With echoes of today’s turmoil around the world with ruthless separation of families, all trying to find a better and safe life, these letter excerpts from my father’s parents writing to him for his thirtieth birthday, are heartbreaking. By this time, torn apart by the Nazis, Dad and his parents had been separated for over two years.
Excerpted from Arnošt Holzer’s June 20, 1941 letter from Prague, in Nazi-occupied German territory, to Long Beach, California to his only child, Osvald “Valdik” Holzer.
Valdik, the next month you will celebrate your thirtieth birthday. This is a milestone in everyone’s life. You will celebrate it away from us so our thoughts will be with you . . . Ruth will certainly remember the day nicely and will, at least in part, make up to you for what we cannot do for you.
Unfortunately, a bad fate forces us to spend several years of your life without you. You know how we loved being with you and that we now must miss what was the most beautiful thing in our life and, in fact, for so long the purpose of our lives. Only the hope that the day will come when we can hug you again gives us the strength to bear all the hardship that we must.
A note added to the letter by Valdik’s mother, Olga:
I read what your dad wrote, and it was as if he wrote my thoughts from my soul exactly. You know best what you mean to us, and with such a festive day coming, I am always with you in my mind. I join the wish of your father and wish you lots of good luck and all the success in life for your next thirty years.
One year later Valdik’s parents Arnošt and Olga perished in a Nazi death camp, likely Sobibor in Poland.
Joanie Holzer Schirm
MY DEAR BOY publication by Potomac Books in early 2019. Sign up www.joanieschirm.com for Author Alerts.