Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Letter from Katherine Fite to Mr. and Mrs. Emerson Fite, October 8, 1945. K. Lincoln Papers, War Crimes File. (Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum & Library)

Nuremberg, Oct. 8

Dearest Mother and Daddy,

Your letter of last Sunday actually postmarked the 1st, i.e. Monday, at 2 A.M. reached me Saturday, the 6th, the quickest, I think, that any letter has come through this way - though I believe some of my letters from London reached Washington in as sort a time. Trouble is, when they come through quickly, I have to wait that much longer for the next.

Yesterday was a lovely, clear, cold autumn day and I went on a trip to Bayreuth. The weather has heretofore been abominable - cold and dark and rainy and you've no idea how depressing it becomes with all the ruins and the dirt and the dust and the cold, stone buildings. But as I was saying, the sun shone yesterday (and today) and we set off in command cars, which are big brothers to the jeeps. We went across country - not up the autobahn - through the woods, up and down the hills and winding through the villages. The latter looked like a little toy villages I seem to remember as a child, maybe Alexander Marghetic had some. The trees are turning yellow, not red. The hills and near mountains seem to me about the height of the Berkshires north of Salisbury, but there are more of them. And you could feel in the clear cold air that we were high up. Bayreuth lies to the northeast, and I imagine it is not more than 30 or 40 miles from the Czech frontier. (I talked to a man today who went over to Pilsen. The Czechs are turning out all the Sudeten Germans, making them wear armbands and shipping them into the Russian zone for forced labor. We live in a cruel world).

I thought the Germans in Bayreuth looked less better than here - but they suffered not nearly so much damage. Still, they're a hard, evil looking lot. They've sold their souls to the devil long ago. And yet we saw dozens of little girls in white dresses with white wreaths on their hair going into a Catholic Church. The Festival House is a hideous structure on the outside, but we couldn't see the interior which Wagner designed (maybe the outside too) because there was a concert going on (for Americans and Germans). We saw Wagner's house half gone, apparently a direct hit - and his tomb - unkempt right now - in the garden, his son's house, Liszt's house, and then a nice 18th century palace out in the country where Der Fuehrer used to stay. Then home by the autobahn at 60 miles per hour until we sighted MP's. The officers aren't allowed to drive - enlisted men do all the driving. Back in Nuremberg we got lost and wandered around about half an hour. Few street lights - no people - empty ruins - it gives you a feeling of desolation. Coming back, we had a snack of K rations - I think we ate the lunch package - crackers - cheese - excellent cheese - chocolates - lemonade powder - granulated sugar - 4 cigarettes (some standard brand) and toilet paper! Other packages have meat spreads and I think bouillon preparations.

The indictment has been signed and will be in the papers before this reaches you. The Justice is in Berlin now - but my traveling days are over, I guess they will be back shortly and how soon they will go to trial I don't know. Some say 4 weeks.

I think the Justice has made a mistake by giving the papers to understand that only the U.S. means business. I get the impression that the other 3 have now ganged up to put the heat on us & maybe rush us through. At any rate - tho I know nothing first hand - I think the Justice has most unnecessarily given offense to the other countries. In many ways I have been sorry not to have been associated with him directly of late. But in other ways I am glad to have been disassociated. He is an able man - but predominantly a politician, and not a strong man. The organization has suffered for the lack of a strong, guiding hand. The indictment was rushed through and did not have the thorough going over it should have had for such an historical document. I know of at least one historical misstatement which I brought to the attention of 4 people and it's still there. Careless work. Office politics. Then some time ago I found a very serious error in punctuation in the signed charter which was, of all places, in the section of crimes vs. humanity - i.e. the Jews, & quite changed the sense. The Foreign Office caught that too & they've been busy ever since drafting a protocol to correct that one. More sloppy work. So you see it's not all a glorious, joyous crusade. And I think Biddle a weak appointment.

I had such a nice long letter from Uncle Bill. Wasn't it good of him? It's getting cold and I'm going to bed. I have no top sheet - just an enormous puff on which they change the cover. Quite cozy.

Lots of love,


The Embassy in London promised to keep paying me, but hasn't. I left there some 4 weeks ago with $30. I still have 80 marks ($8) and I pay for meals, laundry, hair, paper, postage, cigarettes, soap, candy, and occasional drink! By the way, towels haven't come, but I bought 2 khaki colored bath towels at the PX. Packages take about a month. Better not plan on sending one Xmas, as chances are I'll be home. I am speaking of cash of course. I have American Express checks.