#7- Gasmaskenfilter, Skat und Postgeld -10/01/1943
Part of The KB41 Collection On This Day Series
This is the 7th letter in the Feldpost in the collection of Herbert writing home to his loved ones. To see the rest of the series of Feldposts so far, simply press collection and find them amongst the other 170 posts on our website or press extended collection and find them on the "Feldpost und Dokumente" section. This is the second letter Herbert writes in the 1943.
This letter is seen written on the same type of paper as the previous letter written on the 4th January 1943. Herbert writes again "O.U" meaning that he is Billeted, with no mention of moving in his letter it is assumed Herbert is writing this letter from the same area he wrote his previous letter. Below details the German to English translations of the letter.
The Feldpost in German reads as:
O.U. den 10.01.1943
Nun wird es wohl endlich mal wieder Zeit, daß ich etwas von mir hören lasse. Zuerst vielen Dank für das Päckchen mit Zigaretten und Marzipan. Ich erhielt es gestern. Ich hatte schon einen Tag mit dem Rauchen ausgesetzt, sie kamen also gerade zur rechten Zeit. Morgen bekommen wir unser Wehrsold und dann will ich mal sehen ob es hier auch so etwas gibt, wie die andere Schlagsahne in Dosen. Wir haben uns hier verschlechtert in Bezug auf Quartier, Verpflegung und Kantine. Das Postgeld werden wir wohl auch bald bekommen. Es ist gar nicht so unwahrscheinlich, daß ich bald auf Urlaub komme, es wäre sogar großes Pech, wenn es nicht so wäre; aber wir wollen uns lieber überraschen lassen, sonst ist die Enttäuschung nachher um so größer. Die Ausbildung ist auch bald vorüber. Die Sache mit Inge ist ja nicht so schön. Hoffentlich bekommt Ihr dann bald etwas anderes, denn viel Hilfe habt ihr ja nicht von ihr, wenn sie nur einen halben Tag im Geschäft ist. Mit meinen Strümpfen komme ich ganz gut klar. Ich war gerade beim Stopfen, als ich den Brief heute erhielt. Es waren ganz niedliche Löcher darauf. Im Lauf der Zeit habe ich meinen Bestand an Strümpfen auf 8 Paar herausgebracht. Davon waren 5 Paar kaputt. Heute habe ich die letzten 3 Paar gestopft. Ihr werdet lachen; ich mußte schon über meinen Gasmaskenfilter stopfen, denn die Schuhcremeschachtel war zu klein, sie rutschte immer durch; aber nun ist's geschafft. Mit den Tränen geht es zurück, es behindert mich jedenfalls nicht. Spielt Ihr jetzt abends wieder Karten, wie im vorigen Winter? Es war doch ganz gemütlich abends im Kreise der Familien. Eine schöne Zeit. Ich spiele noch immer keinen Skat, bin der einzige auf der Stube, habe auch keine Lust dazu. Die Kameraden meinen, in Rußland werde ich doch noch damit anfangen, aber das hat ja noch Zeit. Mit dem Kreditkassenschein kann ich hier nichts anfangen. Ich habe ihn erstmal in meinen Brustbeutel gesteckt, vielleicht kann ich ihn später noch einmal gebrauchen. Hardens Bruder ist auch mit hierhergekommen, vorgestern traf ich ihn im Essaal. Wie kommt Ihr darauf, daß es hier nur Pellkartoffeln gibt? In Rendsburg wurde es uns auch erzählt. Es ist Quatsch. Es gibt zwei mal in der Woche hier Pellkartoffeln, zwei mal Eintopf und sonst irgendetwas anderes; aber es nicht genug.
Nun will ich schließen.
Gruß an Alle, Euer Herbert
The letter in English reads as
O.U. the 10.01.1943
Now it's probably high time that you hear something from me. First of all, thank you for the packet of cigarettes and marzipan. I received it [the package] yesterday. I had already run out and so given up on smoking for the day, so they came at just the right time! Tomorrow we get our military pay, so we will want to see if there is something like the canned whipped cream I mentioned. Our accommodation, food and canteen have deteriorated here in terms of benefit and standards. We'll probably get the postage money soon [so I can send this message] It's not at all unlikely that I'll be on leave soon, it would be very unfortunate if we didn't get it granted; but we prefer to be surprised, otherwise the disappointment will be all the greater afterwards. The training will soon be over.
The thing with Inge is not so nice. Hopefully you'll get something else soon, because you don't get much help from her if she's only in the shop for half a day.
I get along quite well with my Long-socks. As a matter of fact, I was darning when I got the letter today. There were a lot of little holes on this one. Over time, I have seen my inventory of socks decline from 8 pairs. Sadly 5 pairs were a dead loss and are unserviceable. Today I darned the last 3 pairs I own! But you will laugh; I had to stuff my gas mask filter into the toe to act as a darning egg, because the box of shoe polish was too small! My holes were so bad that it kept slipping through; but now it's done. I am not sure I am particularly good at it as the rips and tears come back, at least it doesn't bother me.
Are you playing cards again in the evenings like last winter? It was a very cozy evening with the families. A nice time. I still don't play Skat though, I'm the only one in the room, and I don't feel like it either, its not the same. My comrades think I'll start Skat in Russia after all, but there's still time.
