“Lying enemy propaganda never tires of accusing us of giving the German people a false or incomplete picture of the battles in the East. They are best refuted by letters from our soldiers.”
The homeland hears about events at the front in an unbelievably short time. German radio often brings reports in the evening of deeds of arms that occurred only a few hours earlier, and the German newsreel includes pictures brought by air directly from the battlefields. The German people have almost direct contact with the accomplishments of their soldiers through the words, pictures, and reporting of modern news media. Past generations could not feel so closely bound to their family members.
Still, the best and most personal source of news in war is and remains the letter. That which the husband or son, the brother, or the bridegroom puts on paper during a brief rest is not only longed for and treasured news from a beloved and irreplaceable person, but also a testimony and a report from one heart to another, one that speaks the right language. During World War I, the letters from the soldiers in field gray recorded the experiences and the integrity of determined fighters who were willing to give their all. During this war, too, millions of German soldiers have reported their powerful experiences. Every family carefully preserves these letters. In party local groups, within National Socialist organizations and in factories, these letters from comrades are passed from hand to hand as eyewitness reports of upright German men.
This pamphlet is a random sample of such letters. They were sent to us by citizens of every class and region. Many of them included this note: “As I read this letter, I thought that others had to read it, too.”
Yes, that is true! There are millions of German citizens who do not have that direct contact with the front. They need to read these letters. They all deal with a theme that is particularly relevant today for the entire German people: What does the Soviet Union really look like?
Sometimes people think the Führer’s propagandists exaggerate, though actual events have proven that what they say is less than the full truth. One thinks of the role of the Jews in unleashing this war or the horrors Poland committed against ethnic Germans. Some citizens who complained then about exaggerated reports of persecution and suffering today complain about 60,000 graves, victims of Polish murderers!
But the most convincing proof of the difference between what was said and reality is clear from the revelations about Bolshevism. This unmasking is particularly important, because millions of German citizens put their faith in the lying words of Jewish-communists. They were told that within the borders of the Soviet Union there was “the workers’ paradise, the true home of the workers of the world.” When National Socialist newspapers and books spoke of the social betrayal in the Soviet Union, or of the horrible mass murders, the misery of children, the hopeless poverty of the entire population, some doubted these well-founded and carefully considered statements.
Now there are millions of reliable witnesses in the middle of this “worker’s paradise.” They cannot be doubted. They are not traveling along carefully prepared streets, nor can Intourist guide them through a carefully selected factory. They must march meter by meter through the country. They fight for each village and each city, they see face-to-face the people who were for nearly 25 years the objects of Bolshevist domination.
Now these German soldiers write to their dear ones at home. They write what they have experienced an hour before. The letters are not always literary masterpieces. But they are as genuine as the men who wrote them.
Some soldiers do not conceal the fact that they were not always National Socialists. There are even letter writers who faced legal penalties for their support for communism in the past. Nearly all of them remember the communist phrases and doctrines of the System Era [before 1933]. They did not march into the Soviet Union expecting to find everything bad, but rather they were eager to see how things really were in the land of Lenin and Stalin. They reported what they saw, often in hastily written letters.
These letters are lined up here like a company on the front. They are not on parade, but rather ready for battle. Some soldiers and some letters are large or small, broad or narrow, intelligent or less so, sparse or enthusiastic. We see in the newsreels the faces of marching soldiers who greet us, sometimes tired and exhausted, always however with a clear, confident look and in the firm conviction that they are in the service of a good cause. These letters are the same.
They are only a small part of the enormous material available. There will certainly be some citizens who say: “We have received better and more interesting letters. That is fine. We can agree. We have chosen only letters that were clearly written with no expectation of later publication, letters that give an idea of what has impressed our soldiers.
Those Germans who read these letters, and those who wrote them, ask the question: “What would have happened to our women, mothers and children if the Bolshevist tanks and murderers had overrun our homeland?”
Surely many more reports of the Führer’s great campaigns will reach the public. Even now the whole nation is waiting for the hour when the secrets can be revealed and the deeds of those made clear who today are unknown heroes.
None of those later reports will surpass the immediacy of these simple soldiers’ letters, which are being published even as the fighting army is in the midst of bloody battles on the wide plains of the East. Perhaps some of the letter writers will read this small book in the hospital. Perhaps one or two say their last words in these letters.
That is why these letters move us so deeply. They demonstrate that this decisive battle did not come from the lust for power or conquest, from political vanity or excessive fanaticism. That is what our enemies say. But these letters show that the culture of Germany and of Europe hang on this battle. It will decide whether subhuman Bolshevism destroys all that which is noble and holy to Germans, or whether the German soldier and his brave allies will build the foundation of a new era of peace and freedom.
The soldiers whose letters here reach the public believe, along with all their comrades, in the necessity of the struggle and in the certainty of victory. Who can be less confident than these men who not only stared the world enemy Bolshevism in the eye, but also defeated it wherever they encountered it!
These letters touch on every aspect of life. Everything that concerns soldiers has been set on paper. Naturally the purely personal and family matters have been edited out, as have military details that could be of use to the enemy. We were able to select only the most interesting sections of letters. In each case, the name of the sender and his military address is given, often also the address of the receiver. That should bring pleasure to the writer who sees his words in print. It should also make it impossible for doubters to question the genuineness of the letters.