As part of my mother's Jungmaedel (Hitler Youth girls between the ages of 10-14) duties, she knitted hats, gloves, and scarves for soldiers during the winter. These would then be packaged and shipped to the front lines. No food or other items were placed in these packages by my mother's Jungmaedel group because there was simply nothing left to give. Everyone was on ration cards by this time to conserve Germany's resources.
One of my mother's favorite Jungmaedel duties was to write German soldiers on the Russian front. She corresponded with three soldiers: a father with a son about Mom's age, a 23-year-old young man, and a 27-year-old who was engaged to be married. She does not remember their names, but corresponded with them regularly. They had all been drafted into the Army.
She had been corresponding with the soldier who had been engaged for a year when her letter was returned. On the envelope was stamped: "Gefallen für Führer, Volk und Vaterland", which translated means "Killed in action for the Führer, the People, and the Fatherland."
She had also corresponded with the youngest of the three soldiers for about a year when her letter was returned with a "Missing in Action" stamp on it. He was fighting at Stalingrad under General Friedrich Paulus who commanded Germany's Sixth Army. Paulus started the campaign with 250,000 men and only 7,000 of those survived. Paulus surrendered to the Soviets on February 1, 1943, a day after Hitler promoted him to the rank of Field Marshall, encouraging him to commit suicide (Spartacus Educational, n.d.).
My mother had the longest correspondence with the soldier who was married and the father of an 11-year-old son. He was a kind and gentle man in his letters. He was always be happy to hear from her. They corresponded two years before her letter was returned:
"Gefallen für Führer, Volk und Vaterland."
I think what my mother's stories do best is put a face to war, bringing back people and events that otherwise would be forgotten.