My dear mother wrote:
Day 4 Tuesday 24. April 1945
“We are up since 6 o’clock. During the night there was an air raid for one hour ! Russian fighter aircraft are over Berlin. Our borough is unscathed.
From 6.30 till 11.30 we were waiting to get 1/2 kg of meat, also we received 30 gr coffee and one loaf of bread.
Just now, we hear that the Anhalter Railway Station and the Görlitzer Railway Stations are in the hand of the enemy (approx. 2 and 4 km away, but in different directions. berlioz). One can hear intensified artillery fire. and easily distinguish our own heavy Flak. From time to time we can hear targets being hit nearby and observe some aerial combats. And during queuing and shopping we have to take cover from time to time. One is always amazed how people adjust to the prevailing condition and their thought processes quickly find a way to prolong their lives.
The fourth Day passed without any special events. (Shades of ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ berlioz)
It has come to this. The war was coming closer and closer, the bombardment of the city has intensified and my Mum says, “…the day passed without any special events .”
While we were queuing for the meat we witnessed some aerial combat. We were waiting at Hefters in Boelkestrasse (what irony, the street is named after a famous air combatant in WW I) close to our Parish church. We heard the sound of the two planes approaching. A Russian fighter plane was chasing a ME109. The German plane tried to shake the Russian by flying around the church which is a round building, actually.
Quickly they were around and disappeared behind the trees and buildings. But we could hear the onboard cannons of the Russian plane and shortly after a loud explosion as the ME 109 crashed into and exploded a few streets away at the nearby hospital. Only this year, while researching another story about the hospital – where I was born – I learned that four people died in that incident. On that day, my Mum came home from a warehouse, obviously looting it, with a large soup tureen full of jam.
Aerial combat, people taking cover, the enemy fighting with the remnants of the German Army in house to house combat and my Mum says no “special events”.
Even during a war, we can become blasé. Or is this a defence mechanism?