Lenny and Diana Miller were married just one year before America entered World War II. They vowed to write to one another daily after Lenny enlisted in 1943. As he made his way through basic training in Mississippi, to the beaches of Normandy, and eventually to the Battle of the Bulge, Diana struggled financially, giving up her job as a machinist to become a mother. Their correspondence, scrupulously edited by their daughter, Elizabeth Fox, was recently published by SUNY Press under the title We Are Going to Be Lucky.

A staged reading of excerpts from the book will be presented by the American Jewish Historical Society on Thursday, Oct. 18, at New York’s Center for Jewish History. Diana’s letters will be read by actress Sophie von Haselberg; Lenny’s by David Basche. For more information, click here.

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October 12, 1944
Darling,
On guard duty 5 hours each night, so tired. However, food is swell: we have our good K-rations, plus the garden’s fruit & vegetables. Tomatoes, onions, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, peas.

Meanwhile the cannon thunders & the earth trembles, shells scream & crash, small arms rattle, planes groan & hum; the world reels from the tremendous wrestling of the giants.

Very happy to have got some mail out to you this A.M. & hope it reaches you soon. Kiss our Betty Lou and tell her all goes well.
Lenny

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November 2, 1944
Dearest,
I realize my darling, that you can hardly advise on the care of a baby under the present circumstances but I know that you want to know about my problems and also it helps me just to write to you. In any case I am much calmer now than I was when I wrote the first letters about her. You see I was very scared when I brought her home – I thought she would break any minute and that I must do everything just perfectly or something serious would happen. Well, by now, I’m much more accustomed to handling her. I know that she won’t break or fall apart even if I make a mistake.
Diana

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November 16, 1944
Dear Diana,
You made me smile when you wrote on learning I’m in Germany, “take care of yourself.” So far, praise the Lord, the ammunition has passed me – I don’t worry about it. Some of the most cautious guys have got it, & some of the most indifferent are still here. No, dear, no point in worrying – in fact I’m looking for a place to store up K ration tops – there’s a rumor that with one million box tops or facsimile and 10 cents in stamps you can get a furlough home. Be well, beloved. If all is well with you, all is well.
Lenny

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November 23, 1944
Dearest Lenny,
Happy anniversary, darling – Perhaps in the not too distant future we will be celebrating together again.

I don’t think I wrote you that I bought a book on child care about a week ago. I wanted it ever since Betty Lou was born but it costs $4.00. It is called “Child Care & Development” by Gesell & Ilg. They are two psychologists who have an experiential clinic in Yale. It discusses how to handle almost every problem that arises and it deals with children up to the age of five years.
Diana

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November 27, 1944
Dearest,
Much war again today, no sleep last night –but we are driving the Nazis back town by town. Had a little business with a prisoner who’s from Alsace Lorraine, and claimed to be French but spoke far better German, & betrayed his quisling soul by letting himself get tripped up linguistically. I alternated between French & German, & caught him tangled up in the French repeatedly.
Lenny

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December 22, 1944
Dearest,
Yesterday I did not write you a letter. In fact, yesterday I burned 3 of your letters, together with a batch of other personal papers of interest and value: it hurt but the circumstances did not admit hesitation or doubt. All in all, it was one of the most serious days some of us have come through.

After it is over, I find the telling will be more exciting than the experiencing. One can be cool & deliberate in the midst of all kinds of things going on – thanks to the training one has. Our Lt. said last night I might get some sort of medal out of yesterday’s business, possibly even the Silver Star. Those things have to be approved by all kinds of folks, so there’s no saying if it will come or not. The best reward was to have one’s own feeling of satisfaction from the company commander and the operations officer when we got back.

The letters I had to burn were the pleasant ones about Betty’s play yard. Also, my personal memos, which would have served to write up my record of experiences in Holland & Germany.

1944 Merry Christmas from the 120th Infantry somewhere in Germany

Lenny

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December 24, 1944
Dear Lenny,
A funny thing happening this evening, I think it will make you smile. It hasn’t happened to me in ages. The conductor on the Brighton Beach train tried to pick me up and wanted me to go out with him, but I didn’t give him a chance to. The train was quite empty because it was only 7 P.M. and he came and sat down near me and started a conversation. He told me this was his final trip for the evening and was leading up to my plans for the evening when I let him know very quickly that I have a husband in Germany and a daughter at home.
Diana

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Dec 25, Belgium
Dearest,
We will never forget this Christmas. In the bright sunny afternoon yesterday, we talked about preparing a little festivity for the evening, but in one short evil moment all was changed – only a minute, then came the new job (so many strange new jobs since we came here) of going out on errands of mercy, for the saving of lives. And when the serene white moon came out shining on the white frosted piney hilltops, and all should have been suited for Christmas Eve, we stood & watched the city of Malmedy suffer, as too many cities have suffered in wars past and present, an awesome thing to see. There were lots of newly made refugees, and I as interpreter, got called on many times, but that was welcome.

Dearly beloved, it is good you & Betty are safe at home – only now I begin to realize the horrors the Nazis brought the world.
Lenny

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January 6, 1945
Dear Lenny,
Our Betty Lou is 5 months old today. Here’s a birthday kiss from her and one from her mamma too. We had a fine birthday today – mail from you.

Darling, in the 12/29 air mail, you speak of an experience which may win you the Silver Star. Congratulations, darling – even if you do not actually get the decoration, your two gals are mighty proud of you. I’m sorry you cannot write me about it but I understand. I’m sorry you had to destroy some of my letters – were you able to keep the pictures you have? I’m most sorry that you had to destroy the notes with your experiences – when you are permitted to, will you see what you can do from memory?
Diana

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January 15, 1945
Dearest,
I had two V-mails from you today from 12/28 and 1/2/45. Yes, luck does favor us at present, beloved.
Diana

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January 22, 1945
Dearest,
No letters because 1/20 & 1/21 was a lot of war. 1/21 I was wounded in action, honorably, but seriously. I want this to get to you before the telegram. It took a 105 mm. gun on a German self-propelled tank at 10 yards to get your husband. It was because I obeyed orders against my better judgment that my luck ran out.

They are taking good care of me in the hospital. I have compound fracture of leg & ankle, a hole in my left biceps arm & over my right ear & a scratch on my right jaw. They told me that, although I haven’t yet got over the shock (so it’s a little hard to hear). I’ve my left leg in a cast. In the group of 6, one was killed outright & 4 are missing. I will surely recover although it is a question of time. Guess I won’t see Betty soon, tho. All my love to my girls – Writing on my back so don’t worry about the handwriting.
Lenny
P.S. Break the news gently to my folks.





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