Resolution of Arthur’s Story

To those few of you who joined me on this year’s experience of reliving Arthur’s time in Berlin, Germany, and environs, I thank you.

To resolve the story, yes, Arthur made it back to the United States safely. He lived happily until his health started to decline more significantly in 1966, and he died in 1968 at the age of 80.

Once I find a receptive publisher, I will be publishing these letters into a book, which will also contain countless extras including photographs; background research on all of the events, people, and locations mentioned in the letters; other materials that he sent to my grandmother; a map of all locations mentioned; and any other related materials I am able to find.

If you are a publisher who might be interested in publishing this book, please write me at jenny@jennybristol.com. Thanks!

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December 14, 1946

Bremerhaven Staging Area
14 December 1946

Dear Family –

Just time for a scrawl to give you some idea of when you’ll be seeing me. I’m just about setting up a record for this hot bed of confusion – arriving here yesterday morning and I’m scheduled to sail on the US Army Transport “General Pope” tomorrow!! The average stay here is a week, with some casuals delayed as much as several weeks. Two days is the irreduceable minimum in which everything can be done (particularly when you have a dog to process,) and I’ve been run ragged. It is a typical Army installation – no sane instructions as to what one does or how he does it, and no qualified assistance to help one do it. The buildings spread out over nearly a mile from Hqrs to the Dog Processing Bldg, and one literally is hiking most of the time – no particular fun for me for that bum gam of mine has been acting up rather badly of late. But all will be well tomorrow when I get on the ship. The Gen. Pope is supposed to be an 8 ½ day ship, so I am really hoping that I shall be with you by Christmas Eve – barring accidents or delaying storms. – Lots to write about, but it will have to wait now until I see you.

Love to you all –

Dad –

December 3, 1946

Office. 3 December 1947. [sic]

Dear Family:

Probably my last letter to you from Berlin, but I’ll undoubtedly have plenty of time to drop you a final line from Bremerhaven while I’m awaiting transportation to the States. Some of the personnel homeward bound have been stuck there for more than two weeks. I can afford a delay of about four days and still see you Christmas – needless to say I’m doing a lot of hoping that I’ll slip through quickly. If there is prospect of much delay I’ll go crazy sitting around with nothing to do and unable to make a side trip to some interesting country nearby. You never sent me Ellen Vezin’s married name as requested, so I can’t run over to Hamburg to look her up. Sorry – I might have been able to arrange it.

My work at the office is practically cleaned up or has been transferred to other shoulders, so I’m devoting my time to correspondence, visiting the offices of friends, arranging the many details incidental to leaving, and making preparations for a final party at 11 Bachstelzenweg next Saturday evening, – a combined effort of Maja’s and mine. She’s inviting about 15 and I’m including something over 50 of those whom I hate most to leave – gosh, they are a swell gang. Maja is just having a formal made – so all of the gals are being invited to wear their formals. There’ll be a four piece orchestra, lots of scrumptious hors-d’oeuvres (largely filled with the delicacies you and Heath have sent me), pineapple “bolle” (fruit marinated in white wine and fortified at the last minute with champagne), French “75s” (cognac & champagne), as well as straight American whiskey, Scotch and cognac for those who prefer their liquor straight or with water or juice. I have a hunch it won’t be a bad party.

Last Sunday we (Maja & I) joined the Sarles and Paul Powers at the Vadneys for a cold turkey and hot waffle supper – both delicious and the first waffles Maja had ever eaten. She admitted Europe still has some things to learn from America. This coming Thursday we shall be at the Sarles’ for dinner and this evening I’m entertaining M. for dinner at 11 Bach. All of which is lots of fun but it doesn’t get done the thousand and one odds and ends of clean up and packing jobs with which I’m faced right now. Wally Dietz will probably take over most of the photographic equipment and supplies which I shall not want to bring home. I haven’t decided to whom I’ll sell or give my store of blue stamp cigarettes.

I’m awfully sorry I slipped up on your birthday, Rog. I did manage to remember Ade’s and sent her a cable, but apparently two Geburtstage on two successive days were too much for my feeble memory. Probably too much absorbed at the time in getting off on my vacation trip. But even tho the felicitations are a month late please accept them now, for they are no less hearty. – I’m glad you were able to extract some interest from the OMGUS Weekly Bulletins. – Mebbe what you say about Ade is correct, sweet, but the highly sketchy interest she has shown in me (one letter since I came over) hasn’t been very convincing. Good intentions make a poor substitute for good deeds.

