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This is it folks – the moment we’ve all been waiting for! He’s coming home! In his mind to that warm fuzzy place that he’s been fantasizing about for years – he’s hopeful – joyous even though he doesn’t know what really will happen to him. I thought it would be interesting to google what was going on in Germany at this point in time – and frankly, the politics of the region are so complex – that I’ve decided to stick with the personal telling of my Dad’s story. It looks like Germany is set to be divided into two countries right about now -so keeping up with the history of Germany will have to wait till another time!

19 June 1945 V-Mail

Guess where I am, Cutie – on my way! At present in Brussels for 3 days!! Sunday we finished packing up the old Msg Center, and Monday morning took off for here for a bit of a rest prior to going to the Assembly area. Haven’t done a darn thing yet except eat a couple of steaks and french fried potatoes, and take in a vaude- show tonight. Tomorrow at ten we take a tour of the city. Oh yes — have been eating ice cream & pie ala mode like crazy! Got you five rolls of 620 film today.  If I have any money left will get you more tomorrow. Am sitting in the Red Cross Club (a fair spot) admiring the bosoms as they go past. The French gals have the legs, but, my back! the Brussels belles have the bouncers! A man, I’ll bet, could make a fortune here in the girdle and brassiere business.

As usual, I sit here staring at the paper – thinking how much easier & pleasanter it’s going to be telling you about these things. So–good night–my darling–I can hardly wait. Going to kick around some time yet before I see you–but I’m on my way– ALL my love
Pappy

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Great letter! Fraught with emotion!

14 June 1945

I’ve been waiting a long time to write this letter, sweetheart, so sit down and take it easy…Unless something goes wrong, we should be home in about a month to six weeks from now!!!!! We have finished our mission here (last Sat, in fact, when we were called together by the Col and he told us that we are CBI bound “indirect”– through the States) and are now preparing like crazy for overseas shipment. He didn’t want us to talk about it for a few days, but now it “Can be told”. Frankly, I don’t know what to think. I mean I’m all mixed up emotionally. I’m crazy happy, of course, to be coming home (we could have been shipped “Direct”, you see) but I also don’t care much for the idea of leaving again…our only consolation is that, at least, while we are home, something could happen so we would not have to leave, such as the end of the Japs, or lowering of age limit, or me having enough points (dream on Neibauer)…well, you see what I mean? I’m emotionally mixed up….but I am quite sure that we’re on our way, anyway, darling. Still in Bielefelt, but expect to be pulling out before many days for the Assembly Area, and then to the boats…I’ll try to keep you posted.

Don’t you think that we had better plan on a little time in Seattle, darling? It will cost a lot of money, but I know that my folks would be heartbroken if I came back to the States and didn’t see them before leaving again. Can we take Karen and go out for a week, anyway? We have no idea how much time furlough we’ll get (probably between 20 and 30 days) or where we will be stationed as we go into training again before we take-off on our new mission, so I can’t give you anything to plan on except we should get home around the middle of July —but DON’T count on it beyond making tentative arrangements. I’m not going to write to my folks or anyone else about this, honey, as I’d hate for them to be disappointed in case something goes wrong, but I thought that you should know what our probable plans are, anyway. Unless you hear differently from me,  you may as well stop writing to me around the first of July, because I doubt if the letters would catch up to us. I may not be too good on the corresponding from now on either (gosh darn, but I’m tired of writing letters!) but don’t fret, sweetie, you know that I’ll keep you posted on any and all new developments as they come along.

In the meantime, my very darling, get ready, because I’m supercharged with millions of volts of love for you—Pappy

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Now that the censors have gone, Dad’s letters a more substantive which is wonderful! The ever-present “what’s next” is looming in his letters as they go about their days wondering. I love in the second letter where he and his pal Spalding have been put in charge of the Rathskeller and have so much booze left that they’ve decided to make it free! The prices they were charging by today’s standards are incredulous!

