So there I was, sifting through some old and faded looking postcards in a flea market in deepest Berlin. I had just uncovered two postcards from the 40’s and continued my rifling through history…
The next item I found didn’t seem as remarkable, it was postcard shaped but didn’t have an image on the front or a stamp, just a lot of writing in pencil. On closer inspection I saw it had the infamous Nazi symbol stamped on it, an eagle above a swastika. This striking image still gets a strong reaction from people, it just seems to emanate evil.
This is a postcard written by a German soldier in Berlin on 17th July 1942. The speech at the bottom is a piece of typical Nazi propaganda from Hitler. Roughly translated it says
“What the front sacrifices cannot be rewarded with anything. Yet also, that which the homeland sacrifices has to one day be able to hold in the face of history.”
I recently got the message translated by Gerda Dinwiddie, who knows how to read Sutterlin, the old form of German writing. The soldier wrote –
Berlin N 63
Service degree: Soldier
First and last name: Ar. Schmick(?)
Field post number: 11092
Written during the journey, will deliver it at the final destination; that way you’ll get it sooner. Now, you all stay well. Regards to you all.
The letter is short and does not give much away about the state of the war, I asked Gerda about this. She said –
“I have transcribed a lot of postcards from both world wars, and found that many are similar, just talking about the ordinary things of life just as in peace time, and often just scribbled greetings, which to me seem to be meant literally as a “sign of life”, that they are still all right. They practically never expressed any of their fears or hardships directly, were not allowed to give their exact position when writing postcards from the field. In letters sometimes you get a few sentences about the war situation among the ordinary things.I was touched, how so many soldiers wrote home from the field to send birthday and such greetings home to family members and always inquired about their well-being back home.”