Letter To My Son
(Ilse Weber – 1903-1944).
My dear boy, three years ago today
You were sent into the world alone.
I still see you, at the station in Prague,
how you cry from the compartment, and hesitate.
You lean your brown head against me
and how you beg; let me stay with you!
That we let you go, seemed hard for you —
You were just eight, and small and delicate.
And as we left for home without you,
I felt, my heart would explode
and nevertheless I am happy that you’re not here.
The stranger who is taking you in
will surely go to Heaven.
I bless her with every breath I take —
Your love for her will not be enough.
It has become so murky around us here,
Everything has been taken away from us.
House, home, not even a corner of it left,
Not a piece of what we loved and prized.
Even the toy train which belonged to you
And your brother’s little rocking horse…
They did not even let us keep our names:
We walk through the streets marked like cattle:
With numbers around our necks. That would not be so bad,
If I were with your father in the same house!
Not even the little one may stay with me…
I was never so alone in my life.
You are still small, and you hardly can understand…
So many are pressed together in one room.
Body against body, you carry the suffering of the other,
And feel the full pain of your own loneliness.
My boy, are you healthy and learning your studies?
No one sings you to sleep now.
Sometimes in the night it seems
That I feel you next to me.
Just think, when we see each other again
We will not understand each other.
You’ve long ago forgotten your German in Sweden,
and I, I can’t speak Swedish at all.
Won’t that be strange? If only it already were,
then I’d suddenly have a grown son…
Do you still play with tin soldiers?
I am living in a real Barrack,
With dark walls and dreary rooms
There’s no sun, nor leaves and trees.
I’m a nurse here for the children
And it’s nice, to help and comfort them.
Sometimes I stay awake with them at night,
the little lamp doesn’t give much light,
I sit and guard their rest,
And to me every child is a little piece of “you”.
My thoughts then fly to you
and nevertheless, I am happy that you are not here.
And I would gladly suffer a thousand torments,
If I could pay for your childhood happiness that way…
It is late now and I want to sleep.
If I could only see you for a moment!
But I can do nothing except write letters,
Full of longing, never to be sent.
(Ilse Weber – 1903-1944)
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