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Full text of "Kurt Vonnegut 1945 Letter to family"

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FROU: 



Pfo. K, Vonnegutv Jr., 
12103964 y. S. Array.' 



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Xurt Vonnegat^ 
Willlaias Oredc, 
Indianapolis, Indiana. 



Dear people; 

I'm told that you were probably never informed that I was any- 
thing otUer than "missing In action." Chances are that you also 
tailed to leoeive any of the letters I wrote from CSermany. That 
leaves me a lot of explaining to do — in precis: 

I*ye been a prisoner of. war since December 19th, 1944, when our 
division was out to ribbons by Hitler's last desperate thrust through 
...Jiuxemburg and Belgium." Seven fanatical Panzer Divisions hit ua and 
ybut UB off from the rest of. Hodges' First Aimy. The other American. 
...Dlvifilons-pn our-Jflanks- managed -to pul'1-cut : — We we re obliged" to" ' 
stay and fi^t." Bayonets aren't much good against tanks; Our . 
ammunition, food and medical supplies gave out and our casualties 
out-numbered those who oould still fight - so we gave up. The 106th 
got a Presidential Citation and some British Decoration from Mont- 
gomery for lt> I'm told, but 'l" IT be damned If.^fit was worth It. I ' 
was one of the few who weren't. wounded. -For that muoh thank God. 
■ Well,' the supermen marched us, without food, water or, sleep to 

Llmberg, a distance of about sixty miles, I think, where we were 
loaded and looked up, sixty men to each small, unvent Hated, un- 
heated box oar. There were no sanitary accommodations — the floors 
were covered with fresh cow dung. There wasn't room for all of us- 
to lie down. Half slept while the other half 6:tood. We spent 
several days, Including Christmas, on that Limb erg aiding. On 
Christmas eve the Royal Air Force bombed and strafed our unmarked 
train. They killed about one-hundred-and-flfty of us. V/e got a 



Page S 



little Water Ohrlstmaa Day and moved slowly across Germany to a large 

P.O.W. Camp in. Uuhllaurg, South of Berlin. We were released from the 

.box care on Hew Yearns Day, The Germans herded us through scalding 

'delouslng showers. Many men died from shock in the showers after ten 

days of starvation, thirst and exposure. But I didn't... — 

Under the Geneva Convention, Officers and Non-oommiesioned 
Officers are not obliged to work when taken prisoner. I am, as you 
know, a Private. Ono-hundred-and-fifty such minor beings were 
shipped to a Dresden work oamp on January 10th. I was their leader 
by virtue of the little Gorman I spoke. It was our misfortune to 
have sadistic and fanatical guards. We were refused medical atten- 
tion and clothing: We wore given long hours at extremely hard labor. 
Our food ration was two-hundred-andr fifty grams of black bread and 
" one plnt'^of '%L8eaiKmed''po~tato~ soup each day. After desperately trying 
to Improve our situation for tWQ months and having been met with bland 
smiles. I told the guards ^ust what I was going to do to them when the 
. Russians came. They beat me up a little. I was fired as group 
leader. Beatings were very small time: — one boy starved to death 
and thO' SS Troops shot two for stealing food. 

On about February 14th the Americans came over, followed by the 
R.A.P. their combined labors killed 350,000 people in twenty-four 
•hours and destroyed all^qf Dresden — possibly „ the world's most— — 
beautiful* olty, But not me. 

After that we were put to work carrying corpses from Air-Raid 
shelters; women, children, old men; dead from concussion, fire or 
suffocation. Civilians cursed us and threw rocks as we carried bodies 
to huge funeral pyres in the city. 

When General Pat ton took Leipzig we were evacuated on -foot to 

~ - - -.t-.-i^^.n^^ -HrKT/iAT. There we remained 



1 






/ff.-. .... ■ ,,» . , ^ 

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tmtll the war ended. Our guards deserted ua.. .Oft ttiat happy day the 
Hue elans were intent on mopping "up isolated outlaw resistanoe in our 
sector. Their planes CP-39ts) strafed and bombed us, killing fourt'een. 
but not me. 

• Ei^t of us. stole a team and «agon. We traveled and looted our 
--:_... .way- through Sudetenland and Saxgny for pight days, -living like kings.— 
» ■ The Russians are oraay about' Americans. The Russians picked us up in 
Dresden, We rode from there to the American lines at Halle in Lend- "* 
Lease Ford trucks. We*ve .since been flown to Le Havre. 

• I'm writing from, a Red Cross Club In the Le liavre PiO.W, Repat- 
riation Oamp. I'm being wonderfully well feed and entertained. The 
: state-bound ships are jsraraed, naturally, so I'll have to be patient. 

'' I hope to be home in a month. Onoe home I'll be given twenty-one days 
. recuperation at Atterbury, about $600 back pay and — get this — 



sixty (60) days furlou^l 

I've too damned much to say, the rest will have to wait. I can't 
receive mail here so donH write. May 29, .1945 

Love , 
Kurt - Jr.. .