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,
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.
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.
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.
is what he wrote: (I hope that my translation from his superb Hebrew
into English will do his document justice.)
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.
from the Hebrew by Solly Ganor
Pesach, April 3, 1945
so we are ‘celebrating’ Pesach. Today is the last day of Halemoed
I am sitting in the ‘Schonungs Barak’ (A so called convalescent
barrack, usually reserved for the dyeing who are unable to work
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.
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
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.
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
soul is filled with bitterness, sadness and agony when I think about
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
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.
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