Greetings … We received your letter and assistance, for which we are very grateful and appreciative. A big thank you to you. God willing, God should bless you in return in large measure…. please forgive me for the brief delay in my reply. I have been sick for a whole month. To all my ailments there has now been added high blood pressure, “hypertonia,” which is not easily treated.
… you asked me to tell you about our life before the evacuation and during the evacuation. I didn’t want to remember the terrible sufferings I lived through and I especially don’t want such terrible suffering ever to be repeated. I have never told all of this to anyone. It is terrifying.
When we were evacuated, at the train station they heaped us on (primitive) platform-cars, on which they loaded people, loaded so many that there wasn’t even room for a needle or pin. As we traveled along the route, German soldiers pursued and shot at us. The train would stop now and then and whoever dared would quickly jump off and run into the woods-those remained alive. When the shooting stopped we returned to our platforms. On the platforms we found killed and wounded people, the majority of them children and old people who hadn’t managed to escape from the shooting.
They transported us to the northern Caucasus, to the Krasnodar Region, and from there they transported us to a kolkhoz (collective farm). There we worked for almost three months. During this time they managed to take my father into the real army, to the front. The Germans were approaching and beginning to seize the northern Caucasus, so we had to be evacuated a second time. This time they transported us to Central Asia, to the Uzbek Republic.
When we arrived in Central Asia, they also took us by [cart or transport] to the kolkhoz. There we were set to work picking cotton, for which they gave each of us about 200 grams a day of [some partially inedible remainder] of rice, [“kurmak”]. We prepared these [by moistening] and cooked them twice a day. We boiled water in a pot and sprinkled in two or three tablespoons of this so-called [kurmak]. This was all we had every single day and people were starving from hunger, were drying up and dying of hunger like flies. Our mother died at this time, from starvation. She wasn’t even 40 years old, and it happened on Purim in 1942.
After the death of my mother we, that is my younger sister Sonia and I, became ill with typhus, and my sister and I were put in the district hospital of the town of Bulungur, about 30 kilometers from Samarkand. When we recovered, we didn’t return to the kolkhoz. We remained in the district and studied, and for studying and working they gave us 400 grams of bread. In this way we survived the evacuation.
With this I will close. Write, ask, and I will answer. Stay alive and well. We wish you and your family and your dear ones health, happiness and success. May God bring all this to pass.