Freiburg, Germany, April 25, 2006
We now had a few files to look at and more arrived during the day, although there were also a number that did not materialise. We eventually got to the bottom of it: apparently, when a request arrives to see ones of these files, the Bundesarchiv staff have to ring up the person who donated the memoir/diary/papers etc in the first place – or a relative – and ask their permission for me to look at it. They usually agree, but not always. And, of course, it can take time to get hold of these people. It’s a crazy system, but at least we began to get some really good material. One memoir was by a chap called Hans Sitka, an Austrian Czech. Having been wounded a number of times in Russia, he was posted to Italy and joined the â€˜Ost-Regiment.’ This immediately rung a bell because there was an â€˜Ost-Regiment’ that took part in the rastrellamento on Monte Sole. Sitka never mentioned which Ost Regiment it was, but by cross-referencing with German army lists and orders of battle, we were able to prove conclusively that Sitka’s Ost Regiment and that on Monte Sole were one and the same – which was an amazing piece of serendipity.
We also found an amazing diary by a German major and battalion commander. Very human, very detailed and rather heartbreaking – and which I will definitely use in the book. Feel much happier today.
Went into the hills in the evening, which were stunning, and had an incredibly filling and supposedly traditional Black Forest supper.