5th May, 1915
Shkotovo

My beloved little mouse! It is now almost a fortnight since I last wrote. These two weeks were horrible for me. Waking everyday with the hope that today perhaps something will come, with nerves on edge waiting for the moment when the post is distributed and then the collapse when there is again nothing.

With envy, anger and in rage I look at the comrades who have been luckier, as if they had personally harmed me. And then the whole day is lost if one can really say that here because strictly speaking all the time is lost. But in the last few days I was totally incapable of doing anything. I was oppressed by a terrible anguish mixed with yearning, and I felt resentment that even here, among the other poor men, I should still feel to be the neglected child of providence.

Although again no post came for me today, I pulled myself together to write again and to learn Hungarian hoping this would make it easier for me to get over my suffering. Since last week I have changed the organisation of my day which is now governed by a "summer-timetable". I get up at 5.30 and at 5.45 the masseur comes to me; because of my old complaint I am having massages of the abdomen and stomach together with Karlsbad therapy, perhaps this will help against my sluggish digestion. At 6.00am I go for a walk. My comrades say I am a fool, because in this way I prolong my day, but the poor chaps do know how nice it is to be at least one or two hours alone with one's thoughts. Add to this the wonderful morning breeze from the sea, the peace and quiet, otherwise missing the noisy life in our crowded quarters. I return at 8.00am, prepare breakfast, and then the day takes its normal course. The difference is that I now always spend 5-6 hours in the open air; we all look well fed now.

During the last few days I have been busying myself as impresario. I have put together a band from musicians among the troops and everyday from 11 - 12 I organise a promenade concert for the officers. The men play on instruments which they manufactured themselves: violins, guitars, violas, etc. I always have a collection made, and these are very successful: 4-6 roubles per day. The musicians get two thirds of this, the rest goes to the superintendent into a fund for the purchase of linen for the troops who live in pitiable conditions. Apart from this I am preparing the opening of an open-air theatre, cabaret and music hall. Among the men are so many professional artists that it is bound to be successful. Today we are going to apply to the garrison-commander asking for boards that are required for building the stage. You see, what is bred in the bone will out in the flesh.

The dangerous epidemic is not extinguished yet and the number of victims increases daily. More than 500 already lie in their graves. The poor Volunteer Medic, about whom I have written before, is still alive but I am afraid they may kill him off today; he is going to be operated on to remove one of his ribs. He is afflicted by all imaginable complications, among others suppuration of the lungs and the rib will be taken out to create an outlet for all the pus. Only the officers have been spared, until now none of us has caught the disease, thank God. So today I have written a lot. How nice would it be if I could put this "letter" into an envelope and post it to you knowing that you will receive it within a reasonable span of time. However, I have to accept that you will read these lines when, with God's help, we shall sit happily together in our home again. Let us hope that this will happen before too long. Most of my fellow officers here "surmise" that we shall travel home in July; I cannot believe that this will come true, but one day the moment must come when after the long time of suffering joy and new life will return to this world. And therefore, my dearest, I do not lose courage, I go on hoping and I am looking forward to the time when I will be back with you and will forget all my suffering. Bye! I must go and prepare the concert!

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