Category Archives: From Germany

04.28.1944 Letter

Dear Wilson, Helen and all:

This letter has my latest address. I’m feeling fine and being fed better than I ever expected I would be fed over here. The eats are really good.

Spring is coming here and trees are beginning to show the beginning of new leaves. It isn’t cold but it does drizzle occasionally. It is odd to see traffic moving on the left side of a street and I still look first to the left when I cross. Fortunately, traffic isn’t heavy. When I spend money its penny, sixpence, shilling, and pounds. It’s simple when you have to use it.

Up to this writing, I have not received any mail over here. If there’s any coming, it should catch up to me in a week or so. I’m going to make a check on it tonight.

I have noticed a lot of people wearing wooden soled shoes. They sound like horses. I know even with rationing they’re not that bad at home.

Keeping my uniform clean, and keeping my supply of soap up, although I have enough for quite a while on hand, seems to be my main problem at present, also razor blades.

Guess I’ll close for now,
Russell

11.28.1944 Letter

Dear Willard and Grace;

Have your V-Mail letter of the 11th. You apparently haven’t received the package I sent to you nor the letter explaining how the contents should be distributed. Anyway, both are on the way somewhere.

Have been away from here about a week, having been in four more countries — Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and last but not least, Germany. A real interesting trip. Here’s how I got it.

The Mayor walked into the office one morning and said that he needed one enlisted man to go with, explaining that he would be exposed to danger and that if anyone didn’t want to go, to say so, no one backed out. Then our names were put on a piece of paper, put in the hat, and he drew. Well, he drew mine.

We first went into a town in Germany over a road that was registered by enemy artillery. It was a bad day, and though there was fine, it didn’t come near us.

We stayed in this particular town for a couple of hours, and believe me, I kept my carbine ready all the time.

It was a picturesque little German town, setting at the bottom of a valley, with steep hills rising sharply from three sides of the town. A stream meandered through the heart of it.

While I was standing in the street, a car pulled around the bend, without any insignia, and came to a halt. I recognized a couple of share-tails and saluted, but to my amazement, they all spoke in a heavy German accent and I admit I was a little uneasy for a minute. But, then it turned out that they were Belgian liasion officers with our Army and probably spoke Flemish, which is a little like German I guess. They wanted some information, and I showed them where to get it. Then we chatted and I passed them some cigarettes which they were glad to receive. Then they drove off.

We were in Germany again on another day, this time at Aachen. They sure raised cane with that place. People don’t speak, but would if you spoke to them. However, the policy over there is not to fraternize and it’s being enforced.

You know, our side is after an unconditional surrender and the Germans have known that for a long time and are making us fight for it. But then Morgenthau has to throw in his two cents worth and it sure makes wonderful German propaganda. On announcing something that he thinks should be done to Germany only arouses a natural reaction in people anywhere when told that they should or would be reduced to a slave state. He should keep his trap shut, and it would probably save a lot of lives on our side.

Well guess that’s the limit for this time.

Russell

France

Russell was selected to make a visit to Germany. Fabulous accounting of Germany during this time period.

05.01.1945 Letter

Dear Willard and Grace;

A new location to write from and, consequently, a little something to write about.

Had a good trip down here, and incidentally, drove a truck with a small trailer down. The first real driving I’ve done in several years. Fortunately, the men and material with got in unscathed.

Saw some beautiful scenery in this neck of the woods. Got a good first-hand glimpse of the accuracy of Allied bombing and believe you me, it is accurate. Nothing but ruble in many places. Gaping holes in railroad locomotives and many railroad tracks a mass of twisted steel.

I noticed many neat farms along the way with farmers planting potatoes. On thing missing from these farms were fences. I saw very very few fences. I might add also, that I saw no cattle.

Before coming down, I got in on the French victory celebration. It may still be going on. It was in many places when I left. Dancing, drinking in little cafes, dance halls, on the streets, yea and lasting until 5 in the morning. They knock themselves out.

