Dear Daddy,

(I originally wrote to you in February, 1945) “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” My teacher wrote these words from the Declaration of Independence on the blackboard and we are also learning about the Constitution including the Bill of Rights.

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Why did the Nazis put Jewish children and others in concentration camps surrounded by barbed wire? Why were people gassed, beaten, starved and killed?

No one here has answers except that we must win the war against the Nazis and free other people who are prisoners just as the Russian Army has liberated those incarcerated in Poland.

Everyone at school is praying for the end of war, to bring our servicemen home, continue speaking English and live in a democracy with the Constitution and Bill of Rights intact. It is known that President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, taking away the rights of Japanese-Americans and incarcerating them in our own country because we are at war with Japan. Some German-Americans and Italian-Americans were also sent to concentration camps, even Jewish refugees who were considered to be German aliens. The Japanese children here are not gassed, beaten, starved or killed and they have schools, but they were put behind guarded barbed wire fences as if they were criminals.

Where are we safe and who can we believe? Bepa says the Japanese-Americans and German aliens were moved inland because enemy submarines were sighted along the California Coast and German U-boats were in the Atlantic near our shores. War is terrible. I hope it ends soon, you are found and can return home.

We hear that this is one of the coldest European winters. I worry about you being warm enough if you are still Missing in Action The Red Cross sends parcels of food and clothing to our servicemen fighting overseas, but how will you get your share if you are Missing?

Mimi prepares hot cereal for breakfast and mixes up the milk and cream in the bottle that the milkman and his horse, Rex, delivers. She gives us orange juice after our cod liver oil, to take away the terrible taste. When I come home for lunch she fixes tuna sandwiches and alphabet soup. I like to look for the x’s, but she tells me to hurry so I’m not late getting back to school. For dinner she makes meatballs and spaghetti or meatloaf and mashed potatoes. We have canned peas every night and rennet pudding or canned fruit cocktail for dessert. I eat everything on my plate because children in Europe are starving.

Mommy picks out a live chicken on Fridays at the butcher shop and he kills it right there. The chicken keeps running around even after its head is chopped off. The butcher tells Mommy to do the rest of her shopping and come back after he has removed the chicken’s feathers. I ask Mommy how she knows it’s the same chicken that she chose. “You don’t trust anyone,” she says. That’s because I asked the man who picks up our pushke every week with tzedakah for the Jews in Palestine, how he gets the money from here to there. When we arrive home Mommy roasts the chicken and makes chicken soup. I like to eat the chicken liver, which she saves for me.

I want my tzedakah money to buy food for the children who have been locked up and are now free and I hope the Red Cross will help them, too. I wonder if our pushke money can help the children and their parents go to Palestine. Now I understand why Mimi says that children in Europe are starving and I feel guilty about all the food I have to eat. I am crying because I am sad. I want to be happy again and I want the children in Europe to be happy. I hope you are happy, Daddy, wherever you are.

Love,
Maxine

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