Halfway there with the German letters
Shingle Springs, California
August 28, 2009 11:28am CST
I plan on publishing the translations when I am done (in my blog), but I am about halfway through translating my great-grandfather's letters from 1922 and 1923 and here's a high level idea of what I have so far. There are some themes that recur in the three letters that I have translated so far. 1. High inflation - for example the price of a lb. of butter went from 2,000 Marks in January to 8,000 Marks in April to 20,000 Marks in July. Can you imagine living with that kind of inflation and trying to pay your bills, feed your family and so on? 2. Enemies on all side - he talks about the Belgians and French occupying the Ruhr during this time, the Lithuanians taking over a region in the East, the Poles taking over former German territory in Prussia. You read about this in the history books, but it doesn't really tell you the kind of fear people were living in. The writer's mother lived in the Ruhr and he was living in fear that she would be thrown out of her home and have to undertake a long journey to get where he was and that he thought she might be too old to survive the journey. Imagine living in a world where you are surrounded by enemies and fearful of what they might do? 3. Health - both he and his wife were in poor health, especially in the last letter, due to nerves and poor nutrition. Food was so expensive and hard to get at this point that they barely had enough to eat and then he was too sick to work, so how was he going to get enough money to pay for things. I guess we all have health issues, but how many of us have to deal with not even having enough to eat? You read in the history books about how things were in Germany before the Nazis came into power and the types of events that led up to people accepting the Nazis because they told them what they wanted and needed to hear. Fascinating. And scary. I don't suppose I'll ever find out how it turned out for them. 1923 is the latest letter. But maybe there's a way to research it. One thing at a time though. Anybody need somebody who can read old German script?
3 people like this
28 Aug 09
Hi dawnald, How facinating, I hope you will have more for us to read, I can just picture the hardship of these people, but you know all we ever see is the one side of people that suffers but never saw the German people how they suffered, it was the awful time and hope it will never be repeated again. Tamara
28 Aug 09
Wow, what a really interesting thing to be doing Dawn. I'm sure there will be ways to research it all and it would be such an amazing and worthwhile thing to do. Its one thing reading history books but, to have first-hand accounts passed through generations of your own family is precious. Good luck with it all.
• Shingle Springs, California
28 Aug 09
It's really interesting, but the first letter was HARD. I didn't read that old script, not at all, but I pulled up the letters off the internet and printed them off. The first letter went SO slowly, but after time you get used to them.
• United States
5 Oct 09
PS. as for your blog, can you send me a PM when it's up and running? I would be happy to take a look at it. Are you going to do some thing with your letters and squidoo.com? It might be another way to share, educate, and make a few dollars. Please feel free to keep in touch. CatGods.
21 Nov 10
I remember a bit about German before the Nazi some people here actually talk about Neo Nazi rising due to economy crisis they are trying to repeat what happened in Germany if you can speak German then you can speak Dutch there must be someone who needs Dutch translator
28 Aug 09
It's hardly surprising that Hitler proved to be a popular choice as leader; even though he had to be devious and ruthless to get there. However, he did get things back on a sort of balance - but at an ideological cost later on of course. You have a unique record there. I hope that there is enough to make a book as I think that an account from the perspective of the German couple in the street is extremely compelling, especially at a time of recession!
28 Aug 09
i have a copy of a hymmal that was used at our church with that old script. our church (here in canada) was founded by german immigrants during the early 1950's (i am not german but hubby is). we complain about life these days but they sure had it tough then!!