Otočac, November 8, 1943
To the Regional ZAVNOH
To the attention of Dr. Jambrišak
We, the undersigned representatives of Jewish evacuees of group VIII (working group), are addressing ZAVNOH as well as You, comrade doctor, with a plea to help us this time as well.
We would like to present our situation very briefly. There were 102 of us in total; in the meantime some of the people left, some have stayed here, so now there are around 90 persons total. Thirty-eight of those are men, the rest are women and children. Of those males, we have 10 children under the age of 10, 12 elderly men who are actually sick, so 16 men remain. The situation with women is similar. Of the 52 females, there are 7 girls and 15 elderly women and the sick.
As is well known, we spent almost a year in the camp, where, for the majority of us in this group who were not in very good financial standing, living conditions were very difficult, since the diet was very weak, and better food could be procured only with a lot of money. Even those of us who are healthy and able bodied are thus, unfortunately, quite weak, so we are not up to strenuous efforts.
Our bodily condition is mostly determined by our spiritual depression. We have been persecuted and assailed for two and a half years, and each one of us hid and escaped as best as he could. Our best people have been murdered and taken to German and ustaša camps. There is not a single one amongst us who is not mourning at least two of his loved ones, and there are many of us whose entire families have disappeared. We escaped and tried to save ourselves as best as we could. Many of us went to the forest, while others, like a drowning man clinging to a straw, fled for their lives to another zone. Not thinking or reflecting much, saving our bare lives, obsessed with just one thought, to survive through the end, to survive through our victory—we repeat, ours, since we have been convinced that the victory of Yugoslavia, Russia, and the Allies is our victory, that in that moment we will again be human, again be equal.
Since we have had the opportunity to get to know how considerate and understanding You are when it comes to us, we dare to appeal again to Your humanity, and so we beg You: do not send us [across] the cold and the snow[,] we have nowhere to go, do not make us take long, uncertain, and difficult journeys, we [will not be able to make] it, we are ashamed when we see how our comrades are fighting, but we dare tell it to You, because we know we will be met with understanding.
We beg you, save our children, the sick, and the old, this is our testament, we feel obliged to bring them to our homes alive.
We beg you and we appeal to You, allow us to spend the winter here, give us back the feeling that we are humans, we will be grateful until the end of our lives, and will strive, with the meager means at our disposal, to show our gratitude immediately, give us work, we will do whatever, wholeheartedly and happily, and we will be proud that we too, even a little bit, could contribute to the building of our homeland.
Death to Fascism—Freedom to the People! [the communist greeting]
In the name of the VIII group
Group leader Deputy
Adolf Renert [illegible]