Am living in a hotel room here with two other fellows. A bathroom adjoins our room and has all conveniences including hot and cold water.

Tell you more in my next letter.

Russell

Germany

05.14.1945 Letter

Dear Helen and Wilson;

First England, then France and now Germany. Yes, I’ve arrived in the land of the “Super-race”, but they’re not so super right now. In fact, more or less submissive.

But coming here I had a little different experience in that I drove a small truck and trailer much of the way here — the first real driving I’ve done since I’ve been in the Army. I didn’t forget much though as we arrived here in one piece. It was beautiful weather to travel too.

I passed through some pretty battered German cities coming here, and all attested to the accuracy and might of Allied bombing. Many places are nothing but a heap of rubble. Railroad yards were a mass of twisted steel and shells of locomotives. You really have to see it to appreciate it.

The place we are in now has not suffered much war damage. In fact, it is quite attractive. Sunday I went to church in the local Protestant Church and I must admit that I believe it to be the most beautiful Protestant Church I have ever been in. It is one of those immaculately neat and built-to-last forever churches. Probably Lutheran.

I’m living in a hotel right now and have a very nice room which is shared by three of us. A bathroom adjoins the room and has every convenience including hot and cold running water. It sure seems good to take a bath in a tub whenever one feels like it. Until coming here, I hadn’t enjoyed this pleasure since leaving England.

We eat in the same hotel. Displaced persons and some Germans do the work in the kitchen. We eat off plates. now and drink coffee from real cups for a change. The food is prepared much better and even if it weren’t it would taste better of the plates anyway.

Well I guess I’ll close this off for now. More later.

Russell

Germany

05.14.1945 Letter

Dear Elizabeth:

Just imagine this set up. Living in a nice hotel room which I share with three other fellows. My particular bed has an inner spring mattress — at least it feels like it. Adjoining the room is a bathroom with all conveniences including hot and cold running water. It sure feels good to take a bath in a tub again. The water here is soft too. Tomorrow I send my laundry out and it’s done free — by the Germans. We make them do it.

To make life complete, all I would need are sheets and pillowcases for my bed.

We eat in the same hotel and waitresses do the KP work. The meals are so good as any I’ve had in the Army. And it doesn’t detract from a meal when you eat it from real plates, and coffee from real cups.

But there’s a dark side too. No fraternizing. It may get a little monotonous after a while. But I understand the furloughs and passes will be pretty liberal after a bit.

This is a picturesque little place. It reminds me a little of Endicott – neat and clean. There is a beautiful park just across the street here with various healthfully good spring water, if you can stand the taste!! When you see all these things, you wonder why this country insists on making war all the time.

I saw it first-hand the results of much bomb damage though. You can’t imagine what it is to drive down a street amid mountains of rubble and ghost-like walls and shells of buildings.

There were big celebrations of victory in France. Some fireworks. Dancing whenever there was music in the middle of the street. I stayed out until 5:30AM. Was I fagged.

I’ll close off for now so I’ll have wind for the next letter. More later.

Russell

Germany

05.17.1945 Letter

Dear Howard;

Well, how many points have you. I’ve only 59 so I’ll sweat out the Army for some time. You know, in a week or so I’m going to tack on a hash mark. Yep, three years ago this month.

A little over a year ago, I left New York and landed in Scotland on a damn big boat with several thousands of GIs. It took us eight days to make the crossing and I remember some pretty rough weather. I think I left the day you came in the Army.

Don’t tell anybody — I wear two campaign stars now. What battles!!!

Right now I’m housed in a hotel in this little German town. The hotel room has beds for three of us and a bathroom adjoins the rooms. One of the first things I did was take a bath in the tub — the first since I left England in a tub.

Mess is in a real dining room with waitresses, mostly displaced persons. I don’t know whether you’re eating from a mess kit or how, but we’re giving ours a rest now and eating from china once again. Meals are a lot better tasting and a cup of coffee tastes like a cup of coffee.

