Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Letter from Katherine Fite to Mr. and Mrs. Emerson Fite, December 9, 1945. K. Lincoln Papers, War Crimes File. (Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum & Library)

Sunday, Dec. 9

Dearest Mother and Daddy,

Perhaps I'd better start by wishing you a Merry Christmas - since your last letter took 16 days - Nov. 18 to Dec. 4. As a matter of fact, it had been preceded by a day or so by one of Nov. 21. I hope that by now you have last Sunday's (or Monday's) letter which I sent by hand by an officer who was supposed to fly from Paris to the U.S. he was offering wholesale to telephone people's families, but I didn't see much point in your being told by a perfect stranger that - yes, I was in good health - no - I didn't know when I'd be home - yes -the trial is interesting. Actually, the courtroom presentation is dull and tedious - owing to having to speak so slowly for the translators and having to read everything you want in evidence over the microphone, as per a ruling of the court.

There is just a chance that I might start homeward week after next. It depends on many things - primarily on whether we are up before the recess. The court is taking a two week holiday - Dec. 20 - Jan. 4, the presiding justice being British. A large part of the staff is leaving soon. They would of course like me to stay to release some man, but under the terms of State's telegram authorizing me to stay for the duration, unless I can be dispensed with earlier, I don't feel justified in offering to stay, nor do I want to - with most of my friends and the best lawyers leaving. The whole thing has been badly managed. If we were through before the recess - I would probably go to Paris - stay there for a few days Ė and then take a boat home. When I know anything definite I will cable you. In any case, even if I have to be here after the recess, I shall probably go to Paris for the holidays. Aline Chalufour asked me to stay with her mother (and her) but I don't really want to - they have no heat - I would be a burden from the point of view of food and I think I can get into an army hotel. One goes to Paris by train - via Frankfort or Baden-Baden.

Actually, I think the most interesting part of the trial will be when the defense gets started - but heaven knows when that will be. I heard first that the Justice anticipated it would be over by March 1 - then by April 1. I would say May 1. And I don't see State being pleased by my staying till then. The defense may try to wear us out. I am a bit worried by their not keeping a good staff all through, but I can't help that. And I think the State Dep't should have a political observer here. But I can't help that. The Justice seems to be his own Sec'y. of State.

It is bitter cold here today. Yesterday it was about 16 Fahrenheit. I have been in my room all day and its chilly - very little heat in the radiator & the corridors are the same as outdoors on account of gaping places. The windows are loose & the door is loose. (Yes, I have a key)

I bought one set of army winter underwear - tights & and a long sleeved sweater affair - a hideous khaki color. I am going out to dinner tonight at the Press camp - with some Frenchies - hostess being a French newspaper woman who interviewed me & another American woman lawyer, a British & French (Aline C.). I understand we are to appear in four columns in a French woman's paper. She wanted my passport photo. I refused & just haven't time to have my picture taken. Would be tempted if I did - because the Germans are good at that sort of thing. You ask about my German - well - my capacity to read & understand improves - but not to talk. If you relax & pretend its English - it's not so hard to understand.

Saw Gen. McNarney out of his car the other day. Guess I'd never seen a 4 star general.

If I do start home & if you have sent me stockings - heaven knows when they'll reach me. But I can't stay on that account.

This is a dull letter - but actually, our life is very monotonous. Everyone is tired & jittery & bored. The recess will do them good.

Here I was interrupted and have been to dinner at the Press Camp a young castle - atrocious decorations & marble stairways. All Frenchies at the party & very amusing. The French are nice. I am learning to enjoy them all over again. Mostly correspondents & some lawyers & the Assít Prosecutor. A fascinating old, old lady who trots all over the world & was with De Gaulle in the U.S., Mme. Viollet. They all worship Roosevelt & feel his loss in the world. Strange - the U.S. started this trial but I think the Europeans are more thrilled by it emotionally. The castle belongs to the Faber family - pencils. First Faber - first pencil - 1756. Factories in the village round about.

I love you both & Marcia & shall be homesick at Xmas. Someone was playing Xmas carols at the Press Camp.

All my love.


How international friction arises: the Russkies, French & Brit buy out the PX which then closes for 4 days & the GI can't buy anything; the French criticize the food; a Russian soldier is shot -assailant unknown; the hotel is overtaxed - so they put out (i.e. from mess privileges) all not living here - then issue special passes to Americans to come back. These are just illustrative.