Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Getting to Philadelphia

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Getting to Philadelphia

Article excerpt


Postcard from Elfriede in Düsseldorf to Johannes in Zürich. They were scheduled to meet the next evening in Basel fora last visit before Johannes left Europe for the United States.

Düsseldorf 2 Dec

Lieber Peter,

Lull between Duisburg and Krefeld. Just got 2 ads combined value about rm 150. Got your toothache letter. Can't you have them pull the damn thing? In spite of everything I'm looking forward to seeing you tomorrow at the S.B.B.11 just picked up my ticket. Yesterday evening very nice at the Magicians'. Their daughter-in-law is leaving [for America] on the 7th or 8th of December from Rotterdam, may pass you, or probably will.

Deine E


Letter from Elfriede in Düsseldorf to Johannes in Zürich, accompanied by a letter from Susanne. El friede had returned that morning by sleeper car from Basel. Her farewell from Johannes the previous evening must have been agonizing because they knew they would not see each other for many months-if intervening world events did not prevent their ever being reunited.

Düsseldorf, 5 December 1938

Liebes Peterchen,

Now I'm home again and I don't feel as horrible as yesterday evening, though Susie isn't back and I haven't spoken to my mother yet. I spent the first hour [after I left you] feeling pretty bad but it got better in the sleeping car. The conductor managed to place the woman who was supposed to get on at Freiburg and share my compartment somewhere else so I slept alone all night, though restlessly and waking up a lot but overall alright until a little before 7 this morning. Unfortunately the train got here already at 7:13. Then I sacrificed 10 pfennigs for the streetcar so I didn't have to walk home alone in the dark hours of the morning.

Our little rabbit2 is really chipper; we just talked on the phone.

Later: I'll quickly write a little more. It's almost 6 o'clock and I have to go out because tomorrow is St. Nicholas Day and Susie has certain expectations from such saints that I dare not disappoint.

Good luck. I'm really very excited about the way your things have been moving along. I hope for a letter from you tomorrow. With all the things I've had to deal with today I simply haven't had the time to worry.

Alles liebe

Deine Friedei

Accompanying letter from Susanne, December y, 1938.

Lieber Papi:

I just practiced my recorder lots of pretty things. I made poems made two bookmarks, I will write more in a minute need to ask Mutti something.

So now I can write more. In the Advent calendar from Lotte there was so far a star an acorn a little sailboat. Yesterday Herbert was here for Mutti to. [sfo] I have to ask again!

Mutti asked him to drive to Krefeld and Glabach. So he went to Mutti in the office and then I took his cane hid in the entry way behind the black chairs pushed the cane through the hole in the chair and hung the hat on it. Then Helma came out of the bedroom. Ssst! Ssst! came from behind the chair and the hat came out on a long neck I scared Mutti and Herbert the same way.

Many 10000000000 kisses your Susanne.


Postcard from Johannes in Zürich to Rudolf and Josephine in Philadelphia. Johannes had previously booked passage on the President Harding, which was scheduled to leave from Le Havre and put in at Southampton before crossing the Atlantic. Because he was unable to secure a French transit visa to travel from Zürich to Le Havre, Johannes proposed to take a plane from Zürich to London (bypassing France) and catch up with the President Harding when it left Southampton.

Zürich, 6 December 1938

Ihr lieben,

I want to use this last mail opportunity-which will travel faster than I will-to fill you in. After things went so well at the American Consulate, new problems began to mount up quickly. Despite all my efforts, I have so far been unable to get my French transit visa for the trip to Le Havre, and if I wait for it I might have to sit here for another two weeks. …

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