The town itself is picturesque, neat, clean modern. And from a personal viewpoint, those are all the typical German traits. It’s really a lot like say Endicott for example. There’s a beautiful park nearby with deep wells that bring various kinds of health giving water to the surface. Tennis courts are available, a baseball diamond has been laid out. A theatre is to be taken over. If a break comes on furlough and passes things will be fairly nice. We’ll need the latter because of the not-fraternization policy.

Guess I’ll close off for now.

PS Today is the 20th. Couldn’t find your address before. Received letter from Elizabeth today with it in so —

Russell

Germany

05.28.1945 Letter

Dear Willard and Grace;

Say, no hear from you for a long time now. What’s up?

Anyway, do you notice anything different about this letter? No, they’re not censoring them any more. But we cannot reveal our location yet.

As it is now, we’ll soon be able to get furloughs back to England and southern France. Now I don’t know where I would like to go even after I went to the trouble of having you, send that book to me. However, I’m going to hang on to it anyway.

By the way, have you ever received the films and the money order which I sent to you? Would appreciate your letting me know about this.

We’re certainly in a beautiful section of Europe – Germany. This place is a health resort and there are a number of swimming pools and wells of different varieties of mineral water, supposed to be good for what ails you. I like the taste of the water from one of the springs. Soft of like soda.

We were out watching a tennis match tonight – out in the park. One of the balls went over the fence and a civilian passerby was asked to pick it up. Well, you know the rule – no fraternization. He picked up the ball and threw it back. Then he said jokingly, “That’ll cost you sixty-five dollars”, that being the fine for one caught fraternizing. Naturally, it sounded funny to hear the civilian reply in perfect English, but it’s only an indication of the number of people who speak English around here.

Oh yes, before we came here, we were back in Trayes, France.

Guess that’ll do it for now.

Russell

Germany

05.30.1945 Letter

Dear Willard and Grace;

I just got through writing you the day before yesterday that I was wondering what happened to you. Yesterday, I received the package with the films and colored prints. So now, I know that you are still there.

As for the colored prints, I received 11 all told. Of course, there were 3 of 1, 4 of another and four of still another. I presume that is all that were printable. Am I right. At any rate I was glad to get the film and prints in good condition.

This town, Bad Homburg, is where I am located now. It’s a little place of about 16,000 and is located about 10 miles north of Frankfurt a. Main. Now as for Frankfurt, it was a nice city. At least that’s what the remains indicate. From what I saw there isn’t a building standing that is of any use. There is a theatre in operation down there, but I don’t know how it escaped a direct hit. It was damaged a little. But most of the place is just a conglomeration of silhouettes.– ghosts of what once was Frankfurt.

I got a letter from John Veselka yesterday and he’s down near Stuttgart. He travels around quite a bit, so now he’s going to try to look me up.

Now that censorship is more or less lifted, I have a few more things that I would like to send home. I would like to get something from here from all of you, but just can’t seem to lay my hands on more than one particular item. It seems every time I try to stock up on one item, I can’t get enough to go around.

I’m gathering up a few postcards around here while the getting is good. Boy when the run out I don’t know where the storekeepers will get any more. Everything is caput.

The people around here don’t know what to make of us. Some of them speak, some of them want to speak and don’t. Others just don’t do anything. We just don’t do anything.

The weather has turned sour the past few days, so we are more than ever inactive. Every time we have moved from one place after staying there for a while, I sort of say to myself “I could fight the ware here and be happy”. But after we move and get in a new place, I get that unsettled feeling and want to move again. You know, we’ve made a lot of friends wherever we have stayed. They all want us to come back and see them before we go home. But it will be impossible to see them all.

I’ve been kept pretty busy here in this section. You know, now I am chief clerk and there are five guys working under me. Last week I had the privilege of recommending to the captain here that they be promoted. I have trouble with only one of them. He has a lot of book learning, he’s from the south, he doesn’t like to take orders, he’s smart, but he has no initiative. No common sense. I don’t know what I’ll do with him.