9 June 1945 V-Mail
Germany

Good evening, baby, no mail for the last few days, but I guess we can’t expect it every day! (but we can hope). Got your mothers Mar 12 ltr last night, to give you an idea of how screwed up mail can be generally. I still don’t understand how we can get some letters in six days, and take a couple of months to get others. Here it is Sat night. Yippee, I just had six rousing games of horseshoes, and when I finish this I think that I will go down and have a few beers!!! Ain’t I the one, though? Fop. Fortunately, tomorrow is our day off, with NO reveille (did I tell you that we are having 6:30 reveille now?), so we probably won’t get up until we hear the breakfast bell about 5 minutes to 9 (five minutes is PLENTY of time in the army to get up, shave, bathe and be waiting a couple of minutes in the chow line). We keep getting and losing different units all of the time (I mean two or three changes each DAY!) so our work is getting quite complicated, besides we keep getting more than we keep losing, so we are now the largest ordnance group in the largest army in the world…Really, and we have a battalion that is the largest battalion, etc! I now have four men working in the office here with me, besides three telephone operators, and two messengers. About all I do now is shuffle papers around and have guys actually do the work on them. Of course, I chip in and help out on files, of registering or signing the stuff in or out whenever one of them gets too rushed. We have a damn good system worked out, if I do say so (and you KNOW I would say so) and the stuff really pours through. I’m still amazed when someone comes in and asks for something and (business of snapping the fingers) like that we get it for him!!

Enough bragging. I get pretty damn lonesome for you guys many times. This is one of them. Keep busy, Niebauer, that’s the ticket. I cer’ny do love you, sweetie. I guess that’s all for tonight. G’night my love, Rollie

11 June 1945 V-Mail
Germany

Good evening, Cutie-pants, got your 29 May and 2 June ltrs last night and very glad to hear about our fine financial situation! If I can only make a little gravy on the side now we shouldn’t do too badly, hum?

I see by Stars and Stripes tonight where Ninth Army is possibly going to the CBI. Sounds very interesting — or something…

We saw the Pathe short on the German atrocities last night. Pretty grim…reminds me of the time on Normandy when I stopped at Cemetery No. 1. I never wrote you about it because it was something I don’t care to think about too much, but sometime when I’m a little drunk, and there is no one around who has lost anyone in the war, remind me to tell you about it. Not pleasant.

I am wringing wet from playing several games of badminton. Boy but that is some game. I think that I might give Stephan a  pretty good game now. Spalding and I have been put in charge of the Rathskeller, and have been doing a very good business. We have paid off all of our debts now and from here on in all beer and drinks are free. We used to charge 1/2 mark for beer and 2 marks (5 cents and twenty cents) for cognac, but since we may not be here too much longer we figure that we had better finish off what we have (and what we have is considerable—I would guess about 20 barrels of beer and around 30 GALLONS of cognac. Strangely enough, none of us drink very much! You would think that with free liquor a lot of guys would be drunk all of the time, but it goes back to the fact that we are after all, a picked group of men, and a guy doesn’t have to get much off of the ball until he finds himself in another outfit. I worked yesterday (Sunday) so took the day off today, and spend a small part of it in arranging my various boxes of junk and disposing of a lot of excess stuff that won’t do me any good anymore. Am getting ready to travel light again just in case. by the way, have you ever looked at my golf clubs lately? All my love, darling, Rol

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Dad says he’s in Bielefeld, Germany and has included this aerial view of where he’s stationed. I remembered that I may have posted this earlier – but this is the correct context for this photograph. He has an arrow drawn to his room! And then later in the letter he tells a funny story about a dance party his buddy’s planned and how it went awry.

