Autumn 1941

Warsaw Ghetto, Poland

"You should be consoled by the thought that this has to end sometime, and that then we will once again be happy together. Our yearning for each other knows no bounds."
Mamusha [Mommy]

Letter from the Warsaw Ghetto

Yosef Tytelman and Perla née Kolik lived in Warsaw.  They had three children: Samuel (b. 1921), who was a swimmer, and took part in competitions representing Maccabi, Rachel (b. 1922) and Rega (Rivka, b. 1925).  When the war broke out, Yosef, Samuel and Rachel fled Warsaw.  Yosef and Rachel reached Bialystok.  Rega and Perla remained in Warsaw.  Some time later, Samuel managed to return to Warsaw, where he was reunited with his mother and sister.  In 1940, Yosef and Rachel were exiled to Siberia, and from there, moved to Kazakhstan. Samuel, Rega and Perla were incarcerated in the Warsaw ghetto and were murdered.  After the war, Yosef and Rachel returned to Poland, and immigrated to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) on the ship "Exodus". 

In their last letter from the Warsaw ghetto, Perla, Samuel and Rega expressed their deep concern for Yosef and Rachel, and their hopes to meet again.

Last letter that Perla Tytelman, her son Samuel and her daughter Rega sent from the Warsaw ghetto to the head of the family, Yosef (Yuzek), and Rachel in Siberia, 1941

My beloved Yosef and Rachelku
I haven't heard from you since July, that is, except for a solitary postcard from Arkhangelsk.  I don't know what to think anymore.  After all, others are receiving letters, even from Arkhangelsk.  Feigenbaum's son, for example, is in …[Siberia] now, and his parents got a long letter from him this week.  So why haven't I heard a word from you? How are you living there, unprepared as you are for that terrible cold? I wanted to send you some warm clothes, but I haven't managed to until now…

I am doing what I can here to get you back home, and it has cost a lot of money.  I don't know if something will come of it.  Schiffmanowitz is in Slonim and is in an excellent financial position. Write to him my loves. I want to see you.  I am drawing on all my strength in order to survive for you. But you, my beloved ones, have to prove your bravery, you have to prove that you are capable of overcoming this undeserved punishment and the wanderings with strength and dignity. You should be consoled by the thought that this has to end sometime, and that then we will once again be happy together. Our yearning for each other knows no bounds.

As long as it was possible, I worked until I dropped.  Now our options have dwindled, and it will be harder for me, but I will do everything I can to survive, for the children's sakes and for yours.  Write and tell me how you look.  Do you have anything to eat, to wear?  Will they permit you to travel to Vilna or elsewhere?  Has my sweet Rachelku remained as beautiful as ever in those appalling conditions?  How is Tatush [Daddy], with his heart?  Remember, you have to survive, even if only for us.  My beloved Rachelku, I entrust you with Father's care.  I am sure that you are worthy of this task, as you have already grown up so much this year, and have accumulated experience that will be helpful to you in life. 

And you, Yuzhiko, my love, you have to be not only a father but also a mother to Rachelku, because this is too difficult a task for someone of her young age.  All of my hopes are invested in your will power.  We are thank [God] healthy.  Samek has completed his electronics studies.  He is looking for work, which is very hard to find.  Rega has grown, and become a pretty girl, it is only a shame that you can't see her.  I meet up with the Notman family.  They also don't get letters from him, only from their daughter.  How is Marian Flatow and other friends who share your bitter fate?  Are you in touch with Manya, Avraham or Wintal?  Be well. I send you heartfelt kisses and regards to your friends.

From your Mamusha [Mommy]

Beloved Daddy and Rachelku!  It's me, Rega.

My loved ones, we haven't heard from you for a long time.  Mother, Samek and I take turns keeping the one letter that we did receive.  Everything has changed a little here in the last month and a half.

  Samek has been studying electronics, and in the afternoons, he is learning to be a dental technician.  He's already filled a cavity in one of my teeth.  Until now, Mother has been earning money, and recently she started helping me with the housework.  You should know that I am an excellent cook.  Darling Rachelku, I have been told several times that I am like you (a few of your friends said it, not me).  Beloved Daddy, how are you feeling, with the rheumatism that Rachelku mentioned? I have to finish already, because Samek says there'll be no room left for him.  Rachelku, remember once again, if I could see you now, I would never argue with you again.

I kiss you ten million times.


Beloved Daddy and Rachelku!

I wrote last in order to allow the above-signed ladies to chat.  They have already said everything, and didn't leave me any space.  At the same time, Mother watered the letter with her tears.

As you already know, we have received one postcard from you since July.  Apart from that, we got a message through Luzer, and we are very grateful to him.  During this time, we have written you at least ten letters, and haven't received a single reply, and so we are dying of concern as to what has become of you.  Beloved Rachelku, don't think that we have forgotten you. I am sending you a letter from […], from everyone, from all your friends, a letter that will surely give you much joy and remind you of times and moments that we spent together.  The situation is pretty bad now, because they have sealed us in the so-called Jewish quarter.  At home there have also been many changes.  We live now in the [parents'] bedroom. You already know what I've been doing.  I must finish, even though I have much more to say.

Remember!  The main thing is not to take things to heart, and to hold on.  Then we will see each other again for sure.  Mother is frying cutlets now.  I would send you one, but the post office won't accept it.


Last letter that Perla Tytelman, her son Samuel and her daughter Rega sent to her husband Yosef and her daughter Rachel
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