20 March, 2012

20 March 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
20 March, 1945      0845

Wilma, sweetheart –

With the every increasing length of the days, we’ve changed our eating hours to 0700, 1200 and 1800. We now have our staff meeting at 0800 and so here I am off to an early start before the sick start coming in. It looks like another fine day coming up here. Yesterday was beautiful and in the p.m. I took a ride over to Baker battery. I didn’t do a heck of a lot of inspecting – but I went in that direction because of the scenery. It really is something beautiful and just a little different in its beauty than anything I’ve seen before. Although I didn’t see or hear the Lorelei, I might have. The castles in this region are worthy of their fame – and if I get to see many more castles in many more lands, I’ll really begin to think I know something about them. The castles here are the fairy-book type. They rise out of the heights overlooking the water, with spiral towers, fancy façades and all. And when a white cloud happens to drift by and partially obscure a castle – it really appears as if it’s just an image in the sky. I stood and looked at one yesterday – for some time and I was truly fascinated. I’ve read quite a bit of the history and folklore of this part of Germany and it seemed as if it all ran thru my mind in those minutes that I stood there.

Castle Katz above the town of St. Goarshausen

Baker Battery’s C.P. is in a beautiful home – not far from the water. The people here know how to live comfortably. They all have excellent balconies and in several homes now I’ve seen German translations of ‘Gone with the Wind’, Cronin’s ‘The Citadel’, H.G. Well’s books, etc. They all have exquisite China – mostly Bavarian; and the walls are covered with beautiful oil paintings – with a fine sense of interior decorating. You’ve got to hand it to the bastards – the middle class had a good design for living – certainly better than what I’ve seen in England, France or Belgium.

When I got back – I found two letters from you, dear, 3rd and 4th March. One of them told me of the car-strike which certainly made me angry. How in the world anyone can strike these days unless he is being completely exploited, is certainly beyond my conception. Much as I dislike the thought – I hope somebody becomes powerful enough after the war to break the back of organized labor – which in my mind is just about getting out of control.

I hope by now you’ve got all the details about the law case of mine. It took place in Stolberg – we’re now far enough away from there to be able to mention it – and created quite a stir for awhile. As I’ve already intimated, it was an obvious frame-up and the woman was getting a dirty deal. I’ve told you we went before the lower court – and the judge felt he didn’t have enough power to rule on so serious a charge – so he referred it to a higher court. Had he listened to all my evidence, he could have thrown it out of court – because I could prove fraternization, intimidation, the rest, etc. against the M.P. The latter – incidentally – has been reduced to the grade of private, from sergeant – by his Provost Marshall. Anyway – before we moved out I had to be released from my job as defense counsel – by the Military Government. The case had meanwhile been reviewed by the higher court; I was asked to give my testimony in writing, and on the basis of that, the case was recommended to be thrown out of court because of sufficient evidence, and the woman is now free. And, darling, I’m glad you thought her attractiveness was some compensation for my trouble (heh! heh!)

I’m so glad those pictures got thru. I don’t think I sent more than 26 – and I’m glad you liked them. We must have a fair collection by now. I have 4 or 5 more rolls – undeveloped – with no immediate prospects of getting them done. But I keep taking pictures anyway Darling, if I take close-ups – you’ll see all the wrinkles in my face – and I wouldn’t want that! Seriously, though, I’ll try.

I was surprised to read you knew so much about poker. I had no idea. Good – I’ll show you some new ones when I get back – new games – and now that I mention it – not necessarily card games. Boy! I’ve got hundreds of them – and each with a new twist – shall I say? Well – wait and see.

Tell Mother B, by the way, dear – that I understand perfectly if she doesn’t write often. She really can’t have very much to write me – you cover the picture so admirably. And besides – I realize that she can’t have been much in the mood for writing recently. I’ll drop her a line from time to time – just to let her know that she has a real future son-in-law.

And now – Sweetheart – whether you like it or not – I’m going to tell you that I love you more than you can possibly know by just reading it. I miss you, dear, like the dickens – and once I get you – I’ll never let you out of my sight. Remember!

