Sunday Jan. 16, 1944
“Dear Ma and Pa,” my mother wrote today, “Abe is now through the important stages of getting his commission. He passed his physical, the interview, and all his professional qualifications. He was told to expect his orders at the end of February or by the middle of March… We expect to return to you on Thursday.” As she writes, an epic battle is unfolding in the Pripet Marshes, an area over 100,000 square miles on the border between the Ukraine and Belarus. In this deceptively serene landscape, a pincer action by two Russian armies is trapping German troops under Field Marshall Busch. Hitler has refused the German commander’s request to withdraw from the area in order to shorten his line. Meanwhile, the Russians are being aided by an increasingly well-organized movement of partisans enraged by Nazi brutality in Eastern Europe. German troops there kill not only every Jew but also the entire populations of villages that they then level. But the Poles are concerned. One Russian wing is coming from the lower end of the marsh in an area that Poland considers its territory. Polish concerns about border disputes as Russian forces drive west.