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Their Last Voice:
Letters and Testaments from Jews in the Holocaust

Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2002

Their Last Voice: Letters and Testaments from Jews in the Holocaust

With the aid of a Dutch woman, Cilli Dzialowski of Holland sent this farewell letter to her four children, who resided in England during the war. Her son Hy survived in a hideout in Holland. The letter was transmitted to Yad Vashem by one of Cilli’s daughters, Mrs. Jakobovitz, who now lives in Canada.
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This letter was written on 16-17 March, 1943 near Lvov, Poland in a cinema in which about 600 Jews were imprisoned prior to their murder. One of the policemen guarding the Jews conveyed this letter from a woman to her husband Abraham.
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In 1980 a farewell note written in Greek was found at the site of crematorium no. 3 in Birkenau (Auschwitz).  Yad Vashem received a copy of it from the Auschwitz Museum.  The note, which seems to be incomplete, was probably written by one of the members of the Jewish Sonderkommando who worked there.
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This letter was written by a Jewish carpenter, Srul Shaya Kalezyk, about 10 months after the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.  He wrote in Polish and Yiddish, on the work permit he had used in the ghetto prior to its destruction.  Lazer Levine found the permit in 1965 amongst the ruins of the ghetto.
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During the months of August and September 1942, thousands of Jews were herded into the synagogue in the town of Kowel, Poland where they were imprisoned until their execution.  In their fear and desperation, many of them wrote on the walls of the synagogue using whatever they could – unsharpened pencils, pens and even their own fingernails.  Last testaments, letters and declarations were written in Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish.  Below are some of the inscriptions that were found.
18,000 Jews were murdered in Kowel.
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Ellie Kulka, wife of prisoner no. 73043 wrote this letter to her husband on June 30th, 1944 whilst waiting to be taken to the gas chamber.
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On December 11, 1941 Anna Lebel of Belgrade wrote a letter to her husband, who was being held prisoner by the Germans in Berlin.  It was the last night Anna and her daughter Jenny spent in their home.  A few hours before they were to be taken to the Sajmiste concentration camp near Belgrade, Jenny managed to escape.  Anna and all the Jewish women and children interned in the camp were later herded onto gas vans, where they were murdered while driving through the streets of Belgrade.
Jenny survived and was reunited with her father and brother after the war.
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Helena Mandelbaum was born in Cracow in 1925 and held a Costa Rican passport.  She was in a protected camp when the Nazis entered and sent her to Drancy in the summer of 1944.  From there she was deported to Auschwitz, where she perished.  Helena was an only child.  The letter was written in Polish.
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Siauliai was a large city in Western Lithuania.  On the eve of World War II, there were approximately 5360 Jews living there.  During the four days between the German invasion of Siauliai and its capitulation on June 26, 1941 1000 Jews succeeded in fleeing eastwards.  A further 1000 Jews were murdered by the Germans and Lithuanians in the first two weeks of the occupation.  At the end of July 1941, a ghetto was established in Siauliai, its Judenrat headed by Mendel Leibowitz.
The SS took over the running of the ghetto in September 1943, and it was transformed into a concentration camp.  On November 5, an Aktion (round-up) was carried out, and 574 children and hundreds of the elderly and crippled were sent to their deaths.  The last Jews in the ghetto were deported to the Stutthof camp in Germany in July 1944.  Most of them perished.
These two testaments were found on the site of the ghetto.  They were written on the eve of the ghetto’s final liquidation.
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