Unopened letter to the Russian Front '43

Contributed by Chris Kelly

Unopened letter to the Russian Front '43

My object is a letter written by my father in 1943 to his brother, who was a soldier on the Russian Front. The family lived in Vienna, and when the war came, The family was separated. I am translating a family archive of over 500 letters spanning 1938 to 1947 that chronicles their story. I do this because I am the last in my generation to speak German, and when I am gone, so is their story. This letter is the last written by my father to his brother, who died in the Crimea. It was returned to sender, and kept by my grandmother with all the other letters. It was unopened until I took it from its bundle in 2010. My father was 17 when he wrote it, and they knew that their chances of survival were poor. Yet the letter is filled with love and gratitude for their happy childhood and a way of life that they knew was gone forever. It reminds me that suffering, love and loss are universal. When I hold this object in my hands, I realise that we are are part of a continuum of history. This letter binds me to my past, and I hope to pass it on to my descendants.

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  • 1 comment
  • 1. At 16:26 on 1 October 2010, Chris Keeling wrote:

    I find this story very moving. The feeling that the letters 'bind me to my past' is one I share and hold very dear (see 'Parchment letter of Farewell'). Perhaps we can learn as much about ourselves through these letters as we can from the work of professional historians.

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Vienna, Austria




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