19. Juli 1948
19 July. One man in accident while loading. - On Monday 2 large OK and K3 transports. Generosity is unknown to the Russian. Only the sick and useless he sends home. It is shameful and provoking to anger that an older people of culture has to tolerate the oppression by these primitives. But then, this does not happen for the first time in history.
We are in Sloboda. It is a small forest village with a tiny wooden church and the typical onion-shaped roof. It is almost an idyllic place. The church is surrounded by a barbed wire fence and serves as a prison camp. The interior of the church is almost lightless because of the tiny windows. The room is crammed with wooden cots that are horribly bugged. Fortunately, our detachment is housed in a new barrack recently built next to the church. We are told that 400 men came here in May 45. Two months later they were all OK, undernourished. Here, too, ration fraud, sweets instead of sugar, good products sold, exchanged for worse ones and given to us. Percentages only for hard work. As if logging wasn't hard work! - These are huge, almost untouched forests where we work. The forest floor is covered with blueberry bushes over large areas. During a lunch break, I take my mess kit and sneak off to pick blueberries. Of course, it is forbidden to stray from the workplace, even more so in the forest. But I don't need to go far, because after just a few steps I am in the middle of the blueberries. I start picking. The berries are sitting so massively on the plants that after a short time I have almost filled my mess kit. I slowly slide forward on my knees and gather the berries with both hands. Then I flinch and turn around. A guard is standing behind me, his rifle pointed down at me at an angle. I hadn't heard him coming. He noticed that from my fright, and the successful surprise filled him with satisfaction. Maybe that's why he let me carry on picking. It makes a nice soup. You can also eat it raw or sell it in the camp, or to Russians.
We are logging in groups of three. Two men cut down the tree and the third removes the branches. Other groups take care of the removal. They carry the trunks to the forest road where they are picked up by trucks. The loose branches are piled up in big heaps. In my group, Werner Gräser works with a comrade who always cuts down 6 trees in a hurry and then takes a break because I can't keep up with the cutting of the branches. I have a good, razor-sharp axe with which I can shave off branches as thick as an arm with a single blow. But it is not without danger.
After work we are allowed to leave the fenced camp. It's almost in the village. But only a few make use of it, because it's hardly worth it. I, however, as a newcomer, go out and stroll along the small village street, along which there are about a dozen little houses that already form the whole village. Behind one of the houses I see a girl working in the garden. She has harvested tomatoes. I go to her and ask her for a tomato. While I am still talking to her, her father comes out of the house. It is the Russian camp commander. He passes by without a word.
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- see footnote under 27 Apr 1947
- There are many places called Sloboda (List in Wikipedia - list in Google Maps), but only this one seems to be close to a church, which, however, is in the neighbouring village of Gatsets.
- Nomen est omen? In Silesia, from where the family came, the name „Schrödter“ means „somebody who disbranches the stems“.