2. Juli 1941
When we leave the village the next morning, we realise the cause of the Ukrainian people's rage. We encounter a funeral procession with 40 coffins - murdered Ukrainians, victims of Jewish Bolshevik bloodshed, we were told. I do not believe that the current wave of persecution is inspired by the Germans. The army has other tasks, and the party bigwigs are not here yet to my knowledge. But there were Jewish pogroms here repeatedly in the past. Elsewhere too. Where did the hatred of Jews come from? Does it have religious or racial reasons? Is it an instinctive defence against the invasion of a foreign people with a foreign language, religion or culture? Are there economic reasons? Is it the greater business acumen of the Jews with which they - sometimes unscrupulously - obtain economic advantages that arouse the envy of the established? Is it the reaction to ruthless financial pressures? (I remember the stories of a Polish relative from my youth about the brutal methods used by Jewish money lenders to drive Polish peasants from their homes and farms). Does hatred have political reasons? Perhaps the Jews really collaborated with the Bolshevik occupying power and are now exposed to Ukrainian retaliation? Who is right? Who knows the truth? I don't know. Moreover, we had strict instructions not to interfere in the affairs of the people.
Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels announces on the radio: "The Russian colossus lies smashed on the ground and will never rise again!" We look at each other in amazement, and then a mocking laugh passes through the ranks of the company. We are convinced that we will win, but it won't happen that quickly. Either the poison dwarf is lying again, or he really has no idea of the situation. Major Haarhaus also said recently that the campaign would be over in six weeks. Well, the six weeks are long gone... But I myself am beginning to doubt our victory. The godless Reich leadership has turned away from God with holier-than-thou hubris. It is the original sin of mankind which drove Adam out of paradise and also overthrew Beelzebub: accursed arrogance. They wanted to be like God themselves. Many things were symptomatic: the slogan "Gott mit uns" disappeared from our belt buckles. At the harvest festival in Bückeburg, people did not thank the Lord for the good harvest, but Hitler. In southern Germany, the suggestion was made to create a 'Hitler corner' in the front room instead of the Lord's corner. And when Churchill and Roosevelt were mocked war because they publicly prayed for victory, when Goebbels, that little man, proclaimed in a speech: "Do not praise Jesus Christ, but what makes hard!" then I suspect that we will lose the war. God does not let people mock him, and pride comes before the fall. Even if God's mills grind slowly.
The Führer reserve is being changed. I am returning to the fighting troops. I find my company in a village and report to the commander, a brave lieutenant, who explains to me with a pompous pose and a theatrical long face that the company already has two dead and several wounded. I take over a heavy machine-gun platoon. After moving my things to my quarters, I visit my comrades. Some already have the Iron Cross, 2nd class.
(Translation: R. Hargreaves)
- Die beiden im Original hier anschließenden Absätze zu den Kämpfen um Grodek wurden unter dem zutreffenen Datum 1941/Juni/29/en gespeichert.