On the afternoon of Sunday, the third of Tammuz, (July 3), after nineteen days of imprisonment in Spalerno, the Rebbe was called to the prison office and informed that permission had been granted him to return home, where he could remain for only approximately six hours. At eight in the evening he was to take the train for Kastroma on the Volga River, a remote city deep in the interior of Russia, where he would be exiled for a period of three years. The Rebbe was to arrive at the station before eight, for if he missed the train, he would have to spend the night in Spalerno.

In a letter dated Iyar 19, 5688 (May 9, 1928) the Rebbe relates:

Prior to my return home, the G.P.U. official warned me:

a) "You can only remain in your home six hours and by eight in the evening you must leave the city;

b) If you remain even slightly longer, you will be returned to prison;

c) At eight o'clock you must travel by train to your city of exile, Kastroma;

d) If for any reason you miss the train, you must return to the prison, and if you will not come, you will be brought there by force;

e) You must travel directly to Kastroma and not stop at any point along the way. You are scheduled to arrive there tomorrow evening (Monday, the 4th of Tammuz);

f) Tuesday morning you must appear before the head of the G.P.U. in the city of Kastroma. You will be in his custody for a period of three years, until June 15th, 1930;

g) You must sign this document stating that you are to appear on July 4th, 1927, before the G.P.U. of the city of Kastroma."

The Rebbe returned home at a time when his family feared they would never see him there again. He entered his office and delivered a short talk to his family expressing gratitude to G‑d for having saved his life. Chassidim who listened to the talk, which could be heard through the door, related how deeply moved they were, and that a heart of stone could melt at hearing these heartfelt words.

All the rooms of the Rebbe's apartment quickly became so filled with people that one could barely move. At seven o'clock, the Rebbe started preparing to leave.

The Rebbe took leave of his family within the hour.

Accompanying him on his travel to Kastroma were his future son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, his daughter, the Rebbetzin Chaya Moussia, and also Rabbi Althaus.

A great assemblage of people gathered at the station.

Many persons wanted to buy tickets so they could accompany the Rebbe for at least a short part of the journey, but the G.P.U. had forbidden the sale of tickets for the train. The Rebbe arrived at the station under heavy guard: three members of the CHEKA (Secret Police), Civil Police, soldiers and officers of the Civil Investigation Department.

From the step of the coach, the Rebbe turned to the large gathering and spoke these words:

We raise our lips in prayer to G‑d: "May G‑d be with us as He was with our ancestors, to neither forsake nor abandon us" (I Kings 8:57) — and He will in fact be with us. Though our merit is not comparable to that of our ancestors, who endured intense self-sacrifice for the sake of Torah and its mitzvot. In the words of one of my revered ancestors in response to a governmental decree regarding Jewish education and the Rabbinate:

We did not depart from the Land of Israel of our own free will, nor shall we return to the Land of Israel by virtue of our own capabilities. G‑d, our Father and King, has sent us into exile. He, may He be blessed, shall redeem us and gather in the dispersed from the four corners of the earth, and cause us to be led back firmly and proudly by Mashiach, our righteous Redeemer — may this occur speedily, in our times. This, however, all the nations of the world must know: Only our bodies were sent into exile and subjugated to alien rule; our souls were not given over into captivity and foreign rule.

We must proclaim openly and before all that any matter affecting the Jewish religion, Torah, and its mitzvot and customs is not subject to the coercion of others. No one can impose his belief upon us, nor coerce us to conduct ourselves contrary to our beliefs.

It is our solemn and sacred task to cry out and state with the ancient steadfastness of the Jewish people, with courage derived from thousands of years of self-sacrifice: "Touch not My anointed nor attempt to do evil to My prophets."

Thus spoke one utterly willing to endure self-sacrifice. And we lack the minimal measure of courage and to tell the entire world of the evil acts of a few hundred rampaging Jewish boys, conspiring against Jewry and the faith of our people.

It is well-known that the law of the land permits us to learn Torah and perform mitzvot, and it is only because of false informers and untrue accusations that we are imprisoned and sent to hard labor camps.

This is our plea to G‑d: "Forget us not nor abandon us." May G‑d give us the proper strength not to falter because of bodily suffering. On the contrary, let us accept this pain with joy. Every measure of anguish inflicted upon us for supporting a cheder for the learning of Torah, for performance of mitzvot should increase our fortitude in the work to strengthen Judaism.

We must remember that imprisonment and hard labor are only of this physical world and of brief duration, while Torah, mitzvot, and the Jewish people are eternal.

May all of you be well and strong, physically and spiritually. I pray and hope to G‑d that my temporary punishment will evoke within us the fortitude for the everlasting strengthening of Judaism. And there shall be fulfilled in us that "G‑d shall be with us as He was with our ancestors to neither forsake nor abandon us." And that "there shall be light for all Jewish people in their abodes."

The train moved. After traveling a short while, it stopped, then moved again, traveling non-stop for the next 24 hours until it arrived in Kastroma.

As soon as word of the Rebbe's imminent departure to Kastroma was known, the chassid Reb Michoel Dworkin had set out to Kastroma, arrived earlier than the Rebbe, gathered together children and established a cheder, and also repaired the local mikveh. A Lubavitcher chassid had prepared in advance a lodging for the Rebbe in the house of the city's shochet.

The train arrived late at night. On the following morning, Tuesday, the 5th day of Tammuz, the Rebbe came to the G.P.U. authorities of Kastroma.

The administrator of the local CHEKA was very sullen and antagonistic. After filling out the various questionnaires, the official declared: "You are an exile-prisoner. You are a criminal receiving punishment for your crimes against the Soviet government, and you are required to remain in this city. You may not leave the precincts of this city without special authorization. If you desire to change quarters, you must inform the G.P.U. beforehand. And you may be certain that the police will be informed of all your movements and of all that happens in your home. You are also required to make a weekly appearance before the appropriate G.P.U. official."

Kastroma was a large city with few Jews, barely one hundred, simple and unlearned. There was one synagogue, and the Rebbe went there to pray. During the time of his prayers, the synagogue filled with people — many of them Jews who had not crossed a synagogue threshold for many years. They, too, came to see and hear the Rebbe's heartfelt prayers. Kastroma, the remote city of exile, had suddenly acquired a Rebbe!