2nd February, 1916
Nizhnevdinsk

My love! The date will tell you that I am taking up my book for a special reason! What moves my heart today again I need not and I cannot describe here. My sweet, lovely Ederle! You cannot have any idea how I long for you! And when one of those dominant anniversaries comes up, then it always feels as if somebody were poking about with a wooden log in an open wound.

What particularly affects me is that I am robbed of so much pleasure with my children. I really think of you always at all hours, but it is not that hot, vivid ferment anymore, the emotional life has been blunted by habit. Only from time to time does it flare up but then it is more intensive. This is how I feel today again, on a day when I feel to be so completely with you. Surely you will be thinking of me as well today, but you are definitely better off than I am because you can discuss what moves you with one another and you can count on mutual understanding of your problems. I, however, am left to my own resources and though I sometimes wear my heart on my sleeve - which is only human - I don't find any response, no understanding because everyone is full of his own grief and his own sorrows. Of what interest to him is my outpouring of emotions to which he listens with half an ear out of mere politeness. How could I touch his soul, even if I told him a hundred times what I am feeling.

On the other hand, there are instants when I am happy not to talk to and listen to anybody because my heart is full of joy and sometimes of pain too. Then I close my eyes so as not to lose the tiniest part of what my inner eye shows me. Then I usually see myself among you, such as it was or as it will be, or how I wish that it soon should be. Then you all stand in front of me, so real, so tangible, that I feel I am perceiving your breath. Such moments are high points in my life. Unfortunately they do not come when I would wish but only when they choose to. And so time passes. Lost time which consumes more of your powers than if it was spent in the most demanding activity.

I think I have changed. I am not what I used to be; I have become a grumbler, a crank and pessimist. I only hope that I will preserve at least a part of my temperament in this so difficult time. How long may it still last? This uncertainty is one of the worst torments we all suffer. A convicted criminal knows exactly when he will be free again. We do not know it and, after all the disappointments which we experienced with our personal estimates, nobody dares to voice even a guess how long the misery may last. The only consolation left for us is that one day the end must come. God give that this day be not far and that you all, for whom I pray and fear, will lie in my arms in good health and unscathed. That’s all for today. Fervent kisses to you all and especially to our dear birthday child!

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