29. Juli 1945

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Chronik 40–45

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Chronik 45–49

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Deutsch
GEO & MIL INFO
6 and 9 Aug: Atomic bombings
16 Aug[1]: Death of daughter Bärbel

29.7.45. Typical for me: While I am dealing with spiritual problems in our discussion groups, realistic comrades are striving to get outside with a work detail to do business and supplement their rations.

I'm trying to take stock of the war in a way. I had volunteered for war service. I went into the war with youthful cluelessness, into the huge, successful offensives of the first years and into the Æsir–Vanir War of the defensive battles in the last years. These were unimaginable tests of physical and mental endurance that repeatedly subjected a person's worth to scrutiny. What motivated me to volunteer at that time was, apart from other feelings, also a sense of duty. And in many situations where courage and toughness were not enough to master a situation, the sense of duty did.

War is always and everywhere in the world. Even life in peacetime is often struggle and war. Only the forms and means change. In the end, war is only another form of the struggle for existence, as it takes place continuously in nature. In contrast to the animal, however, man is given the reason to satisfy his life's needs in a reasonable manner. That is why he is guilty when he provokes a war without need. War is a consequence of human weaknesses, mistakes and wickedness, which lead to injustice. In the eternal change of times, the panta rhei, the coming into being and passing away in this world, nations have no historical ownership rights. The stronger in each case will always want to increase its possessions, be it out of justified necessity, be it out of unjustified hunger for power. And he even creates the legal basis for it. Among the leading statesmen and political cliques, there are always overly ambitious, fame-seeking, power-hungry, greedy or fanatical creatures whose actions ultimately lead to wars. Yet the blame often lies not even with the living, but with previous generations. Or not with those who started the war, but with those who provoked it.

And who can comprehend the powerful currents of the subconscious in a people, which continue to work in the soul of the people for centuries and elude human control! The history of mankind has its iron laws. We may have recognised them in part, but we cannot change them. And has man ever learned from history?

Anyone who believes that wars can be avoided is a fool because he does not see or does not want to see the ambivalent nature of man, his wickedness and weaknesses. And anyone who believes that an appeal to the ridiculous spark of reason in man could succeed is an unworldly dreamer. But stupidity is also one of man's eternal gifts. Have these fools never heard what excesses an inflamed, fanatical mass, a rabble, is capable of? They should stand in front of such a mob and exhort them to reason!

Even among family members related by blood, there is murder and manslaughter. And some child-headed people think they can pacify the world forever! Do these surely good-believing but naïve apostles of peace really believe that they can bring peace to Asians and Africans, Turks and Persians, or that they can win a Genghis Khan, Attila, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, Stalin or Hitler, or today an Arab Muslim or a Shi'ite such as Ayatollah Khomeini[2] for a European or even Christian idea of peace? Do these peace enthusiasts not know that even today whole peoples voluntarily go to war for their God, their religion or their freedom?

I certainly support every sensible initiative for peace in the world. I am only annoyed by the unrealistic ideas and expectations of ignorant world improvers who want to build castles in the air and turn the earth into a cloud-cuckoo's land.

Wars are terrible scourges on peoples. A war is always a biological counter-selection. The best, the healthiest, the bravest are sacrificed, and the weak, the frail, the cowards and the shirkers survive. However, modern war has changed these conditions somewhat. A long war also has a demoralising effect and leads to moral neglect. It causes hardship, pain, despair, cruelty, blood and tears. It destroys irreplaceable cultural values and talents. It uproots people and entire nations. And it sweeps up the decadence which, in the post-war period, continues its work of destruction of culture and morals that began in the war.

But even without war, entire cultures have perished. Perhaps all this is part of the eternal ups and downs in the world, like the ebb and flow of nature. How much life does a human being destroy just by walking across a meadow! What do we know about the laws according to which our and the world's life proceeds? Or of God's plans for us and this world? Perhaps wars are a Godly scourge after all, a deserved punishment for humanity? The fact that it causes many innocent people to suffer happens every day, even in peace. This too is quite incomprehensible to us.

