Hope Is Fading

Posted: July 30, 2010 in World War 2

May 1st: Shell crater after shell crater all around us. The streets are steaming. The smell of the dead is unbearable at times. Last night, on the floor above us, police officers & soldiers celebrated their farewell to life, in spite of the heavy shelling. This morning men & women were lying on the stairs, drunk & in tight embrace. Rumor has it that Hitler is dead. Our hopes are fading.

May 2nd: Surrender leaflets in the afternoon. Soviet loud speakers scream out Weidling’s alleged or real call to lay down our arms.

May 3rd: At dawn, attack on the bridge across the Havel at Spandau. The bridge is captured. It can only be crossed by jumping. But desperation drives a vast mass of refugees of all ages on to it. They drop off in whole rows. The last serviceable tanks & lorries pave a grisly path through confused heaps of human bodies. The bridge is swimming in blood.

May 4th: At dawn, isolated columns reach Döeberitz Parade Ground. Here we are met by vastly superior Russian Forces. Our ammunition is running out. Bitter fighting for hours. We are completely scattered. We try to get through in tiny groups. We reach Lake Beetz & hide in the reeds, hoping to continue at night.

From the Diary of an Officer with the 57th Panzer Division, May 1945

  1. It hurts my heart to see someone who can so obviously write–and this is what he (I’m assuming he) is left to tell.

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