Wilhelm's Letters

Below are a touching series of letters from the Doctors, nurses and a friend at Mobile Field Hospital 18, in Russia. These letters bring to life the heartbreak of war, and give us a brief glimpse into the sacrifices endured by those participated in it. They also remind us of who stood inside that uniform which bore the decorations we study so feverishly. It was men like Wilhem who fought, suffered, and unselfishly laid their lives for their country.

Headquarters, F.P.Nr. 29 786

March 13, 1944

Very honorable Mrs. Haefner!
This is to inform you that your son William, has severe wounds on the left lower and upper limbs which makes amputation of the left lower limb necessary, and is not doing well. For a few days the fever has been strong and we suspect that a blood infection has entered and no blood is available. It will take a long time to tell if your son will get better. We assure you that we will do everything in our power to help him get better. We pledge that we will help your son through his illness.

Heil Hitler!

Headquarters, F.P.Nr. 29 786

O.U. April 4, 1944

Very honorable Mrs. Rothenoafer!
I confirm your letter from March 21, 1944. I find that your brother is still in serious condition following the severe emaciation of his body. The condition of his back has become severe and the long-standing fever has held your brother back. The upper limb stump wound is healing quite well. To better control the severity of the back we are trying another positioning method and hope to see some healing. It is only the question, can your brother withstand given his feeble condition an even longer healing period. I can give you no sure hope that your brother can survive the severe wounds. We will do what we can.

Heil Hitler!

April 8, 1944

Dear Mother!

Some time has passed since I wrote last; so it is time to write again. First of all I want to tell you that I received the silver wounded badge. It was presented to me by the senior staff doctor. I was very elated about it.

I don't know when I will be back in Germany and in Jagstfeld, but I am hoping it is soon. I am healing nicely. Don't worry about that. Until recently I had fever, but that has normalized now. I am writing you - - -

(CUT OFF, MAYBE: from a military field post office)

....which is 29786. Try it and we will see if your letter will reach me while I am still here. I want to know that you are still alive and that you are still in good health. It has been 67 days since I was wounded - I need mail from home. You know it is not easy to be tied to the bed when one does not know what is going on at home.

I am hoping that you got through the air raid alright and that no one was injured or killed.

Best wishes, dear Mother, also for Herbert and Guenther, Klara and the two little - - -" (CUT OFF)

April 19, 1944

My dear Mrs.. Rothenhoefer!

Your brother dictated to me the enclosed letter. I like to express my condolences to the loss of your dear Mother in an air raid.

I am adding a few personal words to your brother's letter. This morning I talked to Dr. Keitel about the status of your brother. His condition has improved to the point that you now could write him to tell him about the death of his Mother. We have not told him the sad news yet. He has been in much pain for a long time and will have to expect a prolonged healing process. However, he has a great will to live and has a happy disposition. We can now hope that he will make it back to health.

I am a patient here myself. Should you have additional questions, then you should direct them to Dr. Keitel. Even though fate has been cruel to you, write your brother an uplifting letter. He is in need of mail.

With heartfelt sympathy and with the knowledge that you are lead in all trials by the sure hand of our Heavenly Father, I sign off as your brother's friend


May 5, 44

Dear Mother!

Received your sweet letter. I thank you. Lately I had no opportunity to write. I am doing fine and I hope to be soon transferred to a hospital in the home land. Until now my fever was too high to allow a transfer. My wounds are healing. But my appetite is missing and I eat very little.

I will let you know as soon as I can about my transfer.

Until then greetings to all of you,


Staff Doctor Keitel, Field Post Office Number 29786, May 8. 44

My dear Mrs. Rothenhoefer!

I acknowledge herewith the receipt of your letter dated Apr 28, 44. Unfortunately, your brother's condition has become so bad that little hope exists that he will recover from his serious wounds. It seems that blood poisoning has occurred which can not be stopped. For this reason I did not give him your letter which contained word about the death of your (HIS) Mother. I hope to have acted according to your wishes. You can be sure that in spite of the hopelessness, we are doing our very best to keep your brother alive.

With devoted greetings and Heil Hitler,


Staff Doctor and Chief of the Surgery Department

Field Post Office # 29786, Russia, May 9, 1944

Mrs. Klaere Rothenhoefer, nee Haeffner

I am fulfilling my sad duty to inform you that your brother, the Pioneer Wilhem Haeffner, 2. Company, Infantry Regiment 480,died on May 8, 1944, 11:20 p.m. in the local field hospital.

Your brother was seriously wounded on February 2 in front line action south of Mogilev, middle section, by shell fragments. The shell fragments entered and lodged in his left shoulder, left upper arm, left elbow, and left knee.

After initial first aid in the field, your brother was brought the same day to the local field hospital where he was treated with the best help available. But all medical skill and several operations were insufficient. He recuperated somewhat in March to the point that we had hope to keep him alive. But since then his condition worsened and ended with his death in spite of all medical help available

As most serious injured do, your brother talked little and slept most of the time. We fulfilled all his wishes. Our staff did all they could to make his life as bearable as possible. Eventually, your brother fell into a coma as a result of blood poisoning, he was not aware that his end was near.

Unfortunately, neither did he leave any parting words for his kin. I want to express my deepest sympathy to the loss of your brother. May the knowledge that your brother gave his life for the Greater Germany and its future be soothing for your heartaches. He was interred with military honors in the veterans cemetery here in Mogilev, Pilgrim Street. (EAST OF MINSK, IN TODAY'S BELORUSSIA)

The details about his burial plot and maintenance thereof will be made available to you at a later time through the appropriate military department.

Please acknowledge the receipt of this letter by returning the enclosed post card so that we can send you his personal belongings.

I am expressing my sympathy and remain with a Heil Hitler


Senior Staff Doctor and Chief Doctor.

"Field post Office # 29786, Russia, May 9, 1944

Notification to the Local Branch Chief The Pioneer Wilhelm Haeffner, 2. Infantry Regiment 480, succumbed on May 8, 1944, 11:20 p.m. in the local field hospital due to serious injuries. He is the brother of Mrs. Klaere Rothenhoefer, nee Haeffner, at (ADDRESS)

The Office of the Chief Doctor
Senior Chief Doctor

I wish to thank the Tiffin family for making these pages possible. I would also like to thank Hans F Walters for his patience in translating the text. The letters presented here are exclusively for the readers of this site; their reproduction is strictly prohibited.

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