Klaus Behr's Diary: December 1945

Winter scene

This is after peace and the PoWs are allowed out to work.  Klaus has not heard from his family for months, not knowing if they are dead or alive in Berlin.

12th December 1945 – ‘Sniffle-time’ for the soul

The time leading up to Christmas feels like ‘sniffle-time’ for the soul.  This occurs in different form over and over again.  When you are travelling through lit-up villages and see a brightly-lit living-room window covered with a curtain one is overcome, from the depths of the soul, by a deep longing for domestic cosiness.  You would so much like to take refuge from rain and cold, from mud and wind in a comfortable house, where you can shut out all the unbearable things, where you can just breathe normally and escape from the constant whirling mass of humanity, (and) really enjoy being alone.

Oh, if only I could do this again!!  Instead you stand in the mist, wind, cold and wet on a field and dig ditches or do other things whose monotony gradually begins to weigh on you like a nightmare and hope that it is soon time for the next meal, while experiencing this too as a disgrace and unworthy of mankind to have to bring yourself so close to the level of an animal.  When you survive your eight hours you are transported, as a lorry load, in just under an hour, through the darkness, where the only glimpse of light comes from the streets and houses of the villages, but that is only the kind of glimpse of light which brings the realisation, after the initial cheerful impression, that this is now just a memory from history for us, and that the future will be seen in terms of ruins and managing as best one can in all areas of life.

And when you get to your barbed-wire home when you have left behind the darkness of the roads cut through by the spheres of vehicle headlights, then your pockets are searched and you feel so miserable, like a criminal!  And when you get into the area which is fenced in, the next ‘feed’ happens and you again lose irredeemably all individuality until you fall asleep, wrapped up in your three blankets, with the feeling that you have stolen a day of your own life.

Comments about this page

  • Wow….I am so touched by this man’s words.
    I can actually feel his pain!
    Even though this extract was written 75 years ago,this says so much about the pain of war on humanity.

    By Annette Flood (13/02/2020)

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