Dear Daddy,

(I originally wrote in April, 1945) Everyone was singing Dayenu at our Passover dinner, but the words stuck in my throat. Not like a fish bone that won’t go down, but the song got trapped because it doesn’t tell the whole story.

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“It would have been enough,” celebrates the freedom of Jews from slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago. But you are still a Prisoner of War in Nazi Germany working on a Kommando slave labor detail. The Allies are liberating concentration camps and other Prisoner of War camps, but they haven’t reached Stalag 2A, your last known address.

Please have a Happy Passover, Daddy, wherever you are. We’re sad you aren’t yet free, but glad you’re still alive.

I visit the Red Cross almost every day after school. One lady said to another, “She’s here again,” and tells me,” No news is good news.” When the German Red Cross notifies them, they will inform Mommy. I don’t count. “Would you like juice and cookies?” They provide provisions for blood donors. My throat is dry, but I don’t want their food. I have a bad taste in my mouth from the bitter herbs at Passover that remind me you are still a slave. Eating Passover jelly candy fruit slices and marshmallows with coconut at home doesn’t get rid of the taste. I have to stop being bitter inside my head.

The Passover Haggadah tells that “God restores speech to the speechless, removes the bonds of the captives, strengthens those who fall and straightens the back of those who are stooped.” I need to believe that since God liberated the Jews from slavery in Egypt, He will liberate you and other soldiers from captivity in Nazi Germany. I want to sing Dayenu with all my heart.

I don’t understand why God hasn’t sent Ten Plagues to Nazi Germany to get rid of Hitler, the Gestapo and the SS. Mimi says that Hitler started the great plague of war, “which surpasses all other plagues,” and his citizens are suffering from destruction and malnutrition. “They don’t get Red Cross packages like your father does as an American Prisoner of War and they are starving.”

I pray for freedom from tyrants like Hitler, who is a big coward hiding in an underground bunker. He makes his henchmen do the dirty work of killing. Why do the Germans listen to him? Didn’t they learn the Ten Commandments, especially about murder? They are blindly following a bad man.

How do Hitler and his murderers justify rounding up and killing millions of innocent Jewish people and others? What has turned civilized men into wild beasts, who beat, starve, torture and kill children? I ask my teachers and grandparents, but no one has answers.

When I grow up, I will speak out loud against anyone harming the Jews and others. I will say, “Leave innocent people alone.”

I want to have faith that God will win this battle. Mimi says the people who start wars lose wars. The newspapers and radio announcers report that Germany is under attack by the Allies from all sides and the German army is retreating. The Red Army entered Austria and the Allies are letting them take Berlin. General Eisenhower sent out a demand for the Germans to surrender.

American soldiers are liberating concentration camps and finding barely alive emaciated people in prison clothing and also dead bodies piled up. Some soldiers say that the sight is almost too much to bear. They had no idea that the Nazis, who were once civilized human beings, could be such cold-blooded torturers and murderers.

Americans enlisted or were drafted to serve our country when Hitler declared war on the United States after Pearl Harbor. They didn’t understand the realities of war with an enemy such as Nazi Germany. You left home when you received the call to defend our country and didn’t know what you were getting into. Please be safe and well.

I pray they find you soon, Daddy and our Passover wishes come true that you are once again a free man.

Love,
Maxine


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