Saturday, September 18, 2010

Letter 265- January 1, 1946

January 1, 1946
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

The new year is here at last. I don’t know what will hold for us all but at least the outlook is pretty good. It’s quite different this year. Last year at this time I was actually fighting for my life against the German New year offensive. I was cold, miserable and I might add desperate although that word smacks of the dramatic. This year I’m warm and well fed, yet if anything I’m more homesick. I’m getting so tired of it all that I just don’t know what to say. I was reading in the Stars and Stripes yesterday that the morale of the troops in the Pacific is cracking because they’ve been fighting so long and are now being treated like pawns in a chess game. It’s really confusing to the average soldier when he hears that men in the states are being discharged in the belief that they are unessential and surplus, and yet at the same time men who have fought for years are told that they will have to stay. It’s just the same as saying, “Okay, you won the war; now to hell with you. They talk about stopping the draft and yet also talk about years and years of occupation. If that is so only we can make the occupation force. In other words some men must give everything to their country while others give nothing. I believe that I’m at least half way intelligent but I can’t understand this.

I still haven’t received any mail from you, but the sky does look a little brighter in as much as one of the boys in this company did get a letter the other day that was mailed to this address. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get something. I sure hope so. I’ve really lost touch with you. The last letter that I got was written in early November.

Last night I stayed up to welcome the New Year in. At twelve the GI’s started to shoot off everything they could lay their hands on and the Jerries threw old electric light globes out the window. One of the POW’s had a crying jag on and was determined to tell someone about all his troubles. Wot a life. I got to bed about 2:oo am this morning so I didn’t get much of a night’s sleep.

I don’t know what to do with myself today but you can bet on one thing and that is that it won’t amount to a hell of a lot. I spend about half my time chewing the rag with hans who is our interpreter here. He’s only 17 years old but he speaks good English and is quite intelligent. One can learn more about Nazi Germany from him in five minutes than you can from anyone else in ten years. That’s mainly because he tells the truth instead of giving you a song and dance. He’s interesting in as much as he is a product of Nazi teaching. Until he came here he hadn’t the slightest idea about so many things that we take for granted. He told me last night that only now does he realize that “the happy ending” was impossible under Nazism. He thinks that we should start some extensive educational plans over here. He says that the most fanatical young Nazi is better adapted to learning democracy than the old people who always say that they don’t want anything to do with politics.

That’s all for now.

Best love, Bill


  1. I was just looking at Bill's photo. Was that taken early in his service or later. It would be interesting to compare portraits taken at either end of the war.

  2. The photo on the Home Page of this collection was taken early in Bill's service, probably at Camp Abbot in late 1943. If you go to Letter 189 dated April 20, 1945 you will see a photo of Bill taken while he was on leave in Paris. It clearly shows that Bill has lived "many years" in the months between Camp Abbot and Paris, including 5 months of almost continuous combat.

    These two photos are the only ones I have of Bill taken while he was in the Army. I have several more photos of him taken after the War about the time he was dating my mother (late 1946-early 1947). I will post them in the Epilogue to the letters.


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