From the diary of Eric Schramm(17 year-old Private in the German Wermacht) Vlaardingen, The Netherlands 2 February 1945
Mein Gott ! Never, ever, could I believe I could be so cold ! Again last night-guard duty on the railroad tracks. When the corporal's truck did not pick me up at mid-night, I started to walk back to our barracks. My coat and all my clothes down to my skin were soaked through with freezing rain. At the edge of town, I saw one home with a little light coming under the curtain of an upstairs window.
I was exhausted--hungry--shivering--wet -COLD !-and crying. So, even if it meant getting arrested, I knocked on the door to ask "the enemy" if I could come in and get warm. The woman from the house looked at me (she was about the same age as Mamma would have been if she had not died in the horrible fire-storm at Dresden) She said I would have to leave my rifle down at the foot of the stairs but that I could come up to the kitchen and get warm.
I could see that there was not much food in. the kitchen--even so, she gave me some cabbage soup and a warm biscuit and let me sleep on the kitchen floor so that my clothes could get dry. What a wonderful woman ! I shall never forget her name.
Frau Nell de Wijs. In the morning I left and walked back to the barracks. No one knew I had been missing. I shall write about this: to Pappa because he will like to know that a lady like Momma was kind to me. How could I ever re-pay her for her kindness ? Is there a way ? Probably not...I don't know !
From the diary of Otto Schramm(40 year-old Sergeant In the German Wermacht, anti-aircraft crew -in charge of a unit of sixteen 88 millimeter cannons)
4 March 1945What a day -from the best to the worst ! Letter from Eric last night describing how a woman in Holland took him in to get warm and have some food. When we get to know other people, this war does not make sense any more ! Eric's letter is the only good thing to happen to me since Hiltrud died in the bombing of Dresden last year. I have wondered if there was any good left in this world I will try to remember the name of the woman who was good to Eric and thank her in person if I ever get to Holland: Frau Nell deWijs.
Today, at dawn, as we prepared for the possible wave of bombers coming from England (there seem to be more and more of those American "silver dots" in the sky each thy-with their paths marked by the cloud trails behind them), I rode, as usual, my bicycle to our emplacement. Since it is my job to see that the shells are available for the guns if the bombers come within our range, the guns cannot fire if the shells are not on hand Even though ours is a small unit, we do have a reputation for great accuracy. It was the seven American bombers which we knocked down on one day that earned the Iron Cross for our unit.
The thought flashed through my mind that perhaps I had left Eric's letter in our camp. If anyone found it both of us would be arrested by the SS ! I looked down to reach inside my jacket to see if the letter was in my pocket. It was. But, just then, a large dog ran across the road in front of me. As I swerved my bicycle to avoid him, I fell and severely injured my knee. I could not get to the gun site to arrange for the shells. And the bombers did come to Herdecke today ! but we weren't ready for them !
Eric's letter ! If I had not looked in my jacket just then, I would have seen the dog and I would not have been injured. The weather was perfect and I know we would have knocked down some of those fortress aircrcft they are so proud of !
From the diary of Robert Silver(20 year-old 1st Lieutenant, 385th Bomb Group Command Pilot-8th. Air Force, England)
March 4, 1945Today our mission was to the railroad marshalling yard at Herdecke. At the briefing, everything was pretty "standard" except that the intelligence report was that we would have perfect weather over the target (good for our bombardiers ... and good for their antiaircraft gunners !) and that we would encounter very accurate flak (based on previous raids to this target). One bomb group alone lost seven aircraft over this target a couple of months !
Really strange ("good") how the mission worked out: THE MISSION WAS VERY EASY. No flak at all over the target ! I wonder how this was possible ? Perhaps it just means that we are being spared for something more important later on. Who knows ?
April 29, 1945Today, I flew my second "food drop" mission" to Holland. This time the drop-site was the to of Vlaardingen. Everything went well. As before, the throngs of people on the ground and roof-tops waiving at us were very impressive - and easy to see from our altitude of only 200 feet We've been told that the food we are bringing will help the people of Holland avoid starvation. That's difficult for us to understand since we have all the food we want in the mess-hall when we get back from our missions. But, of course, some don't get back
From the diary of Bob Silver( 70 year-old American invited to Holland for the Commemoration of the Food Missions of 1945)
Rotterdam, The Netherlands