You poor kid, so bacon fat doesn’t work in the making of toll house cookies! I’m sure we were both equally disappointed for that particular product of your deft fingers is one of my passions. The batch you sent me last spring was sparingly doled out to myself as well as to my friends and lasted for several months. Nevermind. I’ll look forward to some when I get Stateside. – Too bad the “Life” job is so demanding but maybe the promotion will bring about more pleasant working conditions and hours. Congratulations, Rog, and please congratulate Phil for me, too, on his elevation. – Yes, thanks, the Readers Digest has been coming through on the button each month, as have all of my other publications except the Washington Post, of which I’ve received just two copies all year. I wonder whether they have been piling up in some post office or whether someone else has been enjoying them in my stead.

You mention Fritz Bley’s pictures. Just wait until you see ‘em. I have 60 of them, 55 black and white war sketches and 5 lovely water colors. Fritz and I have struck up a cordial friendship and I hope I can help him in the States by getting his stuff published in a monograph in order to build his reputation. He is really an artist. His ultimate ambition is to come to the US and draw for the Sat Eve Post, – where he picked up that goal I can’t imagine – but I hope he can swing it, or something as good.

Still remains a letter to be written to Heath this afternoon (I’ve just finished one to Burt Greenman) but first I must jeep down to McNair Barracks, Telefunken Building, and pay my November mess bill, so I’ll sign off, to reappear on station “Bremerhaven” next week. Love to you all

Affectionately

Dad.

November 27, 1946

Office – 27 November 1946

Dear Family:

Thanksgiving to morrow! I’m glad you are going to be in on a good old fashioned family party, and know it will be a wonderful day for you all. I plan to eat my turkey dinner at noon at Truman Hall with Maja – following which she, poor wretch, has to report for work (2:30 to 9:30) for censorship of the German telephone calls never sleeps. She is Deputy Ass’t Censor, second in command of the electric section (telephone & telegraph) and her hours are horribly irregular – alternate weeks, 8:30-5:30 and 12:30 to 9:30, with alternate Sundays on duty – a pretty heavy schedule. After she goes back to work to-morrow I may go to a cocktail party to which I’ve been invited at Col. Robbins – or I may go home to start getting organized for the Stateside trek. It will be a real wrench to leave Maja – she’s a wonderful companion and friend.

Your letter, sweet, was fine and was gratefully received after a six weeks’ silence. Too bad Jeff had to go thru the tonsilectomy – but apparently it was of prime importance. I hope it will prevent repetition of the minor ailments he has been having. I certainly look forward eagerly to seeing those youngsters – as well as you two. As I say in my Circular Letter, I’m doing my best to be home for Christmas with you folks – to make up for the gathering we were cheated out of last year – but shall not know (or be able to let you know) until we dock at New York – unless I can radio you from the ship. So keep your ear to the phone along about that time – and I hope we won’t be disappointed. Then I’m due in Washington on the 28th and plan to stay on there for a while seeing my various friends and trying to locate a job. Subsequently, I’ll be back in New Jersey (I hope) for more of a visit with you and the Montclair relatives and friends. It will be grand to catch up with everybody. – By the way, having no Stateside address, I’m using 49 Curie Avenue. I hope you are not inconvenienced thereby, particularly with the boxes I’ll be mailing before I leave.

Your box of goodies was waiting for me when I returned from my vacation – as was also one from Heath, and by a strange coincidence they contained almost identically the same commodities, except that he sent anchovies, smoked salmon, etc., to match the delicious cheeses you included. They both come at just the right time, for Maja and I are planning a combined party (possibly the evening of Dec. 7) for our various friends and these will be prima for hors d’oeuvres. Most of her friends are British and Allied personnel. (Pause while I read a letter from Mel Scheidt which the sgt. in the mail room just brought in) Mel has bought a home a couple of miles beyond his old place – a larger house, 65 acre farm and all that goes with it, and they are still trying to adjust themselves to it. I have a cordial invitation to spend as much time as possible with them until I get my feet under me. But to return to the goodies – thanks a million for them, for the necktie (which I now have on) and for the swell cook book. The latter will help me more when I settle down in the States, for it is a bit too late to start educating Erika now – particularly with her lack of command of English (and mine of German) and her natural culinary ineptness.

