censor's seal


Letters from the front written in classical Hebrew and Juhuri (Judeo Tat), the traditional language of Mountain Jews. 1941-42.

During World War II, Soviet soldiers sent home triangular letters because of the postcard and envelope shortage—the folded format was necessary since mail needed to be reviewed by censors and couldn’t be sealed. Most of the letters above were written by Yakov Lazirovich Ashurov, a 17 year old volunteer for the front from Baku, Azerbaijan, later killed in the battle of Stalingrad. The Hebrew letters were written by Iosif Haimishievich Abramov from Quba, Azerbaijan. One letter informs his family that the war will soon be over, that they needn’t worry about him and should continue pushing his younger brothers and sisters to study well. The second letter in Hebrew is the Shema prayer (image on the left, lower background). In September 1941, Iosif’s family received news that he was missing. His mother kept this notice and his letters, the last of which came from Latvia, for decades after the war.