Hans Roth had been advancing with the German Army since the beginning of Barbarossa. Despite all the hazards he had survived and, like most of the German army, he and his comrades were exhausted. Now the weather forced them to take shelter and they got an enforced rest while they waited for the roads to freeze. His unit shared a local peasant house with the family as well as:
pigs under the stove, sheep skins which have not been removed from the stove for generations, gummed up windows, barricaded doors.
Add to this fifteen soldiers with their weapons, all joined together for supper around a flickering petroleum lamp. Afterwards, they smoke heavily, countering the smelly haze of the Machor/za [Russian tobacco smoked by peasants] against the even worse one of the German tea. If this isn’t a recipe for stale air, compound this with the jolly warm stench of bodies!
And it is inside this room where twenty-five humans sleep in the narrowest of quarters.
And where do we currently sleep? I should first mention that the main preoccupation during these days of no combat is sleeping. God knows we have lots to catch up on. Therefore, those who are not writing, eating, or frisking themselves for lice (when searching the seams of our shirts for lice, all “killings” are happily reported), are sleeping.
We sleep all over the place. Is there anyone who still asks for a blanket? A wooden bench, the floor, a large table – ultimate bliss is straw! Our sleep is deep and dreamless, but at the same time light, alert for any danger, which holds back the nightmares.
We dream just as much of normal sleep with deep, quiet breathing, without any itching lice, as we do of a bed with white sheets and pajamas. But we will have to relearn all that, just as we will have to relearn to undress at night.
They would not start to move again until the 15th November. See Eastern Inferno: The Journals of a German Panzerjager on the Eastern Front, 1941-43