born 1921 – died 1991
On January the 30th,1945, Brigitte Brandt wrote the following in a letter to her parents:
I’m quite glad we’re not stuck on a trail – 20 degrees below zero and unimaginably deep snow, the children could easily freeze to death. As I see it, nothing much can happen to us, after all. But I’m pretty much alone with that view amid the generally apocalyptic mood here. Whatever you do, don’t worry about us – I’m sure we’ll survive, I’m quite calm.
At the time, she was living in Groß Mölln (today’s Mielno) in Pomerania with her two daughters of four and five. She was working as a teacher, while her husband was serving in the war. Since she didn’t believe she’d be able to cope with the hardships of becoming a refugee, she decided to stay put.
Her diary begins on February the first 1945: 43 closely written pages in a small calendar from 1942. She writes brief notes about what happens as Soviet troops move in, about the violence affecting mainly the women, and about her own, desperate struggle to ensure her sick children’s wellbeing and her own survival.
The entries end on the first of July 1945. Shortly afterwards, her husband was able to have the family brought to Berlin.
28th of February 1945:
I am more desperate than ever. Puz is coughing. Bärbel’s tonsils are almost completely swollen shut. I have badly swollen labia, can barely walk, no doctor. With difficulty, I manage to get something for Bärbel to gargle with. Pram stolen, when I ask about it, I’m taunted by Russian officers. I’m getting to the end of my tether. It’s like being in jail, in the freezing little room with bars on the windows next to the stables. Sister Martha suspects Bärbel may have diphtheria. Off to a Russian doctor.
Carrying the child through the mud. Sympathetic doctor. Serious angina, possibly diphtheria. I may have a sexually transmitted disease, he proposes douches. When he hears about our living conditions, he gives us a room. In the old quarters, the soldiers get nasty, want to rape me before we leave, I make a great racket, a big scene. Two officers escort me to the doctor in disbelief. In the end, I manage to get my things out of there, spend the night at the surgery. Officers don’t do that kind of thing. An hour later, he came knocking. Just the once! Russian night, they all decamp, all gone by morning, almost eerie. I’m on my own again and at a loss.
All depictions: © Gerhard Seitz, Das Deutsche Tagebucharchiv e.V.