This page will not display properly in your browser. Internet Explorer officially went out of support in June 2022. If you're using a screen reader such as JAWS, please feel free to continue. Otherwise, please consider using another browser.
View all events 1942–1945

October 19, 1943

Letter from Elkhanan Elkes

First page of the ethical will of Elkhanan Elkes, the chairman of the Kovno ghetto Jewish council. Elkes wrote the letter between October 19 and November 11, 1943, and had it smuggled out of the ghetto to his two grown children, who were living in England at the time.

Elkes writes: I am writing to you my beloved the Valley of Tears, the Kovno Viljampole Ghetto...I am writing this in an hour when many shattered souls, widows, and orphans, threadbare and hungry, are camping on our doorstep imploring us for help. My strength is ebbing. There is a desert inside me. My soul is scorched. I am naked and empty, and there are no words in my mouth...The Germans killed, slaughtered, and murdered us in complete equanimity. I saw them; I was standing in their presence as they were sending many thousands of men and women and children and infants to be butchered...I embrace and kiss you and say to you that I am your loving father to my very last breath. Elkhanan.

Thank you for supporting our work

We would like to thank Crown Family Philanthropies and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of all donors.