This is a post from guest blogger, Maj. Peter Lerner, who currently serves as the IDF (Zahal) spokesman for the Central Command.

Lublin – Jerusalem in Poland

We actually stated off the day with a visit in the old cemetery of Lublin. Here we heard stories of famous Rabbis and scholars that developed the way Jews studied the Holy Scriptures. It was at this place a fellow team mate, a young intelligence officer with striking read hair said “I have something I would like to read to you all”. We all moved closer to hear what she had to say. From her pocket she produced a folded piece of paper. She opened it slowly and began to read, here is the translation:

Lublin 20.12.1940

Dear Shmulik,

On the 23rd of December it is your birthday, I am sorry I can’t be there with you to personally bless you with birthday wished that come from the heart. I wish you health and success, that all your dreams come true and that we can all be happy together.

My loves, how are you doing? Why do you write so little? Its been almost two weeks since the first letter and we haven’t heard from you.

Menolak’s letter made me very upset. Is he healthy? Shmulik as the older brother you should look after him.

Strong kisses and regards from all of us,



Lublin 30.12.1940

Loving children,

Your last letter we received on the 10th of December to which we replied immediately. We are still under a heavy impression from your first letter we were frightened and unprepared for it. Why do you write so little about yourselves? Write all the details exactly. How many days per week you work? How many hours per day? What do you do in the evenings? Do you have books to read? How much are you earning? How is the food? And what are you working as? These really interest us to know. What is the weather like? And are you cold?

Also please write if there are any other people with you from Lublin like Holzberg or Mandelbaum and others? Menolak s hand writing seemed very wrong to me. It looks like he is not well, is he really sick or very tired? Write the truth, how is he feeling and does he have the strength to even work.

Here everything is alright we’re earning, we rented out two rooms and we are making 165 Zlotys per month. What do we need so many rooms if you are not here with us? If we can we will send you a package, write what you need except food.

Be healthy, write a lot

Strong kisses

Your Father

The redheaded officers grandfather at the beginning of the war escaped from the German troops with his younger brother to the Soviet Union. They had an ongoing correspondence with letters going both ways across the border to and from their parents. One day the letters from the parents just stopped “we think they perished in Majdanek or Balzec, but we don’t know for sure” she later told our team. I realized that there are lots of different levels of knowing what happened to your family. I am left with a great big void of no knowledge, no names, no places and no dates. I wish I had a letter.

Little Boy with a Trumpet

Finally, yesterday I wrote about the soldier playing the trumpet as we marched in to the forest of Lopuchowo. Today I congratulated him on such an amazing performance. The sound of his trumpet made the silence of the forest so enchanted that I had to give this corporal a pat on the shoulder. He turned around and said to me that for him it is the first mission he has come to Poland and that a year ago his grandfather who was a Holocaust survivor had passed away.

It seems that we are all connected to this tragedy.

Krakow – Peter April 5, 2011