World War II has been written about at length. However, when I started this series earlier in the year, I knew this slant would be very different than any written before. I was given permission to share the love stories of the German war bride.
The process of pen to paper allowed her to feel her husband and to sense his presence. He was right by her side. Even if only for a short time it took to write the letter. The war bride needed this outlet. It was all she had.
The paper was placed on the table neatly. Pressed by her hands each fine sheet was straighten out. This gesture was done lovingly as if she were touching her husband’s own face with a tenderness that at times she was beginning to forget all too soon although never to admit out loud.
This excerpt was taken from January 19, 1942 in Potsdam. You can begin to catch a glimpse of some alarming events as the war bride moved to be near family as she was about to give birth to her second child.
(Historical facts about this time frame in the war was that the Germans were starting to deport Jews to concentration camps. Extermination of the captured was to follow rapidly. Also the first American forces were beginning to arrive in Europe on the Northern Ireland shores).
“My dearest Willy! Saturday I received your letter #4, that was my greatest Sunday pleasure. In your last letter you had several wishes….partly already taken care of. I have been able to get the soap holder with cover and for your shaving soap. A can opener and pocket calendar is yet to be found, but I think I can get a calendar tomorrow or day after. I cannot get Rosodont at all, we have not been able to get toothpaste for a long time. Knitted gloves I was able to find, but I cannot send any packages right now. Everything is blocked again, nothing goes through…”
In another section of this letter, “… . But since two days ago the trains were all blocked again. But maybe that only affects transport trains. Willy, listen, we have already used 51 P. from your small card. For 1 nightgown,30, and 21 for Opa’s pullover. If you need more later, we can use Opa’s allotment card for purchases. His P’s are usable only after February. Your allotment was 80, total. You bought boots? That is very important, it would be unthinkable if your feet would freeze…..”
In a final section we read, “….. Last night was Terror attack in Frankfurt. It was awesome outside, everything was lit up like daylight. But nothing happened here….I hope that times will change for the better soon and that you can come home to your family….”
The initial introduction of the German war bride was shared with great anticipation last week on my blog. Today’s post has one idea in mind. It is to introduce that young bride. When receiving an overview of these letters, I spoke at length to her daughter. It is with great appreciation and her understanding of her mother I bring her to life. Here are some of her words about her mom:
“I can’t imagine the heartbreak, the shattered dreams and the deep despair which must have been a part of her young life. After five years of marriage, her husband is sent off into a senseless war. Many brave young men were lost due to a crazed madman’s atrocious notion and his inhumane methods of achieving a “pure German race.” Thousands of young widows became living monuments to the German people. They persevered in surviving Hitler’s insanity. They did this by keeping their family together and raising their children with good solid foundation and roots……My Mom was one those women….”
Letters of a German bride-excerpt two from March 14, 1940, 8 pm:
( Historical fact about this time frame in the war is that Adolf Hitler was planning his invasion of Norway and Denmark. The Swedish government permitted German troops to travel its railroads to Norway in June 1940, and to transport a whole division from Norway to Finland for its invasion of the Soviet Union. This German War Bride’s husband was sent to Norway during this time of the war. I will speak more of his duties on another post)
“…..You know, your mom’s letter was so sad and cut deep into my soul. Just think, a mother raises a child with all her love and care until he is grown. Then she must send him off to war, and all her heart and riches are within that child, blown away with the wind, like a flower in a storm. Oh, life can be so cruel. Please, calm her aching heart, Willy, so she will find some peace. A little card to her will let her know you are all right, you will find time for a little card, won’t you? My dearest Willy, my only love! My heart yearns and misses you so much. I can’t wait until Easter. Sometimes I am overcome with the desire to see you, I am tempted to take my child and hurry through the night and wind to you and into your arms. But this idea is so absurd, and then I feel so insignificant and small at the same time. I must remind myself to accept the fate that keeps us apart, and the fact that I can change nothing. We must trust God, that everything will turn out all right. I love you so much, my dearest Willy, like no other person in the world. My heart belongs to you and my child. For you two my heart beats and bears the pain …until the morning dew appears, a small star still twinkles in the morning sky, and you have been in my dreams all through the long and lonely night….”
Part I can be read here: https://alesiablogs.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/misguided-views-and-attitudes-the-german-war-bride/
During the next several decades after WWII, daughter and mother discussed those letters at different intervals. He never returned home and his body was never found. The author of those letters loved her husband more than life itself and never remarried. She cried insufferably at times to her daughter. When it seemed so unbearable for her to go on, The daughter finally said, “burn them.”
As time went on, the mother did get rid of the letters that were written by her husband. She did not destroy the ones she had written to him. As you travel along with these excerpts, remember that by the end of the war the German women outnumbered their counterparts by over 7 million. The atrocities of Hitler’s regime impacted everyone.
The letters not burned were preserved by that daughter.
Letters of a German bride-excerpt one:
February 20th, 1944 ( historical fact we know is that American and Russian forces were advancing on Germany.)
“My beloved Willy – our sweet, dear Vati! The days are passing here in anxious anticipation of what the future will bring. Whatever it is, my love, we must accept it. We cannot change the course of this mighty occurrence in this troubled time. We feel that something big will happen, feel that all this will come to an end soon. In my heart I hope that it will end well. It would be hard to understand that our great Germany will fall. This great nation, so strong – no I can’t and won’t believe that. I wish, and this is egotistical of me, that we will survive this war, that it will have a good ending for us, Willy, that I can again wrap my arms around you, be happy with you and my children, and be safe. Do you think this is too much to ask for? My heart is so homesick for you and I long to let you be strong for me again, protect me and spoil me. I need you so much – you are missed everywhere!”