...The time has come for me to send you greetings once more, and ask you to greet once more all the loved ones at home.
The Russians have broken through everywhere. Our troops, weakened by long periods of hunger without possibility of (illegible), engaged in the heaviest fighting since the beginning of this battle, without a day's relief, and in a state of complete physical exhaustion, have performed heroically. None of them surrenders! When bread, ammunition, gasoline and manpower give out, it is God knows, no victory for the enemy to crush us!
We are aware that we are the victims of serious mistakes in leadership; also, the wearing down of the fortress Stalingrad will cause most severe damage to Germany and her people. But in spite of it, we still believe in a happy resurrection of our nation. True-hearted men will see to that! You will have to do a thorough job in putting all madmen, fools and criminals out of business. And those who will return home will sweep them away like chaff before the wind. We are Prussian officers and know what we have to do when the time comes.
In thinking over my life once more, I can look back on it with thankfulness. It has been beautiful, very beautiful. It was like climbing a ladder, and even this last rung is beautiful, a crowning of it, I might almost say a harmonious completion.
You must tell my parents that they should not be sad; they must remember me with happy hearts. No halo, please; I have never been an angel! Nor do I want to confront my God as one; I'll manage it as a soldier, with the free, proud soul of a cavalryman, as a Herr! I am not afraid of death; my faith gives me this beautiful independence of spirit. For this I am especially thankful.
Hand my legacy on to those who come after us: raise them to be Herren! Severe simplicity of thought and action! No squandering of energies!
Be especially loving with my parents and so help them get over the first grief. Put up a wooden cross for me in the park cemetery, as simple and beautiful as Uncle X's.
Maintain Sch____ as the family seat of the ____'s. That is my great wish. In my writing desk is a letter in which I recorded my wishes during my last leave.
So once more, I turn to all you, dear ones. My thanks once more, for everything, and hold your heads high! Keep on!
I embrace all of you!