Historic Material from Virbalis
Supplied by Martin Miller of Syracuse, New York, USA
- From: "Martin Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- 28 October 1921
To my dearly beloved brother William, may he live and be well.
First of all, I can write you that I am thank God in good health. To hear the same of you.
I can write you that we are not working now since the 9th of May. I can write you that we worked for 18 months. The whole time Hershel Pesach Gringard and his brother Chaim Feivel ran the factory. Lev Adarsky came from Russia after Pesach, and he took sick with typhus and was in bed for 2 weeks in Naishtat and died. Mendel Adarsky came from Russia and went to America to his wife, and Nissan is now in Virballen, and Zelig came and is now with his sister Basha in Berlin, and maybe Zelig will begin to peddle again.
And you ask where I have been all this time. I can write that on 10 November 1916 the German occupation higher-ups took me away to forced labor, and I spent 13 months. The whole time I worked in the forest. In the very beginning they sent me to Vilna, and I spent 2 weeks in the Antakaler Prison in Vilna. That was the collection point for all the forced laborers, and later they sent 420 of us men to Podbrodzhe, 3 stations beyond Vilna, and there we worked for 7 months in the forest on a highway detail. Thirty degrees below zero, and we remained outside and worked there. They ended the work there and sent us to Yevye, 2 stations from Vilna in the direction of Kovno. There I worked for 6 weeks, and then I worked near Neiman for 5 months. Then I was released, and I peddled for two years. Then we found work and earned 900 Marks a week.
Further, with regard to what you write about coming to America, I should ask you why should I come to America when you're not setting the world on fire there either, and when there are 4 million unemployed.
I can write you that in Lithuania they drafted up to age 23. This year they only took 21 year-olds, and I didn't have to go to the military. Now we have a horse and wagon, and we peddle.
I can write you that many Lithuanians come from America and bring much money. There are people in Virballen that do nothing and receive a lot of money from America and live on that. I can write you that Layzer Adarsky came after Pesach for a visit from New York with Feivel Gringard from Stockholm.
The 500 Marks Ida sent for Rifka we have not yet received. The way she writes things are good for her, but she has shown us no generosity. In a whole year she sent us 2 dollars. We only know what others receive from America. I can tell you that everything is expensive now in Lithuania. An egg costs 4 Marks, a pound of butter 20 Marks, a sack of potatoes 40 Marks, a liter of milk 4 Marks. One room costs 80 Marks a month, a pound of bread costs 120 Pennies, a meter of wood 150 Marks, and it's hard to get along.
I have no more news to write you. Be well. From your brother Mendel, who wishes you and your wife and children long life and good health for the New Year.
KAUNAS, 13 June 1941
To my dearly beloved son, may he live and be well.
What is the reason you haven't written me for so long, it's been two years' time that I haven't received a letter from you. I would really like to know how you're doing and how you are, also the same of your wife and children. I, my dear son, am very sick and weak. I can barely get around any more. I have experienced enough sorrow in my life! Your father recently was ill, for several weeks he lay in bed, his heart had become very weak. He died on 18 Nisan, Holhamoed Pesach. I have only one request for you, when you can, if time allows, say Kaddish for your father. I am now at Rifke's in Kovno, and now only Mendel is left in Verzhbalov. Whether or not he says Kaddish, I can't tell you for sure, probably not. I believe you know him very well. I am bitter enough at having two sons, but not one Kaddish. I hope, my dear son, that you will be able to fulfill my last wish.
For now I have no special news to write. I wish you and your wife and children good health several times over. I hope for a prompt reply.
Regards from your sisters, Itte Leah, Rifke and Tsirke.