[Sometimes sources aren’t the best, but this is what we have. However, it illustrates a very good point… how the Soviet “workers’ paradise” really was.]
German Soldiers in the Soviet Union
Letters from the East
Background: When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, they encountered a propaganda windfall. Conditions in the Soviet Union were often deplorable by German standards. In January 1942, the Nazis published a 60-page booklet titled German Soldiers in the Soviet Union: Letters from the East. It consisted mostly of excerpts from letters from soldiers reporting on conditions they encountered. The letters, of course, were carefully selected, but soldiers had credibility, and the booklet surely had an impact. Germans who read it, even if they had doubts about Adolf Hitler, were likely to conclude that National Socialism was surely preferable to Bolshevism. The book is divided into 9 chapters. I here translate several sections from each chapter. Wolfgang Diewerge, the author, produced at least five other Nazi anti-Semitic pamphlets.
The booklet, by the way, used the same cover drawing as the 1942 catalog for an exhibition on the Soviet Union, available elsewhere on the German Propaganda Archive.
The source: Wolfgang Diewerge, Deutsche Soldaten sehen die Sowjet-Union. Feldpostbriefe aus dem Osten (Berlin: Wilhelm Limpert-Verlag, 1941).
The book begins with the following quotation from Goebbels:
“Lying enemy propaganda never tires of accusing us of giving the German people a false or incomplete picture of the battles in the East. They are best refuted by letters from our soldiers.”
German Soldiers as Witnesses against Bolshevism
The homeland hears about events at the front in an unbelievably short time. German radio often brings reports in the evening of deeds of arms that occurred only a few hours earlier, and the German newsreel includes pictures brought by air directly from the battlefields. The German people have almost direct contact with the accomplishments of their soldiers through the words, pictures, and reporting of modern news media. Past generations could not feel so closely bound to their family members.
Still, the best and most personal source of news in war is and remains the letter. That which the husband or son, the brother, or the bridegroom puts on paper during a brief rest is not only longed for and treasured news from a beloved and irreplaceable person, but also a testimony and a report from one heart to another, one that speaks the right language. During World War I, the letters from the soldiers in field gray recorded the experiences and the integrity of determined fighters who were willing to give their all. During this war, too, millions of German soldiers have reported their powerful experiences. Every family carefully preserves these letters. In party local groups, within National Socialist organizations and in factories, these letters from comrades are passed from hand to hand as eyewitness reports of upright German men.
This pamphlet is a random sample of such letters. They were sent to us by citizens of every class and region. Many of them included this note: “As I read this letter, I thought that others had to read it, too.”
Yes, that is true! There are millions of German citizens who do not have that direct contact with the front. They need to read these letters. They all deal with a theme that is particularly relevant today for the entire German people: What does the Soviet Union really look like?
Sometimes people think the Führer’s propagandists exaggerate, though actual events have proven that what they say is less than the full truth. One thinks of the role of the Jews in unleashing this war or the horrors Poland committed against ethnic Germans. Some citizens who complained then about exaggerated reports of persecution and suffering today complain about 60,000 graves, victims of Polish murderers!
But the most convincing proof of the difference between what was said and reality is clear from the revelations about Bolshevism. This unmasking is particularly important, because millions of German citizens put their faith in the lying words of Jewish-communists. They were told that within the borders of the Soviet Union there was “the workers’ paradise, the true home of the workers of the world.” When National Socialist newspapers and books spoke of the social betrayal in the Soviet Union, or of the horrible mass murders, the misery of children, the hopeless poverty of the entire population, some doubted these well-founded and carefully considered statements.
Now there are millions of reliable witnesses in the middle of this “worker’s paradise.” They cannot be doubted. They are not traveling along carefully prepared streets, nor can Intourist guide them through a carefully selected factory. They must march meter by meter through the country. They fight for each village and each city, they see face-to-face the people who were for nearly 25 years the objects of Bolshevist domination…