Circular Letter #9.
Bachstelzenwag 11, Dahlem, Berlin.
23 June 1946
It’s a raw, sodden day – I hope this businesslike rain will be the turning point and bring some warmer, clear weather for a change. John is out scouting for amusement and I’m left alone with my two children, – Ahyaks draped across my lap in a very undignified position for a full grown Boxer, and Schnappsie is lying on my feet, both characteristic posts which I’m getting quite accustomed to. There’s nothing particular to write about, so I’ll ramble on with such random thoughts as come to me. Frau Pieper just called me on the ‘phone asking for a letter which I received a couple days ago from Heath Onthank, an eleven page epistle written from Maine, where he is soaking in the relaxation so richly deserved and expanding his waistline on lobster, chowder and such things which are but a tantalizing dream to us Berliners. His letter expressed at some length his ideas on democracy and the proper approach to selling that theory to the German people – teaching them to look down to the “little people” and utilizing their power for leadership instead of looking up to the hereditary aristocracy with a reverence for position, the traditional German political psychology. Edith is speaking Wednesday at a meeting of the S.D.P. (Social Democratic Party) and she wants to quote much of the letter to them, after first translating it into German. It’s an excellent idea. She is an active leader in the development of the new Germany.
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The other evening I was surprised and delighted when I opened a small package which had been left at the billet for me during the day, for in it was a charming monograph on the city of Alt Nürnberg and a quaint and gracious letter from one of my more delightful German acquaintances, Frau Doktor Gerda Hübold. Doctor Hübold is a close friend of Edith Pieper’s, about 35 years old, lovely to look at and charming in personality, an aristocrat in manner and breeding, a pronounced brunette with a slim, lithe, athletic figure. We had cocktails together one evening at Im Dol 63-B and were discussing the old architecture of Germany, hence the gift and the letter. I quote it in full, for I believe you’ll enjoy it with me.
Dear Mr. Holmes,
This little pictorial book is intended to bring close to you a bit of the architectural beauty and somewhat of the atmosphere of mediaval Nuremberg. I would be glad if you would keep it as a souvenir of your time in Germany.
Here is a story how this little treasure came into my hands. I visited friends in the Grünewald a short time after the enchanting evening which I had spend together with Mrs. Pieper in your company at Im Dol 63-B. Our friend is a colleague of yours – a professor of architecture at Berlin Technical High School.
I had been so impressed by your remark that you deplore not having seen Nuremberg before the destruction that I discussed our conversation with our friend, and asked him whether he had in his library any picture-book of Nuremberg. I would have gone out on my own, however these things can only be secured nowadays in private libraries which survived.
I was tickled pink when yesterday in the evening his wife presented me with the enclosed copy. I hope that you will enjoy it.
With best regards, sincerely yours,
I have written this letter with my English teacher, who had gone away just in this moment. He would be afraid if (or “when”?) he know that I write yet (or “still”?) these two sentences alone, because I make so many mistakes!
And enclosed was another note, as follows:
Yesterday, in the afternoon visiting Edith (now each Tuesday) in her new place, I ask for your adress. Edith had an ill tooth, she was out yesterday in the mouth. I think you will see that I write this again alone, it is a good exercise (wrong?)
Best regards G. H.
Rather a quaint way of talking about an extraction. Dr. Hübold and her husband, also a doctor, were out-spoken anti*Nazis prior to the war, got themselves into plenty of trouble, and were finally fortunate enough to get out of the country with whole skins. They lived in Switzerland during the war and have recently returned to Berlin where they are both doing a wonderful job among the Germans in their chosen profession. This information from Frau Pieper.
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The floor show last evening at Harnack Haus was purely musical and included solo violin renditions by a lovely young German girl. She played familiar classical numbers – and as a final encore struck into “Way Down Upon the Swannee River”, playing it with a nostalgic pathos that was wonderful. It brought down the house. —- Home about midnight with Harold Sarle and we two idiots sat and talked, over a bottle of good French wine, until after three o’clock. I’m a bit sleepy to-day.
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A few evenings ago I got into bed early and started playing with the dials of my little R.C.A. radio, purchased some time ago at the P.X. This is a radio ham’s paradise. It is thrilling to be able to turn the dial so slightly that there is hardly an observable movement and pick up London, Prague, Lisbon, Rome, Paris, Madrid, Moscow, Stockholm and other European cities on the short wave band, listening to the Babel of voices in so many languages, all within a quarter turn of the dial. It makes you realize how closely packed all of these nations are over here, how intimately they must live, one with the other, and the necessity for working out some common ground on which they can stand in peace and prosperity. It is a liberal education for an American, who comes from a land where one can travel for 3000 miles without a change of language or a frontier. Incidentally, there are no commercials on the European programs and there is a much higher percentage of beautiful classical music.
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Our new Personnel Officer has arrived from the states, Colonel (ex-B.G.) James Duke, a Regular Army officer. He seems very pleasant and I anticipate enjoying working with him. At present he is not taking over but is studying the set-up here and starts out to-morrow with George Vadney for about two weeks in the Laender, ending up at the Nünberg trials. He should have a very comprehensive knowledge of the broad aspects of U. S. Military Government and the conditions under which it is operating by the time he returns to Berlin.
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Not much of a letter, I’m afraid, but it is a link in the chain of contacts I want to maintain with you all. I’ll try to do better next time. When I can get my darkroom set up I’ll start enclosing some pictures, which may make the dry words a bit more interesting.
Best regards to you all,