto,
signs were posted with the following message on the side facing outside:

1/3           Shoah Resource Center, The International School for Holocaust Studies
“Entering the ghetto is forbidden due to typhus epidemic.” On the side facing
in, the following was written: “Leaving the ghetto is forbidden. Violators will be
executed.” One of the first victims who died in the ghetto was old Miriam-
Rivka. Jews were given a ration of 75 grams (2.5 ounces) of bread per day,
distributed on the basis of coupons. That’s how the mass murder began.
When autumn came and the weather turned cold, people died like flies. That’s
how they killed us until August 22, 1942. My father was taken to a labor camp
in Siedlce in June 1942. Then came Sunday, August 22, a day I will
remember forever, a sad day. All the residents of the ghetto were assembled
in the market square. Carts were brought to the square for the women and
children; the men had to run. After we crossed the second bridge on the way
to Siedlce they began shooting from behind us. We didn’t know where they
were leading us, because our county was almost the first in Poland where
these things were happening. There were no escape attempts because
everyone wanted to stay together with his family. So they prodded us forward,
shooting from behind, all the way to Siedlce. There they took us to a square
where everyone from the Siedlce and Mordy ghettos had already been
gathered. We sat there, under SS fire, until 3 o’clock. At 3 o’clock Sunday
afternoon, we were made to run to the railroad platform. There we sat again
until Monday. On Monday at 11 o’clock we were loaded into the cars, 150–
200 people per car. My dear, I would not wish such a situation on anyone,
except for our enemies. We had no water. My dear, a person may need water
even more than food. I came to that realization when I saw people slurping
water from sewage ditches because it was so hot.
We were taken to Treblinka, the Treblinka where three and a half million Jews
were exterminated.! Ega’s and Malka’s Noah, Aunt Leah, Bracha and her son
Chaim, and Rivka—members of Mottl’s family—were together with me there.
Mottl himself was no longer with us because he had been shot in the square
at Siedlce.
We were taken to Treblinka, and in that hellhole Srulik and I were selected for
labor. Our job was to empty the railroad cars of the people who had

    For the sake of historical precision, we should note that about 870,000 Jews were murdered
in Treblinka.

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suffocated to death on the way. Only 20 percent of the passengers reached
Treblinka alive…
Dear cousin, the newspaper must have told you how the Jews were
murdered, but everything you read is only a drop in the ocean in comparison
with what happened. I am sure this letter will shock you, but after all, you are
no longer a little girl. It’s all over, done with, vanished, never to return. We will
have to get used to our fate.
My dear—in regard to your sister and father, I can only tell you that I have not
seen them since the day we were deported from Łosice.
Sarah Gittl had already had a second child by that time. Yankl did everything
he could to bring food home. Your father was living with Sarah Gittl then and
so were your sister and her husband. Esther Yocheved, together with her
husband Srulik and their children, were in Siedlce until the last day.
I have nothing more of importance to tell you here. At this point, then, I
conclude this letter, which has cost me no small amount of health. I had to
stop writing several times because I had a headache. I enclose a photograph
of your father.
I wish you, your family, and your friends all the best. I kiss you from afar.

Jidl Weinstein

I sent you my picture about a month ago. In my next letter, my dear, I will send
you the names of the survivors from Łosice.

Source: Edi Weinstein, Quenched Steel. The Story of an Escape From
Treblinka, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 2002, pp. 159- 166.

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