On 23. August 1942 parts of the sixth army reached the volga near stalingrad. This was the beginning of a battle that was to last until 3. February 1943 and cost the lives of about 700000 soldiers. Even after 75 years, it is still regarded as the epitome of senseless death and shocks everyone who deals with this warlike event.
Erich fries collects the letters
Erich fries from grobwenkheim – who is involved with the stamp friends of bad neustadt – keeps the memory of this alive in a very special way: he collects field post letters to and from stalingrad and makes them together with the stamp friends on the weekend 27./28. January in the town hall in bad neustadt accessible to a broad public.
When the battle of stalingrad turned 70 years old. In the 17th anniversary year, fries exhibited part of his extensive collection in munnerstadt’s town hall, attracting 1,000 visitors who did not pay admission but made a donation to the volksbund deutsche kriegsgraberfursorge (german war graves commission).
This association takes care of the soldier cemetery rossoschka near today’s volgograd, where 103000 german names are a reminder for a peaceful presence. In cube 85, plate 20, there is otto schwing, for example. Erich fries can present his short life in the stalingrad exhibition quite extensively, since the family of the wermerichshauser teacher’s son made corresponding documents available to him. It can be seen from them that wermerichshausen’s mayor wrote to the unit to ask for schwing’s leave of absence to study – without success.
By airfield mail
The correspondence can be traced because all letters sent to the field were collected and returned to the home country after the recipients had read them. For the soldiers did not have the possibility to store mail. While normal field mail took about three weeks to arrive, airfield mail, which was introduced in 1942, took only one third of that time. Each soldier received four stamps a month, two of which he put in the envelope for the answer of the relatives.
Not only letters from otto schwing have been preserved, but also the document with which he was awarded the. November 1942 in stalingrad, and the message that he had been in the service since 1 january 1942. January 1943 was missing. This date was used for all deaths where it was not possible to determine when they fell.
Search until 1956
But the term "missing led schwing’s family to continue searching for their otto until 1956, the papal enquiry office, the red cross and organizations in russia asked for help – without result.
Erich fries, who was born in burglau, got the idea of dealing with field post when he married into grobwenkheim 46 years ago and stumbled upon 150 cards from the first world war in his wife’s house. This developed into a collection of military letters from various wars.
The focus on stalingrad crystallized 30 years ago for the reserve lance corporal. The reason for this was, among other things, that fries’ father could have been among the dead at stalingrad. But the army division sent him to the caucasus in july 1942.
Prices up to 300 euro
In the beginning, erich fries pursued his passion for collecting at swap meets. Today, he takes part in ebay auctions, where highly different amounts are bid for a boiler letter: was the author "only" a "boiler"? Soldier, one pays about 20 euro, was the rank general, also 300 euro are loosened up.
As a member of the bad neustadt philatelic society, erich fries will be taking part in the stalingrad exhibition in january 2018, together with erich falk from mellrichstadt, in the bad neustadt town hall, where he will be exhibiting around 100 postcards and providing insights into the fates of soldiers.
Already on sunday there was a foretaste: excerpts of the field post collection of erich fries were shown in the rudi-erhard-hall in burglauer.