This is a portrait of Robert Hiegel, brother of my friend Otto. Robert joined the Army in 1941 and entered service in Nancy, France. Otto got to visit him several times while in France because Lambsborn is on the border. He was in the 79th Infantry and shipped to the Eastern Front. He arrived at his unit on the 28th of September and was killed 3 short days later.
This is Robert's diary that has the last entry on 28 Sep 42 stating that he had arrived in Detmiewka, Russia. This is about 35 km from Stalingrad. The diary, along with other paperwork, was returned to the Hiegel family upon notification of his death. Robert, unlike most lost at Stalingrad, received a soldiers burial and proper notification of the family. This is because it was early in the campaign and the catastrophe at Stalingrad had not yet occured.
The first page of Roberts Wehrpass stating his name, id number for his unit, issue date, and issue place of Zweibrucken, Germany. Every military eligible male in Germany was issued a Wehrpass and categorized by their fitness for service. The old and tired were reserved for the last ditch effort in 1944/45.
When the Wehrpass was returned, the photo had been removed. Otto replaced it with this one as you can see by the missing stamp marks over the photograph. Robert also had a Soldbuch (Soldiers Book), but it was returned with all the contents ripped out leaving only the cover. Both were critical papers for the German male during WWII.
The last entry in Roberts Wehrpass says killed on 1 Oct 42 in Russia. The Wehrpass was then closed out on the 11th of OCT 42 and sent back to Mrs Hiegel.
This is the letter that Mrs Hiegel received from the Company Commander telling her of the death of her son at Stalingrad. English translation is below. I assume the church got a telegram and they relayed it to her.
Second Lieutenant Schmucke In the Field, 2 October, 1942
Dear Mrs. Hiegel,
I have the heavy duty, to
inform you of the hero's death of your dear son, Private Robert Hiegel. He gave his young, hopeful life on 1 October 1942 in defense of a Russian
attack northwest of Stalingrad.
The company, that your son had been in since 28 September 1942, defended a position on the same day, against which the Russian charged with great strength. Your boy contributed to beating the Russians back. He was shot in the head and received a quick, painless, soldier's death. We have him in the hero's cemetery in Wlasowke, a little village about 35 kilometers northwest Stalingrad, a last quiet, resting place. As soon as the photos of the hero's graves are completed, we will send them to you.
I ask you, dear Mrs Hiegel, to take my and my soldier's deepest sorrow and
interest to this painful loss.
Here is one of several letters that Mrs. Hiegel received back from Russia months later after Robert was killed. In pencil it says "Back! Recipient died for greater Germany." Not exactly the same kind of sympathy she received from the company commander. By this time, all 300,000 of the German soldiers in Stalingrad were either captured or killed. Less than 6,000 would ever see their families again.
The death of Robert Hiegel is a tragedy. Otto still feels very strongly about the loss of his only brother. In the 1990s, Otto and his wife traveled to Stalingrad and found the mass grave that contained the remains of Robert. While many Germans travel to Stalingrad, most of the dead will never be identified or recovered. In the small town of Lambsborn, on average, every house had a soldier who had gone to war. Every third house lost their soldier. Stalingrad took 3 lives from Lambsborn and Robert Hiegel was one of them. He is still missed by his family.