Letter From Russia, I

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This post is part of a graphic and literary account of my adoptive parents’ lives. It’s disjointed and pictures and text sometimes strive in different directions.

 

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My adoptive mom’s brother Wilfried did not survive WWII. He was the uncle I never met. Two of my cousins were named “Wilfried.”

This uncle had a secret fate that was only revealed to me after Mama passed away, when I found a trove of documents relating to the Nazi years. I’ve worked over Wilfried’s documents and pictures several times now (2008 – 2016), doing research on his unit/s and his fate, dealing with the emotional aspects of the revelations, and producing layers of images and texts.

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I have some photos and a diary and three of Wilfried’s letters from the front, written in 1944 as his unit and all three German army groups and fronts facing the Red Army were pushed back into Germany. His unit took part in artillery operations against enemy tanks and civilian targets, buildings with people in them, in very heavy village-to-village fighting. The available evidence indicates that he was fighting in the so-called Courland Pocket, depicted on the map in green color.

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In December 1944 the Red Army eliminated the Germans from that region, except for army group Courland, but in the fall, while it was muddy, they waited, and so the Germans had some successes. That’s when these letters were written.

Afterwards, Wilfried only narrowly avoided getting shut in with Army Group Courland

(to be continued)