Letter of german soldier Sandt
English translation of Heinrich Sandt's letter to his wife Elisabeth from 29.6.1941. He writes about what he saw at the "Lietukis Garage" in Kaunas (Vytautas Prospect Massacre).
Translation made by Christine Bombeck. (Thanks a lot!)
My dear Elizabeth,
we are still situated in Kowno with the complete division baggage train. How far the companies have come yet, I don't know. Anyhow, for K. the war is over. She has become a stage town overnight. By the way, today is thought to be Sunday. I do not know. I just know that it is currently raining. Therefore I've retired into the driver's seat of my car. The blotting pad is lying on the wheel, so everything is ok.
As farer you get eastwards, the dirtier and more disgusting -by our standards- the cities become. K. indeed has certain beautiful and wide streets with modern boulevards. But it all looks so modern, very built overnight. The advanced objectiveness of the time of World War and the following periods characterizes the city center. But once you turn off the boulevard into the side alleys: small, partially unpaved, derelict wooden houses, smelly from dirt. You really have to hold your nose. This smell neither disappears in the big streets. Instead K. is draped in a cloud of smog that smells of all lifestyle habits and filthiness of the East. How deeply and freely you breathe while reaching the city boundary!
My first action in K. was to get some beer. Fortunately I was one of the first. The run was so large, because all units wanted to drink beer, that finally the Field Gendarmerie had to intervene imposing order. The brewery expended beer and the grunts made ample use of it. Somewhen the women who worked in the factory arrived. They have been very outgoing and soon pictures have been developed that just could not be tolerated anymore. Yes, this is war. Only good that during army the iron broom is still prevailing, it just doesn't work without it. In the afternoon I drove into Kowno again. The setting became more lively. The Lithuanian self protection and White Russians speeded on trucks through the city and hunted the Jews down. In front of a cemetery, which layed on the one side of the street and a garage on the other side, a big crowd of people was gathered. Already from far one could see the excitement with which the crowd participated in the incidents that happened on the wide square before the garage.
While bending my steps toward this square, I heard a crying and groaning, a laughter and hooting, swearing and screaming. Then I saw iron bars, gunstocks, wooden cudgels and other items speeding downwards, as if someone was striking on something with anger and ire. And right: the Jews have been herded up and battered here. It was a scene that could not be exceeded in scariness and gruesomeness. Therefore I refuse to go into great detail. This evening the … people celebrated a public festival on top of the corpses of the Jews battered to death. An accordion played and the mob danced on top of the corpses jeering and whooping. The women have been the worst. Even heavily pregnant women delighted in this dance of the dead. Meanwhile the Field Gendarmerie has intervened. From that moment on the Jews have been treated more humanly, i.e. they have still been herded together in hundreds with weapons and then shot. But before they have to dig their own's grave. Only the Slav can be that cruel.
Naturally the Lithuanians are favorably disposed towards us as we have disabused them of the terror of the Reds. But they neither have anything to eat. Everything is rationalized resp. formalized.
The head functionaries who brought all this misery have fled early. But they will also be seized.
The large encircled areas that we've built are death areas for all those that are inside. You cannot imagine with which weapons such encirceled areas are surrounded. Guns in vast numbers and then always in with uncle Otto. Prisoners are not made, so cruel the war is here. -
In a moment the first breaking news will come. I want to listen to them. - The successes are enormous aren't they? Do you also have heard the S.-message about the tank battle north of Kowno?
A few days ago I had a nice dream! On the march I came near to Weddewarden. I asked the Lt. for holidays to visit you. This holiday have just been wonderful. We sat together in the parlor and told each other and were pleased to have us back again. The night has also been indescribably pleasant. When I woke up I unfortunately didn't lie right beside you but in a Lithuanian barn and had only dreamt successfully. I had to switch right after waking up because reality hasn't been reality.
With best regards for you
the children and everyone yours, Heinrich
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