Friday, December 19, 2014

Last Letters From Stalingrad: #28

Kriegsbeschädigten (War Cripples) Otto Dix (1920)
...Even for me this letter is difficult, how much more difficult it will be for you! Unfortunately there won't be any good news in this letter. And it hasn't been improved by my waiting ten days either. The situation has now become so bad we fear we'll soon be completely cut off from the outside. Just now we were assured that this mail will definitely get out. If I knew that there would be another opportunity, I would wait still longer. But that is just what I don't know; so, for better or for worse, I have to come out with it. For me the war is over. 
I am in a field hospital in Gumrak, waiting to be transported home by plane. Although I am waiting with great longing, the date is always changed. That I will be coming home is a great joy for me and for you, my dear. But the condition in which I'll get home won't be any joy for you. I am in complete despair when I think of lying before you as a cripple. 
But you must know something - that my legs were shot off. 
I'll be quite honest in writing about it. The right leg is totally shattered and amputated below the knee. The left one is amputated in the thigh. The doctor thinks that with prothesis I should be able to get around like a healthy man. The doctor is a good man and means well. I hope he is right. Now you know before you see me. Dear Elise, if I only knew what you are thinking. I have time all day long to think of nothing but that. Often my thoughts are with you. Sometimes I have also wished that I were dead, but that is a serious sin and one must never say such a thing.

Over eighty men are lying in this tent; but outside there are countless men. Through the tent you can hear their screaming and moaning, and no one can help them. Next to me lies a sergeant from Bromberg, shot through the groin. The doctor told him he would be returned home soon. But to the medic he said "He won't last until evening. Let him lie there then." The doctor is such a good man. On the other side, right next to me against the wall, lies a soldier from Breslau who has lost an arm and his nose, and he told me he wouldn't need any more handkerchiefs. When I asked him what he would do if he had to cry, he answered me, "No one here, you and me included, will have a chance to cry any more. Soon others will be crying over us."

I restarted this blog series. The key to understanding the series is here, and here. Each letter (39 in all) was written by a different and anonymous German soldier who knew he was going to die. I associate these letters with Christmastime for reasons explained at the links.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

100 Years Ago On The Western Front

Read more here

[Added]: An edited dramatization from the BBC: