AGATHA

AGATHA

Ela, my dearest daughter.
I will no longer be in this world when you read this letter. I don't even know if you'll read it at all because I don't know if I'll leave it to the notary guy.
Dearest Ela. You have always been our support and our pride. Just like your elder son, Tot. When he got a professorship at the university, you wondered why Mother and I were giggling. It was funny that it was that university. But we decided that the professor could not be longer called Tot, only by his name.
You have probably been surprised that when Grandfather and Grandmother died, this house was inherited not by the Mother or me but by you.
I know you have always had clashes with the Mother, but it was she who told Grandpa that it would be all right only in this way.
Now, this property is completely yours. As it always was. Even more, than you can imagine.
Grandfather got it from the Gaul family when they got an order to move into the ghetto. With all notary papers.
Grandfather and Grandmother forbade us, and the Mother used to say not to wake the wolf. Because what happened cannot be undone.
When the Gaul relative came here a few years ago, we gave him only the mezuzah, which was once placed on the Gaul's door. But we didn't say anything else.
I even went once to Father Musial, who baptized you, to confess.
But he said that it is a matter between me and God.
But when Mother died I made a decision.
You always knew that your mother was my sister Agatha, who was shot by mistake during the occupation. This we have never hidden from you. We have raised you, and you have always been our beloved daughter.
Even if the Mother was hard for you, it was only because of the grief.
I would like to tell you about Agatha, your mother.
She was always a little weird. She had only one friend at school. The Gaul's daughter, Gena. They were such close friends that either Gena slept at our place or Agatha spent all the time with Gena at the Gaul's home. We were even a little mad at her because she began to speak Jewish to us.
The Gauls were not that religious. They kept their holidays and the Sabbath, but without any exaggeration. They treated Agatha like she was their second daughter. All neighbors were puzzled by the situation and said that Agatha is probably some changeling.
The girls finished school and Gena just married when the Germans came.
When the Gaul family moved into the ghetto, it wasn't so severe at first, and Agatha often visited Gena there. At first, Gena had also visited us, but it has stopped when she got pregnant. Then it got worse because they have even stopped issuing the passes from the ghetto. Gena was sent to some work just after she gave birth to the baby. She was still weak after that and the Gestapo man beat her unconscious because of that. She was brought almost dead home, and the baby was unattended because the Germans had already taken the old Gaul's away. When Agatha slipped into the ghetto, she took the child to our place.
We had this baby for almost six months when it happened. Gena didn't get better, and she asked Agatha to see her child the last time. Agatha, that stupid girl, agreed. She went into the ghetto with Gena's child. And when Agatha was passing the hole in the wall on her way from the ghetto, the patrol spotted her. I got it to know, because Gena's husband, who followed her out, had somehow sent us a letter from the ghetto. The policemen thought that it was a Jewish woman, who wanted to escape from the ghetto, and they just shot her.
Poor girl did not die right away. When one of the policemen approached her, she told him that if he had God in his heart, he had to deliver her child to us.
And he came with this child and left immediately.
This child was you. That's why we could never tell you who your father was.
After this letter, we have not heard anything from him or Gena.
And the ghetto was emptied for people. They probably took them to Treblinka concentration camp. Only some corpses remained there.
Ela, my love. This is how I settled my account with God.
May God protect you.
Your loving father. John.

Alex Wieseltier
April 2020