I haven’t yet decided how to deal with the problem of Ahyaks. Some stories come to me of the lack of comfortably warm quarters supplied by the Army in transit. Maja, who became devoted to him while I was away, wants me to leave him with her until spring when transportation conditions would be more favorable, but I hate to be separated from him that long. If I send him home now he will not arrive until sometime after I do, and I’ll presume on you by shipping him to you. I can then relieve you of him very quickly – if you wish. Somehow, those who know him never want to relinquish him.

Gotta get back to work now. This afternoon I get my typhoid and typhus Boosters, and am hoping they don’t hit me as they did a year ago, – I can’t afford to be laid up right now. Love to you all and all hopes for an early reunion.

Affectionately

Dad –

November 26, 1946 – The Last Circular

Circular Letter the Last!

11 Bachstelzenweg, Dahlem, Berlin, Germany.
26 November 1946

Dear Friends:

Two weeks from to-day I am due to push off for the States. It may drag out for a few days more, I may get stuck in Bremerhaven for from five days to two weeks before I can get passage on an Army transport, the ship may be one of the slow ones (the speediest take ten days crossing) or I may run into a calamity such as the President Tyler had and spend 22 days on the briny deep. Nevertheless, I’m making a valiant effort to get home for Christmas and, with luck, I hope to make it. My hope is that the trip will be calm and uneventful and the weather clear and sunny, but come what will I’m on my way home, and that will provide all of the happiness and thrill I need, much as I enjoy Germany. However, the wrench of parting here will be considerable for I shall be leaving friends, scenes and experiences I can never forget. And the torch which lighted my way over a year ago is still burning brightly. There is still a huge job to be done and I should like to be in on the doing of it.

Sunday morning (the day before yesterday) I arrived home from my tour to our southern neighbors, Switzerland and Italy, tired, greatly disappointed by the weather and full of undigested impressions. But I am delighted that I went, even at this unfavorable time of year for, hasty and skimpy as the trip was, it has left me with clearly defined impressions of those countries which I could never have acquired otherwise. I feel that I know something of the heartbeat, not only of the two countries in general but also of a number of the principal cities which are a part of them. Each is clearly different and each interesting.

I can’t begin to give you a diary of the two weeks and you would probably rightfully resent it if I attempted such a thing, but I’ll try to sketch the highlights of the journey and then recapitulate a few of my impressions gained on the way. As already noted, the weather was uniformly bad, – rain fully half the days, poor visibility in the most scenic areas, heavy overcast in the mountains. We had a total of one and a half days of sunshine out of fourteen, a pretty poor average. Of the fourteen nights six were spent on trains, four of them on day coaches and one on a crowded Italian civilian train. Through Switzerland we travelled in 3rd class coaches with narrow wooden seats. Travel through Germany, France and Italy was over rights of way which had been bombed out, the replaced roadbed and the makeshift bridges everywhere requiring many waits and tediously slow progress. Hotel accomodations were very mediocre and at Mulhouse we slept in unheated barracks, with ablutions performed in a room where our breath was plainly visible. We got along with an irreduceable minimum of sleep (largely our own fault) and meals were completely irregular. But this was all part of the game, part of the fun most of the time, and the gripes were few and of short duration. It was a completely mixed party, – military and civilian, married couples and single folks, male and female, gathered from all parts of the U. S. occupied area from Paris to Munich, and of all ages from a four year old tyke to myself. In the main I didn’t find it a particular congenial group, but I quickly teamed up with a 30 year old 1st lieutenant from Berlin and a 24 year old warrant officer engaged in Counter Intelligence Corps work in Beyreuth, close up to the Russian Zone, Poland and Czechoslovakia, – respectively Bob Colman and Ted Poling. Without them I would have had a pretty dreary time but together we managed to get more out of the trip than did anyone else, with the possible exception of a little Italian-American civilian gal who revisited her childhood home and saw many of her family still remaining in Italy. Bob, Ted and I linked up part of the time with Ilsa Adler, Austrian Jewess with British citizenship and a fine girl, and Jan Porter, a Red Cross girl who has been over here for about three years. *** There’s the background into which I shall attempt to build the picture.

