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DEAR MOM ~ ‘This letter is specially directed to you because I can’t share my deepest feelings with anyone. I feel a tremendous need to talk to a loved one about what is almost breaking my heart. We are infantry soldiers right now. That means that eight men shared a six-bed bunker and dispose of a space of one and a half meters by two meters, no door, no light, no stove and a temperature of –15oC or –20oC, under a snowstorm.
‘All in all, during the day we managed to set up a door and organize a kind of oven. Right now, we have to choose between smoke poisoning and darkness, or between cold and light. We only have the essentials. No toiletries, no amenities.
‘During the day we removed the snow from the trenches, using blades, in the middle of a glacier cold. At night, we stood up, guarding even more terrifying temperatures, for three or four hours, as the trenches fill up again with snow. Food is scarce and comes cold. And all of that, not to mention the little troubles we would like to avoid. But let’s not think about it anymore!
‘We got here after walking forty kilometres, day and night, loaded with all our equipment. But all of that is nothing compared to anxiety… that is not the fear of the possibility of dying, but simply the fear of this enormous and threatening uncertainty.
‘If we knew when we were going to die, at least we could prepare ourselves. But we ignore if there is any possibility of returning from this war and ending our days quietly, in Jüterborg, or if we will become prisoners if we will end up wounded in the hands of the Russians if we will spend the best years of our existence as vegetables.
‘And then there is the pain of not being able to guess what will be tomorrow of our people, when will peace finally come, how will we be able to rebuild our lives later on. We don’t know how far the Russians and war have destroyed our beloved Germany or where this will take us all. Soon we will even wish that everything ends as soon as possible, with a great catastrophe, or that we fall sick to end our days in a campaign hospital in central Germany, or that Americans capture us.
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‘We take the risk of thinking this way, but we immediately remove such ideas from our minds and feel ashamed. See how my soul is torn apart, confused? And I find no rest, except when I kneel down in the trench and pray, with more fervour than ever, for that will be our only salvation: Lord, let your will be done! Jesus, I live for you, I die for you, I am yours in life and in death. All is well and all will be well because you reign over life and death. If I could at least find some relief in my dreams! Mother! When will this season finally end? But we have to stay strong. Sincerely, Your Ludwig.’ NOTE: Shortly after drafting these lines, Soviet troops arrested German soldier Ludwig K. In 1946 he was released and returned to Germany.Moutier, Mr. (2014). Wehrmacht Cards: World War II told by soldiers. Letter 90.
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