7 June

Mary Darling, Your 27 May ltr arrived tonight. Poor little kid, with no packages. Reminds me of my Xmas. But glad that they arrived the next day. Glad that you like the perfume.You know more about what would be good perfume to send Mom than I do, but since I’ve mentioned to her that she has perfume on the way, I agree that it would be a good idea to send her a bottle now, and maybe another for her birthday. Yes, I’m still in Bielefeld, on the outskirts, as you will see from this very fine aerial view that one of our boys got while riding in a cub plane that he smooched a ride in.That is the back of the bldg, and you can see the tennis court (with the holes in the right end, where we play horseshoes) and my room under the arrow. Right under the plane when the pictures was taken would be a hill with woods, and to the right gets to be country right away (what a way I put that all into words! Do you get it?) The other pictures are of the Palace at Versailles, taken by Spalding on his trip to Paris. Remember my telling you about seeing it way back in (when?) September? Re the perfume box again; the dice perfume should be for a girl, I think. Maybe Patty? Yes, “Cagnes” is the Cannes, and the pictures are all made from actual scenes. By the way, have the other boxes arrived yet? I hope so, as I particularly like those wooden pictures. They hold a certain charm for me, and I bet that Karen will really like them when she gets a little older. As to your taking pictures, by all means go ahead and take them NOW. Heaven knows when I’ll be home, and when I do (as far as I know I may start home tomorrow, or next year) I won’t care about pictures — I’ll have you guys in the flesh (ohboyohboyohboy) so take ’em and get ’em to me as soon as you can, as I love to look at you – all. I’ll try to pick up some 620 for you, if I can.

General Ike declared yesterday a holiday, but he doesn’t pack much weight around here so I worked from 7:30 AM until five last night!!! My boys were busy making arrangements for our party last night! We discovered last week that a bunch of ATS (Allied Territorial Service, I think) (we call it the Allied Tail Society—ain’t we naughty?)—they are British, you know— had moved in a few miles from here. So Spalding and Trombly went on over and arranged for them to bring 40 girls over. Well, we worked like dogs yesterday fixing the place up (I handles the MC alone so that Sp and Stolz could crack ice and help on the dozens of odd jobs all day) and the boys really did a swell job, because it looked like a million bucks! Finally took the bus to go over to pick them up (were to be back here at 6:30 because they had to leave at 10:30) and about eight the bus came back and 18 females (I”m not too sure, as a couple of them had simply beautiful mustaches) clumped out and waddled up the front steps!! But dogs! The idea of the card (enclosed, Spalding and my idea ) was that each guy would rush up and hand the card to the girl of his dreams, thus sort of cinching things up for the evening. I’m very happy to send my card on to you, my pet. Spalding and Trombly didn’t do too badly (hell, they drove over and got first pick, didn’t they?) and I finally picked up a little bag and we had a lot of laughs anyway. We were dancing, and she said to me “Have you sentun?” After several “Repeat, please” etc, I got it. I had used my after shave lotion and she had asked if I had scent on? When they left, of course, they all said they’d had a “simply smashing” time! At least, we have had enough laughs today about the whole deal to warrant all of the work we went to. Hey, I’m at the end of the paper, but only beginning to tell you how much I love you—wonder how many reams of paper we have around here? Maybe I better wait until I get home. Would be more fun anyway. But I cer’ny do miss you, sweetheart—all my love—Rol

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This post-war time period is getting interesting! Dad volunteered to be a bartender at a shindig for the big brass! He and his pal Spalding invented two new drinks: the Fraternizer and the Buzz Bomb! Gosh, there may be something to this DNA thing after all!

4 June 1945 V-Mail
Germany

Good evening, sweetie, Haven’t had time to write for the past couple of days. Besides getting more work, generally, the officers had a party last Sat. night to which they invited practically all of the brass in the ETO, so you may imagine that not a great deal of paper work was accomplished on that day, what with house cleaning and preparations for the festivities. Fortunately, they hired a bunch of civilians to do most of the dirty work, so we EMs didn’t do so badly.The first sgt asked for volunteers (and there was NO pressure, as per usual army custom) for various jobs of the evening, so Spalding and I volunteered as bartenders! We were given the sa-weet-est yellow shirts to wear, and wore little tags with such as BARTENDER, Sgt Neibauer!!! Spalding and I couldn’t just serve drinks, of course, so we invented such little numbers as “Fraternizer” (tom-collins) and the hit of the evening, “Buzz-Bomb”!!! We painted a little MENU with all the stuff on it and after the Buzz-Bomb, put “With, or without, small chocking sounds” (Spalding idea). The BB started out to be a very tasty drink.Recipe: Ice in glass; add cherry and just a touch of ice; fill glass to half full of gin; add one tablespoon full of cognac, and fill with lemonade!! Doesn’t that sound appetizing? Of course, we had to make several experiments to arrive at said concoction. As I say, that is what it started out to be! But as business got busier, and they kept deserting the other bars (there were about 150 officers, so we had three bars) and coming back vertical— we decided there was something wrong with the mixture and began making V-2’s and etc!! Needless to say, had a big time, and the next day the Col. personally thanked us for doing such a good job, albeit quite curious as to just what we were slugging them with along toward the end!!! Yesterday, of course, on our day OFF (ha -ha) we caught up on all of the work we didn’t do the day before, so we are just beginning to get clear again. But we had fun, too. HEY, before the paper runs out — I LOVE YOU — ya hear? I love you, cutie, Rol

