A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War: Russia, 1941-1944

The title of this blog is also the title of a book written by Willy Peter Reese.

He was born on born January 22, 1921 in Duisburg. It is not clear when he died but it estimated he more then likely died between June 22 and 27, 1944 near Wizebsk in the Soviet Union.

Willy Peter Reese was a German writer. During the Second World War , as a Wehrmacht soldier on the Eastern Front, he kept records of his experiences, which he edited into a manuscript. It was published in 2003 with the title “A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War: Russia, 1941-1944”

In the book he describes the things he sees on the battlefields and the crimes which are committed. He is clearly disgusted by it, but even more so because he is a participant in these horrific deeds because he was a soldier.

He was only twenty years old when he found himself marching through Russia with orders to take no prisoners. Three years later he was dead. Bearing witness to-and participating in-the atrocities of war, Reese recorded his reflections in his diary, leaving behind an intelligent, touching, and illuminating perspective on life on the eastern front. He documented the carnage perpetrated by both sides; the destruction that was exacerbated by the young soldiers’ hunger, frostbite, and exhaustion; and their daily struggle to survive. And he wrestled with his own sins, with the realisation that what he and his fellow soldiers had done to civilians and enemies alike was unforgivable, with his growing awareness of the Nazi policies toward Jews, and with his deep disillusionment with himself and his fellow men.

I have to be honest I have only read some of the book. In a way it is an easy read in the way it is written, but is extremely hard to read because if the descriptive narration of the horrors. I will however finish the book soon.

One thing that is very clear from the book is that it wasn’t only the SS committing atrocities, but also the regular German army, the Wehrmacht.

These are just two excerpts from the book.

“We are war. Because we are soldiers. I have burned all the cities, Strangled all the women, Brained all the children, Plundered all the land. I have shot a million enemies, Laid waste the fields, destroyed the churches, Ravaged the souls of the inhabitants, the blood and tears of all the mothers. I did it, all me.—I did. Nothing. But I was a soldier.”

“Our quarters were wrecked, and there were corpses littered about everywhere. We covered the German dead with tarpaulins; with the Cossacks we took off their felt boots and caps, as well as their pants and underpants, and put them on. We now moved closer together in the few houses still standing. One soldier had been unable to find any felt boots, which were an excellent protection against the cold. The next day he found a Red Army corpse frozen stiff. He tugged at his legs, but in vain. He grabbed an ax and took the man off at the thighs. Fragments of flesh flew everywhere. He bundled the two stumps together under his arm and set them down in the oven, next to our lunch. By the time the potatoes were done, the legs were thawed out, and he pulled on the bloody felt boots. Having the dead meat next to our food bothered us as little as if someone had wrapped his frostbite between meals or cracked lice.”

sources

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/words-war-11

https://www.academia.edu/3420145/Sexual_Violence_in_Europe_in_World_War_II_1939_1945_in_Politics_and_Society_March_2009?email_work_card=view-paper

Evil recorded.

wEHRMACHT

Secret recordings made by British intelligence during World War II War have laid bare  the horrific atrocities carried out by everyday German soldiers.Not members of the SS, ‘regular’Wehrmacht soldiers.

Following is the transcript of one of those recordings, The only name related to the recording is Reimbold, his position I don’t know but that is really not relevant for the event he describes is truly shocking.

I have to warn you .some of the language is awful so I have made some alterations.

Reimbold: “In the first officers’ prison camp where I was being kept here, there was a really stupid guy from Frankfurt , a young lieutenant, a young upstart. There were eight of us sitting around a table and talking about Russia . And he said: ‘Oh, we caught this female spy who had been running around in the neighborhood. First we hit her in the tits with a stick and then we beat her rear end with a bare bayonet. Then we f*cked her, and then we threw her outside and shot at her. When she was lying there on her back, we threw grenades at her. Every time one of them landed near her body, she screamed.’ And just think, there were eight German officers sitting at that table with me, and they all broke out laughing. I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I got up and said: Gentlemen, this is too much.”

gRENADES

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Source

Der Spiegel

 

Michael Kitzelmann, his conscience got the better of him.

Michael Kitzelmann

It would be absurd to say that every German soldier was bad. There were some who saw what was happening and protested against it and paid the ultimate price for it.

Michael Kitzelmann had been a loyal soldier of the Wehrmacht. He was company commander at the age of  24,  and was awarded the Iron Cross,Second Class for bravery in battle. He was also a devout Catholic.  In letters to his parents and in talks with his fellow soldiers he would be critical  of war and destruction of those responsible,during Operation Barbarossa.Russland, Halbkettenfahrzeug mit Geschütz

Between January and May 1942 he was assigned  to a unit combating  partisans in Russia, where he witnessed  atrocities committed by  the Einsatzgruppen  on the Russian population and against the Jews.

Traumatized and shocked by these experiences he started to re-examine his conscience. He to detest the Nazis and openly criticize commands.

His attitude resulting from a Christian rejection of war and the Nazi leaders responsible became  apparent in his letters home and discussions with fellow soldiers.

A  comrade betrayed  him in March 1942, whilst he  was being treated for an injury in a hospital. Kitzelmann was subsequently arrested in April 1942.  On Good Friday 1942,he was  sentenced to death for undermining military force.

He  was executed  by firing squad on 11 June 1942 in Oryol prison.Before his execution, he forgave the sergeant who had betrayed him.

Orel_Tsentral-Prison_in_old

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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