A devoted communal
worker in the Kovno ghetto of Lithuania, Shulamit
Rabinovitch wrote this letter to her sons in the United States on
D-day, June 6, 1944.
We sense the
end is near. It will not be long before they finish us
off.... Actually it is not difficult for me to die, or for Papa
either. What is very hard, infinitely hard, is the fact that your
young brother Shmuel will die when we do. And he is such a wonderful
boy. Even under the most brutal conditions, he developed into a fine
human being; perhaps with less formal education, but with so much
humane feeling and refinement, that it would be truly worthwhile for
him to remain alive. How few of those who suffered this treatment
retained the human image! The struggle for existence is hard and
everyone wants to live, to save himself; the law of the jungle is
dominant: "Save yourself if you can."
But you may
be very proud of your father. He is among those who never
took advantage of his public office, never put Shmuel or me ahead of
the other sufferers for whom he was responsible....
For years we learned so much, suffered so much. We could teach others
so very much, and it is too bad that it all comes to nothing, along
with us. Were we to be rescued, we could dry up the oceans, and
demonstrate with how little a person can get along! If I could only
bequeath you the ability to get along with little and the ability to
do everything for yourself, then you, being free, could never be
June 6, 1944
The Soviet army liberated Kovno on August 1, 1944. Of Kovno's few
Jewish survivors, 500 had survived in forests, bunkers and hiding with
Lithuanian families; the Germans evacuated an additional 2,500 to
concentration camps in Germany as the Soviets came near.....