My departure from Berlin was a comedy of errors and misfortunes. I planned to take the Saturday night train for Frankfurt and was packed and ready to go an hour and a half before train time. But my efforts to get a taxi were so completely Snafu that we finally arrived at the station just in time for me to see the car doors close and the train slowly pull away from me as I stood fuming on the station platform. I say “we”, and you should have seen that taxi. It was one of the miniature German cars, a sedan, with my overstuffed Valpack occupying the full seat beside the German driver. My friend, Maja Purvis, was keeping Ahyaks for me during my absence, and she and I were in the back seat with Ahyaks’ bed, a carton of food for my child, a radio and my musette bag. And on top of everything cavorted Ahyaks, lurching back in our faces, breathing hotly down the collar of the half petrified driver, missing nothing outside of the rain streaked windows and highly excited by the whole performance. How we ever got to the station over the slippery pavement is still a mystery to me, but get there we did and then back for dinner at Truman Hall and a few dances at Harnackhaus before we parted, she with the dog and his belongings and I with my luggage.

I was up at six the next morning in hopes that I could catch the 8:00 A.M. plane and still make my connection, but a dreary wait at the Tempelhof Airport only resulted in an announcement at noon that no planes would leave that day on account of snow, rain and fog. Maja and Ahyaks walked over in the middle of the morning to make my wait more bearable, and we returned to Bachstelzenweg and whipped up lunch. I sent them home early and, having learned by experience, I took the bus to the station that evening and made my train comfortably, with a most amusing experience behind me and no harm done except for a day’s delay in my trip. The train trip and the following day in Frankfurt were spent in the company of my friend George Mayer, OMGUS Personnel, so the time passed quickly until the tour train left at 9:15 in the evening. That night was rough, with a “breakfast” stop of an hour and a half at Karlsruhe at one thirty in the morning, a change at Strassburg several hours later and arrival at the Rest Center at Mulhouse (or Mulhausen, have it your way) the middle of the next morning. Here the formal tour started, we were processed, briefed, fed and slept, and pulled out at 7:15 the following morning. At Basle (O.K., Basel – of Bale) we went through customs and had a brief tour of the city, via special street car, and an opportunity for some shopping, leaving for Lugano just after a delicious lunch. It was a strange feeling to be in a city which showed no evidence of war’s destruction and with plate glass shop windows stuffed with commodities we had not seen for many a month.

The ride across Switzerland was lovely, most of it across the fertile plain, finally striking the mountains at Lucerne, then climbing to the loop tunnels and the long straight tunnel under St. Gothard Pass, emerging on the south slope of the Alps in Italian Switzerland and sliding down into the lovely city of Lugano on the lake of the same name. The evening was largely spent in window shopping and more expensive pursuits (for many of the crowd went a bit berseck on Swiss watches), in viewing the lights over the lake and riding on several of the funicular railroads which unite the different levels of the city. The next morning Ted and I, despite the forbidding weather, took the funicular up San Salvatore and were well repaid, even though our view was limited by haze and the nearer aspect was pretty drab in the slight drizzle which accompanied us. Then lunch and the train for Chiasso, where we had an hour for customs and a stroll about the town before entraining again for Milan, whisking by Lake Como so fast that we hardly had a glimpse of it.

Late afternoon and evening in Milan were consumed in strolling, shopping (I got a lovely new collar and leash for my dependent) and eating dinner. Then for a 23 hour ride to Rome in a day coach, whisking in and out of tunnels so fast as we traveled down the Mediteranean coast that the view assumed the nature of a series of still pictures between the moments of darkness. But my first view of that water gave me a thrill compounded of beauty and romance which I shall not soon forget. The first evening in Rome was devoted to strolling and shopping and the next morning Bob, Ted and I went on our own. I had phoned my friend Cecil Hightower, stationed in Casserta, and arranged to meet in Naples the following afternoon. So we took the four hour trip in an Italian train to that filthy but highly scenic city, sightseeing until mid-afternoon and then meeting Cece – a wonderful reunion for the two of us. He looks in the pink, a bit heavier than I had known him in Alexandria and a year and a half older, but the same old companion of former days. We dined at the Seaview Officers’ Club, then taxied to another spot high on the hill overlooking the city, an Allied night club from which the view was entrancing. It must have been superb by daylight. In bed by 4:00 A.M., and this old man just couldn’t make the grade at seven the next morning to take in Pompeii, so my two companions made it alone. Lunch with Cece and back to Rome in the afternoon.

