Doesn’t matter which side you’re on, wars are pretty fucked up. And in human history, perhaps the most disturbing one was the Second World War. While there were prisoners of war (POW) on both sides, there were also stories of great suffering in those camps. In terms of notoriety, almost nothing comes close to a Soviet prison, especially during the dreaded Russian winter. But thanks to the terms of the Geneva Conventions , prisoners were allowed to write to their families and friends back home.
Redditor bendertheoffender22 shared a link to a couple of images on the site with the headline –
During my grandfather’s imprisonment in a Soviet POW camp, he was only allowed to write the occasional postcard to his fiancee in Germany, so he really made his cards count. (note, this is a regular size postcard)
Here are the two images of the postcard, which his grandfather started writing on September, 9th, 1947.
Yes, he actually managed to fit all of that in a single postcard!
Thankfully, the uploader also posted a rough translation of the original text, if you’re interested. It’s a bit long but well worth the read.
My dearest, best Hanne!
I want to start this autumn day by doing the nicest thing us prisoners can do. Before we head out for work, I want to use the few minutes of daylight to write you some lines. I’d love to send you a card every day, but we are only supposed to write “twice a month”. However, their distribution of postcards is irregular to say the least.
Autumn has come, along with the first frost and autumn fog, so every nice autumn day that isn’t so cold and windy is like a true gift from God. Just yesterday we could experience such a wonderful day, the sun was shining so brightly and warm, the wind was calm and the air breathed the spirit of an Indian summer. If there hadn’t been work to do, I couldn’t have imagined anything nicer than to lie in the sun and at least experience this day with you in my thoughts. What great hikes we could have made together, but all this will return one day. in spite of all the misery and pain, all the beauty of our home country will be once again open for us to explore.
Some time has passed now since I started this card, the cold winter storms have begun and are giving us a taste of the Russian winter. Today, on the 10th of October we received our winter gear and are now ready for the cold, however, our bodies are still not prepared, even though I have now recovered quite a bit – I weigh 57kg now for one thing. On 20th September, I received a great present from one of my comrades, a potato – the first one this year, which I enjoyed very much, even without salt. In the meantime, I’ve had the opportunity to acquire some potatoes by doing voluntary extra work at the kolkhoz [collective farm] on Sundays and make a nourishing meal – you’d be amazed by my new culinary skills. Apart from that, many aspects of our situation have improved, we often have the opportunity to watch Russian movies, every Sunday our orchestra is giving a concert, and there was an evening of entertainment. Unfortunately, behind all these nice things there’s always my worries for you and my home, the homesickness is hard to bear.
Do you have enough to eat? As far as bread is concerned, our situation is much better than yours, we get around 670g per day, which can fluctuate between 470 and 770g depending on the fulfillment of our work quota. If we make record-breaking efforts, we’re allowed to buy 100g extra, unfortunately I haven’t received any salary as of yet. But enough of that. How are you? Your cards have become so rare since they forbid us from exchanging letters. If only you would have used this opportunity more, my dear, you can’t imagine how much I hunger for your mail and how desperately I was waiting for a small picture of you. There are some opportunities though, a lot of normal postcards get through, some of them with pictures attached. Please try this once, I’d be so very grateful.
Thanks again for your cards from the 14th and 15th of August, I received them on 3rd September – since then, I have been waiting in vain. Nonetheless, I’m always with you in spirit, my dearest Hanne, my joy, my heart, and each night I send you my innermost wishes and greetings through Orion, who has been our fateful friend and companion in the sky in some of our happiest hours. Just now, he’s shining in all his glory. If only you knew how much you mean to me, one word would be enough: EVERYTHING! This lets me forget all the pain and helps me overcome a lot of the sorrow. I’ve made so many plans and wanted to achieve so much by my age and now I’m stuck here, far away from you and helpless. But one day, it’ll be our time to be happy and then all the sorrow will be forgotten; in my dreams, you’ve already welcomed me back. And we will always be happy – you won’t believe just how humble I’ve become.
I’m very happy that you could spend such nice holidays and I’m already looking forward to the first holidays we’ll be able to spend together. It’s going to be great. Oh how often have I relived the few summer days together in which your dear face was so close to mine, how eternally grateful am I for this, my sweetheart. I’m going to stop for today, it has become late. Dinner will be served soon – half a liter of soup.
11th October. Another day of imprisonment gone and our reunion has once again come closer – this is how I count the time here. Just recently I could talk to some fellow Swabians [people from South-Western Germany] that have joined us in the last days – we’re almost enough to form a small club now. One of them served together with Fritz, the tailor[a common acquaintance of grandpa and grandma] – Fritz could go home in June. Another says he served near Leningrad with a pub owner from Mössingen, probably Heinrich. How was the wedding you attended in Stammheim? Were you the maid of honor? Yes, this is how life at home passes me by, it often feels as if the gaps the prisoners have left at home have now closed, just like the ones the dead soldiers left. When we return, people might see us as unwelcome intruders from another world. Please, my dear, tell me that it isn’t so!
Any ideas about my job prospects? So far, I haven’t heard anything from home. Maybe you could talk to Mr Rühle about it. How was the fruit harvest? Oh, I have thousands of questions, but what is the point? The only thing that moves me are my worries for you, my dear Hanne, and each stroke of my pen wants to send you something nice. But what’s the point of words scribbled on a piece of paper? I know that I’m writing incredibly small, but I have so much to tell you and there’s just so few cards. Why don’t you also try to fit that much on one card once? Please let me participate a bit in your sorrows, your worries, your daily life.
Thanks for your advice, by the way, I’ll definitely take it to heart. I know almost nothing about the way things are at home; I’d be very happy if you could give me some pointers. It’s a shame that there is no way for me to improve my knowledge of French – I’m sure that’s really important for communicating with the authorities [grandpa’s town was under French occupation]. By the way: my comrade, Otto Steinhilber, who has returned from a British POW camp, wrote me a huge, yet totally pointless letter. He, of all people should know what a prisoner is interested in – I almost would have slapped him if I could.
By the way: we sometimes get German magazines here, and from what I read, it’s possible for POWs to receive the magazine “Der Start” [a camp-approved communist newspaper]. Please tell my mum to order this magazine for 3,90 every three months.
Please send my regards to my parents, my mom, etc. I hope your dad makes a quick recovery. All the best and all my love to you. Orion will rise soon – we’re having a nice, starry night. He’ll send you more greetings.
Forever yours, Eugen.
You can read the entire thread here .