Literature of the Holocaust
maintained by Al Filreis

'Love Letters' to Hitler, a Book and Play Shocking to Germans

THE NEW YORK TIMES, May 25, 1995, p. A6, by Stephen Kinzer

Berlin, May 24 - Of all the books and theater productions about the Third Reich that have flooded Germany as it marks the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, few are as bizarre and provacative as one called "Love Letter to Adolf Hitler."

The collection of letters, which appeared first as a book and was then made into a play that is shiowing in the Berliner Ensemble, reflects Hitler's extraordinary hold on many of his subjects. It is an aspect of history that many of Germans are still uncomfortable confronting.

"Sweetest love, favorite of my heart, my one and only, my dearest, my truest and hottest beloved," one of the letters begins. "I could kiss you a thousand times and still not be satisfied. My love for you is endless, so tender, so hot and so complete."

All the letters are genuine. They were discovered strewn about the destroyed Chancellery from which Hitler had directed his campaign of war.

The man who discovered them, William Emker, was a German-born American military officer. He was sent to Berlin in 1945, and during official visits to the bombed-out Chancellery he found a trove of private letters written to Hitler that the Russian agents who had removed government and military documents had apparently ignored.

In more than 20 visits to the Chancellery, Mr. Emker collected thousands of the letters and carried them out in his briefcase, determined to save them for posterity. He waited half a century to publish them, later telling friends in Germany that he had no wish to embarrass survivors and also that he had found no one who considered the letters valuable.

Mr. Emker, who now lives in California, visited his hometown, Frankfurt, in 1991, where he met Helmut Ulshofer, a local historian. The two sorted through Mr. Emker's collection, and the book "Love Letters to AdoIf Hitler" is a sampling.

The letters are addressed to "My beloved Fuhrer," "My darling sugar- sweet AdoIf," or simply, "Dear Adi." They are tangled and sometimes pathetic outpourings of emotion like, "Wouldn't it be possible for us to spend a few hours together on Christmas or New Year's?"

"I am making you keys to myfront door and my room," wrote.one woman. "We have to be very careful. So come early, ring my landlady's bell and ask if I'm at home. If everything works out, my parents (they could be your in-laws) say you can come any time, so we can spend the night together at my parents' house!"

Many literary and theater critics have been fascinated by the collection. "These letters reveal a great deal," wrote one. "They help us understand how Germans thought and felt, and portray a macabre picture that goes far beyond politics."

In public discussions, however, some Germans have harshly criticized the collection. They say that it is insulting to the generation of women who suffered through the war and then worked to rebuild their country, or that it is implicitly anti-feminist.

"It's hard to explain how people could write letters like these to someone responsible for so much terror and suffering," Mr. Ulshofer said in an interview. "Part of it has to do with the relationship between women and power that has always existed, and the erotic aspect of that relationship. It also reflects the mystic aura that surrounded Hitler, something that is very hard for us to understand today.

"And of course, in the later years of the war Hitler was a substitute for all the fathers, husbands and sons who had died or were away fighting. I see the letters as a very intimate look into the German soul of that time."

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