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October 12, 1944

Letters from Theodore Katz

sketch of two mens faces both with military caps

Ted's sketch of several men in his unit

Oct 12, 1944

Dear Helen,

Today – I am told – is Columbus Day. As I remember, on this day schools, banks, etc. always closed. Now I say, so what? – except perhaps that through his noble efforts I have some place to come home to, and I might add soon I hope.

Everyone is being liberated but the Army. As we travel through town after town, country after country amidst the plaudits of the inhabitants thanking us for their liberation, we leave happiness & joy behind us, and ahead – that’s right! – more towns, etc.

It’s strange, but in order to defeat Nazism and Fascism, we in the army are forced to endure an existence much like life in a dictatorship – only even more stringent under the guise of military discipline. One takes orders from mental inferiors with superior rank – power drunk individuals who cover an ill-concealed inferiority complex with a loud voice or unnecessary orders, blandishments, humiliations, restrictions, or those “superiors” who hang on to their rank at the expense of those beneath. When they are in error, it is we who pay through the nasal passages.

The Mail has just arrived – ah, the blessed mail – and I have just read two wonderful letters from you (Oct 4, 5) and I suppose you can already distinguish a different tone to this letter. One of the letters contained the character sketches and “headlines” – the other contained my mother’s letter to you.

Your extracurricular studies at the American U. seem interesting and your description of the class, etc. was masterful – altogether a long, warm, beautiful letter that seemed to melt the long distance between us. In regard to your query on the “type” of letter I look forward to from you, I can safely say that the one before me now fulfills all requirements. The “stuff” in question between you and Edith can be left for others. A constant repetition of trite, worn phrases has always seemed to smack of insincerity to me – like a person who smiles to much to really mean it. Your letters are all I could ask for – the recipe contains just the right amount of sentiment, humor, experiences, etc. – and Helen, it goes without saying that I know full well your feelings toward me – and you know of mine – and the reminders you send are set forth in a manner much to my liking.

God, this place is a bedlam – there seem to be forty men gabbing at once – and I’m constantly interrupted with non-sensical questions. If only I could find a quiet place, alone, I’m sure I could write a decent letter for a change. Though you assure me of my literary ability, it is seldom that I am satisfied with the efforts I try to compose. What I need is a solitary hour to write without distractions so that an even, cohesive flow of words will convey my thoughts to you – as though I were actually talking to you. Under tonight’s conditions I can see that the time has not yet come.

To keep the boys occupied I’ve set them to work opening a package from home which also arrived tonight, but even that fails to stop the interruptions – as someone, Sam I think it is, passes me a tuna fish sandwich.

I’m sure your packages will arrive soon and I’ll be able to tell you how good everything tastes. Also, I must thank you for sending my mother’s letter. I’m happy to see that you’ve both become such regular correspondents, and per request, I’m sending to [sic] back to you for filing.

Now I’ll turn in – perchance to dream. Regards from Jack and Sam – also Dave who just came by to tell me of the “peachy” letter he just received from Harriet.

Remember me to your folks, roommates, and Edith.

All my love,

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