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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

German Translation needed

Bob H

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Bob, The letter is written in a very old fashioned, but for the time, normal respectful way, to a person of higher social standing. Stabsarzt is a surgeon or doctor in the army medical services with

the rank of Captain, I have translated this just as Captain.

Highly esteemed Captain!

The undersigned are contacting you in this way to express the heartfelt gratitude of the Jewish population.

Because of your initiative and your considerate deed that managed to overcome all difficulties, our community is indebted to you for the provision of our community canteen. Innumerable people owe their life and and well being to this.

You have made it possible that every day a thousand poor and helpless inhabitants of Oschmiana, and the refugees from the whole area from Smorgon to Krewo could be given a substantial meal, often free of charge, and that everyone had their daily ration of bread.

The unspeakable suffering of our poor Jewish population and displaced persons, who did not know in the morning how to survive the day, which now hold hope because the community canteen gives them, their women and children in a noble minded way what they need to survive.

It is not only the food that you take care of, but the poor are also given the necessary clothing and some money, and for their intellectual needs a school has been established.

Your work, esteemed Captain, must fill you with much pride and satisfaction when you see how many of the population crowd around the canteen, which you set up with help from the German organisation " Relief work for German Jews".

We thank the almighty that he has let us find a person that despite his demanding office, untiringly works for the hungry and through this also heals the scars of war.

Much remains to be done, and many are still to be helped; with people like you, esteemed Captain, who has a kind hearted understanding of your high position, and who provides an arm to lean on, then we can have hope that the lot of our poorest will be soothed and help them to overcome these difficult times.

Please allow us to assure you that your work in this area will never be forgotten.


Chief Rabi

Leader of the Jewish Community Canteen

Leaders of the Jewish Community

Regards Charlie

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A bit of background. I am not an authority on the fighting in the east, but have studied parts of it, but in addition I have my grand-father's letters. He was a German staff officer on the Eastern Front for about a year, after which he was so weakened by malaria that he contracted there that he could not serve at the front, but did staff work closer to home.

Generally the Russian Army drove the population east with them as they retreated, and the population that remained seemed to be largely Jewish, and generally in miserable condition, according to my grand-father. I have read how Cossacks were detailed to drive the population (largely Polish and Polish Jews) east and often to destroy the houses, etc., and that sometimes the Jewish population was able to bribe the Cossacks to let them be and perhaps not burn their houses. I have read how the Germans found the Jewish population useful, and as Yiddish is a dialect of German (with a lot of other stuff in it) the Germans and Jews could communicate. For a number of years many people from these areas had been moving, if they could, to German or Austrian-administered areas in the east to escape the enlightened Russian rule, and I would think that many of the Jews expected that life might not be that bad on that side of the fighting line.

My g-f's letters forcefully expressed the miserable state of the population that remained behind, and the generally miserable conditions.

Quite an interesting document. I imagine that it was drawn up by a professional scribe within the Jewish community, who probably knew a number of languages. Do you have the original?

Bob Lembke

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Charlie & Bob, thank you for your help.

I know very little about the Eastern Front and found your explanation very enlightening.

Stabsarzt Ludwig F Meyer was the recipient of the letter. He was the Great Grandfather of a college of mine.

The letter was printed in a German book about famous German Jews, along with this photo of him.




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