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1019302

War-Dated Prisoner Letter from the Dachau Concentration Camp

If I go to sleep at night, I always take your dear letter and then I fall asleep peacefully. . . .

Now, dear Magda, we would like to hope that I can soon be with you all, my beloveds.

My longing for you all is indescribable.”

Autograph Letter Signed, Siegfried, four pages, 5¾” x 8¼”, with intergral leaf, on inmate stationery of the Dachau Concentration Camp, Dachau, Germany, July 31, 1938.  In German, with translation.

Dachau, the first and longest running Nazi concentration camp in Germany, opened in March 1933 as a prison work camp.  Above its gate, in wrought iron, were the chilling words arbeit macht frei, meaning “Work Makes Free.”  Dachau housed more than 200,000 inmates, some 2/3 of them religious and political opponents of the Third Reich and 1/3 Jews, from more than 30 countries.  The camp had its gas showers for extermination, but most of the prisoners who were cremated in its ovens died of disease, malnutrition, and suicide.  Dachau was also the site of various cruel medical experiments that left their human victims dead, disfigured, or permanently disabledLarge numbers of weaker prisoners died from a typhus epidemic that spread throughout the camp in early 1945.

This letter dates from 1938, some 13 months before Germanys attack on neighboring Poland started World War II.  Siegfried Mundstein, most likely a Jewish inmate, writes to his wife.  In full:  “Dearest Magda!  I received your dear letter of July 24 and it brought me great joy.  I got special joy from the note from dear Papa.  If I go to sleep at night, I always take your dear letter and then I fall asleep peacefully.  I thank God, dear Magda, that I am healthy and hope that you all are the same.  The weather here is very nice, and every day it is very warm.  I am glad, dear Magda, that everything is okay at work, and dear Papa has led me to believe the same thing. I am also glad that Sekina is well behaved, and I send him best greetings.  If you learn something again about Alexander’s sickness, please let me know.  Your news that things are well with Uncle Karl and that he looks good has definitely calmed Aunt Malereine.  What are the dear Mama and my beloved mother doing? Tell them that I have never felt so healthy as now and that my body is hard like steel from the sun.  Now, dear Magda, we would like to hope that I can soon be with you all, my beloveds.  My longing for you all is indescribable.  Greet all of my acquaintances for me.  /  Many kisses to the dear parents as well as the dear mother, and a thousand kisses to you from your Siegfried.  /  Many greetings to Ernst and Georg.”

This letter bears Nazi censor markings on the first page.  The markings do not affect the text.  The letter has a normal horizontal mailing fold, a light vertical fold, and light soiling and a pinhole where the horizontal and integral leaf folds cross.  It is in fine condition overall.

Unframed.

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