Tuesday, March 27, 1945..............
SOMEWHERE IN GERMANY.............................
My darling Jo,
It has been several days since I have been able to write you, but I hope you haven't worried. As you must know by the time this reaches you, we have traveled fast and covered much territory. Sometimes we set up in towns; sometimes we are in the field. But the weather is friendly, so in the field things are not bad. I am now able to tell you that I have been in Saarbrucken, Saarguemines, Pirmasens, and Kaiserslautern, among the larger cities. I have more interesting experiences to tell you than one could imagine.
The first and most prominent thing we noticed in traveling from France, and moving into Germany, was the definitely hostile attitude of the German people, old and young. They stare at you sullenly, insolently, or just look the other way. Some of the kids, unable to cover their fiercer emotions, stick out their tongues, spit at you, or take mock pistol shots at you. The situation is much worse that I had expected. Experience already has taught us we will have to be on guard at all times. It is a sad mischief that allows the Germans to become the despoilers of their big and beautiful land. And it is beautiful -- in every way. But now those same descendants of the ancient Huns are finding out that war can be tough. When the Americans move into a town, they merely take over a section of the place and move the people out. This plan works very well. I suppose they expected us to be as soft as we were in 1918, but they are being surprised.
I have experience a trying day, and so I must hurry through this delayed letter. Will try to write tomorrow. Miss you and the Billy Boy very much.
Friday, April 6, 1945...................
SOMEWHERE IN GERMANY......................
Dear Henrietta, Sylvia, and Ross,
You no doubt have been wondering what ever became of a certain Russian, Rasputin by name, who forsook the keyboard some two years ago to take up the mop, broom, and eventually the rifle, and whose experiences since that time would have put the garrulous Gulliver to shame. I, Rasputin, have enjoyed some very tasty gossip of late from all of you kind people, and even the ivy covered Lt. Cook of the Cape Cod Cooks. So the foreign correspondent of the news bureau has a multitude of apologies to offer but hastens to remind that, since he became a spearhead, time, like democracy, is something he is fighting for. We have been on the move, into the Fatherland, for some time now, and, like the gypsies that we are, our home is wherever we lay our weary heads at night. The fast break was nothing like this.
Gone now are those early spring days we spent lazily in the green hills of Alsace, and, instead, we are rumbling around in a rugged terrain and surrounded by a mute, hostile people. We were accustomed to the friendly populace of Alsace, especially in the Saar region around Saareguemines and Bitche, in which locality we thrived for many weeks. Since then, I have seen many places, among them Kaiserslautern, Pirmasens, Saarbrucken, and towns on the east side of the Rhine. Saarbrucken, which I entered shortly after its capture, is in complete ruins, the giant caves inside the hills being the only habitable places. The city was crowned with refugees from every country in Europe when I saw it, and these gypsies were a sorry looking sight. They looked about as sad as I must have looked during basic training back in good old Fort Lewis. Germany is without doubt a beautiful country. The people lived very well in the last few years, and the contrast between conditions here and in France is appalling. The Germans hate us as conquerors. They are sullen and silent. The kids shake their fists, aim their toy guns at us, and even spit at our troops. There apparently is no hope for these maniacs. Don't believe anything you hear or read about the friendly attitude of the Germans. It's a correspondent's myth.
I guess you know now, friends, that the fightin' 44th was not in vain, all War Department opinion to the contrary notwithstanding. The outfit has done right well for itself over here. I suppose, of course, you know we took Mannheim in record time after getting in early on the Rhine bridgehead. I was a little disappointed in the Rhine. German rivers are generally of more scenic value than practical use, though the Rhine is fairly wide in places.
I guess things are progressing normally in Bloomington these days, what with Ross straightening out the Indiana General Assembly and Cook adding further luster by planning our future air strategy at Harvard. Tell Robert, whome I will write again, that Rasputin preceded him to Massachusetts by many months, the aforementioned Russian having spent a little time in Beantown in '44. Seriously, I'd much rather be back pounding the keyboard in Bloomington than chasing around Der Vaterland hunting Nazis. The novelty of this Army life was terminated 15 minutes after landing in Fort Harrison back in '43.
Oh, the folly of war. I think I'll uncork another bottle of Mannheim Rhine wine, which, incidently, is either very good or else Army cooks have violated my sense of taste.
Thanks a lot for the letters, Henrietta, and tell Sylvia I got her card O.K. Best regards to all three of you. Hope to see you soon. Don't forget to write to Rasputin-on-the-Rhine.