5th October, 1916
Nizhnevdinsk

My one and only love! I really should have written to you yesterday which was another important anniversary. Unfortunately, I was unable to do so because we had a major clean up of our room and its walls were whitewashed. So I must catch up today.

Imagine, darling, it's two years now already that I have been away from you. Two years! I almost cannot believe that I have been able to survive so long without you; often I was pining for you so much that it felt like dying. My life here is just a miserable existence, it certainly cannot be called "experiencing life." When I realise that I have been sitting here for two years doing nothing productive, that I have lost two years of my best creative time, that I will return home as a man approaching the age of forty, with a broken willpower and paralysed energy, then I am gripped by a frightful terror. Will I be able to fulfill my duty as breadwinner for you and the children? Will I be capable of compensating you for all your love, your kindness and all the grief you suffered for me? Darling, all my thoughts, all my feeling is only for you and our children.

It seems almost unbelievable that Liesel will soon be celebrating her seventh birthday! And still it is true! It is impossible to find words for one's thoughts and feelings when one is so separated by thousands of kilometers form one's dearest, and when one thinks of returning home as a half stranger in the still so distant future. And in addition the oppressive thought that I have not accomplished anything at a time when everybody else has achieved something. The few weeks that I spent at the front do not count.

I know the thought is sinful yet it does still occur to me often enough. If I had been killed, it might have been better for all of us. I could have borne it if, fulfilling my duty like so many others, at some occasion (I don't have anything great in mind), I had received a well-aimed shot; my last thoughts of you and the children would have made my parting from the world and life more painful but also given it beauty. You would have suffered much, of that I am sure, you would have mourned whole-heartedly, I would have always remained in your memories; but in the end, like so many others, you would have found peace and consolation; perhaps it might ultimately have been for you and the children's good. How can I know whether you will not be disappointed in me when I come home?

Shame! Thank God that I have remained healthy and though I will always regret the loss of all this time, I have to come back as a man. And your nearness and your healing influence will give me what I will need so badly for the new fight for life; energy and internal peace. Well, it seems to me that I have lost my footing again and that I have landed in the domain of potboilers. But you need not fear that I am mad! I am only terribly thoughtless and that's why sometimes completely hidden thoughts come to the surface. It's that one has no inhibitions what-so-ever here. It's rather late now. Darling, I love you as fervently as ever and I think of you always and all the time.

Thousand hot kisses! Good night!

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