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Kayman Letter 20: By Nison Kayman (Eliezer's Younger Brother)

Written to Eliezer in Australia

April 2, 1941

Letter with no envelope


Dear only brother,

With sadness and heartfelt pain I have to write to you about the calamity that befell us lately. Hundreds of lives were lost in German camps. Our township is empty. Many died in their homes and tragically our own father among them.

Today, on the third day of the month of Nissan we got up from the seven days of sitting shiva [mourning] and I was directed by our Rabbi to advise you about our loss. This is my sad new situation - to be alone and to have to share the pain with you.

It happened on Tuesday, the 26th day of Adar - the 25th of March. At five in the morning our father exhaled his last breath. Two months prior, our mother had taken ill and three days later our father too took to bed. When I asked him what was wrong he answered that it was nothing - that the frost and chill made him weak and it was better for him to be in bed. Mother stayed in bed for six weeks and father used to help me try and persuade her to eat. That is how, on my own, I went from one bed to the next. At one stage, mother regained some strength and got out of bed. Father also left his bed from time to time. On the 8th day of Adar father had yahrzeit [the anniversary of the death of one of his parents] so he got out of bed. I got a minyan [10 adult Jewish males] into the house and he said kaddish [the prayer for the dead]. On Purim he listened to the reading of the Megilah. But in the last week he deteriorated. From day to day it was harder for him to breathe. Two doctors visited him. I asked them about taking father to Bialystok but they told me that the state of his heart and lungs was beyond saving. After some terrible suffering he passed away at the age of 69.

So may it be that "death disappear forever" [we hope there are no further deaths in our family] and we should find consolation in our very weak mother, may she continue to live and be healthy.

Your distraught brother,

Nison


Letters contributed by Selina Kayman.

Translation from Yiddish to English by Israel Kipen.
Edited by: Selina Kayman and Jose Gutstein.
Editor's notes are entered in [brackets].

Copyright 2004 by Jewish Holocaust Museum & Research Centre in Australia, Selina Kayman and Jose Gutstein.
All rights reserved to the original letter and the translation.

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