Letter from Katherine Fite to Mr. and Mrs. Emerson Fite, October 28, 1945. K. Lincoln Papers, War Crimes File. (Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum & Library)
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Nuremberg, Sunday, October 28, 1945.Dearest Mother and Father,
Alea iacta est. As my detail expires Nov. 13, I went to see the Justice himself Friday and said I would like to stay on. He said I should and asked me to draft a cable for his signature suggesting the extension of the detail for the duration of the trial or until further instructions. So I suppose it's gone by now. And we have only to see what the reply will be. I rather think it will be yes, O.K. which means Christmas here certainly. Mr. Hackworth said when he was being so difficult - now, remember, you're coming home at the end of four months, even if they ask you to stay. So I'm taking a bit of a gamble. However, three factors enter in: 1) I've seen him so often ugly and then soften later. 2) Byrnes I think will be inclined to let me stay & Mr. H. is a politician. 3) I still don't think Mr. H. is going on indefinitely being Legal Adviser. He's been in for 20 years and there is much pressure to get him out. Biddle told me there was talk of his being appointed to the new World Court - which is gossip from high circles that I have heard from lower levels many times. And how could anyone expect me to come home 5 days before the trial starts having come so far? I had another letter form Mr. Hackworth recently saying he'd be interested to hear what I was doing - so I'm banking on his consent. But do you blame me for chancing the request? When I can get Jackson himself to sign it? Or for wanting to stay to see at least part? I made it clear to the Justice that I wanted to be free to leave when I wanted to.
We are wildly busy trying to meet deadlines. Ley's suicide created excitement. Much criticism of course that it was allowed to happen. But Ley had been going nuts for weeks -writing voluminous, rambling messages to the German people which I saw a long time ago.
We simply don't realize the horror of what has gone on over here - it's all so remote and impersonal. And when you see truckloads of DP's - I'm afraid we tend to think of them as problem children. Today one of our staff, a German Jew who has been in the U.S. for quite a while apparently, and who is really a lovely person remarked dispassionately (I mean a surface dispassion) that he had had an "interesting" experience this morning. He had seen an old friend of his whom he had tried to get out of Germany in 1937 with his wife and baby. The attempt failed. Seems the man spent 2 years in Auschwitz which was one of the worst and he escaped with his life only because he was a good worker and the able-bodied men in the camp were needed for work in the munitions factory there. And what happened to his wife and baby? They were gassed, as were also his parents. It's all just unbelievable. And the bitterness that must be in the hearts of the European Jew something we can't even imagine. Certainly mankind has been befouled with a stain that won't be removed in a week or a month.
Tonight we met 2 British officers who had been PW's not far from here. They went back to see their old camp and the family that hid them when they escaped, towards the end of the war, it is true. And the woman wept with joy to see them. So Germany is a complicated place and the German Jews are sad to see the destruction of the German cities.
I had to give up going to Passau today with Olive Chalufour in order to work. Was sorry, because it's on the Danube which I have never seen. The weather too was lovely. October has been good. September was foul. Someone said November was sunny, which seems strange.
Do write me how the indictment was received editorially. Hope you are keeping newspaper clippings.
Mail is erratic. I had a letter from D.C. which took 19 days from a girl who said a card from me took 3 weeks. Your letters are coming through 6 to 8 or 9 days. According to Stars and Stripes there was a breakdown going west with no mail going by air. But that is now remedied, so they say. However, as weather gets bad, things will take longer.
Rather sad to think about Xmas, but of course maybe I'll be there. If not, I think I have done the right thing, don't you? I think I can buy winter underwear here.
All my love,