Letter from Katherine Fite to Mr. and Mrs. Emerson Fite, October 14, 1945. K. Lincoln Papers, War Crimes File. (Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum & Library)
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Sunday, Oct. 14thDearest Mother and Daddy,
I believe last week I wrote you that your letter of Oct.1 reached me Oct. 6. Well, it was followed on Oct. 9 by one written, I believe, on Sept. 28 or maybe even Sept. 26. So there's no telling.
To you probably the most interesting experience of this week will be my meeting with a woman lawyer on the French staff. She sat next me on the bus and seemed so pleasant and intelligent that I suggested we have lunch together. In the course of lunch she said that her name was Aline Chalufour. I remarked that I had seen her name in international law periodicals and had wondered if she were related to Andre Chalufour. She looked astonished and said why, that's my brother. She is a woman I suppose of few years older than me and really very intelligent and congenial - and I lack congenial feminine companionship. She speaks fluent English. Andre is now married and has 3 small children and a "very nice little wife" (no enthusiasm). He appears to have traveled in the U.S., to have worked in banks and I think travel bureaus, and to have been in the army and a PW for a while. And is currently engaged in going around France establishing the offices in which the French Gov't repays the luxury taxes paid by the American soldiers.
She also knows Cecile Thureau-Dangin - still keeps in touch with her. Believes that she and Andre were a little in love with each other, but, characteristically French, Andre was "young and not established". Cecile has had several operations, has had one leg removed, and has a wooden leg which no one would ever know. But if anyone pays her court, malicious friends tell him she has a wooden leg. She has been brave but is somewhat bitter. Lives alone in a big house in Paris, coming from a wealthy family. And so we gossiped about Chateau d'Oex which she had visited. She remembered having heard of Mrs. Shackelton who "took a great interest in Andre". And also vaguely remembered having heard of our taking the ice cream freezer up the mountain. This afternoon another Chalufour sister arrived - working with UNRRA south of Munich, somewhat less attractive, but very pleasant and intense about DP's (displaced persons). The Chalufours must be quite a family. As a matter of principle none of them has ever patronized the black market. Aline was working for DeGaulle in Canada during the war.
Drove out with them to the French quarters in a village some miles out, in a little German car in which the sister had driven up here, alone and without a gun, some 150 miles across country. The village in question is so picturesque, so clean. Why couldn't the Germans have been satisfied? They rather terrify me. This city is coming to life so quickly - street lights, railroad trains running, etc. I suppose that's the result of American energy, but the Germans are energetic too. And they have so many, many babies - fat well-fed, well clothed little Krauts. They say the French babies are thin and scarce.
This afternoon to a concert by the same orchestra I heard in July - was larger and very good. The Opera House is freezing cold - being open to the air in its upper unseen regions. So as it gets colder, it will be less and less pleasant. That's where they have their USO shows and movies and the GI's stand in lines around the block to get in.
Yesterday I engineered an interrogation of Frick, formerly Minister of Interior later pushed out by Himmler. I mean I set the wheels in motion and we gave our questions to the interrogator. He's a ratty shifty looking man. You find yourself feeling sorry for the devils because you have them at bay, but then you stop and think of the fiendish mass exterminations they engineered. Goering was being questioned the same morning and I saw the back of his head through a door. They say the palms of his hands are great paunches of flesh. He is extremely clever in his answers.
Last night I met some of the Russian officers at our night club. One talked bad French. The General only Russian, but he informed me through his interpreter that I looked like a Russian, which is undoubtedly the highest compliment, a General knows how to pay you. And so we clicked glasses.
And so our narrow life proceeds. But narrow as it is, it is history and it is fascinating which we tend to forget as the novelty wears off and we get used to it all and get on each other's nerves. The Justice asked me the other night at dinner at his house, how I liked Nuremberg. Which stumped me. Which of course he understood. We create our own pleasures - the interesting part is thrust on us - and the discomfort is at least interesting. You simply can't answer I'm having a wonderful time, because you don't have a marvelous time in a ruined city, in a hostile country, at a criminal trial where you look out a window at a jail all day and interrogate men you hope to hang.
This week I received via London, via Dr. Ecer, the Czech representative on the United Nations War Crime Commission, a letter from Lida Srbkova from Prague. She was in my class at V.C. She asked me to visit her in Prague - which probably the Russians would never let me do. She says "all Vassar girls are very anxious to see you", which sounds as tho none were missing. Prexy might be interested. He has probably heard already.
The towels haven't come.
I am fine and don't work the London hours. If I work at night, I bring it home to the hotel.
Lots and lots of love,