Unfortunately, I can't do anything with the Credit Register Slip [Soldiers Shopping Voucher] here. I put it in my Dog Tag Pouch for now, maybe I can use it again later. Harden's brother came here too, the day before yesterday I met him in the dining room. What makes you think that there are only boiled potatoes here? We were also told about this rumour in Rendsburg. It's utter nonsense; There are boiled potatoes twice a week, stew twice and something else; but it not enough for me to be satisfied.
Now I want to conclude [with the very best] Greetings to all
Herbert writes thanking his family for the gifts they sent to him, the Marzipan and Cigarettes being gifts sent, the latter of which was put to good use straight away as he writes he had stopped smoking that day as he had run out. Herbert also details how he hopes to get some military pay and how he will spend it on some items, one that Herbert mentions is canned whipped cream known as "Schlagsahne". Herbert goes on to detail how the accommodation and facilities he is billeted in is deteriorating unfortunately. Herbert also writes how he is awaiting some "Postgeld" or Post Money, this allowing him to send this letter which he writes. This showing that in his spare time with no money Herbert is thinking and writing home so that the letter can be sent as soon as he gets the money. Herbert then latter details why he is billeted where he is, Herbert details that he is in training whilst hoping it will end soon. Herbert hopefully writes that there could possibly be some leave available for him and his fellow Soldaten. This notifying his family that he may have a chance to return to them for a brief period, Herbert does detail that he is sceptical as it was not uncommon for leave to be forfeited for trivial reasons in the Wehrmacht. However Herbert holds out some hope but mentions he is suggesting it to be cancelled and with this in mind he will be less disappointed.
Herbert continues his interest and discussion of home life with his family business as he talks of Inge, suggesting she isn't as helpful as previous times mentioned. Herbert hopes that there will be more help to his family in their business soon. Herbert also tells his family of his recent maintenance duties of some of his kit, here he details how he has long socks and how he is thankful to have them, but expresses the struggles of maintaining them as small holes appear that soon become larger ones. Herbert details how he once had 8 pairs in his possession but 5 of which were un-saveable and had to be discarded. Herbert also writes how he saved his last three pairs of long socks by maintaining them in a process known as darning. With this he remarks that his family would laugh, as to darn an object, often a darning egg is used to allow for the process to be carried out however when away as Herbert is such items are not available. So Herbert makes do and improvises with the Filter used for his Gasmask in replacement of a darning egg. This is due to the other item of a suggested size of a box of shoe polish being too small to carry out such a task. Such information of this shows us the extent and ways in which Soldaten improvised with such activities and duties. Herbert specifically details that it isn't an easy task, he try's his best but doesn't mind some smaller holes.
After this Herbert asks if his family if they are playing card games like they did the previous wintertime. This suggesting a common family pastime to do during the colder periods, this being supported by the comments of very cosy evenings with the families. This suggesting other extended family and close friends may have partaken in the family's card games. The topic of card games to Herbert reminding him of home as he remarks that his fellow Kameraden tease him as he doesn't play the card game "Skat", joking he will be playing it in Russia in the future.
Skat is considered on of national card games of Germany and is very popular. Skat as a card game is suggested to have been created in Altenburg, the state of Thuringia between 1810 and 1817. Skat is a Three player game in which players bid to win the round with each play playing a card and the highest value card of the "Trump" winning. The trump is decided by the winner of the previous round. This is played until the cards are all used up and then each card belonging to each player is scored. The player with the highest score wins. (Note this is a brief description of a very detailed and complex game).
After this Herbert draws the letter to a close in the final paragraph where he writes that his "Kreditkassenschein" or Soldiers Shopping Vouchers currently has nothing he can spend it on at the moment and he stores it in his dog tag pouch. The dog tag pouch (As seen in other KB41 Postings) is a small wallet usually square shaped that would cover the dog tag to keep the cold metal away from the skin but also act as a wallet and storage for valuable items to be held close. This is where Herbert is storing his Soldats shopping voucher. This voucher could be used to purchase items when in service, where available. Herbert also details how he has seen" Hardens brother", who is assumed family or close friend of Herbert and his family. Hardens brother arrived where Herbert is staying and they met in the dining area of the billeted building they are staying in. The family must have mentioned a possible food shortage, this is suggested due to rationing that would have been in affect in 1943. The family must have suggested that food variety is tough, Herbert details how the potatoes they are eating are boiled twice a week, stewed twice a week and another way that isn't detailed. Either way the situation isn't satisfactory for Herbert. Herbert also mentions how he has heard the rumour of Rendsburg and remarks it as "utter nonsense", it is not known what this is rumour was but its been dismissed.
Herbert then concludes the letter with his best wishes to his family as he signs of the letter with "Euer Herbert", Your Herbert. This letter like previous shows Herbert asking for more money and gifts like previous letters whilst thanking his family for what they sent. Herbert can be seen again showing an interest in family business at home and showing his thoughts of home as he talks of activities that remind him of home, whilst including Herbert's usual humour. Another interesting letter of Herbert's activities in early 1943.