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The Hosenfeld Website


The comprehensive edition of Wilm Hosenfeld's letters and diary notes - edited by the Office for the Research of Military History at Potsdam - provides insight into the life and thought of a German patriot who joined the Nazis out of idealism, but turned away from them in horror when he recognized the dreadful consequences. In November 1939 he wrote to his wife that he was sometimes ashamed to be a German soldier after having been an eye witness to the execution of members of the Polish leadership and the expulsion of Polish and Jewish citizens.

On September 1, 1942, he asked: "Why did this war have to happen at all?" This was his answer;

"Because humanity had to be shown where its godlessness was taking it ... This denial of God's commandments leads us to all the other immoral manifestations of greed - unjust selfenrichment, hatred, deceit, sexual license resulting in infertility and the downfall of the German people. God allows all this to happen ... to show mankind that without him we are only animals in conflict, who believe we have to destroy each other. We will not listen to the divine commandment: "Love one another" ... and must die, guilty and innocent alike."

When he got knowledge of the mass murder of the Soviet Jews, the beginning of the gassing at Auschwitz and the extermination of the Warsaw Jews at Treblinka, he realized the magnitude of the crimes:

A diary entry of Wilm Hosenfeld June 16, 1943:

"Innumerable Jews have been killed like that, for no reason, senselessly. It is beyond understanding. Now the last remnants of the Jewish inhabitants of the ghetto are being exterminated. An SS Sturmführer boasted of the way they shot the Jews down as they ran out of the burning buildings. The entire ghetto has been razed by fire.

These brutes think we shall win the war that way. But we have lost the war with this appalling mass murder of the Jews. We have brought shame upon ourselves that cannot be wiped out; it is a curse that cannot be lifted. We deserve no mercy; we are all guilty ..." 

A diary entry from August 13, 1943:

"It is impossible to believe all these things, even though they are true. Yesterday I saw two of these beasts in the tram. They were holding whips in their hands when they came out of the ghetto. I would like to throw those dogs under the tram. What cowards we are, wanting to be better and allowing all this to happen. For this, we too will be punished, and our innocent children after us, because in allowing these evil deeds to occur, we are partners to the guilt."

A diary note from December 5, 1943:

"Our entire nation will have to pay for all these wrongs and this unhappiness, all the crimes we have committed. Many innocent people must be sacrificed before the blood-guilt we have incurred can be wiped out ..."





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