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This letter was found among some family papers in Paris on November
2001 Babushka Khaya-Reeva1 wrote it in Volozhin to her children in France on
April 22nd 1941, exactly two months prior to the German invasion into the
Soviet Union, one Year after her daughter Etia's family was expelled to
Siberia and some 10 months after the Germans occupied Paris. All Grandma Khaya's
sons and daughter families (Osher, Izia and Zina) 2 who lived in France had
probably already left Paris at this time.
Dear children! I received your letter-dated 22/III. I am happy to learn
that you are in good health. I would like to know if you have to buy
garments and underwear to replace all you had left in Paris. Papa (Father) was with
me only a couple of days during Passover.
Malka, Yossif's mother was also with us. She spent this winter in
Moscow at her daughter Fania's house. She came here to liquidate her property on
the holiday eve. Soon she would return to Moscow, not to much desiring it.
Poor Malka I have pity for her. Yania3, her widowed son in law got married
to Brokhke Perski, Velvl Shmuel's sister in law. As for her grand
children, Yani's two sons: Monia4 remains with him, Dania is studying in Minsk
Conservatorium. He married a girl from Bobroysk recently; She's a
Pianist too. That's the story of shviguer Malka and her family.
Dear Osher I'm reading your letter again and again. I'm searching a
piece of hope to see all of you again. It would be for us, old people a comfort,
but to our sorrow, its accomplishment seems to be very far. Until then we
should be satisfied with your letters.
I'm glad that Daliusha is growing up becoming tall like Osher and that
Susanochka develops very fine. Please send us her picture. Motia, in
his letter, is asking for it too.
I'm receiving letters from Etia5. Her children too are adding a couple
of sentences. I would send you some letters, but they are written in
Yiddish and they may not reach you. Monitshka6 writes very fine letters in Russian,
Polish and Yiddish. Those letters are highly praised by his comrades in
Volozhin. If he had a chance to continue his studies he would certainly
succeed and arrive far away, but unfortunately his fate turned
Etia writes that he's a devoted son.
Zinotshka, you're asking about what we send them. Beginning from flour,
fats, sugar to the last details including money too. Poor Etia, she is so
unfortunate, I have no words to describe her painful life. And add to
it that she does not know from Yossif7 anything until now. Reading her letters,
the heart becomes flooded with blood, and the sole help we can offer is the
posting of parcels.
We receive letters from Motia8 and Irka. Motia is working 2 weeks on
the field and 2 weeks in the kibbutz office.
Izia writes that he's satisfied with his new work He praises his son
very much. Rita became pregnant. She is not like French women, and God will
Dear Olinka, we received a letter from your father in Konotope. I'm
writing him each year on the Passover eve asking him to go to the graveyard on
the day of our daughter Ola's death. He's fulfilling my demand and I'm
Please, write often and about all. We wish you health and good luck.
Strongly embracing all of you,
Your mother, Khaya.
I'm very glad to read Suzanotshka's regards, written by her little
hand. We are thanking her for making happy her Diedushka and Babushka. I kiss
1. The grand parents Khaya Reeva (born Marshak) and Hirsh Malkin
remained in Volozhin after the Germans occupied the town. They were flung into the
Ghetto and were murdered near the Volozhin Grave Yard on May 10th 1942.
2. Osher, Zina and Izia Left Paris before the Germans invaded the
town. They survived the war under faked names on the not occupied South of France.
Their families live now in France.
3. Yani Garber was nominated as head of theVolozhin Youdenrat already
after the Germans took control of Volozhin. They ordered him to assemble 200
Jews as though to work. Discovering that they had been brought to
extermination he asked to be shot together with his congregation members. It was the
first mass slaughter in Volozhin on October 28th 1941.
4. Monia, Yani's Son. Was arrested by the Soviets. When released, he
joined the General Anders unit of the Polish Army. He arrived with his unit in
Italy and fell fighting the Germans in the Monte Cassino battle in 1944.
5. Etia , The Malkins' eldest daughter with her two children was
"ressetled" by the Soviets into Siberia a month after her husband Yossif was
6. Etia's son "Monitshka", was mobilized by the Soviets in Siberia,
first into battalions of work and then into the Red Army as infantry soldier.
He finished the war meeting the alien western forces on the Baltic coast
near Rostock. Freed from the Soviet Army on May 1946, he undertook his long
way to Israel where he arrived on the "Altalena" boat and joined the Israel
Army on June 1948.
7. Yossif, Etia's husband was arrested by the Soviets as "Capitalist"
in Volozhin on March 1940. He was imprisoned in a Soviet Concentration
Camp. He had never returned from the Soviet Goulag. His family had never had any
news about him.
8. Motia, the Malkins' youngest son with his wife Irka went to Israel
as a Haluts (pioneer) in 1937. His son Eytan participated as paratrooper
officer in the Yom Kippur war. He fell on the battle camp in the Sinai desert
on October 1973. He was 32 years old.