My dear little wife and darling children!
I’d like to write a quick letter to you again. Now that a bit of time has passed, I can paint a better picture for you of what the circumstances are like here. It’s been almost three weeks since I was conscripted. One afternoon outing for a few hours isn’t much, we’re practically caged here, but this too will pass. During the day, there’s no free time left for us new recruits and in the evenings we have to clean (shine our boots and wash our uniforms). I have to literally steal the time to write. In my last letter I mentioned my stomach at one point. Now I can tell you that by the time we reached Neckarsulm, I had to go to the doctor due to bad stomach pains. I’ve consequently been freed of some of my duties. The traveling aggravated the pains so I had to talk to the troop doctor here too. You do not need to worry. The doctor attributed my pains to the changeover to military food and his diagnosis was exactly right. I’m able to do my job much better now that I don’t have any more pains, believe me. I’m sure that there will be some pretty demanding work ahead of me as my training progresses.
The comraderie among the troops was a lot better in Neckarsulm than it is here. There are some weirdos that have to be avoided here. In a short time this will be over, though. You would definitely like it here. It’s already nice and warm, like it will be at home in May. The city is lovely under the circumstances. It has a pretty cathedral with two tall steeples, and it’s nestled in a beautiful valley surrounded by gorgeous hills. These hills will become the goal of my future hiking trips if I end up staying here longer, which has yet to be determined.
We’re currently staying in a former schoolhouse, so our accomodations certainly leave something to be desired. The sanitary conditions are also somewhat incomplete. The population here still adheres rather strictly to their traditional customs and seems to be quite conservative in nature. Apparently there is nothing to buy here other than good food. But I’m still going to try and find something to buy for you and the children. In spite of the fact that I just sent 60 Marks home to you, I still have a relatively large amount of money in my wallet since I don’t have much of an opportunity to spend money here. The food in the hotels here is supposed to be good. When we go on our first excursion (the day after tomorrow) I’ll be able to try it myself. The basic pay here is 36 Marks monthly, with a bonus of 1 Mark per day that won’t be paid until March, so a total of 66 Marks. I sure can’t use all of that money for myself, so whenever there is an opportunity, I’ll buy something nice for all of you. I’m guessing that I won’t get any leave until October.
Now how are you doing? Have you gotten through the first few weeks alright? I know it will be very hard for you to manage without me. But please be brave for me. You have so many responsibilities at home that I had to leave behind for you, but I know you will be able to handle them and that doing so will make these hard times more bearable. And the children! They must be speaking of me often and in a way, my presence is still at home through them. Their many needs will help you fill your time. Please give everyone my love, Agathe too--she should support you as best she can and be good to the children. Give a special hello to Uncle Franz.
With many heartfelt kisses, I send my love
Your Josef, who loves you.
Wish list: wash rag, 1 small pocketcomb, 1 soap dish, cloths of various sizes. But don’t send them until the package ban has been lifted.