Translated from an original Third Reich book.
Here is an excerpt from the publisher’s forward:
German Home Front was translated from the original Third Reich book Die Heimat hilft mit, literally “The Homeland Helps Along”. That book, in turn, owes its emergence to German war correspondents – one of whom later died north of Stalingrad – who wrote and read many reports about the heroism of the front, but not much about the war effort back at home, and decided to do something about it.
Here are often touching personal accounts of the folks back home, their concern for the boys at the front, their desire and indeed concrete effort to do their part. Their work may be tedious or even strenuous, but it is essential. Sometimes it can be lethal, for example fighting fires during an air raid! And the Reich Work Service (RAD) report from the front reads more like a war story, because, well, it IS a war story!
The story of the German Home Front is essential for any serious World War Two collection. After all, the home front is one battle that Germany did NOT lose in the Second World. Morale remained astonishing high until the end, war production continued to climb even into 1945 (!) despite massive air raid damage, and even the food supply lasted.
Here is an excerpt from the body of the book:
One night British planes attacked a North German harbor city and in blind and murderous rage of destruction dropped high-explosive bombs on a residential district. Several houses were hit and some damaged. In one of the worst damaged houses, a wife did her difficult duty as air warden. Nothing – not even the crashing detonations of the bombs that shook the house – could disrupt the superior calm of the women, who was in the bomb shelter room with the others. Her calmness also calmed the others.
Only when one of the lady residents, desperately crying, reported that her daughter-in-law and her two children – two sick, half-grown boys – were still up in her apartment, did the woman’s face turn gray with horror. She looked around at the people whose safety was her responsibility. She saw the numb helplessness in their eyes; they made no allowance for the last desperate hope of the whimpering woman.
Then she calmly said, “We will fetch them. They will certainly be alright.” By “we” she meant herself and her husband, who also helped with air defense in the house. Out there, outside the air shelter room, it seemed impossible to reach the three people in the upstairs apartment. The limited, dull light from the flashlight revealed that the house had been hit very hard. A ceiling had collapsed: mortar, wood splinters and blocks of stone were strewn about. There were deep cracks in the walls that grew with an uncanny cracking noise. The steps upstairs hanged down crooked, loose and unsafe. Any falling stone that struck them would be bound to rip them down. But that stairs was the only way to reach the three people waiting for rescue. At the moment the only reasonable course of action seemed to be to give up the rescue plan and to flee from the cracking walls and collapsing ceilings to the shelter. But the two of them did not do that. With a few hasty words they discussed the last, dangerous rescue attempt.
The man stepped under the stairs that hanged over him menacingly and braced his shoulders against it like a pillar. A soft shout, and his wife stepped on the stairs without hesitation. After a few steps there was a small jolt and slight swing. She felt that the whole weight of the steps now rested on her husband’s shoulders. Upstairs she hurried along a corridor, stumbling over the chaos of fallen stones and ceiling debris, then she heard a soft boy’s voice amid the uncanny, menacing plunking of stones. The child’s whimpering led her immediately to the right room. Part of the ceiling had collapsed. In front of the bed lay an unconscious woman. Both sick boys huddled on her bed, whose pillows were covered in thick mortar dust. First the woman picked up the boys and dragged them down the corridor and the broken, swinging stairs to the safety of a second, small shelter room. Then she hurried over the crooked stairs and fetched the unconscious mother. When she stepped down from the stairs with her heavy burden, she felt a heavier jolt than before. The noise from the widening cracks in the walls was also louder and more frightening.
Perhaps the husband also heard the cracking noise. He stood motionless in the dark and pressed his wounded shoulders against the great weight of the stairs. Perhaps he also knew there was no longer any escape for him, that no man could relief him of the tremendous weight of the stairs, that it would pitilessly push him to the ground and crush him, if he relaxed for even a split second. No one knows what the man felt in these minutes. For when his wife reached the shelter room with the unconscious woman, the stairs collapsed on him. He was pulled out of the ruins the next morning dead. His wife was present. Next to her, bending over him with grief, the others bowed in reverent tribute to the comrade who had fallen on the air defense front.