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Yvonne
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Article Title: Last Letters from Stalingrad
Date Created:
07/31/2009
Date Updated:
07/31/2009
Language:
English
Category:
Translation
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114
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Text:
These are translated German persoanl letters from 1942/43. German soldiers wrote them to their loved ones.


Last Letters from Stalingrad


1.
…My life has changed into nothing, it is like ten years ago blessed by the stars, avoided by people. I didn’t have any friends, and you know why they didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I was glad, when I was sitting at the telescope beholding the sky and the stars, happy like a child, that I was able to play with the stars.
You were my best friend, Monika. You did not misread, it was you. The time is too serious to joke around. This letter will take 14 days to reach you. By that time you will have read in the newspaper what happened here. Don’t think about it too much, in actuality it will end very differently, let others be troubled to find clarity. What do they matter to you and me? I always thought in light years and felt in seconds. I do a lot here with the weather too. There are four of us, and if it goes well, all quite content. The operation itself is easy. The measuring of temperatures and air moisture, data about the ceiling and visibility are our task. If such a bureaucrat would read what I am writing he wouldn’t believe it….disclosing official secrets. Monika, what is our life in comparison to the million years of the star filled sky! Andromeda and Pegasus are above my head this beautiful night. I have watched them for a long time and soon I will be very close to them. I have to thank the stars for my content and my stability, you are the most beautiful one of them. The stars are immortal and a man’s life is like dust in the universe.
Everything around is collapsing, a whole army is dying, the day and night are burning, and four people are busy transmitting temperature and ceiling data. I don’t understand much about war. I did not even once take a precise shot with my pistol. However I do know that the opposite side does not put up with a lack of comprehension. I would have liked to count more stars for a few more decades, but, well, this shall not be.

2.
…I took your picture in my hand once again and looked at it for a long time. I am remembering the moment we shared on a beautiful summer night during the last year of peace, when we walked through the valley of flowers towards our house. When we found each other for the first time, the voice of our hearts spoke and later the voice of love and happiness. We talked about us and the future, which laid in front of us like colorful carpet.
This colorful carpet does not exist anymore. The beautiful summer night is not anymore and so isn’t the valley of flowers. And we are not together anymore. Where the bright carpet was, is now an endless white field, no more summer, but rather winter, and there is no future, at least not for me, and therefore inevitably for you too. I had a weird feeling the whole time and I didn’t know what it was but today I know that I was worried about you. I sensed over thousands of miles away, how you felt the same about me. When you get this letter, listen deep into yourself, maybe you can hear my voice. They are telling us that our fight is for Germany, however only few here believe that our home could benefit from this senseless sacrifice.



3.
…you have to put that idea out of your head, Margarete, and you have to do it soon. I would like to advise you to do it in detail, because your disappointment will be less. I am reading in each of your letters the wish that you want to see me again soon. It is not surprising, that you are lingering for that. I am waiting for you too, and undoubtedly passionately. This situation doesn’t make me so anxious; however instead it is the lasting desire between the lines and in the background, not only for the husband and the lover, but also to have the pianist back. I can clearly sense this. Isn’t it an odd mix up of feelings, that I , who supposedly should be the most miserable, have accepted my fate, and the woman, who has every reason to be thankful, that I am alive (at least until now), is quarreling with the fate I was struck with.
Often I have the suspicion that a quiet reproach is being made, that I was to blame, that I can not play anymore. You want to hear this. That’s why you drilled for clarity in your letters, which I preferred to give you in person. Maybe fate wants it, that our position here reaches a level, where no excuses and no evasion are granted anymore. I don’t know if I can speak to you again, that’s why it is better, once you get this letter and you already know when I show up some day. The hands are gone, already in the beginning of December. On the left the pinky is missing, and even worse, that on the right hand the three middle fingers froze to death. I can hold the cup only with the thumb and pinky. I am pretty helpless and you only notice it once the fingers are gone, how much you need them to do the little things. I can still shoot with the pinky the best. The hands are gone. I can not shoot my whole life, just because I am not useful for anything else. Maybe it is enough for a ranger? This is gallows humor. I am only writing this to calm myself down.
Eight days ago, Kurt Hahnke, and I think you know him from council 37, played the Appassionata on a grand piano in a small side street of Red Square. You don’t see something like this every day; the grand piano was sitting directly on the street. The house was detonated, but indeed the instrument was put on the street out of compassion. Every Joe Shmoe walking by hammered on it and I am wondering where else besides here pianos are standing on the streets. I wrote it before, Kurt played outrageously on January 4th, soon he will stand in the first front.
I apologize, instead of using the word “row” I now used “front”, this is how much influence the war around us has had. When the boy comes home, soon we will hear a lot of glorious stories about him. For sure I will not forget these hours again. The kind and scale of spectators are making sure of this. Too bad, that I am not a writer and able to convey this in the right words, how the hundreds of plain soldiers in their coats with blankets over their heads cowering around; blow ups around, but no one is being disturbed, they listen to Beethoven in Stalingrad, even though they can not understand him. Are you better, now that you know the entire truth?

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