I do not know when and how my mother found the time to write these notes. During the day she was out organising anything useful and trying to extent our lives another day. In the evening we were in the air raid shelter and had only candle light. Perhaps she was writing while I slept the sleep of the just. This is what she wrote on the 26. April:
“Day 6 Thursday 26. April 1945
Today we are moving by daylight with our provisions into the air-raid-shelter. A frightened resident of the building spreads the instruction that all alcoholic beverages should be consumed, poured out or otherwise destroyed so they would not fall into the hands of the enemy.
Well, it seems the situation is slowly becoming serious. But – what is the result of this instruction ? A brainless group of people which senselessly and without understanding pour the good drop of alcohol into the sand. Some are gathering up courage and take the bottles to their flats and hide them in safe places. The connoisseurs pour half a bottle down their throat. For sure, this time without much appetite or pleasure.
I, too, am rushing back to the flat and hide here and there three small bottles of liqueur. A fourth I’m taking back with me to the shelter, as one should have at least something for the odd occasion where a bit of spirit is asked for.
Midday, the news filters through that the Russians are already on the tarmac of the Airport Berlin-Tempelhof ( we lived only 300 m from the airport entrance.berlioz). But, one would be able to get some food items from a warehouse, for instance, potatoes, bread, semolina, flour etc. Now, we women are on the move! We are not shirking the shellfire, we are only thinking of getting the provisions. Three times I’m going on this dangerous mission.
The especially good food has been taken already. I still can gather approx. 20 kg potatoes, 1 1/2 kg sauerkraut, 1 1/2 kg jam and 1 kg barley. The barley, I must confess, I took from a woman’s pram, in which she had many kilos of it. In this case, I called it self-preservation. In the end, I dared myself into the big airport building to look for bread. But the stores were all cleared out by looters. It was high time to return home.
The machine gun bullets were flying all around us. I felt like a front line soldier. I had to take cover constantly. When it was quiet for a moment I jumped up and ran across the road or to the next doorway. When there was a whistling sound I bend down and ran for dear life around the next corner. When a shell exploded people threw themselves on the ground or pressed themselves tight against some walls.
This was the greatest fear I ever had to cope with. But I reached our own shelter unscathed. I was so hot and excited that the sweat poured down my cheeks. My face looked blue for 2 hours.”
There is even some humour and irony in her notes. The situation is becoming “serious” she writes. Of course it is serious if you have to pour schnapps down the drain. What she did was “self-preservation”, but the other people were looters. I remember a conversation my mother had with an old man, after one of her missions. He informed us, that an army under the command of General Wenck was on its way to relieve Berlin and to chase the Russians out of the city. To my horror, I heard myself saying, and I was just one month short of being 10 years old, ‘The only army that is coming is the Red Army”. Indeed, they were coming closer by the minute.
In the same conversation, the old man said, that the Allies, after their victory, would occupy Germany for fifty years. This time span seemed enormous at the time, but it turned out to be pretty accurate. Germany was only reunited and an independent country again in October 1990.
But the Russians were not in our street yet and anything could happen.