Yesterday I spent a few hours scanning letters that my grandparents wrote to my parents while my grandparents were stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany. It has been several years since I read them so it was a chance for me to re-read while I was scanning. I try not to handle these pages from the early 1950s very much in a way to keep them from picking up too much acidic content. When I received them from my mom, they had been placed in a large manilla folder and kept in her basement. To be clear, my mom’s basement is finished and air conditioned so they haven’t been in damp, musty or too hot conditions. All of them are still readable and intact which is rare since most of them were handwritten or typed on very thin onion skin paper. Remember, they were being sent from Germany to the United States so to pack a lot of pages into one envelope for the regular price of a stamp, they used very thin paper.
My grandparents wrote letters at least once or twice a week and they were in Germany for three years so I have many – MANY – letters to scan. And that’s just of the Germany letters. There are also letters they wrote to my parents when my parents were stationed in Japan twice. Letters my grandfather and grandmother wrote to each other while they were courting, when my grandfather entered military training after they were married, when my grandfather went to France during WWI, and letters from my grandmother’s siblings and mother to her.
Here are some excerpts from the Letters from Germany.
Most of the letters are little more than reciting the more mundane chores of daily life or the functions that my grandparents attended. For genealogical purposes, they provide a window into their lives that I wouldn’t have if not for these letters. My grandparents also took several weekend trips into other regions or countries during their time in Europe. My grandfather took my grandmother to the area he was in during WWI in France and showed her spots she had only read about in his letters. My grandmother saw what was left of some of the concentration camps from WWII. They went to Holland and saw windmills and tulips. They shopped in Garmisch. One thing that was always consistent in the letters they wrote from Germany: they missed their children and grandchildren terribly. No matter where the military sent them, their hearts were always wherever their family was.