A Letter Written Moments Before Her Auschwitz Death

The Fellowship  |  April 1, 2019

The front gate of Auschwitz

Knowing she was about to be killed in the gas chambers by the Nazis, Vilma Grunwald passed a letter to a guard to give to her husband and family who were also in Auschwitz.

Today, the letter is on display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington – and her son Frank, who survived, writes about how visitors will now know “how positive and how calm she was.” That there were people in the camps like Vilma who didn’t die with anger or hatred, but only love for their families.

But I also amazed about how positive and how calm she was in the letter.

My mother’s brave words lacked any anger or hatred towards the Nazis and instead was just so positive.

She was more interested in my father’s life and in my life than in her own terrifying situation.

The letter, dated 11 July, 1944, read: “You, my only one, dearest, in isolation we are waiting for darkness.

“We considered the possibility of hiding but decided not to do it since we felt it would be hopeless.

“The famous trucks are already here and we are waiting for it to begin. I am completely calm.

“You – my only and dearest one, do not blame yourself for what happened, it was our destiny.

“We did what we could.

“Stay healthy and remember my words that time will heal – if not completely then at least partially.

“Take care of the little golden boy and don’t spoil him too much with your love.

“Both of you – stay healthy, my dear ones. I will be thinking of you and Misa. Have a fabulous life, we must board the trucks.

“Into eternity, Vilma.”

I kept the letter in a cupboard in my home here in Indianapolis for many years, not showing it to anyone.

Every few months I would take it and re-read it.

Then one day, my wife, Barbara, saw it so I translated it for her from my mother’s native Czechoslovakian.

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