11th April, 1920
11apr20

Dearest! It is Sunday and I am sitting alone at home, i.e., in my carriage, and I looking forward to our chat. Everybody went out but I stayed at home because I want to be only with you. The visit to the land mine in Olovyanaya did not materialise because we departed on 1st April before lunch and arrived next morning at Manchuria station (1431 east of Irkutsk). The arriving train was stormed by Chinese traders. With a lot of noise they were offering silk, cigarettes, fruit, pastries and God knows what else for sale.

The whole Manchurian section of the East-Siberian railway is presently under Chinese control. Chinese troops occupy the station buildings. We are on neutral ground and have survived the unrest and fighting of Siberia. Manchuria is an almost entirely Chinese town. Immediately after the doctor's round I went out to see it. New images, new life. What is on offer at the bazaar is simply indescribable. But, unfortunately, new problems. I have managed to save a few rubles but oh dear! The Chinese are very wily and very crafty. There are 4 -5 kinds of currency in circulation here: Siberian, Tsarist (Nikolaevski), Mongolian, Japanese, Chinese and some sub-sorts. Tsarist money commands a high exchange rate and I have 350 roubles Nikolaevski, - but more than half of that is "lamajla"-broken, which means it is folded in the middle or in a corner and the Chinese do not accept it. I also have some Siberian money but that is almost worthless, I had to pay 175 roubles for a bath in a tub. And there are so many things here which I would love to buy for you. I almost bought 3m of silk for you but my doctor's wife dissuaded me from the purchase because the quality was not good enough. Thus my sole purchase was a pipe. Regrettably, I learned too late that on the 2nd was the first Seder - evening, otherwise I could have "let myself be invited".

On Saturday 3rd April the journey was resumed and on the 4th we arrived at Hajlar, on the 5th at Myanduko, 6th Bukadu where we were left standing for 2 days, then on 8th we continued to Chekalaugum- and on the 9th to Tsitikar where we are staying now and probably a few days more. Everywhere we see the same picture: Chinese who are buying and want to sell, and make difficulties with the money. Here there is one more sort of currency you do not know where you are with it, and you know in advance that you will be swindled. I still have not bought anything and want to wait till we arrive in Harbin. There I will get my salary for 3 months and it will be easier for me to make a move.

Unfortunately our journey proceeds again at a slower pace because there is a traffic jam in front of us. Moreover, there is talk about a new war between Japan and Russia. In fact, a tunnel in front of Vladivostok has been blown up and that will delay us by at least 3 weeks, it is appalling! It will take at least 5 -6 weeks before we get to Vladivostok and how long shall we have to wait for a ship there?! But in the end we shall make it that’s the most important thing. Yesterday was my 39th birthday. I wanted to write and glue in my photo here, which I got just yesterday; but I abandoned the idea as tasteless. I thought a lot of you and about you. Little mouse, I am terribly fond of you and about you and I am so very much longing for you and the children. My most fervent kisses to you all.

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