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Letter from Karl Lewke to the Central Committee of the SED (December 2, 1945)

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The recruited men are recruited almost entirely from the so-called OK-Group [ohne Kraft – without strength], who were brought in from the interior of Russia as well as from Siberia.

(The Russian prisoners of war are divided into
I – heavy workers,
II – workers,
III – light work,
IV – weak and without strength.)

After a journey of up to seven weeks, they climb out of the railway cars. It takes them several hours to get from the train station to the barracks, since they can only drag themselves forward with great effort. A brief stay in the camps of Frankfurt refreshes them to the point that the figures familiar from the streets of Berlin still have a misleading effect. But it is precisely during this time that they are subjected to anti-communist insinuations. Women from West Germany in search of their husbands bring beguiling accounts with them. Even the bread is supposedly already ration-free over there. And the conditions in Frankfurt/Oder are not suited for the prisoners to get a sliver of hope for the road from the civilians. Constantly threatened by assaults from three sides (Red Army personnel minimally involved, to be described as “normal” – the worst category, the East workers traveling eastwards, who don’t want to miss their last chance – third, Poles coming over the Oder), they are also living under very bad conditions.

The so-called permanent staff – the German camp leadership – is suffering from the moral strain that they are de facto excluded from the releases they prepare and carry out every day (I have submitted concrete proposals to that effect). Nor should the purely organizational strain be underestimated. Even the anti-Fascists in camp 69 lack precise guidelines and fixed working methods. They get their details only from the papers. Moreover, the average grunt puts up a certain inner resistance to the anti-Fascists – similar to how he once did to the “Free Germany” as an allegedly Russian agency.

This could be counteracted only by comrades sent in from outside, equipped with relevant documents. Whereby, of course, the practical support of the anti-Fascists should by no means be regarded as unnecessary.
The comrades there need them more so than at any other place. Nothing is accomplished with a few free papers. Special lecturer material would be the least one could do for them first off.
Other things will emerge from the collaboration.

The party on the ground is not able to fulfill such a task. The party comrades are also strongly influenced by the described material conditions.
The general question arises as to whether the KPD alone is able to deal with this problem, or whether all four anti-Fascist parties should proceed together. Since there are also women and girls – in the same starved, wretched state – among the arrivals, there is a new, additional task for the central Women’s Committee.

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