In 1707, the Swedish. Defeated not by the Russians, but by their winter as they were left to starve, following the Russians' scorched earth tactics.
In 1812, the French. Defeated not by the Russians, but by their winter as they were left to starve, following the Russians' scorched earth tactics.
In 1941, us. And as it looks like the winter is coming, cold and heavy, and as we don't have proper clothing, despite our many wins, those bloody Russians don't surrender. Winter has come. And there is only one phrase in our mind, one phrase we are hoping comes true.
Third time's the charm.
December had just settled in, and it seemed as if we could do nothing to take Moscow. Operation Thunder has failed us. Khimki, a town near Moscow that we had taken, seemed like our only hope. Our comrades had seen them with their binoculars at the Kremlin, but not much could be done.
That day, on the 5th of December, when Khimki had long been lost, the Soviets attacked back. Despite our advantageous position in technology and numbers, the army group centre had started retreating. One of them was me.
I long awaited to return home. I thought we would easily take Moscow, as there weren't many defenders. I could go back to my wife and kids in Dresden, but some nights I was trying to pursue myself that this would never stop. France, the Balkans, Russia, and I had fought on all of the fronts. And until Hitler's thirst for land was over, I would fight in many more.
Who knows if, after defeating the Soviets, they won't make us fight the British, the Chinese, the Americans, and all their colonies? Did we have to conquer the whole world to stop this madness? Or would we finally be beaten, and the following treaty would humiliate us more than the previous one?
I had fought in that war too. The Great war. Stuck on the western front for months, enduring hell until finally we were defeated. When will the German people understand that wars only bring them misery, destruction, and the deaths of millions?
I was thinking all of that as I walked in the heavy snow with my summer clothes, having become blue from the cold. Right and left more and more of my comrades couldn't stand it anymore, they fell dead on the side of the road, and the heavy snow that fell covered them quickly.
One vehicle stopped. Gasoline had frozen inside it, it couldn't move on. We carried the supplies it had. Grains, ammunition, and weapons. What's the use? Seeing all the weaponry while we couldn't take a shot, seeing all the food while it wasn't enough for all of us.
The sound of the Soviet artillery in the background was a little calming, and reassuring. Without it we didn't know what to do, or where to go. In the barren wasteland, this was the explosions of the artillery reminded us of our position. We were an ambitious army trying to take over the biggest country in the world, and we failed.
Soldiers and generals alike now walked on foot, as all horses had frozen to death, like most of us. I suddenly felt something on my shoulder. Looking at it I saw one of my comrades, a young man, not more than thirty years old. He grabbed my shoulder and tried to move his thin hungry body.
"I am sorry. I know you are suffering. I know you are carrying much. But if I don't lean on you, I'll die." he said while looking me dead in the eyes.
I'll die. Why did those simple words make me feel so much? This wasn't just an excuse for him to get rest. It was what he truly thought would happen. It was what would truly happen. It was the simple wish of a young man to live, survive, to see his loved ones one more time. I'll die. That argument was more than enough to let him lean on me, even though with all this pressure, soon, I would be the one who dies.
At night, we try to sleep. Cuddling up to one another so we can produce as much heat as possible. The young man is next to me. I can feel him shaking. I am shaking too. The ground, covered with snow, is making us freeze so much that we can be relieved no matter how close we are to one another. I managed to sleep.
I see the beautiful streets of Dresden. Before both wars. When I was a kid. When things were a lot simpler. But after that everything becomes grey. I never wanted to grow up, I knew it was a pain being an adult. But I never imagined this kind of pain.
Anna was smiling at me. I gave her some flowers for her 13th birthday and she gave me a kiss. I was so happy. I told to myself I wanted to marry her. I hugged her and started crying. "I don't want to leave," I said. She became cold. She pushed me away. Her beautiful blonde hair turned white. "You must," she said. " It's for the good of the country!"
The room we were in devolved to grey and red. The German cross covered the wall left of me and the Nazi Swastika was on the wall on my right. Looking down I saw I was wearing a soldier's suit. I panicked, I cried. I looked up only to see myself surrounded by more soldiers. They were cheering, laughing, yelling while the room collapsed around us, and two men were standing above us, Kaiser Wilhelm and Adolf Hitler.
And then, we started getting massacred. The French, the British, the Russians, the Americans, they all butchered us while we kept cheering at the two men, who assured us we would win.
I woke up.
The young man next to me didn't.
Shaken from my horrible dream, I tried to distract myself by walking with the supplies I was carrying. No breakfast that day, and the Soviet artillery could be heard very close to us. We had no chance but to keep walking.
If we escaped and regrouped with the others, we would dig in for the winter. We would have decent supplies. We wouldn't starve or freeze to death. But we couldn't. Ice was in front of us. A frozen river. Some desperately tried to cross it, I wanted to follow, but seeing that the ice broke and the soldiers drown, I stayed back.
A soviet shell cracked the ice. The soviets were practically right behind us. When they found us, they would surely kill us. They wouldn't have mercy on us, just like we didn't have mercy on them. Some of my comrades shot, but not on the enemies, on themselves.
The shells started raining down on us, but I and a couple of others were protected by a hill that stand between us and the enemies. But that wasn't enough. If the artilleries were that close, the tanks and infantry would be closer. Soon we heard people yelling in Russian and war machines gunning down the last survivors.
A man pointed a gun at my head. He seemed determined. In his eyes, I recognized the same look my comrades had when they thought they were doing what was good for their nation. Well, it wasn't. We overstretched ourselves, we thought we were so powerful that we fell down hard.
The gun clicked. I closed my eyes and dreamt of my wife, the lovely blonde girl that had first kissed me on her birthday. She was holding our children by their arms and asked me to come back. I didn't reply. How could I tell the people that loved me I would never come back? Tears came down my eyes.
A shot was heard.
Merci pour la lecture!
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