29. Juni 1941
In Grodek we experience the first enemy shellfire. The Reds shoot at the tower of the village church, which is about 500 metres away. The shells hiss and whistle, fly over our heads with a gentle hiss and explode in a small cloud of smoke about 400 metres behind our quarters. Next to me is a young lieutenant. He is pale, and in his face there's trembling fear. I don't know what kind of face I've made, but I'm certainly not afraid. After all, I am impressed. For the first time I experiencing war, deadly war. It speaks loudly and clearly. These shells are more forceful than all moral admonitions. They taken men abruptly to the edge of life and raise the question of the meaning of life and death. It is astounding how a single shell landing can bring about profound changes in senses and suddenly make the meaning and value of life appear in a completely different light. When war brings people to self-contemplation, to good intentions or even to prayer, then there has to be a little good about it.
Later, when battles and close combat were part of our daily routine, I had to smile about these first harmless shells, but they had done their work at that time, although many good intentions were forgotten again, as so often in life.
(Translation: R. Hargreaves)
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