The inhabitants of the Nazi-occupied lands had to write and send letters under rigid rules. All letters and postcards were painstakingly censored; any word or sentence that dealt with anything other than family matters was blue-penciled. This constraint led spontaneously to the use of code words. In letters sent to Geneva and Constantinople, for example, one finds an intermingling of Hebrew words in Latin characters as camouflage for relatives’ names and family events. Examples are: “Comrade Pahadski [pahad=fear] is staying with us,” “Uncle Gerusz [deportation] visited us,” and “Aunt Nora [terrible] often moves in with us: it’s a real imposition….” In letters reporting on the fate of friends who had been deported to the camps, correspondents cite the name of a common friend or relative who had been sent to a camp that was known. Thus, one correspondent wrote, “Adele went to the place where Nahum is staying,” it being known that Nahum had been sent to Auschwitz.
Here is a partial list of code words: nissim (miracles), Haim (life), bnei aheinu (our nephews), pahad (fear), Pahadski (a “last name” derived from pahad), Amalek (the biblical arch-enemy of the Jews), Sziltonik (a “last name” derived from shilonot, the authorities), Uncle Gerusz (from gerush, deportation), Geruszynski (a “last name” derived from gerush), geula (redemption/salvation), tikva (hope), mahala (illness), hatuna (wedding), halvaya (funeral), beit holim (hospital), dira (dwelling), bayit (house), dira hadasha (new dwelling), Aunt Aliya (‘aliya = emigration to Palestine), Aunt Geula (redemption/salvation), Aunt Gijus (gi’us = military induction), Uncle Dror (dror = freedom).