That evening Bob and I strolled through some of the picturesque but less formal byways of Rome, wandering into the Borgese Gardens and ending up in a little wine shop in the wall of the Gardens, where we got plenty of local color, made cordial friends with the jolly merchant, sipped our vermouth and warded off the various ladies of the evening who attempted to attract our attention. It was pure local color and we enjoyed every minute of the experience.

The next morning Ted and I took the general sightseeing tour provided free by the American Red Cross, returning to it after lunch at the hotel. Of course, one cannot see Rome in less than a month, but we got a fairly comprehensive glimpse of it that day. The trip included a visit to the better known catacombs, St. Peters, the Colleseum, the Basilica of St. Pauls Without the Walls, and views of many of the other famous buildings and relics of antiquity. I shall not go into descriptions or sing the praises of these – they are too well known by you all already, but the sight of them was inspiring and whetted my appetite for a return at some future time. That evening we three dined at Alfredo’s, which the maître d’hotel at our caravanserie assured us was the best place to get a first class Italian dinner. It was prima, and quite lived up to his recommendations.

The tour was scheduled to depart for Milan at 11:30 the next morning, but Bob and I took an Italian train at 8:40 for Florence, arriving after a six hour run. Ah, that is the city for my money, – clean, as are the cities of northern Italy, picturesque beyond the other cities we had glimpsed, historic, architecturally noted – with the marble Duomo, Giotto’s Tower, the Pitti Palace, Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi Galleries, the little silver and leather shops, the shops on the Ponte Vecchio – and so on until you emerge in a daze of fascination (excuse the spelling above, I’m too lazy to look up the correct spelling). We spent quite a little time in the shops and made particular inroads on our pocket books in the leather shops. Dinner and the early night at the Excelsior Hotel, run by the U. S. Army, then down to the station for the 2:15 A.M. train for Milan. We waived our rights to seats in the first class coach after we had opened a few compartment doors and were nearly overcome by the hot odor of bodies, perfume and garlic which rolled out over us, adjusted our baggage in the unheated vestibule of the coach (which we shared with five Italians) and dozed until we reached Milan at 8:40, two hours after the rest of the group arrived from Rome. The detour was a bit rugged but I wouldn’t have missed it for the worlds. Shopping and sightseeing in the morning, then off on the noon train for Lucerne.

Again the weather was disappointing, and we saw little of the more distant peaks and aspects of the Swiss Alps. But the next morning, after a night at Lucerne, the sun shone brightly. Ted, Ilsa, Joan (a little Dutch girl we scraped acquaintance with at the hotel) and I strolled through the quaint city – and loved it, although neither then nor at any other time during our sojourn in Switzerland did we have any particular reason to develop any great fondness for the Swiss people. That thrifty group is out for every dollar of the tourist’s money they can get and they are not even subtle or gracious about the way they go about the job. None of us had any trouble with the Italians, bandits tho they may be, but we were at loggerheads with the Swiss everyway we turned. If I am going to be jipped I certainly want the operation to be artistically done. After lunch Ted, Ilsa and I took an hour’s ride across the lake and mounted the Rigi on the amazing little electric railway which climbs to its summit. That was the highlight of the whole tour, Switzerland with its lovely lakes spread out in essence at our feet and in the distance the towering, broken range of snow-clad peaks reaching to the French border. We could not distinguish the well known mountains nor did we care much, – the grandeur of the scene was quite enough for us. We strolled down the path along the top of the steep mountainside to the next station down and there took the train for the return trip. The boat ride back was largely in the dark, and the lights and their reflections made a faery land of the place.

