Letters from German Soldiers at the Eastern Front

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Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

11th May, 2016


“No, father, God does not exist, only you have it, in your Psalms and prayers, in the sermons of priests and pastors, in the ringing of bells, the smell of incense, but in Stalingrad it is not. And here you are sitting in the basement, burning someone’s furniture, you’re only twenty-six, and you seem to have kind head on your shoulders,  was recently rejoicing the Epaulettes and yelled together, “Heil Hitler!”, and now here two ways: either to croak or go to Siberia”;

“Stalingrad is a good lesson for the German people, it is a pity that those who are qualified are unlikely to be able to use the knowledge acquired in later life”;

“Russians do not resemble human being – they are made of iron, they do not know fatigue, they do not know fear. Sailors in the cruel frost go into battle in striped underwear vests. Physically and spiritually, one Russian soldier is stronger than the whole of our company”;

“Russian snipers and anti-tank Riflemen are certainly disciples of God. They lie in wait for us night and day, and do not miss. During 58 days, we stormed the only house, and we stormed it in vain… None of us will return to Germany unless a miracle happens. And I no longer believe in miracles. Time defected to the Russians”;

“Talking to chief Sergeant V. He says that the struggle in France was more fierce than here, but more honest. The French surrendered when they realized that further resistance was useless. Russians, even if it’s to no avail, continue to fight… In France or Poland, they would have already surrendered, according to the Sergeant, but here the Russians continue to fight fanatically”;

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“My beloved Tsilla. This, frankly speaking, is a strange letter, which of course any post office will send anywhere. That is why I decided to send it with my wounded compatriot – you know him, it is Fritz Zauber. Every day brings us great sacrifices. We are losing our brothers, but we still cannot see the end of this war. And probably I not see it too. I don’t know what will happen to me tomorrow, I already lost all hope to return home and stay alive. I think that every German soldier will find his grave here. These snow storms and vast fields covered with snow instills in me the deadly fear. It is impossible to defeat Russia…”;

“I believed that the war would be over by the end of this year, but as you can see, things are different… I think that in relation to Russia, we miscalculated”;

“We are 90 km from Moscow, and it cost us a lot of dead. The Russians still have a very strong resistance, defending Moscow… Until we come to Moscow, there will be more fierce fighting. Many who do not think about it are doomed to die… In this campaign, many regretted that Russia is not Poland or France, and there is no enemy stronger than the Russians. If we have to stay here another six months, we’re doomed…”;

“We are located on the Moscow – Smolensk highway, not far from Moscow… the Russians are fighting fiercely for every meter of land. Never before has the battle been so fierce and heavy, and many of us will not see relatives…”;

“For more than three months I am in Russia and have already experienced many things. Yes, dear brother, sometimes the soul goes to the heel when you are within a hundred metres of these damned Russians…”;

From the diary of the commander of the 25th army under General Günther Blumentritt:

“Many of our leaders greatly underestimated the new enemy. This was partly because they knew neither the Russian people nor the Russian soldiers. Some of our Generals during the first world war were on the Western front and never fought in the East, so they didn’t have the slightest idea about the geographical conditions of Russia and steadfastness of the Russian soldier, but at the same time, they ignored repeated warnings of eminent military experts on Russia… The behavior of Russian troops, even in this first battle (for Minsk) was strikingly different from the behavior of the Poles and forces of the Western allies in conditions of defeat. Even being surrounded, the Russians did not retreat from their positions.”

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