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An upper office informs us the roughly 2000 fallen soldiers of the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS have left behind only a little over 400 children.

Although many of the fallen were not yet married, such figures are nonetheless serious. The question of the replacement of each individual by new life cannot be postponed until after the war. Decisive are not the difficulties, rather the courage of our wives and mothers, on whom, despite victory of arms, the final decision depends. We hence publish today the letter of a comrade on the eastern front to his wife:

My Dear Wife!

Perhaps you did not expect to hear from me again so soon, but I feel strange: I wish to continue with you a conversation that we had started at home, but which – you will remember – did not really flow. But it is so that out here things show themselves in a strange way; they get a different face, become clearer – and more concrete.

But wait, my love! First, I must thank you! No, do not resist; it is now about the eternal. The front shows everything, even the most intimate, in a new light. I could again be with you, with you and the children, and spring blossoms around us. It was so rarely beautiful. Fancy words are not valued much out here, and between the two of us – how do they belong there? Nonetheless: I have never known the meaning of our struggle more deeply and more bindingly. You and the children and our common home: Is it not a small part, a cell of our greater, beautiful, German fatherland? I want to thank you above all for your still and self-evident courage, of which I know well that it weighs no less than the courage of the soldier. My thoughts are often with you, my love, with you and with our shared past. Oh, I could always be proud of you! Remember that day in the year of struggle 1932. You then carried our first child under your heart, and you certainly had reason to spare yourself. But when had you ever spared yourself when it was about me or the children? Back then it was about me. The Reds were always after me, and this time it looked like they would get me. I was just able to reach out house-door, and there they were, a whole pack. I was already getting ready for the defence, and then the door quietly opened behind me and you pulled me into the house. You had, as so often already, my good angel, stood by me; your worry would have not let you rest.

It also does not let you rest now; I know that well. So much more do I respect your brave, self-evident fulfilment of duty. It is after all so in this war, that all the sacrifices, even the most difficult, are to be born by front and homeland in common. And when you take our four children to the cellar during the Tommy’s frequent night bombing attacks, then we out here can best judge, what that means. How often have we spoken of these things in comrade circle, and I have also – not without pride, as I want to confess to you – described how “militarily exact” you have organized this nocturnal “taking cover”.

But I begin to diverse, and it is probably time that I come to the actual subject. Although all of that, the sacrifices, the action, the loyalty and the silent courage, although all of that already belongs to it, for without these things there would be no future. About the future, however, that is what I wanted to talk about with you. Has our Ingeborg told you that shortly before my departure she was with me in her little garden? Oh, she was indeed so proud to be able to show me her work, above all the little radish plants that she had herself planted. Just a little piece of earth, nurtured by child’s hand, but with what love and with what enthusiasm! To me, at any rate, became clear at that moment where our future and our deepest obligation are to be sought. The child hands of our Ingeborg dug in the earth; somewhere a weed probably showed itself, that she has previously overlooked; but I had to immediately make comparisons. I saw the loose, almost white sand run through the girl’s hands and then saw in my mind’s eye the thick, black earth out here. A gift from God that hardly anybody uses. What is accustomed is so easily taken for granted.

But we, my love, will one day with many other Germans find a new homeland. This beautiful, wide land, drenched with the blood of so many comrades, holds future for Germany and hence for us as well. Fertile land for people who cultivate it and pass it along to children and their children, over endless generations – there you have life’s final and deepest meaning!

It is not new to you, of course, what I say here; we have often talked about it, and our four children are the living witnesses of our affirmation of life and of the future.

But now, dearest wife, you want to give me a fifth child. Do you understand that at first I did not understand, when you shyly spoke of it? There is the war with all of its worries and efforts. From early until late our four soldiers keep you on your feet, and the bomb nights in the cellar dig into your already meagre rest. No, I did understand right away, and it required the return to the front and the new view that the struggle out here bestows. But now you know, why I spoke to you about life and future in this letter, why I had to again and again thank you, for it should be said once: I am endlessly proud of you!, and I am happy, that I may be so! We will have a fifth child, and it will live and prosper like the others. And one day our children will as free Germans cultivate the land that their father was allowed to help to win. So will our life be blessed.

For I will come again, my love; you should not worry about me. Faith and trust have helped us this far; they will continue to help us. One day a new morning will stand before our life, too. I am always with you and the children in love.

And now dear greetings from your Hein.

Heinrich Sternberg

Source: SS Leitheft, Year 8, Issue 2, 1942

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