Another night in Lucerne, a day and a night on the train, with stops at Basel and Mulhouse, Strassburg and Karlsruhe, and we were back in Frankfurt. Ted and I finished the night at the Carleton Hotel, then strolled most of the next day, seeing old parts of that devastated city which had previously escaped me. Then a night on the Berliner, our crack U. S. Army duty train between those two cities, probably the best rail accomodations in Europe to-day, and I was home for a second Sunday morning breakfast in my billet to supplement the excellent one on the train, – rather tired physically (tho nothing a few good nights sleep couldn’t cure) but wonderfully rested mentally and nervously after two whole weeks when I could completely forget the office and its maddening frustrations. The trip was entirely worthwhile and neither the bad weather nor the complete lack of photographic possibilities dimmed my enjoyment of it.

I was forceably struck by the recovery which Italy has made in the past year and a half, tho recognizing that at no time or place was it hit as badly as was Germany. The U. S. Army has gone overboard to help put it on its feet, building roads and bridges, railroads and buildings. The shops were full of all imaginable kinds of commodities, there seemed to be no shortage of any kinds of food and the people looked healthy and well fed. There are still many German POWs there doing recovery work and even they looked happy and contented under the minimum of oversight and guarding given to them. Naturally, the Italians want the occupying armies to leave, and that quickly, and resent not being considered full partners in the victory, a viewpoint which makes those of us from Germany raise an amused and inquiring eyebrow. We were able to note the startling difference between the northern and southern parts of the boot, – cleanliness and progress as opposed to filth and inertia; we sensed the completely different character of each of the four cities visited. Italy was having a late fall, – trees were in their autumn coloring and the farmers were tilling the fields and bringing in the late harvest, while to the north early winter has set in and nature is at its drabbest. I should love to see that country under smiling skies in more favorable times of the year and of the national economy.

And now for two weeks of frenzied closing up of my affairs here, shifting my office work to other shoulders, packing and disposing of my effects, not to mention good-byes and farewell parties. I’ll probably be ready to spend my full time while crossing the Atlantic in a completely soporific state.

* * * * *

Well, this account seems to have come pretty close to being a diary after all. Excuse it please, it seems to have been the natural way to tell the story. Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas to you all. And the best of good wishes until we meet again.

Auf wiedersehen,

Dad.

November 13, 1946

Lugano, Switzerland – 13 Nov 46

Dear Family –

On leave at last – and enjoying it despite the fact that it is a pretty rugged trip. I won’t attempt at this time to write you much about it as I’ll be largely repeating myself when I start to type my next circular. However, I’ll touch lightly on it and pass to other matters.

After two false starts, – Saturday evening the 9th, when after trying to get a taxi to take me to the station for fully three quarters of an hour, I finally got down there about 20 seconds too late and saw the train doors slam in my face and the “Zug” slowly steam out of the station while I stood on the platform and cussed; and Sunday morning when I got out to Tempelhof Airport at 7:15 and waited until noon before they announced cancellation of all flights for the day on account of a zero-zero condition. But I made it on the Sunday evening train, spent 12 hours Monday in Frankfurt (Armistice Day) making connections, and here I am. We are scheduled for 4 days in Rome, one in Lugano and one in Lucerne, then back home, arriving 14 days and 15 nights after leaving. Everything considered, it is seeing Europe the hard way – but it is preferable to coming home without getting a peek at things.

You would have loved the attempted Saturday getaway. Maja is keeping Ahyaks for me in my absence, so she came over to see me off. We started for the Wannsee Station in a last minute flurry in a small European sedan. – the German driver and my full Val-pack in the front seat – and in the back seat, Maja, I, my musette bag, a carton of canned food for Ahyaks, my RCA radio and transformer (which I’m letting Maja have) and Ahyaks excitedly running over the top of baggage and us, alternately staring out of the window into the rainy night, landing uncertainly in our laps, on our shoulders and in our faces, or leaning over the shoulder of the fearful chauffeur with their faces together and Ahyaks breathing down his collar. On missing the train we returned to the billet, dropped the dog and the baggage, and returned to Truman Hall for dinner, followed by a couple of dances at Harnack House. I shipped the gal, the dawg, the food and the radio home at a discreet hour and tumbled into bed early for a none too long sleep before my 5:45 rising to get to the Airport.

While I was waiting there Maja & Ahyaks bussed and walked over to keep me company. Then the three of us returned to Bachstelzenweg to throw together some lunch. They left the middle of the afternoon, for Maja went on duty at 5:30 – and this time I bussed to the train – taxis are too uncertain. Both Maja and Lulu Dups, her billet mate are thrilled over having Ahyaks. I hope he is good and doesn’t run away.

