Transcripts from SHB's Letters From Europe Towards V-Day
Dear Mom, 15 April 45
Publishing in New Masses is no good! The army may decide to investigate my political views! Have you gotten any of the names of these other periodicals that contain the article? I wonder what part New Masses saw fit to print.
Have never heard a word from Menorah Journal. I don't think they even have my address, though. No photographs received yet. No Pesach package except the Matzoz sent by Chanah.
Dear Mom, 16 April 45
I'm learning the facts of life. I have been investigating a rape case. It's quite a responsibility, as someone's neck, if act two necks are in jeopardy. And rape is pretty hard to prove, so it means rather involved and delicate interrogation in a foreign language All in all, a tough and tiring job.
No Menorah Journals, or photo proofs received yet. A couple of packages came in, but since I haven't finished the ones acknowledged before, and I want to keep track of the mail, I haven't opened either. Neither have any date or number, so I shall acknowledge them by content as soon as I open them.
That I and E job may not have been so Gam Zu Letovah as you think. I am not sure of the consequences of taking it on and doing a food job, in the presence of ability to talk French and some German . There will be some extensive reshuffling after V-J Day, hospital personnel may be shifted, staffs broken down, and new ones made. I have gotten myself down in some lists that may not do me too much good. I want to stay as far away form that army of occupation as possible, and knowledge of languages and educational ability will be two very important qualifications, with medical ability thrown into the bargain.
Dear Mom, 18 April 45
The other day we had a full dress military review. The occasion was the presentation of the Silver Star for bravery in action to one of our patients. Band & parade & review & stuff. It was more like what the army is supposed to be like more than any other thing I've seen in this war! Yet! We had a whole crew of photographers so keep your eyes open for it. However, I don't think I got within camera range.
Dear Mom, 19 April 45
D.S. means detached service. For instance, when I went to Gas School or Tropical Medicine School I was on DS from my organization. So on that trip I took I still can't tell you the circumstances I was on DS from the 62nd.
What's the news blast on "Lasting Value of Souvenirs"? What did I send recently that doesn't have lasting value? Anyhow, I don't spend much money on the literature that I accumulate as souvenirs.
Dear Mom, 21 April 45
Have I told you about my little Zionist friend, the one descended from Abraham Zacuto, Columbus's navigator? Right now he is seriously considering going to Palestine immediately. However, when I corrected his impression that he could study Medicine at the Hebrew University (no undergrad course yet) he began to reconsider. I have him one of the copies of the Hadassah Newsletter that had a report on the RHUH.
Dear Mom, 22 April 45
Received another package today, the one dated March 6th excellent time. Opened two others received before but acknowledgement deferred till opening to identify by contents: to wit; dried bananas, chocolate, figs, baby foods, honey, sesame bars, peanuts. Please don't send any more sesame bars they melt in transit and run all over everything. Please stop sending meat for another 3-4 months or so I have a tremendous backlog.
Dear Mom, 23 April 45
We had spring for a while then a couple of days of summer, then, bang, winter again, with snow flurries. I haven't yet crawled out of my "long johns" (Gott Kes) glad I wasn't caught out of them by the cold snap.
Not working as hard as formerly. Almost no Cardiography to do now that we no longer get diphtheria cases. Just sitting around waiting for V-E Day.
Dear Mom, 25 April 45
There is a lot of delayed mail en route here, so I'll wait for it before I write to Lucy again. I've gotten a number of Germen souvenirs from patients, insignia and ************, etc, but I'm afraid to send them home lest I get another blast about no room in the house. What will I be able to show my grandchildren? I've already thrown out several Germen helmets as they might really be too big.
Dear Mom, 2 May 45
I received your "do not open until March 25" mailed March 6th, today. It's a mighty slow plane that takes to months to cross the Atlantic!
The pictures are fairly good, and it's hard to select the best. I can't refer to them by number though. I'll have to dig up your letter of instructions to find out whether I need to return them, or a few of them, or all save!
I hope for my next birthday we can take a picture together.
Dear Mom, 3 May 45
I'm OD (on duty) tonight, and have to work with this miserable little machine, instead of with my own grand piano of a typewriter.
In the past, I've always had flocks of AWOL patients to worry about, but my luck seems to be changing, and I don't have to throw wounded doughboys into the guard house when they get back from their Paris trips.
Received a wonderful batch of 25 pieces of mail today. Two are mails from you, and a whole batch of V (from you) mails completely out of order, as well as lots of interesting letters and wedding announcements from other etc. Fay Goldberg has married a naval LT. Vera Freudmann announces the solution of a romantic attachment and appeals for sympathy and understanding. Also, several mail letters from all kinds of individuals known and unknown to me. To wit, an old friend, and somebody named Mehler whom I don't know, etc. got the Afikomen from Granny Wolff and was much touched and will respond though I don't see how I'm going to manage. I haven't any letters in weeks now. And although letters still pile up, the educational program has started to expand so rapidly that I'm begging to feel as harried as I was back in the old days in December.
Dear Mom, 4 May 45
I'm hanging on the radio, waiting for the news SHAEF or the announcement from Eisenhower that is supposed to end this half of the mess. I have a program outlined, including a formal military review, a commemorative prayer, and the raising of the flag to half mast, to celebrate the great event, and to forestall too much unthinking righteousness. I'll send you a copy directly.
I don't have any posters prepared, which I should have done long ago, but I'll try to get on the ball. As I've told you before, this thing is sort of getting too big for me, and I'd better get some help in a hurry. I have already started enlisting the aid of others but it is going to slowly. While the war is still on they aren't ready yet to think in terms of idly sitting and waiting with no battle casualties to take care of. But as soon as V-E comes, they will be much more receptive, especially since all other departments will have to cooperate.
