February 17th, 1945

Journal,

 

I’ve settled into a routine serving out here in Prussia, on the edge of the Baltic Sea. Just yesterday, I myself fired on a ship and sank it. My boat has not had many hits, but this mission was successful. Not long ago, my aunt was traveling on a German merchant marine ship through the Baltic Sea when it was sunk by the Russians. Hundreds of women and children were killed, my aunt included. It felt good to sink one of the Russian ships in return. The Russians have very few countermeasures against our U-boats. They are not much of a Navy. If the war was fought only at sea, we might have a chance of winning. I am not sure how the rest of our forces are doing in this war. I just hope it is over soon.

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

August 10th, 1944

Journal,

 

Life on a U-boat is difficult, although better than other alternatives.  I have a bed to sleep in and our ship has a cook who makes decent meals.  I could be in Russia, freezing and starving.  Here, we work and sleep in shifts.  Our captain is a good man.  He is well respected and fair to the men.  He likes to pull tricks too and will often drop small, exploding caps that make a loud noise.  They are harmless, but make the unsuspecting sailor jump. 

 

My job on the U-boat is that of machiner.  I work with the diesel engines and make sure they run properly.  The sub itself is like a giant pipe, with 20 men crammed inside.  It can be loud, especially when it starts up and the engines bang and clang.  When we dive and the snorkel on top is covered, the air is vacuumed out of the sub and causes everyone’s ears to plug up.  We are not able to go very deep, usually about 100 yards at the maximum depth.  We are not out in the open sea for very long either, usually only a few days at a time. Once we’re out far enough, we pull in the snorkel and go deep, using the electric motors instead of the diesel motors to remain undetected.  And we are patrolling for Russian ships.  Our subs are smaller than those of my comrades who patrol the Atlantic Ocean.  They are gone for much longer and they are much more likely to be killed. 

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

April 20th, 1944

Journal,

 

I have completed my training and received my assignment. I am to serve on a Type XXI U-boat that will patrol the Baltic Sea. These U-boats hold about 20 men and all of us will serve together on this same ship. Other friends received assignments to travel to France or Norway or Hamburg immediately. We will all set sail soon, the Germans need more men

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

October 14th, 1943

 

Journal,

 

Our time in Königsberg was short and we spent most of it loading mines onto ships which were patrolling the Baltic Sea. Now I am back in Hamburg, continuing my naval training. Because I have a background in mechanics, my training will only take about six months, or half of the normal length of time. I am with the under seas division, anticipating an assignment on a U-boat. There are many types of boats, some larger than others. There is even a small U-boat with an electric motor which launches from a bigger ship and searches out the biggest enemy ship it can find. While it sounds exciting, I will not volunteer for these small U-boats. It is almost as dangerous as going into Russia and I’m sure I wouldn’t survive. I have leaned how to dive however. There are about twelve men in my training group. We wear only the simplest of clothing and a “lung” which contains oxygen and allows us to breathe underwater. We can go down about 70 meters into the water. I hope this is a skill I won’t ever have to use.

 

Henry

 

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

March 30th, 1943

Journal,

 

I think I may have narrowly escaped death. A few weeks ago, I received word that I was to join the anti-tank division of the German regular army. I am an adult now and no longer part of the German youth army. I returned to Berlin to begin my training as part of this anti-tank division. I knew that I would be sent to Russia and I feared I would not survive the war. However, only this morning, a recruiter for the Navy arrived at our base. He needs men to join the Navy who are engineers and mechanics. They have enough barbers and salesmen, now they need men with technological training. Thank God for my background. I volunteered at once and have been spared a future in Russia. A few of my friends volunteered for service as well. We leave in the morning for Königsberg, a city in Prussia near the Russian border. At least it is not in Russia itself.

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

February 19th, 1943

Journal,

 

I have finally arrived back in Dabrowä. My return home was delayed by an injury I received while in Berlin. A few weeks ago, the soft light of morning also brought with it more airplanes and bombs. Living in Berlin, I have learned to distinguish between the types of bombs which are dropped on the city. This is a skill every man, woman and child has been forced to learn. There are bombs that whistle as they fall from the sky. This is what we call a “regular” bomb – it hits the earth and sends shrapnel flying in all directions. It is best to be relatively close to where this bomb hits. The pieces of earth and metal will hopefully fly over your head instead of hitting you. Once you hear the sound of the bomb, you must move quickly for cover. The second type of bomb is silent and therefore much more dangerous. This bomb is filled with chemicals that burn the skin and cannot be rinsed away with water. Luckily, I was injured by the exploding shrapnel of a regular bomb. A piece of metal cut my neck and the doctor tells me I will always have a scar, if I survive this war. Yes, it is good to be home in Dabrowä and away from Berlin.

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:14 pm  Comments (6)  

January 13th, 1943

Journal,

 

My duties as truck driver have just ended. It has been a little over a year since I first arrived in Berlin and I am anxious to leave. I will be able to return home for a few months to see my family. I miss them and I look forward to seeing them again.

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

June 14th, 1942

Journal,

 

I have just arrived in Hamburg, having traveled from my base in Berlin. Berlin is a dangerous city and it is good to be gone, even if it is only for a few days. The bombing is heavy right now. Only a few days ago, a group of men from our radio station company were killed by one of the bombs. It is best to leave the city as quickly as possible when you hear the sound of airplanes overhead.

 

I cannot begin to describe what it is like driving my supply truck through the Alps. I am in charge of the supplies for the northern part of Germany, whereas some of my other friends supply the east and the west. The mountains are difficult to navigate and I have to stop frequently in order to re-fuel my truck. It is a three ton truck that is powered by wood. There is a boiler on the side of the truck and a fire into which I throw pieces of wood about every fifty miles. The wood burns up and creates a gas which powers the truck. Gasoline is expensive and hard to come by. Most cars in the city are run on wood as well because we need the gas for planes and trains in the war effort. In any case, I will be leaving Hamburg and heading south to resupply in Berlin. I am told I will be heading to Lübek for my next run.

 

Henry

 

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

March 30th, 1942

Journal,

 

I have arrived in Berlin and commenced with my new duties. It seems we will be splitting our time between Berlin and Bavaria. As new recruits, we were given the choice between driving motorcycles or trucks. Despite the days of summer camp and my knowledge of motorcycles, I have chosen to drive trucks and deliver supplies to German military camps. It is rumored that motorcyclists are sent into Russia as couriers and I will do anything to avoid going to Russia. The conditions there are brutal and the Russians themselves are best avoided.

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

March 25th, 1942

Journal,

 

It seems that shipbuilding is not the course that I will take. Despite my scholarship for higher education, I have been drafted into the German youth army. I am leaving tomorrow for Berlin where I will begin training. Will write later.

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:10 pm  Leave a Comment