No word from you, sweet, before I left, in fact the last letter I have had from you was your birthday offering, written 1 Oct. I believe it is the longest period without hearing from you since your first summer at Scout Camp. I hope, at least, that it means all’s going well and you are just busy, but the silence does make you seem pretty far away. You doubtless have my circular letter, mailed just before I left Berlin, in which I mentioned that, unless something unexpected turns up during my two weeks’ absence, I am planning to come home at the end of my contract. I’m torn by all kinds of emotions by it. But it is probably the only thing to do. I am going to send Ahyaks Stateside, for the thought of leaving him here is intolerable. He must spend a couple of weeks at Bremerhaven for observation and rabies and distemper shots, then will be shipped on the first possible transport equipped to carry pets. They run twice a month, so the date of his arrival in the US is most uncertain. Would it be agreeable if I sent him to you to keep until I can get settled wherever I’ll be working? He’d be a wonderful pal for Jeff and I’m quite sure you’ll all be daft about him – as is every one over here. His food bill would be a not inconsiderable item and I would insist on paying the full cost of his keep. Please send me your answer without delay as I can make my plans here – or arrange for other dispensation for him in the States.

Quarter of ten, and, as I haven’t had my quota of sleep since about four nights before leaving Berlin, I’m actually cat-napping over this letter. We leave here at noon to-morrow with a busy morning planned so I think I’ll crawl under my very continental feather bed and try to catch up.

Love to you all and to the Ade – (please share this letter with her) and try to get me several letters before I leave Europe. Take care of yourselves –

Affectionately

Dad –

November 9, 1946 – Circular #12

Circular Letter No. (what is it?
12 Or 13?)

Bachstelzenweg 11, Dahlem, Berlin, Germany.
9 November 1946

Dear Stateside Friends:

It’s typical weather for this time of year – raw and drizzling, but what care I? For this evening I’m leaving Berlin for two weeks for my first vacation since I reached the European Theater. For two blissful weeks I can forget frustration, SNAFU, Military Government, personnel an’ever’thing. My itinerary will take me to Frankfurt (Germany), Strassbourg and Mulhouse (France), Basle, Lugano and Lucerne (Switzerland), and Chiasso, Milan and Rome (Italy) – just a tantalizing taste of what is here to be seen but a worthwhile “half loaf” any way that you look at it. It is far from the best time of year to take such a trip but better in that direction than Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden or the United Kingdom. One of the boys who just returned from the Swiss-Rome tour said that he struck clear, warm weather – possibly I’ll get in on the tail end of the good luck. This is a regular tour, run by the Special Services Division of the Army and is by far the most popular with our American travelers. I kissed the office good-bye last evening and am taking to-day writing, packing, and doing other odd jobs which have waited for some time to be done. I’m leaving Ahyaks with some OMGUS friends who are thrilled at the thought of having him for two weeks. I hope they don’t repent of their offer before the time is up.

I understand that the trip is a bit rugged, with six nights on the train (sleepers, I hope), but everyone returns enthusiastic about the sights and experiences. Possibly this will be my only opportunity to get away for – unless something unexpected turns up while I am away, I plan to end my tour of duty in Europe with the termination of my contract, 28 December. I’m going to make every effort to beat that deadline by about four days, so that I may have Christmas in the family circle, but, even tho the best plans are laid over here, the uncertainties of transportation are so great I may miss the holidays in the U. S. completely. Most of the boats provided by the government are Liberty ships which take a full ten days from Bremerhaven to New York, and there is a good possibility that I will be held up from three days to a week or more at the port waiting for my turn. Some of the ships are slower – as much as two and a half weeks on the water, and I may draw one of the tubs. If I find that there is little chance of making it by Christmas I may take “delay en route”, that is, a few days leave in one of the nearby countries, while I am awaiting my turn at Bremerhaven.