War also has positive effects. It is the chastening rod of peoples who have become immoderately spoiled and overconfident through power and wealth and who have lost their sense of real values and a sensible way of life. They are forcibly returned by war to the modest but healthy conditions of life.[3] For wealth and immoderate lust for life have destroyed the physical and mental health of whole peoples to a far worse extent than many a war.

For me, too, the war triggered many a positive effect.[4] Although there were hours when I cursed him, I still wouldn't want to miss him from my life. I owe him many suggestions for shaping my personality, much life experience and knowledge of human nature. The war has shaped me faster and more energetically than peacetime ever could. Grenades are a radical means of education. The force of warlike events often and quickly brought me to my senses. You realise what is essential for life and what is unimportant. One becomes more honest with oneself and recognises one's shortcomings and faults. It is difficult to put into words, but I was somehow closer to the transcendental. I have never felt the closeness of God as intensely as I did precisely in hours of danger during the battles. And never has the goodness and mercy of God become so often apparent to me as during the war. The war has tossed me back and forth not only on the European continent, but also between good and evil. In the end, however, it has brought my thoughts and actions to a clear and simple line.

And many an indifferent person has thought about God and the meaning of his life and made at least a few good resolutions, which would never have occurred to him before.

I myself have learned one more thing above all, if it was not already innate in me: modesty and gratitude. Who has never spent day and night in a hole in the ground in pouring rain, who has never shivered into the grey morning with chattering teeth, soaked to the skin and dirty and tired, can never really appreciate the benefit of a modest roof over his head. Who never had to endure day and night under the open sky in icy frost and piercing wind can never properly appreciate the comfort of a warm room. Who never had to go hungry because the food did not come or was frozen stone-hard, never learns to know the blessing of even the humblest meal. Who never had to sleep on a bare, rock-hard floor will never grasp what a blessing a simple camp bed can be.

The comforts of life that we take so much for granted, and the daily bread that we sometimes even find fault with, are by no means so matter-of-fact. I have learned that thoroughly. And I have learned to renounce.

Suffering also has its place in God's plan of salvation, but people often do not understand its sense. Whether we say war instead of illness or other suffering is only a subtle difference. We can also turn illness or war into a task. If we take on the suffering of war as atonement for our transgressions, we can even turn the misfortune of war into our salvation. But only a faithful person understands this.

Wars are like a fever that shakes a nation, like diseases the organism, or like a bloody operation that is inevitable to cure. There are inevitable wars. Wars of defence, wars of freedom, wars of unification have moral justification. Even the First and Second World Wars were only final links in a chain of malpractices for which the statesmen of all nations bear more or less blame, perhaps even unintentionally. Man is simply imperfect. Moreover, he is good and evil. And the best can't live in peace if it doesn't please the evil neighbour![5]

One rails against the horrors of war, but the horrors of our present peacetime are just as bad. I think only of the countless dead and crippled victims of our modern traffic, the victims of violent crime of all kinds, the daily rapes, the abortion murders of defenceless children, the victims of alcohol and drug addiction and countless lifestyle diseases. I am thinking of the nameless misery and mental anguish of countless children and women from divorced marriages, or of children who have to listen to their parents quarrel for years, the appallingly high rate of juvenile delinquency, the brutalisation and moral neglect also of today's youth, the catastrophic effects of which we can hardly estimate. I seriously wonder whether worse things can happen in war than the sum of these crimes in our splendid peacetime.

Comrades recount:

“Comrades recount”, a text section without guarantee for the truth of what is narrated[6]