Well, I guess I’ve just about brought you up to date on things here now. Drop me a line and let me know what’s new.

Russell

Germany

06.04.1945 Letter

Dear Helen and Wilson;

Now that I’ve been in Germany a while, and you can tell just where I am, I thought maybe I could give you a little picture of what has happened in the past now that censorship has been lifted. I know that you will be interested in more of the details than I could have given heretofore.

We came into Scotland (Firth of Clyde) on a Saturday — I believe it was the 14th of April — last year. We had been traveling on irregular course after leaving New York on April 6th, zigzagging all over the place. You see, we were not in a convoy, and the boat was supposed have sufficient speed to outrun most anything that might have tried to chase us. We ran into several storms, one of which lasted for about three days, and the waves were mountainous. But regardless of how bat the weather was a big “liberator” bomber managed to hang around like some mother bird circling her brood. He just barely kept above those waves too.

The Ile de France was so big that I didn’t mind the rocking and rolling in particular. But many of the boys sure kept their meals flying into the brink. And it wasn’t because they wanted to feed the fish. We didn’t waste much as we were only getting two meals per day and they were lousy. In addition, there was a PX aboard where we could buy candy, so we satisfied ourselves with that.

After arriving off the coast of England, which was hidden by fog, they managed to find the Firth of Clyde and we travelled up it all morning until we came to Gurock where we dropped anchor about noon. In another twenty-four hours we had debarked and were on a train headed for Manchester. Immediately after boarding the train, we had our first real cup of coffee since leaving the States, and doughnuts, courtesy of the Red Cross. From there on you know much of the story.

But after leaving England, you know little of the details. We boarded a liberty ship at Southampton after spending three days sleeping under the stars and headed across the channel to Omaha Beach. But it was another ten days before we debarked. Our priority just wasn’t high enough to get off any sooner. But the weather was beautiful and there was nothing to do but loaf while waiting. We watched LCIs and LCTs run their cargoes up on the beach, discharges their cargoes, and take off with the high tide. We watched “ducks” scoot from ship to ship like little beetles. We also watched ships all around us unload their cargoes on lighters, LCTs, barges, etc., and wondered when our turn would come. At night we slept on the decks or in the holds.

But one afternoon it came. The nets were dropped into the hold, our truck run on to the net, hoisted over the side and placed in the LCT. Then I climbed, like everyone else, down Jacob’s ladder onto the LCT. We were subsequently loaded and made the run for the beach about 1 1/2 miles off. The only thing exciting on the run was that the naval commander of our LCT and another tried to see how close they could come to each other without hitting. I remembered seeing a collision on one other day, so I was prepared to go for a little swim. But the other LCT got “cold feet” and went in reverse and nothing happened.

We ran up to the improvised dock that ran out from shore, dropped the ramp, drove the trucks off and then we were in France. We went up through the hedgerows which had been the scene of that furious fighting the first few days of the invasion. You could surely tell that they were not playing tiddly winks here. Then we pitched our tents and waited for the orders to move again. Three days later they came and our convey moved off. Another two days and we arrived at Rochefort and en Y just 25 miles south of Paris. Then of course you know much of the story from there until we moved to Troyes, about 90 miles southeast of Paris. From there a few weeks ago we left for our present destination – Bad Homburg, which is very picturesque little resort town in the Taunus Mountains about 10 miles north of Frankfurt a. Main.

In closing I’d like to say that I’ve received a package from you the other day that you mailed to me, probably in February. It had a little checkerboard, some cheese, chipped olives, pickles and some other items. Believe you me I’m putting some of it to good use tonight because we had a lousy supper. Had just plain rice, some sort of canned meat. The rice just had the water drawn off of it, so you can imagine how that would taste.

Thanks for all of this, and while you’re at it say thanks to Grace and Willard because I forgot to thank them for sending the film you and they sent to me.

Russell

Germany

Censorship of mail has been lifted, and Russell freely describes the locations in Europe that he has served.