24. Dezember 1945
In the afternoon, peeling potatoes. 6 pm dinner. 7 p.m. celebration in the "club hall". Afterwards we go back to our barracks and eat what we have been saving for days, celebrate "privately" a little more, exchange congratulations. A feeling of community in fate and comradeship revives. In the corner of the barracks the Christmas tree we cut in the forest is standing, decorated with twinkling tin stars we cut out of yellow and white tin cans, hung with tinfoil strings and dabbed with cotton wools from the hospital barracks. Silhouettes with Christmas motifs are stuck to the windows.
Ivan asks us to work again, with the usual mendacious promises: Wages, better food, earlier return home and a document about reparations made! I sign up as a carpenter. If I'm to work, then I want to learn something more.
The Russian does not supply the amount of food we are entitled to. There are reasons that can be accepted: The food question has always been a problem for the Russian people, at least since Soviet rule. The Russians themselves do not have much to eat, and so it will remain. Now an army of millions of prisoners of war must also be fed. In addition, there are inexcusable reasons: The Russian camp commander sells our rations and pockets the money. The Russian guards also help themselves from our already pitiful stocks. The German (Antifa!) kitchen staff also steals, they cheat us when serving meat, steal the cooked food from the kettle or the potatoes we have peeled. All this has been proven several times. For weeks there has been no fat and no sugar. Not even coffee at Christmas. Complaints from our camp doctors to the Latvian (now Russian) Ministry of the Interior have only short-term success. The Russian subsequently supplies a fraction of what has been withheld, and soon the old scams start again. He can never be accused of having failed to deliver.But what he delivers is so minimal compared to what he stole before that it doesn't even count. Ivan is a ••• S. 294 ••• sly old fox. And Michael the German keeps believing and hoping.
The Russian may think that he is treating us decently. He keeps pointing it out and comparing it to the standard of living of the population. But the Russian standard of living is so low that it cannot do justice to our habits. What we simply take for granted is a luxury for him. I have observed several times that the Russian does not need toilet paper. At least he didn't use any. So why should he provide us with toilet paper?! There is no wood either. We stole our firewood needs from the rafts on the Daugava at night with the Russian's knowledge. To this end he even risked letting us out of camp at night without guarding us. We are in one of the most forested areas on earth, but there is neither wood nor paper! As an excuse, we keep hearing: "You must understand..." Or even more often, "Saftra budit!", tomorrow will be! Especially this last consolatory saying has already become a standing idiom. We already speak of "Saftrabudism" with gentle derision.
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- cf. Bogg p. 48
- завтра будет