Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Letters with a mystery from the past.

Hi everybody!
Now, you won't believe this, but today the weather was normal. Cloudy/sunny/ warm/windy - great weather for walking! 
In between walks I started clearing out some of my rubbish  'collections', and have managed to fill 2 large plastic sacks with recycled and hoarded scraps, and pictures which I might possibly to be able to use one day, but  sometimes, less is more! The drawers in the kitchen and my bit-boxes are now tidy (well, for me tidy!) and I have an overview of what I have so that is something. I still need to do the drawers in my containers, but I have plenty of sacks ready!
My thumb is now very sore after working so hard, but at least I know WHY it is so.

The photo challenge at Manus this week is 'letter'.
I have copied some letters from 1914 and 1916. They tell the story of Hermann Kohlberg, who was a businessman and cloth manufacturer, and could not get back to Germany because he needed to pass through France which was 'enemy territory', and where he would run the risk of being locked up. I found these letters along with other correspondence, certificates and documents going back to 1701 after my great aunt died back in the 1970s. A cousin had stuffed all the papers into the bin outside, and I am glad I was able to save them. My great aunt was married to a German, who was killed with all of his family by the Nazis, and I think the documents belonged to his  family and their ancestors. I  will try to show more of the documents at a later time, as they tell a very interesting, if rather tragic story.

The first letter to the foreign office in 1914, evidently an answer to Kohlberg's wife, who was asking for a safe conduct pass for her husband.

A copy of a letter sent to the American Ambassador in Madrid, asking for help:

The German version of the same letter:

After receiving the letter from Max Hooge,  the German Consul in Vigo asked Kohlberg to come to the Consulate:

The reply from the German Ambassador in Spain, 
Prince Maximilian Karl Wilhelm of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, the Prince of Ratibor and Corvey, saying that  he could pass through France without fearing for his life as he was over the age of 60, but they couldn't guarantee that he wouldn't be imprisoned!

Copies in English and French:

And while researching the name Von Ratibor, I found an interesting article in 
'Der Spiegel' from 1998, showing that the prince was involved in a very nasty experiment with biological weapons, but the article is in German. Unfortunately  I found no correspondence to tell me if Kohlberg got home safely or not!

Well, that was today's history lesson!

And to end on a lighter note, some pictures from today's walks:

Have a great day, take care, and thanks a lot for coming by!


  1. What a treasure you saved from the trash bin; the letters are exceptional and I'm thrilled you shared them with us as part of your post today. It is always a fun morning when I visit and today was extra special. Rest that thumb as there is always tomorrow for more cleaning out.

    Thanks, Valerie, for the photos.


  2. I love the story and the letters you have shared with us today, this is fantastic, a really special piece of history. Take care of your poor thumb! Hugs Sarah

  3. A special post Valerie, thank you for sharing the history of the letters, what a special story it is.
    Tidying craft bits and pieces is not a good idea, you will have put many things in safe places, in case you will need them again. I would have had to throw the bags straight away, in case I reprieved the contents.
    Yvonne xx

  4. Wow, what fascinating letters, it would be so interesting to try and do a bit of research to find out more about this family. Such a tragic story, those letters must have meant so much to your great aunt. A pat on the back for doing some tidying, my job for this summer was going to be clearing out my cupboards and drawers, needless to say, I haven't started! Xx}

    1. The summer is looong still time to get started!

  5. Nice photographs. I love horses.

  6. Wow, Valerie, how very interesting, and what a find! Are you going to use these documents in projects or just keep them as memories? Well done for your big clear out! I really need to do the same at some point! The photos look wonderful and make me long for some warm sunshine!

    1. I am trying to recap the whole story of the family, and I will give the papers to the museum sooner or later.

  7. Da konntest du ja einen richtigen Schatz aus dem Papierkorb retten - klasse. Deine Fotos sind mal wieder wunderschön.

  8. How amazing are these letters. I have my parents original papers, preserved and put into a vintage photo album I made for them...but they are not as old as these...wow am impressed. Your wonderful photos again please me.xxx a coldie her is Aussie land.xxx

    The Journey is the Start

  9. interesting pieces of history today Valerie! and lovely photos as usual.

  10. Tolle Recherchen Valerie - super Fotos und klasse dass du Bastelmania supplies Reorganisation betreiben kannst da
    S braucht die Schaffenskraft der Seele immer mal wieder! Schönen Tag!

  11. So pleased that you founds some reward for all your hard work Valerie. How wonderful to have saved the letters from the past as I an sure so many didn't get saved.

    I love the photographs-particularly the serene scene with the hay bails in the field. The horse graze on peacefully as always in their beautiful settings.

    Have a great day and look after your thumb--the work can wait I reckon.

    Love Chrissie x

  12. What a wonderful insight in to history Valerie. A valuable find. As usual some fabulous pictures too. Just back from holiday and trying to catch up. Hugs Rita xxx

  13. einen schatz hast du da gerettet - und so schöne schrift, die man natürlich nur in kopie weiterverarbeiten darf! und schöne naturbilder (ich werd melancholisch, ich seh schon die ersten herbstanzeichen...)

  14. Totally fascinating your letters....glad you kept them and shared with us. Tragic times those. Is that a cable bridge in the back of ypur photo. Quite striking in the landscape...xox

  15. Such interesting correspondence from such a dark time in history. It is sad to know there were so many going through this same situation. I hope that he did make it home to live a happy life with his family.

    It is fun to just organize and see what one has every once in awhile. It often sparks a creative idea!

  16. What a find those letters are, a real miracle they survived time too, so glad you shared them with us. The photos from your walk are gorgeous. Take care and rest that thumb now. Big hugs, ~Diane

  17. Such treasures! You have no idea how much these things fascinate me as I'm sure they do you or you would not have bothered to rescue them. Beautiful country side in the photographs - so green and lush. I see my pinto is fine and enjoying the beautiful green grass. Take care of your thumb! hugs, Donna

  18. Wonderful letters Valerie, it's wonderful to have 'a piece' of history.
    Great pics of your walk too.
    Avril xx

  19. Hi Valerie, What a wonderful post with such history. To have them in legible condition is also a wonder. It does make you want to know the ending to the story, good or bad. These letters are true treasures and priceless. Thank you for sharing.
    Your walking pics are beautiful too and so glad you are having milder weather. Don't over do it with your thumb!!

  20. Ist es nicht fantastisch durch solche Briefe einen persönlichen Blick in die Geschichte werfen zu können? Was wird von uns bleiben? Das ist wirklich ein Schatz, den Du da hast!
    Und Deine Fotos sind wieder mal nur schön!
    Alles Liebe, Manuela

  21. Danke, dass du dir die Arbeit gemacht hast, diese vielen besonderen Briefe zu fotografieren und uns zu zeigen. Eine wirklich aufregende Geschichte, richtig spannend!
    Das Schriftbild des ersten Briefes ist wunderschön, so könnte heute niemand mehr schreiben!
    ... und wieder ein so schöner Spaziergang!
    Liebe Grüße von Ulrike

  22. Great history lesson and how wonderful that you are the thoughtful caretaker of those precious letters now...perhaps not a coincidence!
    Lovely to see your German countryside...our blue Chicory is blooming here in Virginia too along with lots of white Queen Anne's Lace (hope I am not repeating a previous comment...)...these blue and white flowers always say "Summer" to me.
    Hello from MiFoC and Happy Day to you

  23. What an interesting story Valerie!! It is great that you could save those letters, they are so precious for the history of a family!! Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos, especially the ones with horses, i love them so much!! Have a great week!!


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