20. August 1941
Next day. Change of location. We get on our bikes and cross the forest on the same path we showed the columns. Then we follow the sandy path to the next village (Jefimowka). It is another hot day. We are sitting in the parlour of a farmhouse. As with many Russian farmhouses, the windows cannot be opened because the frames with the window panes are fixed in place. They are double windows. Between the two panes there is a layer of sawdust the width of a hand at the bottom to prevent draughts. In some houses, artificial flowers have been stuck into the sawdust. The room is very warm and swarming with flies. From time to time, the daughter wags them out the door with a green branch. Once when I come in from outside and don't close the door right away, the girl jumps to the door, closes it ostentatiously and gives me a punishing look. I understood immediately: The flies are coming in! That's another reason why you can't open the windows in summer, and certainly not in winter because of the cold. So you seal them up right away. However, I have also seen windows whose upper part could be opened.
We have changed location and are now standing as if lost at a lonely crossroads in the middle of the vast, monotonous landscape. I look all around over the land. The brown steppe stretches to the horizon, flat and level like a table. Wherever I look, there is only brown, dry grass. Not a tree, not a bush, not a spot where the eye could hold on to this boundless plain. One cannot help but feel a depressing sense of loneliness and abandonment. The Russians may feel the same way, their hearts sinking with melancholy at the sight of this desolate loneliness and monotony. Even the two roads that disappear on the horizon after winding around cannot erase the feeling of emptiness. We stand at the point where these two paths cross. Here is a tall pole that rises into the air like an Indian totem pole, nailed with directional signs and unit symbols. Next to this pole we pitched our tent. The pole and the tent are the only signs of human life in this barren steppe. We lie here with a lieutenant and three non-commissioned officers, waiting for our regiments. This lieutenant was also with me in Jasło when we were still sergeants. At first we had hung together a bit. I always got milk, eggs and bread after reaching our daily destination and shared with him. But when I noticed that he almost took this for granted and started to let himself be served, I dumped him. As leader of the group, he always divides up the guards and takes the first evening watch every time, so that he can then sleep all night. The non-commissioned officers began to grumble, in his absence of course. I then drew his attention to his selfish behaviour and demanded a change in guard duty. He did so, but since then he can no longer stand me.
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- ↑ KTB 257th I.D. (NARA T-315 Roll 1802 Frame 000832) also notes hot summer day.
- ↑ Fortochka: small top flap on the window (only opening) the author noted on an enclosed note.