In Baranavichi, the Russians embezzled Red Cross packages for prisoners of war and sold them at the bazaar. In Vilnius, the prisoners of war had to pay 150 rubles for a parcel before they got it. When they were then handed over, they were empty. - The Russian garrison wants to celebrate a feast and borrows 50 spoons from the prison camp for this purpose. When they are finally returned after repeated requests, there are far fewer and all bad, exchanged ones. - Wilke recounts: Of his 25 (class?) mates, 10 were in Western custody. They have all been released. There are 15 in Russia, only 3 of them are back, all of them distrophic (malnourished)[7] - Rudi Böhm: 15 dead on the transport from Stalino to Minsk. They were given no drinking water. - A Russian officer's wedding: herring with jacket potatoes. The cake eaten of the palms. Table licked (it was without a blanket anyway) - A German officer was sentenced "because he was responsible for the death of Russian people as a result of his 'perseverance' in battle."(!) - In the hospital, the entire Russian staff eats from the prisoners' kitchen. Sisters bring their dry bread with them, then go to the magazine (rations camp) and smear the fat thickly on their bread. - In a camp with Japanese prisoners, they insisted that their general stay with them. They only listen to him, not to the Russians. They only work as much as they want. They do the work as sport and training. The Russian has put German brigadiers (team leaders) in front of them in the hope that they will make the Japs work harder. The prisoners are entitled to food that corresponds to their home diet. The Japanese were therefore entitled to rice, which they never received. Potatoes, however, were unpalatable to them. So they stopped working and one morning they remained lying on their cots. The Russian guards beat them half to death, but they remained lying on their planks, adamant. Some time later the rice was there!

End of “Comrades recount”, a text section without guarantee for the truth of what is narrated

The German prisoners of war could never be persuaded to take such a united stand, to their own detriment. As Churchill said about the Germans: "Arrogant in victory and without backbone in defeat!"[8] He hit the nail right on the head!

Where diligence and work are necessary, the German has achieved great success. His technical and scientific achievements are undisputed throughout the world. But in the field of politics and diplomacy, he has almost always failed. Even when he has temporarily played a leading political or military role, it never lasted long. Diplomatic skill is not to be found in the German national character. He has produced few great statesmen. Too many unsuitable people are seated in leading positions, and he has often been guided more by the political interests of others than by his own. In the Boxer Rebellion and at Waterloo he took the fall. More recently, he has been the milking cow for the European Economic Community, without making political capital out of his economic power. He also has no national feeling and certainly no national pride, like all the other peoples. Added to this is the proverbial German discord. In the past, the Germanic tribes fought each other, later the German princes did the same, and today we are wasting money and energies through the jealousies of the German states among each other. And all over the world, countless Germans are giving away their skills to their host countries. German cultural fertiliser for other states.


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Editorial 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 Epilog Anhang

January February March April May June July August September October November December Eine Art Bilanz Gedankensplitter und Betrachtungen Personen Orte Abkürzungen Stichwort-Index Organigramme Literatur Galerie:Fotos,Karten,Dokumente

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31.

Erfahrungen i.d.Gefangenschaft Bemerkungen z.russ.Mentalität Träume i.d.Gefangenschaft

Personen-Index Namen,Anschriften Personal I.R.477 1940–44 Übersichtskarte (Orte,Wege) Orts-Index Vormarsch-Weg Codenamen der Operationen im Sommer 1942 Mil.Rangordnung 257.Inf.Div. MG-Komp.eines Inf.Batl. Kgf.-Lagerorganisation Kriegstagebücher Allgemeines Zu einzelnen Zeitabschnitten Linkliste Rotkreuzkarte Originalmanuskript Briefe von Kompanie-Angehörigen

  1. only learned on 17 April 1946
  2. Khomeini appeared from 1963 onwards; this helps to date the beginning of the writing of the typescript.
  3. As alarming as these remarks may be, in the eyes of the author they have been valid up to his time. In today's time of asymmetrical wars, however, war only makes the poor poorer and the "peoples who have become immoderately spoiled and overconfident through power and wealth" even more powerful, rich, spoiled and overconfident.
  4. The author later admitted that he was perhaps only able to think this way because he survived the war relatively unscathed.
  5. adapted from Friedrich Schiller: "The most pious man can't stay in peace if it doesn't please his evil neighbour." (Wilhelm Tell Act IV, sc. iii)
  6. From the preface: I cannot necessarily vouch for the truthfulness of the "Comrades recount" sections. With such reports, exaggerations and pomposity on the part of the narrators cannot be ruled out, although I personally do not doubt the truth of these reports in principle from my own knowledge and experience.
  7. Today, Dystrophy is no longer understood to mean malnutrition itself, but a clinical picture as a result of malnutrition.
  8. Perhaps this refers to Churchill's statement on 19 May 1943 before Congress, with which he probably quoted a saying: "The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet." (Churchill in His Own Words, 62).