Eager as I am to see home again, I should be very happy to put in another year or two over here, and George Vadney is exploring the possibilities. But my highly specialized experience and training fits into very few of the openings in the theater, particularly as most of the military government shops are retrenching heavily in the matter of budget and are slashing personnel rather than taking them on – the one big exception being in clericals, of which we are in very short supply. My work in the Personnel Office is really finished and even if Col. Duke had not reorganized the office so completely that my functions are now spread out among several folks, as responsibilities incidental to their other chores, the initial task of setting up a civilian personnel structure in this army installation is over. The task now is to keep procedures up to date, to develop programs and then operate them. A very good and experienced procedural analyst, several grades lower than I in the salary scale, has come over and can carry on very capably – provided they let her, which is definitely the $64 question in the minds of all of us civilians. My friend George Vadney, who got me over here is leaving very shortly for another job and the office is in the hands of five colonels none of whom know anything about personnel work, and the good old days under Col. Onthank are no more.

So it is quite probable that I shall be leaving Berlin around the middle of December and I suggest that no packages be sent me after you receive this letter. Letters, yes – until about the seventh of December, unless I report a change of plans in a later communication. I shall try to get off one more circular letter, telling of my vacation trip and possibly giving you more definite news regarding my plans.

In recapitulation, I feel that this has been a rare and valuable experience, and 1946 will always impress me as the most interesting one in my life’s explorations- it has broadened my horizon and trained me toward an appreciation of the new problems which we, as world citizens, must face in the future. And I shall always have a nostalgic longing to get back here again when things have settled down and Europe is living a more normal life. I have learned to love this place, even in its distressed and war torn state. I have gained a bit of the viewpoint of the European as only one who has lived here can gain it, for one must have an understanding and sympathetic realization of the backgrounds which formulate the habits and thinking and psychology of the people, an understanding which can never be gained from books and newspapers, in order to know what makes them tick. He learns that American desires and solutions of international impasses may not always be correct and good – that we are, after all, just one of many countries whose rights must be considered.

I’ve made some grand friends (not all Americans by any means), I’ve had some happy highlights and experiences, I’ve worked hard and I feel that I have accomplished something – tho far from what I had hoped-, I’ve been driven frantic by frustration, and I’ve had some bitterness. But, all in all, it has been a perfectly grand year, the memories of which will always be fresh in my mind and carefully nurtured. If only more Americans could have the same opportunity – and if only our foreign cousins could get to America and learn it from the human side – how much happier and more tolerant this shrinking world would be. I had a most interesting talk the other evening with Maja Purvis, Austrian born and bred, and British by adoption. She has never been to America and, despite intelligence and excellent education, her whole concept of the nature and motivating impulses of the Americans is completely cockeyed. But the number of our countrymen, civilians and military who have been and are here are, in a small way, helping in the task of selling the U. S. to those whom they meet. It would be foolish to say that the teaching of the Americans or the education of the Europeans has all been beneficial, but in the main I believe it has been helpful to all concerned.

My extra-curricular life during the past month or two has pretty well followed the pattern of previous weeks, although there is a continuous trend here toward building a small American city in Berlin within the European city, with most of the characteristics of suburban life at home cropping up in growing measure. I don’t get to Harnack House more than once a month, I rarely eat out, except at the family billets of my friends, after a strong flare up a month or so ago, cocktail parties seem to be on the wane. Mebbe it’s partly seasonal, mebbe it’s a reaction, mebbe it’s just a phase in the fluctuating curve of life. There are going to be a lot of changes over here in the next four months, for during that time the contracts of a large proportion of the civilian employees terminate. Many will want to go home, many must be slashed from the payrolls and many will gird their loins for another tour of duty. If I could find the proper niche I’d frankly like to be in the latter category. Ho hum. I wonder what last Tuesday’s Republican landslide will do to the United States. There is certainly lots of room for improvement. I wonder whether the post-war madness doesn’t just have to run its course whatever the political picture may be. I’m afraid that poor Truman is the unwitting scapegoat, inevitable with the fall of the Roosevelt powerhouse and the reaction following the war. Somehow I can’t agree that he has been such a personal failure many people like to believe he is.

And now to mending my gloves and packing. The drizzle continues and at times seems to be veering into a light sleet storm, but tomorrow and the succeeding days may be different in Switzerland and Italy. And with that hope I’ll leave you. Best regards to you all, and don’t forget that letters will still be most welcome for several weeks.

Cordially,

Dad-

Please show this to Ade. I have no extra copy for her. Lots of love. Can you take care of me at Xmas if I can make it?