The following text is a portion of a letter written in 1983 by the son of the Lutheran minister whose family fled the Sammenthin area in 1945, along with all the other Germans in the area.
Briefly about myself: My three sisters and I were born between 1936 and 1941 in the parish house of Sammenthin. My father was a native Berliner. My mother came from Westphalia. As a young pastor of thirty, my father was transferred in 1935 from Berlin to the parish of Sammenthin, which included several adjacent villages. He became a soldier in 1943 and died as a consequence of war injuries in 1948. I began school in Sammenthin in 1943 and very clearly remember the last war days, which were very turbulent there.
By the beginning of winter 1944-1945, very large numbers of refugees from East Prussia and the Weichsel River area were fleeing on foot, ahead of the Russian army advancing into Germany. The Nazis, under the command of Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, forbade under heaviest penalties, that the populace of Pomerania evacuate their villages and cities. The declared reason for this was that the German Army would destroy the Russians by January, February 1945, at the latest. No one believed this, as our armies were beaten and had no more reserves. And so it came to the terrible disaster of the Russian Armies overrunning East Germany with its local population still largely in place.
My family and our village fled the army and tanks of Gerneral Shukow under artillery barrage at the very last moment, on February 15, 1945 in the direction of Stettin. This was the day before the arrival of the Russians. Those men and women of Sammenthin and the surrounding villages who did not wish to flee were almost all either beaten or shot to death, or became the victims of Russians later in April 1945 in Berlin.
A small unit of armed SS were stationed on our Hof (yard) in Sammenthin during the last weeks of the war, all of them were extremely young, quite insufficiently armed. They were supposed to defend the Sammenthin-Schwerinsfelde, Arnswalde area. They remained there and I assume that they were all killed in action when the Russians arrived. On the 10th or 11th of February, my mother asked two of those young soldiers to dig a deep hole in the stable in our barnyard. They did, I personally watched them the whole time. They dug in the hard soil to the depth of about five feet. In the hole we buried two or three church registers constituting the entire chronicle of Sammenthin and other documents, along with the silver Communion utensils of the church all wrapped in waxed paper, sewn into strong canvas. The hole was covered, the soil stamped down and covered with straw. I well remember these soldiers standing in the freezing cold with their rifles when we left our home February 15, and they stayed behind, forlorn, fear in their faces, to await their impending death.
There was no significant fighting in the villages of Sammenthin, Schonfeld,and Kranzin. The Russian tanks moved through quite fast coming from the south, proceeding in the direction of the Baltic Sea. Only the county seat of Arnswalde was defended for four days and almost completely destroyed in the course of fighting.