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My dear pumpkin, my dearest daughter!
Yesterday I gave someone a long letter in a stamped envelope who was going to Danzig. I don't know if you will ever receive this letter. Because there are all sorts of rumors going round here, like being surrounded and the like. The letter from yesterday, dated 02-03, I suggest, after receiving from my friends the first letter by you the day before yesterday, we designate letter number one. This one, today's, will be letter number two. It is an irritating situation with the mail. The mail rarely gets here. Can you imagine: the letter from Danzig, according to the date, took eight days, whereby Danzig is only twenty-five kilometres from here. Yes, my dear mother, you say I should write to Uncle Gustav. Hasn't Deutschkrone fallen in Russian hands yet? They keep me far from anything else but the Army here: I seldomly get to hear any radio or am able to read a newspaper. But I'll try anyway I can. If need be, you should complain to the railroad,, but always beware. Unfortunately, my hands are very much tied over here. I can't get out of this place, because we are here only on the defence. There is digging going on all over the place here. I've been to Gotenhafen twice, to see the optician. While I was there I made a swap. Tobacco against bread and butter. The bread situation is getting disastrous. The bread has been cut by 1,000 grams and the rest of the food is getting less too, you have to make the bread last, I just sleep a lot. I wanted to order a pair of gloves at a shop, but the man could not give me anything without an official voucher, he did give me, however, instead a quarter of a pound of butter and 100 grams worth of meat vouchers. This enabled me to have bought for myself some sausage and margarine together with your fifty and fifteen grams of margarine. These bits together made a nice meal and it was nice to eat till one has enough in his stomach once again. But, dear mother, don't send me anything anymore, I'm afraid that you will take it out of your own mouths to give to me and thereby you yourselves will be hungry. I just don't want that under any circumstances. Helga should eat as much as she can, for as long as it is possible. There will be hard times ahead with regard to the food situation, after we lost Warhegau and East and West Prussia. I hope you will not have to starve.
That would be a condition I would be hard put to bear. How my own fate will develop is still uncertain. Tomorrow, Monday, me and my men are supposed to be moved. Either Neufahrwasser near Danzig or Strettin I don't know. I expect Neufahrwasser. That's where what they want with us, God only knows. I personally inspect everyone: people shouldn't fake so much, things go the way they go. The main thing is to stay healthy, then everything else will fall in place. I hope they did no tear down our properties in Harlingeroder Street. You make sure everything is in order. Don't force yourself to work. You've done enough work and now need your rest. I hope your cold is gone now. I have a constant cold now, too, ever since I fell in a ditch filled with water when these Russian commandos shot at us, I fell in with my full pack! Our suitcases, including the laundry, a backpack and the wooden suitcase we left at the Gallwitz barracks. One night, when we were settling in, they moved all our suitcases to the Unger barracks. From there, when we could no longer hold that position, to the city park. From there, everything was moved everywhere. We got separated from everyone. They hastily formed fighting units from all different companies and set them out on positions in the town. I was with our liet. in the region of south of Dambitzer-Tannenberg and Spittelhof, when Ivan came from the highway. But we had to move from there (Serpiner Road 3, in a house where we had our position) and walk in the middle of the night, so the Russians would not find us. Not long after that Russian tanks and infantry appeared and we had to dig in again. There, one of the officers had to stay behind while we went to get reinforcements. (Goorgenhights completely shot up.) The man walking point got shot soon after that. Me and the liet. Had to gather all the young men from the officers barracks in a hurry. Ivan shot us with mortars so bad that we first had to shelter in a ditch with fallen soldiers. But we reached the mountain top, in spite of the snipers. Unfortunately, the cohesion wasn't too great; many soldiers fell as soon as they came under fire. In Dambitzgen the Russian gathered our p.o.w.'s, every morning at 07.00 the loud speaker propaganda began, but we take no notice. One night, I had just settled, just outside Muhlendamm, on the corner of Sonnenstreet, we received fire from a Russian rear attack group, that wanted to outrun us. I fired a few rounds, and was able to prevent their attempt to surprise us. We made ourselves comfortable in the cellar, fixed us an oven of some sort, and prepared a meal. Bread was given to us by a baker. There were still some preservatives left from earlier, and I still had some butter and cheese from Schröter. Our supplies were running low at first because Ivan had had our supply company in his hands before. We had only one slice of bread or a piece of whole wheat per man, per day. Then we ran the gauntlet through Ziese Street near the cemetery, passed the Russian control post, to the cement factory Naidszus, where we-after losing many of us on the way either wounded or dead-were treated to an hours-long bombardment. But we got through in the end. WE then had to wait some twenty-four hours because the miller had to repair a pont from which a piece of canvas was torn. We crossed the pond then the next night. From there we walked some twenty kilometers past the main battleline to the regrouping area. Anyway, I am delighted that I got out of that hell and I won't worry about these things of the past anymore. That Trüdel had another baby girl is very nice, but in times like these? However, I also congratulate the parents.
When will this war end? Everything points at this war not lasting long anymore. It would be nice though. But then what? Many of us already speak of Easter. Great. The enemy has already most of our industries. I hope you won't have to freeze. Dear mother, those are the kind of thoughts that keep me occupied during the days in and out. We don't sleep in straw-filled sacks anymore on the ground. I built together with Neumann (he livesin Spandau West, Weissenburgerstreet 40) a bed. But it starts again tomorrow. Where to? Could you ring Mrs. Haut (Neumann's siter) .376664. N. has a message for his wife and is worried. She lived in Frankfurt for a long time! Where now? So, my dear, enough for today. I'll write to you again tomorrow or the day after, maybe from the new place I'll be staying at. Mail can be sent here then! It will be forwarded to me. Make sure you write your "sender's" address. You never know. Everything is rushed through.