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Tel Hai
Sources & Philosophy
A Letter From Captivity
A Reflection - Devorah Drechler
Aharon Sher - His and about Him
Courage and Heroism in Tel- Hai
Did He or Didn't He Say, "It's good to Die for our Land"?
Hero or Pacifist – From a Letter to Echad Ha'am
Holiday Overview
Is all this Worthwhile?
Letter to Tzvi Shatz
Tel Hai Defenders in their Life and in their Death
Tel Hai as a Symbol of Heroism
Two Types of Heroes

Joseph Trumpeldor

A Letter From Captivity

January 20th (February 2nd) 1905, Kamdra.

Dear father!

Although the Japanese translators are very busy and ask that we write short letters, I am positive that they will deal with me beyond the letter of the law and will not invalidate my letter because of its length.

If you recall, in one of your letters to me you wrote that you trust me, that also on the battlefield I would not shame your name nor the name of my Jewish people, nor the name of the Russian army, as I have not embarrassed any of these at times of peace. Among the other things, you had written me then, you mentioned that you would be very glad, if I would receive a military medal of excellence and I would be promoted to the rank of deputy officer. And although receipt of a military medal is not only ordinarily dependent on actual idealism, but also on more than a bit of contemptuous persuasion geared towards this purpose and I, by nature, guard my honor, I hadn't degraded myself even once, even with a slight mention or hint, and yet I am now a deputy officer, who was granted a fourth grade military medal of excellence and I am nominee for getting medals from third and fourth degree as well. I proudly allow myself to say, that I have earned these rightfully and justly by my deeds in the battlefield alone.

I have fulfilled my duty and my heart is pure. I now have a single desire, and that is that all of you, especially mother and you, refrain from grieving over the loss of my left hand. On August 20th, 1904, on the last of the three days of war across the Oglobaya Mountain (fortress) I was hit by shrapnel from a cannonball that crushed my palm, elbow, and what was in between those two. A few hours later, the bottom of my hand was amputated from the top of my elbow, and after a hundred days I was released from the hospital, feeling well and competent enough to continue to participate in the battlefield.


I had submitted a request that I be given a sword and gun. From what I am relating to you here, you may realize that this deed, a mere act of friendship, induced the commander of the twenty-seventh battalion to Eastern Siberia, Major General Petrosha, to write exaggerated words of praise about me. I was raised to a rank of deputy officer, I was given a troop to lead and I hope to maintain this title, with my good young men to the very end and protect the earth that is satiated with so much of our blood. But in a short month, albeit a difficult one, the fortress was transmitted to the enemy and we have had to lay down our weapons.


Once more, I ask you not to be sorrowful about my hand; Firstly, even if you are sad about it, this would be of no avail, and on the other hand, I hope that also my right hand, with which I am writing this letter, will assist me in life, in a way that also those with both hands would envy me.


The Japanese are treating us well. The weather here is just as it is by us in the month of April. Everything is cheap here. Though it is quite boring here, good days are ahead of us. Warm kisses to you, mother, to Freida (who has probably grown already and has become a Zionist), to Luba, to Dora and to the rest of our family.


Best regards to our acquaintances. I hope you reply to me soon and at length.


I love you,

Your son Osiya.


My address: Japan, Osaka Fu Kamdra.

Division of War Captives.

Joseph Trumpeldor, 14276.

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