Dear Daddy,

(I originally wrote in March, 1945) The days are getting longer. It’s almost spring, but too cold to play outside. I sneak into the living room to sit in your chair and read a book.

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Mommy catches me and hands over a dust cloth. “As long as you’re in here, you might as well do something useful.” We’re cleaning the flat from one end to another to get ready for Pesach. So much dirt to get rid of and we want the kitchen and pantry to be free of old crumbs. I sit on the Chinese rug in the living room and dust the carved animals that hold up the wooden coffee table.

I pretend the lions are real and want to bite me, so I put the dust cloth quickly in and out of the crevices. I lie on the couch and imagine I am taking a walk into the painting on the wall. Maybe I will see Bambi and other creatures in the forest. Then I cry thinking about Bambi in the movie when she lost her mother.

Mommy says we have work to do so I jump off the couch and get back to dusting. “The men are coming to take this rug and the Persian carpets from the dining room and hallway to be cleaned, so we have to move the furniture.” I wish we didn’t hide your books behind the living room chairs. They should be seen and read.

The windows are closed all winter because of the cold and snow, and it’s time to get rid of the cigarette and cigar smell. Mimi wants Bepa to stop smoking indoors and she is urging Mommy to quit altogether. “You want Harold to come back to a nice, clean home,” she tells Mommy. “And you want to be kissable.”

The cleaning lady used to wash the floors and windows and polish the furniture, but we haven’t seen her since the government said you were Missing in Action and stopped your payroll checks. I don’t want to do those jobs, but Mimi says we are all getting fat and need some exercise.

I like polishing the silver and may get Brownie points. If not, I still want to see the shiny candle holders and silverware on the white tablecloth for Pesach. We’ll get time off from school at Passover and Easter, although I like being at school.

My class visited the Chicago Natural History Museum and saw real stuffed bears. They are huge. I only hate being at school around Easter when my classmates who are not Jewish say I killed Jesus. What? When? Where? How? Why? I know I didn’t, so I try to think about the Easter bunny, chicks and candy like Peeps.

Mimi wants a Passover miracle for you and the other American POWs to be set free soon. The news is encouraging. The Allies are liberating concentration camps, the Americans moved across the Rhine into Germany, and The US First Army took Cologne.

I hope a Prisoner of War camp is not like the concentration camps we see in the newsreels. There are starving people who have no place to go even if they are now free. The former inmates are called Displaced Persons. If they have relatives in the USA, they are welcome here. Others go to Palestine. They can’t stay in Europe without homes or family.

You are not displaced, Daddy. You have a home and family waiting for you in Chicago. The Red Cross lady thinks that the POWs on work details are marching back to the Stalags because the Russians are quickly moving from the East into Germany. She says the Nazis are afraid of the Russians.

The Red Cross continues to send packages to the POW camps with food, clothing, soap and cigarettes. I hope you are able to get your share. I asked her if the Red Cross sends Passover foods like matzos and gefilte fish, charoset and grape juice, and she said she’d inquire.

We are continuing to pray for your health and safety, Daddy. We want you home soon.

Love,
Maxine
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