Slavery is not a metaphor for my family

Here is the letter that my Aunt Raizel wrote to my mother, Sala, when she first discovered that Sala was alive.  We will read it tonight at our seder.  Raizel was writing from Karlstad, Sweden, where she and other survivors were taken to recuperate after liberation. Sala was in Ansbach, Germany.  They exchanged many letters after this one, and were eventually reunited in New York in 1948.  

Dec 6 1945

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 6, 1945 will be a memorable, festive day 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 I could not figure out how you – the one of us who knew best how to survive – remained silent.

My love, I read your letter ten times.  My tears covered up your words, and others had to help me read them while I tried to calm myself.

Dearest one.  I am already anxious to know when our first letter will reach you.  I am happy that you are well and did not have to wander around, as we did.  We suffered terribly but in spite of everything, we survived.  Now that I know you are alive, I must work twice as hard to get well quickly, so that when I am healthy and strong, I will be ready to see you.  Finally, after all our sufferings, after six years of horror and separation, we will 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 could not, 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?

Do not worry about us:  the worst is over.  Even when we had no news about you, I kept staring at the door as if I knew for certain that you were alive.  What is there to say now?  Everything minute without you will be an eternity.

I used to pour out all my suffering and my bitterness in my letters to my girlfriends.  I talked about you, Sala dear, time and time again.  Blima has also been filled with bitterness, but also with consolation.  In her last letter to me, she wrote that she dreamed about [our aunt and uncle], and their children, and that whenever she dreams about them, she gets good news.  And so I hope, wrote Blima, that something new and good will happen now!

…To try and find you, I wrote to Czechoslovakia, to Sosnowiec, to Stockholm, and to Warsaw, hoping your name was listed somewhere.  All to no avail.  Then, suddenly, there was news that people were being identified from Czechoslovakia.  My heart twisted that there was no trace of you. And now you have appeared again on earth’s surface!  Hold to it fast, fast, so you may recapture at least a bit of your lost young life…

If someone is destined to live, he will extricate hiAla and Salamself from the worst situation.  And so it is.

I will not write any more now, and will end by taking leave of you, dearest, and kissing you a thousand 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!

–Raizel

 

 

 

 

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