From “Condemned to Live” by Franz Fritsch

“We carried as many personal articles as we could hide. Officially we had a Tornister, carried on the back, as a knapsack. In our motorized unit we always had some space to carry a few private things, not many things, mostly books. We took writing paper but did not use stamps because postage was free. We could always find paper. On campaign we had toothpaste, a toothbrush, shaving cream, razor blades, soap- don’t ask me about the quality. Today you wouldn’t touch that kind of “quality.” But we didn’t have to buy them; they were our allotment. We fared pretty well. We also got a daily cigarette ration. We always had a few friends who didn’t smoke who would share theirs. For rolling tobacco into cigarettes we used mostly newspapers… We ate from the kitchen or foraged on our own- we could always find a chicken, except in Russia in the winter. I was never hungry enough to eat a horse. In Russia most soldiers carried a bag with potatoes and onions, even frozen. The food supply was often stopped because of impassable roads. The popular drink was coffee from the Feldküche, or tea, frequently with rum. Soft drinks were unknown in the Army.”

“[In Russia] for subsistence sometimes we went into the woods and tried to dig out mushrooms if we could find any. Every soldier had a sack with him for potatoes and onions. We tried to dig them out wherever we could and then roasted them. We had no butter, so we sometimes put them in a pan with some water over a fire. At least they got warm.”

“We weren’t issued socks. We had Fusslappen, a piece of oversized handkerchief put around the feet, army issue, instead of socks. We wrapped it around the foot before putting it in the boot. My family sent socks, thank God, for Fusslappen and socks constantly wore out.”