04 October, 2011

04 October, 1944

Letterhead

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
4 October, 1944          1000
My darling –

Well yesterday evening we got some mail and was it welcome! In the first place I got three letters from you – 15, 19, 22nd Sept; I got one from Florence – she’s darned nice about writing and I really enjoy hearing from her; a V-mail from my brother telling me he was practically a Lieutenant; and surprise – a 5 page V-mail from Stan. It all made good reading but yours were the ones I wanted most of all.

Stan’s letter was one of apology for not having written before. He explained how busy he has been and told me about Betty, saying she was the most wonderful girl he had ever met. He sent his regards to you and said that he hadn’t called anyone when he came home of a week-end because he got in Saturday p.m. and left Sunday p.m. Apparently he had not yet received my letter and he is no longer living at a hotel but has an apartment. I’ll write him and wish him luck again.

Lawrence’s letter made me a bit sad. His commission is coming thru, but I hate to think of him as a soldier, and I’m afraid of where his orders may send him. I fear he’ll eventually end up in the Pacific and that’s not good.

Your remarks about what Verna had to say about my letter to her interested me. I hardly remember referring to what Irv was doing, but apparently I did, and I’m glad they both liked it, whatever it was. I owe her a letter, by the way, and will answer her one of these days. I’ve been wondering when you’d find out I had passed thru Belgium. You seemed surprised – and I suppose that’s natural. But I don’t see how you thought I was in Southern France when you believed I was with the Third Army. We headed due East after passing to the South of Paris and then swung North. We weren’t in Belgium very long as you must know by now.

As for post-war adjustment – and the returning soldier, I suppose it will be tough on some. Somehow I feel that I will be able to take up where I left off – darling, and I don’t believe that you’ll have any difficulty whatsoever as a “have-not” in adjusting yourself to me who has witnessed some of the rotten things of war. It will harden many, no doubt, but as I wrote from way back in Normandy, I don’t believe I will have changed much. Where a doctor changes most as a person is about in his last year of medical school and as an intern. He first sees then, I believe, how cheap life can be – and war is just a multiplication of death – if you leave ideology out of the discussion. No, I’m sure we won’t have any difficulty with adjustments, darling. I think you’ll find me, God willing, the same sort of person I was when I left – and if that’s all right with you – everything will be fine, I know.

I had almost forgotten about the clock, dear, until you mentioned it in your letter. To tell the truth I hardly remember what it looks like it’s been so long since I saw it. I had it boxed up by one of my boys. All I can tell you, dear, is that it’s a French clock – Paris manufacture, I believe, and mantlepiece style. As I remember it, it must be about 12 or 15 inches long, about 10 inches high and about 6 inches thick. It is rather ornate – as are most French clocks – and why I got it was because of where it came from; it belonged to a Rothschild. I don’t see how I can ever get it home, but I’ll continue to hold on to it.

Oh – one more thing before stopping, dear. I didn’t want you or your Dad to bother about a radio. If my Dad can’t get one – it’s O.K. – and don’t trouble yourself about it. Promise!

I’ll stop now and get a couple of things done. We expect a visitor this p.m. – but visitors don’t bother us as much as they used to. After all – what can they do to us if they don’t like something? Love to the folks darling; it was swell hearing from you – and for now, so long, and

My everlasting love,
Greg.

P.S. Enclosed is a badge worn by Nazis before Hitler was in power and therefore of questionable historic value.
L.
G.

* TIDBIT *

about Raeren and
the German-Speaking Community of Belgium

The city of Raeren, where Greg was living in early October of 1944, is known far beyond its borders for pottery – and not only because of the annual Euregio-Ceramics Market in September. The district of Raeren has been a center for the production and export of ceramic stoneware since the 15th century. The geography is perfect for potting, a rich loamy earth, with plenty of clear running water and enough woodland to fire the kilns. In the 16th and 17th centuries up to 300 kilns were running at full output, but by the 19th century, Raeren's ceramics industry was beginning to die out.

Workshop of
Jan Emens Mennicken
dated 1591

15th Century
Stone Bottles



Workshop of
Jan Emens Mennicken
dated 1595

Today, archaeologists still stumble on regular ceramic-cemeteries, where earlier generations dumped their defective or damaged production. Some of the finest examples from this period can be found at the pottery museum, (Töpfereimuseum), in the moated Raeren Castle, built in the 14th century.

Raeren Castle

Another of Raeren's treasures is its old railway station, the home of the "Vennbahn". This single-track railway was built at the end of the 19th century to link Prussia with Lorraine. The rail was also strategically important in the war years for moving troops to and from the barracks and military range at Elsenborn in Bütgenbach. Until 2002 the Vennbahn still rocked tourists gently up through the High Fen.

Old Trains in Raeren

Raeren is part of the German-Speaking Community of Belgium. A few days after Hitler’s troops had invaded Belgium, the Führer adopted a decree to annex the regions of Eupen and Malmedy and several sections of the territory that once belonged to the region called "Alt-Belgien" to the Reich. After the liberation of the region by the Allied forces, it was put under Belgian control again. The execution of a treaty between Belgium and Germany in September 1956 put an end to the questions concerning the border that had remained unanswered. Both countries agreed on a border adjustment, a cultural agreement and war indemnity payment. These bilateral decisions made way for reconciliation and cooperation, which was very advantageous for Eupen and Sankt Vith.

The German-Speaking Community today is a political independent entity, a small state within the Belgian federal system. The German-speaking Community has about 75,000 citizens, for the most part German-speakers. Its territory, about 854 square kilometers, corresponds to that of the German language region. It is composed of nine municipalities. German is used in administrative, educational and court matters. The French-speakers receive special language rights called “facilities” i.e. they get administrative documents in French.

Coat of Arms

The territory consists of two distinct parts: in the North, the "Eupener Land" (district of Eupen) is small, but heavily populated and in the South, the Belgian Eifel (district of St Vith).


The German-speaking Community is perfectly linked to an international road network; you can reach Eupen in one hour’s drive from the congested areas of Brussels, Cologne and Düsseldorf. It is also connected to the Euregio Meuse-Rhine territory and to the cross-border cooperation area Saar-Lor-Lux. Many persons working in Germany or in Luxembourg live in the German-speaking Community.

The people of the Community identify themselves with the German language and are linked to German culture through the media and daily cross-border contacts with Germany. They enjoy the direct neighborliness of the Walloons and the Flemish and share their rather unworried lifestyle. They are loyal Belgians, mainly in favor of the Monarchy; they feel respected by the State since German has been recognized as one of three administrative and constitutional languages. The political recognition of the German-speaking Community has contributed to the fact that the German-speaking population considers itself as an integral part of the Belgian State. Most of the inhabitants speak High German in administration, schools, churches and social fields. However, like before, dialects still play an important role in the social relationships. There is a French-speaking population minority mainly in the municipalities of Kelmis, Lontzen and Eupen. However, on account of the Belgian territorial principle, no survey has been conducted into the ratio of French- and German-speakers.

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