Diary and Letter Excerpts

August 23, 1917
Camp Carthage, Ohio

...In the quiet sunny afternoon with the beauty of nature bringing the beauty of life home to me I thought of the utter barbarity of life when expressed in terms of war. I thought how nonsensical it was to go out in the field and without malice to kill one another. The utter foolishness of the whole situation struck me so forcible that I wondered for a moment how people could even go to war. I thought of the time when people will look back upon this age as one of unrestrained barbarity.

November 11, 1917
Camp Wetumka, Alabama

...I received a long letter from Jerry and wrote him a long frank letter telling him how I felt. I wrote him that I had lost all touch with old times, that I merely thought of today and would not think of tomorrow until the war was over. I am a different Marcus. More reserved, quieter, almost a dead person. The war has changed me. Sometimes I feel it has crushed me. What changes it has effected will appear when I have been in civil life for some time.

Jacob Rader Marcus Papers, Box 14 File 3

October 18, 1922
Berlin, Germany

Good days work. Covered ground in all branches. Except Talmud. That’s my bug bear. German began to come easier. I notice a distinct improvement in my German since I began in August. However, it is still very much less than what I want. Still very unsatisfactory. Coal and wood came today. Paid 3042 mark for four small kiste and two centrum of coal. Highway robbery, but I was glad to get it. Now I have 700 mark, as good as broke. Hope money comes soon. Took a walk at 12, saw signs in chalk: Nieder mit den Juden diesselben sind...Schuld an der Verelendung des Duetsches Volkes. They certainly hate the Jew. Where will it lead?

November 22, 1922
Berlin, Germany

...Letter from Dad. Pathetic thing. Brought tear to my eyes. Said I was the “crown of his white head”. It sure is Hell to be thousands of miles from your folks. My folks would be satisfied with so little from me and I am so ambitious with so little behind my ambition. I wrote Dad and Mother nice letter but elderly folks aren’t satisfied with letters. They want the child himself. I told them to come over some summer. They probably will. Mother also wrote in Yiddish but I couldn’t understand very much. Retired around 11.

Jacob Rader Marcus Papers, Box 14, File 4

LETTER (excerpt)
American Expeditionary Forces, France
September 9, 1918
From Marcus to his parents

Dear Folks,
...Well we had our service. I gave out the Aliyahs. I also had mafter in the Book of Samuel. You would have enjoyed yourself seeing me in my uniform, with my pistol and whole outfit with a talith on my shoulder kissing the Torah and davening like an orthodox boy. It’s a great life folks. A great life. God forgive me for going up to the Torah with a big pistol and 35 bullets on my waist. I only write this to let you know that I have not forgotten that I am still a Jew.

Jacob Rader Marcus Papers, Box 19 File 7