Yad Vashem displays last letters from Shoah victims to loved-ones in 1944
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Yad Vashem displays last letters from Shoah victims to loved-ones in 1944

The letters were sent 75 years ago from ghettos, camps, homes, and some were thrown from deportation trains by their authors

Sisters Suzan-Zsuzsa (left) and Lili Klein. Courtesy of Yad Vashem Photo Archives
Sisters Suzan-Zsuzsa (left) and Lili Klein. Courtesy of Yad Vashem Photo Archives

A dozen of last letters from Shoah victims to their loved-ones before they perished are to be published online to mark Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day

The letters were sent 75 years ago from ghettos, camps, homes, and some were thrown from deportation trains by their authors.

Many of the items in the online exhibition, titled “Last Letters from the Holocaust: 1944,” were donated to Yad Vashem after an appeal for memorabilia from the period of the Holocaust.

Among the letters, sisters Susan-Zsuzsa, 9, and Lili Klein, 7, wrote their father Hugo a short letter: “Dear Daddy, We are well – goodbye.”

Sisters Suzan-Zsuzsa and Lili postcard sent to their father Hugo in April 1944. Courtesy of Yad Vashem Archives.

Hugo was drafted into a forced labor battalion in 1943, leaving his wife Matild behind with their two daughters in Hencida in Hungary.

Hugo survived the war, but Matild, Susan-Zsuzsa and Lili were deported to Auschwitz and were murdered shortly after their arrival.

“At the same time that Paris and Rome in the West and Vilna and Minsk in the East were being liberated from Nazi hands, we see in many of the last letters a glimmer of hope by the writers to be reunited with their loved ones,” says Yad Vashem’s online exhibitions coordinator Yona Kobo.

“They were written 75 years ago on small pieces of paper or the back of postcards, which sometimes are stained with the tears of both  the sender and the recipients.”

Another letter in the exhibition was sent by 10-year-old Jacob Hijman Marcus to his grandparents from Amsterdam while in hiding with his aunt Rosa.

“Dear Grandma and Grandpa how are you doing? Here, everything is going well… I send you all good wishes on the occasion of the birthday of your only son. Please congratulate him for me,” it reads.

Jacob’s letter to his maternal grandparents. May 1944. Courtesy of Yad Vashem Archives.

Only three weeks later, Marcus and Rosa were deported to the Terezin ghetto.

Shortly after, Jacob’s name appeared on a transportation list to Auschwitz. His aunt, who was not on the list, switched her name with another person so she could accompany him.

They were deported to Auschwitz, where Jacob was murdered upon arrival in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, while Rosa survived until the liberation of the camp.

Two months later, Rosa died of food poisoning after buying and eating what she was told was kosher food.

Jacob’s parents, grandfather and grandmother survived the war.

“The Germans Nazis were determined not only to annihilate the Jewish people, but also to obliterate their identity, memory, culture and heritage,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev.

“By preserving these precious items – that are of great importance not just to the Jewish people, but also to humanity as a whole – and revealing them to the public, they will act as the voice of the victims and the survivors, and serve as an everlasting memory.”

Jacob Hijman Marcus and his grandmother, Brantje Matteman. Jacob was murdered in Auschwitz. His grandmother survived. Courtesy of Yad Vashem Photo Archives.

 

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