Letters from Steyerberg Camp for Forced Laborers

Letters sent by workers of the Steyerberg Ostarbeiters Camp” at the Eibia GmbH powder factory have one common characteristic: almost half the postcard is taken by a stamp with the name of the camp. Even in such a trifle, camp management tried to limit its workers by taking away their chance of writing a few more lines in their letters to their families.

Almost every message screams longing for home: “My dear mommy, I often dream of my house, I want to go home so much that I cannot write, well, maybe we will come in winter. In God alone is our hope” (Olexandra Babak).

Photos and correspondence of Ostarbeiters from the Shostka region found different ways to our museum. Some of them were preserved in family photo albums, most of which we found in state archives. The photo and letter of Olexandra Radchenko, resident of the village of Ivot, was kept in the family of German peasant from Libenau, Friedrich Wege, for over half a century. In 2012, the peasant’s descendants sent this letter as a family heirloom to Martin Guse for the Documentation Centre Powder Factory Liebenau. It was written in 1944 by some girls from Shostka. They wanted to pass their message to Ukraine through the son of a “good Bauer” who fought at the front. We can learn a lot nowadays from the patriotism of these girls.

“Greetings to the whole Ukraine! Greetings from all the girls who live in German camps. We live in German camps in the forests and see nothing but the factory where we work. O, we cannot even describe how we want to see our homeland at least one more time, to see its fertile fields, forests and rivers. To hug all the family and kiss them countless times. But we do not know whether or not we will be able to see our homeland again and everyone in it. So goodbye. Greetings to you, Ukraine! Written by the girls of the Sumy region, Shostka district. The letter was passed to the master by Shura R., the name of the master is Friedrich Wege”.