27 January, 2012

27 January 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
27 January, 1945       1125
My dearest darling –

Well, well, well – two nice letters from you, both written 6 January – one in the a.m. and one at 2200. It was so swell hearing from you, sweetheart, and reading that you loved me just as hard as ever and as much as I do you. You had received my letter of 29 December on that day – and that sounds like pretty good time. But you imply that there were a good many missing and I can imagine, dear, how difficult it must have been for all of you during the past month. Perhaps now you are getting more regular service. I hope so.

It seems as if the radio, newspapers and movie news really “laid it on thick” during the breakthrough. There was a lot of nasty stuff going on. We saw some of it – and it’s too bad they made things so vivid for you at home. I suppose it was to snap some people out of their lethargy. I’m sorry it frightened you, dear, although I don’t think you’re a coward for reacting that way. I still feel that all of you at home are having it as difficult as we are – at least mentally. You get used to shells and tanks after awhile – and it’s not so bad when you know about it; all you at home can do is imagine – and I know your minds run away with you. Anyway – as long as we know we have someone at home who thinks of us and loves us – it’s not too bad at all – and darling I know I love you and that makes all the difference in the world as to how I put up with this war.


You wrote that my letter of 29 December “confused” you – because the usual “Germany” was missing. I don’t know what you thought but I hope you felt I was out of the breakthrough. By now, of course, you know. Censorship rules were confused at 1st and we were allowed to write Belgium and then we weren’t allowed. I believe one of my letters had the word “Belgium” and no others. As usual – this outfit saw things through and if nothing more, I guess we’ve been in every major event since landing. In that respect, by the way, we’ve just been awarded two campaign stars to wear on our E.T.O. ribbon – one for the Battle of Normandy and one for the Battle of Northern France. We have one or two more due us but no War department orders have been issued as yet.

But I was interested in your reaction to my letter of the 29th because you made it sound so detached. I’m surprised, but pleased – because I was beginning to feel, dear, that I could no longer hide my moods, that I could no longer escape my environment. I don’t remember what I – personally – was doing on the 29th – but I do know that things were hectic, unsettled and confused; and we didn’t know from one day to another – what was going to happen. It turned out all right and that’s what matters most.

So just keep on hoping and praying, sweetheart; keep remembering how much I love you, how much you mean to me, how much we have to look forward to. Remember always that you are the only girl in the world for me and that my life, present and future, is centered around you only. Because all that – is true and will always be so – sweetheart.

And now, dear, I must leave. First I’m having lunch – and then I may look for a shower point; I heard this morning there are some around and I could do with one – cold weather or no. I hope to hear from you again today, darling. Until later, so long. Love to the folks – and
All my everlasting love –
Greg

* TIDBIT *

about VII Corps Rests and
The Russians "Liberate" Auschwitz

For the final two weeks in January 1945, the VII Corps was off the front lines and had a chance to regroup. The following text can be found in many locations. Here is a link to one: From Mission Accomplished:
Now completely out of contact with the enemy, and even out of hearing of the guns, VII Corps assembled in the vicinity of Ochain, Belgium to rest its personnel and to service its vehicles and equipment after the grueling winter battle. This was the first real rest the Corps Headquarters and some of its troops had had since D-Day, and every effort was made to house the personnel comfortably. For twelve days the troops enjoyed the comparative luxury of their Belgian billets.


On This Day, 27 January 1945, BBC reported:
The Red Army has liberated the Nazis' biggest concentration camp at Auschwitz in south-western Poland.

According to reports, hundreds of thousands of Polish people, as well as Jews from a number of other European countries, have been held prisoner there in appalling conditions and many have been killed in the gas chambers.

Few details have emerged of the capture of Auschwitz, which has gained a reputation as the most notorious of the Nazi death camps.

Some reports say the German guards were given orders several days ago to destroy the crematoria and gas chambers. Tens of thousands of prisoners - those who were able to walk - have been moved out of the prison and forced to march to other camps in Germany.

Details of what went on at the camp have been released previously by the Polish Government in exile in London and from prisoners who have escaped

In July 1944 details were revealed of more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews who were sent to Poland many of whom ended up in Auschwitz. They were loaded onto trains and taken to the camp where many were put to death in the gas chambers. Before they went they were told they were being exchanged in Poland for prisoners of war and made to write cheerful letters to relatives at home telling them what was happening.

According to the Polish Ministry of Information, the gas chambers are capable of killing 6,000 people a day.

Another report from Poland told of mass arrests in the village of Garbatka near Radom in the early hours of one morning in August 1942. Workmen were accused of plotting to blow up a local factory. Twenty were executed on the spot, the rest were sent to Auschwitz.

Since its establishment in 1940, only a handful of prisoners have escaped to tell of the full horror of the camp.

In October last year, a group of Polish prisoners mounted an attack on their German guards. The Germans reportedly machine-gunned the barracks killing 200 Polish prisoners. The Poles succeeded in killing six of their executioners.

When the Red Army arrived at the camp they found only a few thousand prisoners remaining. They had been too sick to leave.

The capture of Auschwitz comes as the Red Army has made important advances on three fronts: in East Prussia to the north, in western Poland as well as Silesia in eastern Germany. Fighting is continuing around the historic Polish western city of Poznan. The Polish capital, Warsaw, was liberated a week ago after five-and-a-half years of German occupation.
IN CONTEXT:
Although few details of the liberation of Auschwitz were given in the British press at the time, it had gained a reputation as the worst of the German concentration camps.

On 8 May 1945 a State commission compiled by the Soviets with advice from Polish, French and Czechoslovak experts revealed the full horror of conditions at the camp. Nearly 3,000 survivors of various nationalities were questioned and on the basis of their evidence the report estimated 4,000,000 people had perished there between 1941 and early 1945. The dead included citizens from the Soviet Union, Poland, France, Belgium, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Italy and Greece.

The commission, which had previously investigated conditions at Majdanek, Treblinka and other camps, described Auschwitz as the worst in its experience. It found evidence of experiments carried out on humans "of a revolting character".

According to the evidence, the commission said the Germans had moved out up to 60,000 inmates - those still fit enough to walk - when they retreated. The few thousand who were left behind were freed by the Russians.

They also found seven tons of women's hair, human teeth, from which gold fillings had been extracted and tens of thousands of children's outfits.

The final death toll was later revised downwards, by the Auschwitz Museum, to between 1 and 1.5 million, including almost 1 million Jews.

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