"We Shall Meet Again"

Last Letters from the Holocaust: 1941

Overview

"You too must be strong and patient. One day this too will come to an end… I am writing this just in case I don't survive, but I have a feeling that we will see each other again."

Regina Kandt wrote these words in her last letter to her husband Maximilian and her son Rudy, before she was deported from Belgrade to her death together with her grandson Sasha and her daughter-in-law Eva. 

As soon as the Nazis rose to power in Germany, Jews were cruelly persecuted.  What started out as stripping of rights, dispossession, abuse, humiliation and starvation turned, in June 1941, into calculated, systematic and total extermination, in the course of which approximately six million Jews had been murdered by the end of the war.

There are thousands of personal letters in the Yad Vashem Archives, which were sent by Jews – adults and children – to their relatives and friends from their homes, the ghettos and the camps; while fleeing, in hiding and while wandering from place to place.

In this exhibition are nine letters including one that reached its destination only years after they had been penned.  This is the first in a series of online exhibitions about last letters whose writers were all murdered in the Holocaust.


Last Letters from 1941

The letters presented in this exhibition were sent from Poland, Latvia, France, Austria, Ukraine, Yugoslavia and Romania.  Some letters were sent to destinations outside Europe, and thus survived.  Each letter, missive and postcard reveals to us the inner world and fate of Jews in the Holocaust.  For many recipients, these were the last greetings from the home and family that they had left behind.   Parting with these letters was wrenching; these were the last messages from their loved ones, which they ultimately chose to give to Yad Vashem for posterity.

Letters

18 January 1941

Mariiampil

"It is a pity that I cannot be with you now - once again you are going off into the wide world without me."


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3 April 1941

Riga

Thank-you letter from nine-year-old Zalman


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23 May 1941

Satanov

"Dear Mummy and Daddy… I also kiss and hug both of you very tight"


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9 October 1941

Kishinev Ghetto

"Once, only once to have the chance to see you again, and then – may the worst happen."


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29 August 1941

Mauthausen

"If it’s a girl, name her Rachel."


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1941

Końskie ghetto

"My beloved mother… I want to see you…"


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Autumn 1941

Warsaw Ghetto

"Our yearning for each other knows no bounds."


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20 November 1941

Drancy

"I hope we see each other soon"


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November 1941

Belgrade

"Today or tomorrow, I shall be taken to the camp. May God help me to overcome this too."


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