Letter from Katherine Fite to Mr. and Mrs. Emerson Fite, November 19, 1945. K. Lincoln Papers, War Crimes File. (Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum & Library)
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Nuremberg, November 19, 1945Dearest Mother and Daddy,
I hope you got my letter asking for a package to include stockings, roll for hair etc. The reason I mention it is that I read in Stars and Stripes a few days ago that a plane out of Frankfurt crashed carrying hundreds of pounds of mail. I think our mail comes in via Munich - how it goes out I don't know.
Your mail comes through irregularly. About 10 days now on the average. I noticed one letter written before you went to New York which came through four days after the letter you wrote describing the trip to New York, and that after you had taken the trouble to mail it in New York.
Well - this is the eve of the trial - or at least I haven't heard to the contrary, the Stars and Stripes carried a sensational story today that the French were going to withdraw and the Russians ask for a postponement. I understand the court held a closed session this afternoon. I also understand the Frenchman denied saying what the Stars and Stripes say he did. I guess everyone's nerves are on edge. We have worked like fools to get things ready. Our material difficulties in the way of inadequate lights, typists, mimeograph machines etc. are fantastic. Personally I feel that a postponement for only one week would make a big difference to history on the matter of our written record - I think we have been too rushed by the people on the top level who didn't know what we were up against. The British who have a small and easy part of the case are said to be insistent on going to trial. Their Attorney General is over here and I suppose can ill be spared.
Today I witnessed a tremendously interesting thing - my friend Frick on the eve of the trial. Saturday we had him up to go over an enormous chart of the German Government. He was cooperative and very talkative and I stood right up next to him and discussed it with him. (He understands English - I understand German to about the same extent). He was very grateful when we gave him a cigarette. And willing to sign anything in the way of affidavits. We were astonished. Even volunteered that more than a thousand were killed in the Roehm purge. He did ask at the end of the interview if the trial would be held Tuesday.
Today we had him back with his lawyer and what a difference he was haggard and jumpy and a little more cautious about his affidavits - tho he still surprised us by what he was willing to sign. (He may have had some idea of ingratiating himself) he gave the impression of being paralyzed with stage fright. As one of the officers said - well, how would you feel if you were going on trial tomorrow for murdering not one man but seven million? I wanted to tell Frick that it was the anticipation that was getting him down. I offered him a cigarette - and he said no - no - no. Guess his tummy was upset.
He's a hard-bitten, evil looking man - but you do feel funny talking to a man you intend to hang. I'm not sure a man like him precisely feels remorse - certainly if they had won the war they would have gone on being as bad or worse. But I do think a man as intelligent as he at least knows wherein he has sinned against the civilized code. One thing was amusing - he insisted on getting back a quotation from Gunther's Inside Europe about himself that he had given the interrogator. I didn't see it. Now I am anxious to know what was in it. He said the book was "very American" and very widely read in Germany. Well somehow the sight of Frick's demoralization and the picture of how painstaking we were in explaining that he was nder no obligation to sign anything could alter what he wished and have his lawyer present, make me feel that the trials are morally important. And when I feel suorry for Frick I think of the Jewish babies that were gassed.
Friday night Senator Pepper gave a cocktail-buffet supper party at his villa - practically a small castle - out in the country. He is staying for the opening of the trial. So I suppose when you have Senators here you hurry the trial. Good liquor, good food and the same VIP's, Biddle, Parker, Donavan, Jackson et al. Strictly American. Pepper amuses me - he is such a typical senator - genial - talks a lot - and everyone kowtows. At the Justice's last Sunday he competed with music in the other room by telling of his visit to Stalin. Stalin said we must find points of similarity, of common objective or something between our peoples. He hesitated - and added (i.e. Stalin) "As Christ said 'seek and ye shall find'" not a typical newspaper, Stalin story. Then some army officers jumped in with tales of how impossible the Russians are to deal with. They can't move without Moscow telling them.
I have seen one real court session - and then had time to stay only 5 minutes. Everyone wears earphones and there is simultaneous translation. Only the day I was there the machine had broken down. Actually, I think the trials may be dull and lack fire and zest. Everyone must speak slowly.
We have had two snow flurries, which melted as they fell.
Should be getting a letter from you tomorrow. Haven't been paid since August 31. No one here to pay me. But be sure to let me know if you draw any big checks, in case I have to fall back on checking account on my way home.
Don't rush so. You sound too busy.
All my love,