May 2, 1943: “I will be fine working in this new job until the liberation.”
To: Madame Pierre Hericher, Paris, 20e, de Ménilmontant 110
From: Monsieur Pierre Hericher, Prisoner No. 21.523, Stalag 19
At camp. May 2, 1943
My little wolf1,
I got out of the infirmary this week. My fingers still need to be massaged to get back their movement. I get them massaged every evening after work because I am now living in the camp. I work in a military store with paper supplies, light work that suits my hand that was handicapped2 by these two accidents, the one of last June and this one. I think that I will be fine working in this new job until the liberation. I was thinking a bit that I might be discharged but I’m probably not injured badly enough. No problem, I’ll just wait.
I received your cards and letters of March 17, 21, and 25 and April 5 and 13. Last Sunday I sent your parents a card with a photo to thank them for their excellent package, received on Thursday the 22nd. On Saturday the 24th I also got your package of the 31st with the pink label containing brioche rolls3 Everything was in excellent condition.
Poor Daniel must have suffered. I know what that is, myself. Have him get massages and physical therapy to make his finger move again. Sending hugs to help him get better. I should get another package tomorrow but I don’t know yet where it came from. The day before yesterday I received a card from Mom, dated April 4. Thank you very much for the photo of Robert and his family. That happy and lucky guy!
Love and kisses, your Pierrot
Notes from the translator, Janet:
1. A personal term of endearment for this couple! It rhymes with a familiar term of endearment, mon petit chou (literally ‘my little cabbage’).
2. Ma main andiquapée [handicapée]. Pierrot didn’t know how to spell the English-origin word correctly, but wrote it phonetically. It works!
3. A sweet, rich bread with a distinctive ‘topknot’ of dough. She sent him French bread!
4. The unique feature of this letter is the dried sprig of Lily of the Valley. Pierrot sent the flower because May 1 is a French holiday, La fête du muguet (the holiday of the Lily of the Valley), a flower that symbolizes love and friendship. In Paris there is a huge military parade on the Champs-Elysees for La fete du travail. I saw Charles de Gaulle there in 1965. It is also the day when people set up little tables along the street to sell sprigs of Lily of the Valley, as a symbol of friendship and love. I learned later that it’s the only day when you don’t need a permit to sell something on the street.