06.19.1945 Letter

Dear Willard and Grace;

It’s rather quiet around here this afternoon, so I thought it would be a good time to drop you a line.

It’s a beautiful clear, warm day here. We have not been bothered with the frost or the unseasonal cold weather that you have had back there. It can’t exactly be called uncomfortably hot here either. In other words it’s just right.

Sunday I went on another tour up in the mountains near here. There are many old castles located around here and they are many centuries old. It seems that each little town has its church and its castle. Regardless of how old they may be, they are quite picturesque. I managed to buy some post cards of Eppstein, and I also took some colored pictures while I was there. The variety of color there should make a beautiful picture.

Here is a little of the story of Eppstein. The oldest landmark there is the castle which is believed to have been constructed about the year 1100AD. We climbed to the top of this. There is a flagpole with the US flag flying therefrom. There is also a church there which is believed also to have been constructed in the 12th century. It has been Protestant since about 1525. It’s a quaint little German town sitting back there in the mountains, and though it is a little removed from the large cities, it had quite a metal industry.

But there’s very little to do for excitement. Three shows are scheduled per week, but sometimes we only have one because some other outfit has priority on the film.

I haven’t enjoyed the meals any too well lately. You see, being a staff sergeant puts me in what is known as the “first three grades”. Consequently, staff sergeants, technical sergeants, master and first sergeants eat in a separate room, not with the rest of the men. We sit down at the table and waitresses bring the food already on our plates to us. Of course, it’s all very nice, but when it comes to putting a dressing on my meat, for example, I know best just how I would like it to taste. So I’ve suggested many times that they put things like that on the table and let us fix the things on our plate to suite ourselves, but so far nothing has happened about it. Anyway, I don’t like this class distinction, and in an outfit like this, I can’t see why they don’t treat all the men alike. I’ve been seriously thinking of removing the stripes from one of my shirts to go in and eat with the rest of the fellows just for the privilege of taking what I like and preparing it on my plate just as I like to eat it.

This is the 22nd of June, and I am attempting to finish this letter. I have some strange things happen to me and a few other fellows in the past few days. For the first time since I’ve been in the army, I’m in company with a couple of other fellows have been stopped in the park by officers drunk with rank and liquor. Yes, the other night when we were out walking, we gave no though to an officer who passed us walking in the same direction as we. One of the fellows was in the midst of telling a joke at the time and when this particular officer was about six or eight paces ahead of us, the climax to the joke was told. The joke itself was far removed from anything that has to do with the army too. So we let out a hearty laugh. This particular officer turned abruptly around and asked: “What’s so funny?”. We were so taken by surprised at this incident, it having never happened to any of us before, that our only reply was that we were “laughing at a joke”. After his first sentence, we knew he was drunk and he sure sensed that we knew and apologetically invited us to come with him and watch a tennis match. We politely declined.

On another occasion we were stopped and a couple of lieutenants stopped one of the boys and asked him to correct his tie. That was perfectly alright and the officer had every right to do so, but, these two were drunk and all the time they kept talking and making the poor guy feel like a louse, they were both smiling that smile that one might have if they were pulling toenails out of Hitler. In other words, it was a pleasure to them just as if they were doing it in revenge or something. We never saw any of these officers before, but one of them we have seen since–the first one and he seems to recognize us each time and apparently feels guilty because he generally smiles and speaks to us when he salutes us now, but we neither smile or speak to him in return.

I’m enclosing a couple of articles which will give you some of idea of the things we gripe about. Especially since we are all citizens of the same country.

Russell

Bad Homburg, Germany


As the war is winding down, Russell vents frustration with how humans react when given “power”. Class, and “superiority” are not limited to the Germans.

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