1st March, 1916

My beloved Elserle! Another month has passed! During this long time I often thought of you again with the overwhelming emotion of wondrous love and attachment that binds me to you. I also often thought of my book of letters but I could not make up my mind to sit down and write. During the early stages of my captivity, at times when I was very depressed by sorrow, sadness and yearning, I could to some extent find satisfaction and comfort when I poured out all my misery on these pages. I have now got over that stage, and I regret it because it did help. Now it does not help anymore, and even if I tried, nothing would come of it, the words would be unnatural, insincere, artificial, they would not come from the depth of my heart as they used to and, therefore, they would be unavailing. Where this comes from I do not know because my feelings have certainly not changed, only my capability of expression seems to have suffered.

It is quite horrifying when one stands helpless and watches how one's perceptivity becomes weaker, how one is torn apart by emotions without being really able to find their keynote. However this may be, I shall continue to write in this book when I feel the need for it. It is also so extremely difficult to do anything. For instance, while I now write, two comrades discuss Turkish words, at the same table two inmates speak English, the servants run to and fro clattering with plates while laying the tables, in a word - it is very noisy and it requires a lot of energy to stick to the job one is doing. You see, before I finished those few lines about the Turkish-speaking gentlemen here, a lively debate has started about why the English cavalry does not wear high boots but puttees. Can you then imagine how one should possibly concentrate on certain thoughts amidst such turmoil? The point is that one is not alone, neither internally nor externally, and this may well be the reason why I cannot occupy myself fully with my feelings anymore.

How long can the misery still last? I have now hardly any hope that the war could end this year. Perhaps in a year's time, perhaps even later! It is unimaginable. And how I long for you and the children! And the worrying about you! Even when I learn from your infrequent messages that you are all o.k. the grief and worries remain. Well, I see that it is impossible to go on writing, the very vivid debate around me is now concerned with military academies. With the best will in the world I cannot talk about my sorrows in these conditions. Farewell my little mouse, I kiss you and embrace my darling kids.

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