If I don’t get a hold of some air-mail envelopes soon I’ll have to write V-mail, dear. I’m pretty near down to the last one and our mail orderly has been unable to get any more. But one of these days there’ll be a whole new batch in. I’ve been rather fortunate in being able to write a letter at all this past week. I know a good many soldiers who haven’t been able to.
We’re still not getting any mail at all, although packages continue to come through. I got another one day before yesterday, totally unexpected, from a woman in Chicago who used to be a patient of mine when she lived in Salem. I don’t know where she got my address – although she used an old AP number 515 – remember it, dear? That makes ten packages in all and that’s not bad. I’m afraid, though, that a good many packages and letters will never get to us and a good lot of other soldiers due to circumstances out of our control and about which I can’t write. It’s a damn shame, too, and we won’t know for weeks whether we’re missing letters or packages. If I don’t acknowledge some of your letters from here in and for awhile, darling, you’ll know why.
The weather is icy but the snow which fell yesterday did not materialize to any great extent, and no one is sorry about that fact. It’s trying to clear up right now – but I doubt if it will.
I’ve just re-read your letter of 28 November which I’ve had for some time. You wrote that you imagined you were having a date with me that night, you read some of my letters and mentally answered them. You recalled school, canoeing, week-ends, Sunday Mornings, the Roger Smith –– all fragments of thoughts – which have run through my mind a thousand times since the time they were real events. And it was all in a four month’s span – which is the interesting part of it all – interesting because it proves we did have a very strong nucleus in those 4 months, and strong enough to have kept us together during all these months of separation. And it will keep us together no matter how many months intervene before we can be together once again. I wonder sometimes just how much I do know about you and you about me – and I end up satisfied that we’ve learned a good deal about each other in the months we’ve written each other. It doesn’t seem as if we take up many matters in our letters – but altogether I think we’ve been able to get a good cross-section of our likes, dislikes, interests and moods. Are you satisfied, dear? You’d better be – or I’ll sue!
And now – although I haven’t written very much, I’ll have to stop. A bunch of fellows have just arrived and I’ve got to go to work – such as it is. I don’t know what you’re thinking about all that’s going on these critical days, darling, but whatever it is, rest assured I’m taking good care of myself and I’m managing to stay one step aside from trouble.
My best love to the folks, dear – and so long for awhile.
In 1944, Hungary was an unwilling satellite of Germany. In March 1944, Hungary was attempting to quit the war, and was seen by Nazi Germany as reluctant to take sufficient measures against the Jews. Germany needed Hungarian oil wells located around Lake Balaton. On 19 March, the Germans launched Operation Margarethe and their armed forces (Wehrmacht) entered Hungary. The Hungarian Regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, put Hungary's attempts to quit the war on hold.
Horthy with Hitler
In October 1944, Horthy was caught negotiating peace with the Allies. The Germans launched Operation Panzerfaust (initiated to keep Hungary at Germany's side), on 16 October and forced Horthy to abdicate. Horthy and his government were replaced by "Hungarist" Ferenc Szálasi, from the Arrow Cross Party.
Szálasi with Hitler
On 29 October 1944, the Red Army started its offensive against the city. More than 1,000,000 men, split into two operating maneuver groups, advanced. The plan was to cut Budapest off from the rest of the German and Hungarian forces. On 7 November 1944, Soviet and Romanian troops had entered the eastern suburbs, 20 kilometers from the old town. The Red Army, after a much-needed pause in hostilities, resumed its offensive on 19 December. On 26 December, a road linking Budapest to Vienna was seized by Soviet troops, thereby completing the encirclement. The "Leader of the Nation", Ferenc Szálasi, had already fled on 9 December.
As a result of the Soviet link-up, nearly 33,000 German and 37,000 Hungarian soldiers, as well as over 800,000 civilians, became trapped within the city. Refusing to authorize a withdrawal, German dictator Adolf Hitler had declared Budapest a fortress city (Festung Budapest), which had to be defended to the last man. Waffen SS General Karl Pfeffer-Wildenbruch, the commander of the IX Waffen SS Alpine Corps, was put in charge of the city's defenses.
Budapest was a major target for Joseph Stalin. The Yalta Conference was approaching and Stalin wanted to display his full strength to Churchill and Roosevelt. He therefore ordered General Rodion Malinovsky to seize the city without delay.
On 29 December 1944, Malinovsky sent two emissaries to negotiate the city's capitulation. They never returned. Some German and Hungarian historians argue that the emissaries were deliberately shot by the Soviets. Others believe that they were in fact shot by mistake on their way back to the Soviet lines. In any case, Soviet commanders considered this act a refusal to negotiate and ordered an attack.