My darlings at home!
After a night in which, as always, I slept very well, I awoke early this morning to a noise. A Frenchman who is employed here in the hospital pranced by my bed with a bucket of water. He had gotten water apparently so that he could clean outside. It was 6:30 am and I couldn’t sleep anymore, so I went out of the hall to see what he was doing with the water.
It was still night, but one could see that dreary shreds of clouds hung over the great cosmopolitan city and promised a dismal Sunday. After a little while I went back to bed and stayed there for an hour thinking of you. My thoughts from this morning are now dripping like rain onto this letter. I remember reading an essay a little while ago on the topic: “Happy Childhood - Happy Nation.” I’d like to combine that thought with the impression I had from the weather this morning. This morning it seemed to me that the day would bring only fog and rain, or in other words, this first impression made me feel doleful all day. That is how it is when a person’s childhood is also so dull and foggy. It impacts his whole life. In these days of youth, in which a child gradually begins to comprehend the concepts of good and evil, and in which he begins to consider all aspects of life, of city and village, of work and play, and of poverty and wealth, he forms to some extent the “iron ration” of his overall perceptions. That which the children experience and see now are the starting points for their entire lives, for their spirits and minds. Their entire dispositions later in life begin there and return there again and again. How can it be possible, then, for a child to have a good impression of his father when he has no affectionate or loving experiences with him? A child will not have an emotional connection with a father of whom the mother does not lovingly speak. The anger that some parents constantly display in front of their children will also leave a bad impression on them. How completely different is it then when the children see happy and cheerful things, when they can feel the love between their parents among them and experience this familial love themselves? They will have those associations with them their whole lives, and those lives will be full of sunshine, warmed and formed by those past experiences. Not only that, but if no particularly unfortunate moments are to be had, then that impression too will be passed on to the next generation. Out of a happy youth arises a happy nation. That nation is then responsible for ensuring that these conditions for a happy youth are maintained.
My love, we ourselves have lived by these principles and I know that you, my treasure, will give the children the care they need physically and spiritually in my absence. These words should make you realize, and should be a comfort to you, that if I did not have this accursed stomach affliction I would be in the position to fulfill my duties here with precision.
I can share with you that the care we receive here in the hospital is virtually first-rate. Every morning at 6:30 am the lights are turned on. The forty patients in the hall have the opportunity to shower until 8:30 am. At 8 am I receive my stomach medicine in an orderly fashion. 8:30 is breakfast. White bread with butter and good marmelade and coffee. 10:30 is second breakfast and a cup of hot chocolate. 12:30 is lunch, which might be mashed potatoes, cauliflower, or yellow carrots and vegetables. That comes with a piece of tasty fish with sauce, and includes a dessert of pudding. At 3:00 a glass of milk with cookies and in the evenings at 5:30, supper with eggs, sandwiches on white bread, and coffee, tea, milk, or porridge. Then at 8 it’s followed by another cup of coffee or milk and some bread. I usually have stomachaches in the afternoon between 2:30 and 4:30, but other than that never.
My appetite is back and I will gain weight soon.
Now I must close this letter, I’ve had another conversation with you and my best greetings should be received by you all. How are you doing, my love? Should we dare to hope?
Be brave and strong, I am with you and with everyone at home.
Your faithful Josef