Dear Mom, 7 May 45
News of the capitulation of Germany just announced. Churchill is to speak tomorrow and make it official. This is it! I guess. And it's the day I've been waiting for to give you my new address I've only had if for 4.5 months since 25 Dec 44. Sof sof, I've been with the 75th Infantry Division since that time working in the clearing station. It's a relatively safe location, but knowing your great capacity for worrying I thought it best to keep the news from you until this day. You showed me in your letters about Aaron and Jesse how you could worry about those not quite as close as your own son.
To bring you up to date on my present situation our division last fought in the closing of the Ruhr pocket. Things have been quiet since then, and now I am on vacation in Maastricht, Holland for 3 days. (A far cry from Nice where I would have liked to have gone but never did). It is part of the policy of frequent short leaves to make the non-fraternization policy in Germany workable.
More later but keeping up the pretense of being at the 62nd has been so difficult and delayed mail so long that I faithfully promise you that I shall never again keep my location or assignment secret form you.
Almost all of the old crowd has left the 62nd my change was in conformity with the rotation policy between field MDs and General Hospital MDs. There were only four men in the 62nd under thirty and not limited service. I was second to go, and now all are gone, as well as many other transfers of all kinds, including the colonel himself.
Much more later, love and may the good tidings be confirmed.
Dear Mom, 9 May 45
I had a record of a V-E Day greeting here in Maastricht. It came out pretty well except that I stuttered badly while trying to show off how well I now talk French. There is a little needle pasted on the record cover. Looks like this to be played so that the point faces the receding part of the record or better still, use a cactus needle. An ordinary steel needle will hurt the record as it is poorly lacquered. I hope it gets to you unbroken, and not more than a few months hence.
Dear Mom, 10 May 45
We're going back to the unit today, a long ride, but it shouldn't take us more then 6 HRS or so.
I have been writing rather detailed letters to Himmy, and have asked him to save them, to turn over to you, when I told him to do so. I am writing to him know and asking him to go ahead. You will still have lapses still to be filled in though.
Dear Mom, 16 May 45
Wrote you another long letter today, and if I mail it today you will receive it at the same time as the letter I wrote yesterday. And, I know you would rather have the long Airmails spaced out.
Never did get to see Julaih Friedenwald's son. I spent a couple of precious hours of my Paris leave to go to his hospital, but he was out on Pass at the time. I left an indefinite sort of note for him. I though seeing him would convince you that I was in Paris, in case you had any lingering doubts about not having been transferred from the 62nd!
I am not worried about that article being in the New Masses. I was only kidding.
How are you getting with that old meany of a principal? Have you applied yet for a sabbatical? And, how goes the arm? With the warm weather it should improve even more. As I get it, you're only bothered by some stiffness and heaviness of the limb, and not by pain and limitation of motion. Is that the case?
Dear Mom, 17 May 45
German class this AM we finished the AMG notice on "Ablieferung von Fotoapparaten und Fernglaesern ("Handing in of Cameras and Binoculars") I am mimeographing "Rotkappchen" von Grimm ("Little Red Riding Hood", by Grimms fairytales) as no one else can read Gothic script, I have to do it myself. Then a staff meeting with the colonel, to which I go as asst. S-3 (I+E Officer). Lunch. Then some work on a study poster. Now we go off on a thirty mile gaint (?) to a meeting of all the division medical officers at a DP hospital where a Russian doctor will present a paper and show cases of Typhus.
Dear Mom, 19 May 45
What with double British summer time, it's getting so late while still so light, that the sleeping schedule is interfered with, we really have to go to bed by day.
The General is coming tomorrow for an inspection, so I will have to get up early to put the finishing touches on my display, then I will let it go hang for a couple of weeks before I change it any.
I'm eagerly awaiting the receipt of mail sent by you to my correct address. It's been so long since I heard from you. I imagine that they keep the mail for a couple of days at least, in the hospital, waiting for a pile to accumulate before they forward it to me.
Please let me know what you would like to know that I haven't already answered. I hope to start a new installment series to bring everybody up to date on my experiences in the Infantry, and on V-E day. Incidentally, I mailed you that record I made in Maastricht, on the 10th, and they said it would only take about three weeks to get to you. It is in a huge box.
Dear Mom, 22 May 45
It's a terrific problem trying to bring you up to date. I don't know what I've written to Himmy about and what I have to retell for you.
Just to fill in a few of the minor details, the large photo of me was taken the same morning that I left the 62nd for good. You will notice that no tie is being worn, which indicates that I was in field uniform, no longer a garrison soldier.
The letter to Stienberg was written Ardennes, in a breathing spell after some of the bloodiest work we have ever done. I mean it literally. My hands were chapped raw from washing the blood of between patients. The latter included some cases of children whom we ran into in the Ardennes. Now that the campaign "Germany" has been split into three separate ones, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe, I now have four Battle Stars, and my points go up to 56. But, S vet mir gurnicht helfen! I'm low in points? An officer? And a doctor?
Dear Mom, 25 May 45
We made the trip to Maastricht, this time in a truck, and I got in with a thick coating of mud on my face, and a moderate dust conjunctivitis. I am going to grab the first hitch I can and get into Liege. I suppose I can get to services there I haven't been at services for about a month now.
Please discontinue all packages until further notice.
Dear Mom, 28 May 45, Maastricht
I have been carefully putting in accents graves in the word Liege. Now I find that it should be an accent sign but I am exonerated by the information that everyone in that town pronounces it like an accent grave, which shows a keen ear on my part
We head for "home" today (home is where your bedding role is). I hope we don't have to stay in the same old place very much longer (I did). What happens next is still the big question. Remember, I'm 75th Division, at present, part of the 9th Army.