To my loved ones at home,
Best wishes to you all…I don’t know if my other letters will reach you so I’m trying to write as often as possible, just in case something gets through. I suppose you all the know what’s happened here. The Stalingrad pocket is indescribable. I am alive, uninjured and thank God for every day! Only He knows how this will end, and He is our only hope. Can help reach us from the outside? We don’t know, but we know we can’t save ourselves. I reckon the decision will come in about two weeks’ time, either way.
I know you’re all praying for us. The thought of seeing home again is everpresent and keeps us going. Every other need, suffering, effort is secondary – it’s all or nothing now. I’ve put myself in His hands and am ready to say my last prayer at all times. I hope He gives me the strength to say His name in my final moment. Evenso, in the last weeks He has saved me so often that I’m sure I’ll make it home again.
Should a time come when you don’t hear from me anymore, pray and trust in God. I pray to Him every day for my poor old parents in case I don’t return. And if it should come to pass that God’s will is that I don’t make it out of here, that Stalingrad is lost, then, my dear family, my last message to you from the Russian earth is one of deepest gratitude, gratitude that will live forever. I cannot stand it much longer, which you probably realise by now, but it has to be said.
Dearest mother and father, I am filled with regret and wish to atone for the times I have hurt you. I beg your forgiveness with childish humility…I can’t express my gratitude in words. I just can’t stand it all anymore. For my own sake, I am ready [to die]. For the sake of my parents and siblings I cry out to God, “Help us, we’re perishing!” My Saviour is with me and won’t leave me – to whom could He be closer than to one of His own priests?…and so I hope that I do not flinch when the time comes and that my last moment on this earth is not my weakest.
Live well, my dear family back home. I shall return!