Here are fragments of three letters, found on the killed Germans:
The steward Reinhard writes to Lieutenant Otto von Shirac:
"Frenchmen were taken from us to the factory. I selected six Russians from the Minsk region. They are much more hardy than Frenchmen. Only one of them died, the rest continued to work in the field and at the farm. Their maintenance costs nothing and we must not suffer from the fact that these beasts, whose children probably kill our soldiers, eat German bread. Yesterday I subjected two Russian rogues, who secretly devoured the skim milk, which was being intended for the pig wombs, to light flogging…"
Matthias Of Tsimlikh writes its brother corporal Heinrich Tsimlikh:
“In Leyden is a camp for the Russians, there it is possible to see them. Weapons they do not fear, but we with talk to them with the good old lash…”
Someone named Otto Essman writes Lieutenant Helmut Veygand:
"We here have captured Russians. These types devour worms on the tarmac of the airfield, they rush to eat from the trash bucket. I watched as they ate grass clippings. And to think that these are people…"
Slaveholders! They want to turn our people into the slaves. They export Russians, they taunt them, they lead them by hunger to folly, to the point where dying people eat grass, worms, and some dirty German with a stinking cigar in his teeth philosophizes: “Could these be human?”
WE KNOW EVERYTHING. WE REMEMBER EVERYTHING. We understand: Germans are not people. From now on, the word “German” is for us the most terrible curse…Do not count the days. Do not count the miles. Count only the Germans you kill. Kill the German! - your aged mother pleads with you. Kill the German! - your child begs you. Kill the German! - this is the cry of your Russian earth.
Ilya Ehrenburg, “убей!” [“KILL!”], Кра́сная звезда́ [Red Star], 24 July 1942
Translations of German names are of necessity phonetic.
Soviet soldier celebrating the raising of the USSR flag atop the Reichstag, May 1945
Normandy Invasion, 1944
From the Moving Images Relating to Coast Guard Activities series.
See our past D-Day posts, including Eisenhower’s Order of the Day, and his hastily drafted “in case of failure” note, and a detailed sketch of a typical Platoon Leader in full battle dress.
Quote with 11 notes
Three miles or so south of Caen the present-day tourist, driving down the arrow-straight road that leads to Falaise, sees immediately to his right a rounded bill crowned by farm buildings. If the traveller be Canadian, he would do well to stay the wheels at this point and cast his mind back to the events of 1944; for this apparently insignificant eminence is the Verrières Ridge. Well may the wheat and sugar-beet grow green and lush upon its gentle slopes, for in that now half-forgotten summer the best blood of Canada was freely poured out upon them.
In the face of devastating German fire, American troops land at Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Originally published in the June 19, 1944, issue of LIFE.See more photos here.
Actors waiting in the wings of Europe
we already watch the lights on the stage
and listen to the colossal overture begin.
For us entering at the height of the din
it will be hard to hear our thoughts, hard to gauge
how much our conduct owes to fear or fury.
Everyone, I suppose, will use these minutes
to look back, to hear music and recall
what we were doing and saying that year
during our last few months as people, near
the sucking mouth of the day that swallowed us all
into the stomach of a war. Now we are in it
and no more people, just little pieces of food
swirling in an uncomfortable digestive journey,
what we said and did then has a slightly
fairytale quality. There is an excitement
in seeing our ghosts wandering…
Captain Keith Douglas (1920-1944), “Actors Waiting in the Wings of Europe”
Keith Douglas was killed in action while serving with the Sherwood Foresters Yeomanry in Normandy on D+3, June 9.
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Napoleon tried it. The Dutch were on the way.
A Norman did it — and a Dane or two.
Some sailor King may follow one fine day;
But not, I think, a low land-rat like you.
Photo with 11 notes
Lockheed Hudson maritime reconnaissance plane of 220 Squadron (Motto: “We Observe Unseen”) near Dunkirk during the May 1940 evacuation. The smoke is from burning fuel oil storage tanks, and could be seen from across the channel.
Let these memorials of built stone - music’s
enduring instrument, of many centuries of
patient cultivation of the earth, of English
be joined with the memory of this defence of
and the memory of those appointed to the grey
ships - battleship, merchantman, trawler -
contributing their share to the ages’ pavement
of British bone on the sea floor
and of those who, in man’s newest form of gamble
with death, fight the power of darkness in air
and of those who have followed their forebears
to Flanders and France, those undefeated in
defeat, unalterable in triumph, changing nothing
of their ancestors’ ways but the weapons
and those again for whom the paths of glory are
the lanes and the streets of Britain:
to say, to the past and the future generations
of our kin and of our speech, that we took up
our positions, in obedience to instructions.
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