When Bubbe was finally freed after five years in the German concentration camps, she did not know if any of her family had survived. Months later, she received this letter from her sister, Raizel.
Every year at the Passover Seder, my sister and I read this letter aloud as part of our family’s celebration of liberation.
Karlstad, December 6, 1945
Dearest newly found little sister,
My hands are trembling. I am jumping around, going crazy: I am delirious. I don’t know where to begin. So my intuition concerning you was correct, after all, and you are alive for us! My mind is frantic, confused. December 6th, 1945 will be a memorable, festive one for us, for today I received a letter from you, my dearest one. I can’t believe my eyes; it happened just as I was feeling abandoned and resigned. I did not doubt that you were alive, but that you who knows how to manage in life would not send any news about yourself? Why doesn’t she let us hear from her, I thought to myself. Forgive me Sala for writing so haphazardly. Oh God, what goes on in my mind now!
Well, my dear, I read your letter ten times. My tears covered up your words, so others had to help me read them. By sheer coincidence, we were able to learn of our great joy, that you exist!
Dearest one. As I write, I am already anxious to know when our first letter will reach you. I am happy that you are well, and that you did not wander around. We, on the other hand, lived through a great deal but in spite of everything, we survived somehow. Now I have to double my effort to get well quickly, so that when I am healthy and strong, I could see you, looking well too. Finally, after all our suffering and horrible ordeal, after six years of horror and separation, we should be able to hug you tight, close to our heart.
Sala, I do not wish to, and will not write to you about our experiences, because no matter how much I write, it would not measure up to the reality of it all. I want to talk to you, face to face, about everything. When will that be, Sala? Speed it up, as much as you can. Don’t delay! I am doing the same. May God help us achieve our great goal.
Even while we had no news about you, I kept staring at the door as if I knew for certain that you are here. What is there to say now when we know that we really have you? Everything minute is going to be an eternity. We keep on talking about you all the time.
To try and find you, I wrote to Czechoslovakia, to the administration in Sosnowiec, to Stockholm, and to Warsaw, hoping your name were listed somewhere. All to no avail. My heart ached that there was no trace of you. And here you appeared again on earth’s surface! Hold to it fast, fast, so you could recapture at least a bit of your lost young life.
I will not write any more now, and will end by taking leave of you, dearest, and kiss you 1000 times; your sister, who longs from the depth of her heart to see you and to embrace you. We shall never again lose contact with each other, never!
My eyes are turned toward heaven, hoping that we will succeed in being reunited. Do whatever you can and we shall do the same. I am not really writing with ink, but with my tears.
Good bye Sala. Live!!!
More on Sala’s story, including translations of many of the letters she received, can be found here.
This touched my heart in a place I sometimes forget exists.