Sent from the Russian Front to his family in 1944

Dear Henrietta,

Today is New Year's Eve and since early morning we've been hearing the alarms. It is likely that the Russians with attack once again. But we had peace and no fighting on Christmas. It shows on all of our faces and in our bodies that this is the beginning of the 6th year of war. We see the destruction all around us, and it gives us an idea of what must be going on back home. We soldiers don't want anything for Christmas, only to hear that you are all still alive.

Here in the bunker on Christmas Eve there were 6 men inside and one on guard. We made a small tree of gathered branches and underneath it stood 2 candles. Some writing paper cut up into strips serves as tinsel, and some cotton from our first aid kits is spread across the tree as our decoration. There are plenty of cigarettes for a change and there is a pot full of rum. Every man keeps company with his own thoughts. The last letter from home is pulled out and reread, since no mail has arrived here in weeks. The photographs of wives and children are taken in hand and looked at for the hundredth time. Such a quiet here that you could hear a needle fall. Only in the distance rages the thunder of the heavy artillery, and that brings us out of our trance. Someone asks "How much longer?" and our hearts goes weak. Will this be it for us out here almost alone? So much for Christmas.

And how was it at home, Henrietta? You, my dear wife? Did you at least have enough to bake a cake? And above all are you still healthy? I'm sure you pulled something together for the children, only there won't be anything for you. I can send you nothing this Christmas. But despite that, we should drink a toast that we'll be together soon!

How is your mother? Did my brother Kurt write? I know he's somewhere out here too.

Well, for today that will have to be enough. I send my love and kisses to you all.
Your Daddy.

And many wishes for a happy New Year. That I wish you from the bottom of my heart, my dear wife, and a thousand kisses.

Free Williamsburg | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | October 2000 | Volume 8