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Whoa, this letter is downright hostile! Mary hasn’t been following along! I can empathize in some ways, but guess what? I have been following along and at least knew that he was in the 9th Army! His nerves are frayed and he finally speaks openly about being so close to the battle zone that they got some of the fallout. Remember that my Dad joined as a conscientious objector, so his goal was never to shoot a weapon. Anyway, I can begin to see the whole thing unraveling now.

1 June

My dear big-dumb wife, got your excited note today re First Army going home. Either our stupid pal Sheldon (the dumb censor back in the 48th) cut some stuff out of my letters way back in October, or else you were not too observant of what I hinted at for some time. We were transferred out of the First and into the Ninth at the time my APO changed from 230 to 339, remember? 230 is the First Army, in which I was from the time I landed in France until sometime in Oct (I have the exact date in my diary that Mona gave me — as (xxxed out) well as many other pertinent dates — but it is upstairs now). Since then (and now) we have been in the 9th. In case you never figured it out, we supported XIX Corps — which spearheaded most of the offensives (with the 29th Inf. Div and later the 30th and since then we have had dozens of different Inf Divs in and out of our jurisdiction and support. When I landed in France, and for the first couple of months (until they broke away across France) we were anywhere from three to seven or eight hundred yards away, and at a few places we could hear the small arms fire. We have sat up many a night and watched the artillery burst over the Jerry lines, but never had any “incoming mail” land anywhere near us, except for the night we watched the Crossing of the Rhine (with the largest barrage in history, if we can believe the “Ninth Army – It’s Role in Victory”, and I think we can). We have never been shot at (as an individual) and so far have not even fired a practice shot of any kind from any firearm since we left England, but have had more pieces of flak than we care to remember fall (and when I say fall I’m using the term precisely —phing, or whang, or fung ….  whap describes better the way the stuff comes. The V-1s put more grey hairs on this poor ol’ head than anything else, I think, although plenty of Jerry planes have given us plenty of uneasy moments (lets be casual about it, says he!) Now, what else do you want to know? There are thousands of details which will have to be TOLD, of course.

I hope that you wont be disappointed by the fact that I wont be right home, sweetheart. In fact, I hope that we stick around here for three or four months more, because then our chances of being sent right on to the CBI will be smaller, and in the meantime maybe this lowering of the age limit will get down to my level — I hope, I hop pahope!!!

Gee, but I love you, Mrs. Bee. You be a good girl and try to keep Miss K from learning too many bad words and perhaps we will get the thing that I want more than anything else right now, a discharge so that I may go home, to you and all that it means Love Rollie

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I must admit that there’s not too much of interest in these letters – one guy has gone off to France, so Dad’s work load has increased and he’s really tired. He warns Mary that he hopes she’s rested when he gets home “because I’ve been storing up a lot of energy in the past year!!” These three letters have a “day to day” quality – he’s clocking time till he can come home!

But it’s amazing to realize despite the lack of excitement in my Dad’s unit, amazing things were happening in Germany. On May 27, 1945 Buchenwald Concentration Camp was finally liberated. I’m attaching a very moving radio broadcast by Edward R. Morrow, detailing his experience of visiting the camp in April. And here is the lead copy to the broadcast:

On April 11, 1945 the Third U.S. Army reached the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. There were still 21,000 inmates still within the camp after the SS had fled in front of the advancing Allied front. The next day, Edward R. Murrow along with other reporters arrived at the camp. Their horror is reflected in the various reports that came from that encounter. Murrow was not able to get his broadcast on the air until April 15th, and in one of his most eloquent reports he tells listeners the story of his visit to Buchenwald.

