13th March, 1915
13mar15

(In the last days I have been somewhat neglectful with my writing, hence the long gap. Thanks to a new arrangement of my day's program I shall now be able to write everyday. Today or tomorrow I should finish with my travel adventures and I am looking forward to talk with you about more personal topics although, unfortunately, we shall have to do that separated by a distance of 10,000km. So now we are in Razdolnaya).

We were taken into a large room with long rows of beds along the walls, as commonly found in barracks, but these were just bedsteads with no palliasses or mattresses - nothing. Next to each bed was a very spacious, useful bedside chest. Although the immense room was not heated and, therefore, cold and uninviting, we soon started to make it more homely and were happy that after the almost endless journey we had at last arrived at our destination. We bought temporary palliasses, bedside rugs, and washing lines; clothes and linen were thoroughly cleaned and we had a good day or to be exact, three days. We catered for ourselves, 2 chefs from the hotel "Hungaria" and 2 pastry cooks and baked food so the food was splendid. The whole organisation here was exemplary, every detail was carefully prepared, in a word - it felt like living in Eldorado. Just one thing was more obvious here than before: the captivity. Everywhere guards with fixed bayonets, the space outside where we were allowed to catch a breath of air supervised by Cossacks, all the time we were reminded of being prisoners.

Of the 126 officers in the barracks, 15 were permitted to go shopping in the morning and 15 in the afternoon. Each such group was escorted by 20 - 25 Cossacks. Under these circumstances it is surely understandable that one used the "privilege of going out" as rarely as possible. As I have already indicated, our stay at Razdolnaya did not last long. On the 20th we were already told that 26 officers, primarily Germans from the Reich and Jews, would be going on to Shkotovo. Because of my religion, I was of course included in this group. My two comrades volunteered to go as well since they did not want to leave me in the lurch alone. On Saturday the 21st we were, as usually happened ordered quite suddenly to move off.

A cruelty which I found very difficult to bear was the loss of my servant Karnofski. On arrival at Razdolnaya we were told that always 3 officers would have to share 2 servants. We had already agreed that it would be Karnosfski and now we had to leave without him; we were assured that in the new quarters there would be other servants. All our requests and entreaties were in vain, the only concession granted to us was that Karnofski could accompany us to the railway station. The poor chap was crying all the way and when we boarded the train he was completely beside himself. I felt terrible as well, he being such a good and honest man and really devoted to me. Naturally we are closely bound up with one another and each of us has debts to repay. I have been very depressed by the knowledge that the poor man had to go and stay at the overcrowded billets of the troops. To be sure, I asked various officers to look after him and they promised to do so, but who knows how he is doing. I still often think about him as one thinks of a good friend; like myself he worries about his wife and two children and I wish him a safe return to them.

In the evening we were again in a carriage, this time a posh one - third class. The train departed at 4 in the morning and at 10.a m on the 22nd we were in Shkotovo. I am sitting in the company of 226 gentlemen, waiting for redemption. Having got so far today I'll finish and leave the description of my life and activities here for tomorrow. Good night, my love! Kisses!

© The estate of Otto Feldmann: Monica Lanyado, Tzafrah Shushan and Aya Shochat