I’ll have to stop now, dear, and do a little work. Be well, take care of yourself – and for now – so long –

All my everlasting love, darling –


about Lorelei Rock and the Legend

St. Goarshausen (left) across from Lorelei Rock (right)

The Lorelei (also spelled Loreley) is a 433 foot high slate cliff on the eastern bank of the Rhine near St. Goarshausen, Germany in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. It marks the narrowest part of the river between Switzerland and the North Sea. A very strong current and rocks below the waterline have caused many boat accidents there.

Aerial VIew of Lorelei and Narrowed Rhine

The Rhine, at the Lorelei, is up to 82 feet deep and only 371 feetwide. Because this area is so deep and narrow, it is one of the most dangerous places in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Ships, crossing each other here and all along the section between Oberwesel and St. Goarshausen, are directed by light signals.

Castle Katz and Lorelei Beyond

There are two theories about the derivation of the name. One theory says that the name comes from the old German words "lureln" (Rhine dialect for "murmuring") and the Celtic term "ley" (rock). The translation of the name would therefore be "murmuring rock". The heavy currents, and a small waterfall in the area (still visible in the early 19th century) created a murmuring sound, and this combined with the special echo the rock produces which acted as a sort of amplifier, giving the rock its name. The murmuring is hard to hear today owing to the urbanization of the area.

The other theory attributes the name to the many accidents occurring here, by combining the German verb "lauern" (to lurk, lie in wait) with the same "ley" ending, with the translation "lurking rock".

Lorelei from the Rhine

The rock and the murmur it creates have inspired various tales. One old legend envisioned dwarves living in caves in the rock. In 1801 German author Clemens Brentano composed his ballad Zu Bacharach am Rheine as part of a fragmentary continuation of his novel Godwi oder Das steinerne Bild der Mutter. It is the first story told of an enchanting female associated with the rock. In the poem, the beautiful Lorelei, betrayed by her sweetheart, is accused of bewitching men and causing their death. Rather than sentence her to death, the bishop consigns her to a nunnery. On the way thereto, accompanied by three knights, she comes to the Lorelei rock. She asks permission to climb it and view the Rhine once again. She does so and falls to her death; the rock still retained an echo of her name afterwards. Brentano had taken inspiration from Ovid and the Echo myth.

In 1823 Heinrich Heine seized on and adapted Brentano's theme in one of his most famous poems, Die Lorelei, translated below. It describes the eponymous female as a sort of siren who, sitting on the cliff above the Rhine and combing her golden hair, unwittingly distracted shipmen with her beauty and song, causing them to crash on the rocks. In 1837 Heine's lyrics were set to music by Friedrich Silcher in a song that became well known in German-speaking lands. A setting by Franz Liszt was also favored and over a score of other musicians have set the poem to music.

The Lorelei character, although originally imagined by Brentano, passed into German popular culture in the form described in the Heine-Silcher song and is commonly but mistakenly believed to have originated in an old folk tale. The French writer Guillaume Apollinaire took up the theme again in his poem "La Loreley", from the collection Alcools.

A statue of "Lorelei" can be seen on a small islet in the center of the river nearby.


Here is a translation of the "The Lorelei" written in 1823 by Heinrich Heine:
I wish I knew the meaning,
A sadness has fallen on me.
The ghost of an ancient legend
That will not let me be.
The air is cool in the twilight
And gently flows the Rhine;
A mountain peak in the setting sun
Catches the faltering shine.

The highest peak still gleaming
Reveals enthroned in the air,
A Siren lost in her dreaming
Combing her golden hair.
With golden combs she caresses
Her hair as she sings her song;
Echoing through the gloaming
Filled with a magic so strong.

The boatman has heard, it has bound him
In throes of desire and love.
He's blind to the reefs that surround him,
He sees but the Maiden above.
And now the wild waters awaken
Then boat and the boatman are gone.
And this is what with her singing,
The Lorelei has done.

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