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Pesach Story

 

Exactly Sixty years ago, on Chol-Hamoed Pesach, a man by the name of Zrubavel Rosenzweig, an engineer from Kovno, Lithuania, wrote a remarkable letter. It was found among his papers after he passed away on February 18, 2000.
The letter was written on Chol-Hamoed Pesach on April 3, 1945, a month before we were liberated by the US forces from the concentration camp of Dachau complex, Lager I near Landberg.
Several things makes the document remarkable. First, that the man near his death, found enough spiritual strength to painstakingly write on a tiny piece of paper in even tinier Hebrew letters his observations. His Hebrew is both superb and lyrical. But what is more amazing is the fact that he wrote it on a 2.5 inch by 7 inch  piece of paper and managed to include almost two regular pages of writing on that label. One has to see it to believe it.

The document was written on the inner side of a label that he removed from a condensed milk can. Towards the end of the war the International Red Cross distributed to us the only food parcel we received in four years of internment. Among other items was a can of condensed milk. It had a label around it, on which it said in German: ‘Ungezukerte Kondensierte Alpen Milch’ (Milk from the Alps without added sugar.) It was produced in Switzerland.

Somehow Zrubawel Rosenzweig managed to remove the label and on the inner side of the label was plain white paper. It was on this piece of paper that Zrubawel wrote in tiny Hebrew letters a whole text about the dismal world around him and the way he saw it. I have the document before me and it is hard to believe that so much meaning, feelings, and observations could be written on such a tiny piece of paper. It was written by a man who was beaten, starved and worked to death. Yet he had the nobility of mind to write the words bellow.
I personally think that given the circumstances in which he wrote it,  it is a remarkable document and I am sending it to Yad Vashem and other Holocaust museums around the world.
Since this is a Passover story and at the same time a Shoa story, I thought that it is of interest to all of us.

Here is what he wrote: (I hope that my translation from his superb Hebrew into English will do his document justice.)

PS
Zrubawel didn’t die in Dachau. His strength of spirit forced his emaciated body to live to the day of liberation four weeks after this document was written. He immigrated to Israel and passed away on February 18, 2000.

Solly Ganor
 
 

A Pesach Story

By Zrubawel Rosenzweig

Translated from the Hebrew by Solly Ganor

Halemoed Pesach, April 3, 1945

“And so we are ‘celebrating’ Pesach. Today is the last day of Halemoed Pesach.
I am sitting in the ‘Schonungs Barak’ (A so called convalescent barrack, usually reserved for the dyeing who are unable to work anymore).
I am looking through the window. What I see is divided in small squares attached to one another. The squares are part of the barb wire fence behind which I am incarcerated for the last four years.

The sky is cloudy. A cold wind is blowing from the dismal land that I can see through the window. Here and there one can see brown earth, but what I see mostly in the distance is the Bavarian stones and gravel that my Hebrew brethren are carrying to and fro. It is work that was specifically designed to torture and kill the few remaining Jews who were brought to this God forsaken Land to suffer their final agonies.

Today, on the third of April, 1945, when we are beginning to sense, when we are beginning to feel the distant echo of freedom, an echo of fresh air that the freed world is beginning to breath, and we are still incarcerated in prisons of the dark ages. We have hope, but no practical idea of how to be liberated.

The whole of Europe is already liberated, a third or more than a third of Germany is already free, but we, a group of eight thousand Jews pushed to the limit of endurance, are still slaves here in Ober Bayern.

My soul is filled with bitterness, sadness and agony when I think about it.
After four years of wandering, imprisonment, starvation, freezing, slave labor and all kinds of persecutions, now comes our end. All that we suffered was for nought.
A deep anger rises in me because there is nothing we can do about it.
We are in their hands for life or death.
Now, towards the end, on a minute amount of nourishment they expect from us maximum effort.

It is beginning to rain. The heavens have darkened even more. Some Germans, OT Workers, are running by the fence to escape the rain. Only the sons of Israel are left working in the field, they have no coats, they are starved, their souls are full of grief and sorrow, but in their hearts there is hope for liberation and a brighter future".