http://www.oldhickory30th.com/murrow.html

24 May 1945 V-Mail
Germany

Good evening, Cutie, a very good day for mail!!! Three ltrs from my sweetie and one from my old pal of Basic days, Bob Sammon (Junior, remember? He is now at a POE to be shipped someplace overseas, which means that they are evidently taking a lot of the boys who were formerly considered “limited” and making them into “Occupational” — only a guess, but good news for us “Vets”!) Your Apr 6 ltr arr with May 14 and 18!!! Six days from you to me!!! Unheard of, and wonderful. The lock of Karen’s hair is like a little bit of heaven to me (not meant to be as trite and mushy as it sounds) brings me very close to you guys. Thanks, honey. I’m so glad she likes the “Cubes” game, and she still goes for the music box, hum? Just like her Ma. I’m very intrigued and happy about your blisters and enthusiasm for the garden — and also your avoirdupois! (?) Right or wrong places, what the hell’s the difference—just that much more of you to love, baby —keep putting it on. You had best be pretty rested up when I get home because I’ve been storing up a lot of energy in the past year!! The past week has been like old times for me. My boy  Spalding went to Paris on a deal, so besides my work I’m doing the filing as well, and as we’re expecting an inspection from Army soon, I’m doing a lot of cleaning up of the stuff as I go along —and there is plenty. Remind me to chew his fanny (as we say in the army) when he gets back, for letting so many things go. I’ve been going 15 and 16 hours a day again and AHM tarred. But I love you like anything, my darling
Rol

27 May 1945 V-Mail
Germany

Oh me, ohmeohmy, am I ever the pooped character! Mail has been coming in fine, got a couple of letters from you last night, and one from Grimes (did I tell you that I had a nice letter from Vee with pictures of Don and the kids? a few days ago?) tonight, but simply haven’t the energy left to get them out and see what you said. Our boy Spalding should be back in a couple of days now (thank gosh) so maybe we will be able to relax a bit. Besides being short a man, we have also had about three times the ordinary stuff coming in, what with all of the readjustment and redeployment business, and besides that we have twice the number of units to handle than we had most of the time. So, like I say, I’m going slowly crazy again. One very good thing is that we have a new adjutant now who is really on the ball. He has given me the job completely, and although it places a hell of a lot of responsibility on me to know where every gosh darn thing is and what is being done about it, I like it fine and have developed several new ways of doing things that are working out much better than formerly, so we are all happy—-but AHM POOPED. Tomorrow being Sunday, we can sleep until 8:30, and although I should get up and work, I figure to hell with it, I’m going to sleep in. Cripes, this whole letter is nothing but how tired I am! ‘Snuff to make you tired, aint’ it?

Sorry baby, the ol’ bean is just dull—gotta hit the sack.
But golly, I love you, and think about you and Karen more every day.
Rollie

31 May 1945 V-Mail
Germany

Good Evening, My Darling, This morning I sent you a box of stuff that I think you will like. Eight brandy (whoopy–brandy) goblets!! And crystal yet!! Our pal Spalding brought back the eight from Vise, Belg. Unfortunately, we only get four of them and our friends, the Trombly’s get the other four. They were already packed in the box that you will get them in, so we decided that it would be better to send them the way the manufacturer packed them, and you may send the four on to Mrs. T if you will be so kindly. I don’t have their home address right now, and Trom isn’t around, but I will get it and send it on to you. I hope you like them. Spalding says that they are really quite nice. I have not seen them myself; as I say, we thought it better to just leave them as they were. Be sure to let me know about all of the packages. So far all that I’ve heard about is the first box from Nice. You should have another box of perfume, and a third box with the wooden pictures in it. From here you should g the shotguns, and now the crystal. I haven’t received a box from you for a hell of a long time, and only one of the four or five that Mom has mentioned, but I imagine that they will be along, all beat to hell pretty soon. Mail has been a little slack, of late, but I really can’t complain about it yet. Got a letter from Dad, and I’m much relieved to see that it looks much better, but still have not heard from Mom on same yet. Harold is somewhere in the western Pacific now, but if they keep on with lowering the age limit, maybe we will both have a chance. All of my love, Pappy

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