Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Letter from Katherine Fite to Mr. and Mrs. Emerson Fite, December 16, 1945. K. Lincoln Papers, War Crimes File. (Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum & Library)

Nuremberg, Sunday, Dec. 16

Dearest Mother and Daddy,

Letters are certainly getting irregular and unpredictable. Your last came in eight days, one took seventeen. I suspect some come by boat.

No, I didn't have dysentery. They got it at the Press Camp where I dined with no ill effects last week and which I described to you in my last letter.

I am still up in the air about what I'll do Xmas, being still up in the air about whether I'll leave for home this week. They want me to stay - a month or a month and a half - to release the men. I can't afford to do it that way under the terms of my State Department detail - and if pressed shall insist on sending another cable to State. Morale is very low - as they have let people go with no system whatsoever and most of the good people have gone or are going. All really because a most incompetent man has been put second in command by the Justice. The Justice himself has not taken an active enough part in things. So I may go to Paris and return - I might just possibly go to London and return. I might go either place en route home. I might stay here. I might go to Berchtesgaden which I am crazy to see - but don't know anybody going. Shall have to make up my mind in the next few days.

Our case comes on Tuesday - the Cabinet - a canned speech will be delivered by the above-mentioned incompetent who hasn't even discussed the case with us yet. We will sit and hand papers to him and be prepared to write him answers to any questions the court may ask.

So there's nothing but work to write about and that is dull.

I don't think I wrote you last week about seeing Arsenic and Old Lace. The opera house is cold as a barn - you wear heavy coats and carry blankets.

I did appreciate what the USO means to relieve tedium. It was really a good performance by Broadway people. We sat in Hitler's box.

The court house now displays the flags of the four nations. The hammer and sickle flaps around right under our windows and occasionally a GI has to climb out our window to unwrap it from around the pole. There are lots of Russies here but they keep to themselves. Language difficulties I think mostly - plus their own suspicious nature. I suppose they feel very alien in our more or less Americanized and certainly bourgeois society.

I was talking this evening with an officer. I suppose he is typical of many and rather frightening. He is a young man form Ithaca - not dumb by a long shot - rather coarse and certainly bound for a career in the American legion. He's only a first lieutenant but he knows his way around. He has only just arrived but got himself billeted at this hotel when he isn't supposed to be here. Has a radio and an electric heater and a good stock of liquor and cigars. Gripes about the people in Paris and Marseilles who wouldn't give him special billets because he knows the right people. Despises the French and the English and the Belgians and the DP's. Admires the Krauts - only people on the ball in Europe - only people who know how to do things. Yes, he was at Buchenwald the day after it was liberated and stacks and stacks of human corpses. But - you must remember - they were pretty lowdown people the Germans had in the camps anyway, perverts, etc. And, god help me, he hopes to get into politics within a few years. On one point I agree with him - the American people are wrecking things by demanding that the boys come home immediately.

I have letters from Ita Kucerova and Manya Sindlerova - both '25 - which I will try to have copied and sent to Gert. Both are well - but speak of the insufficient food for the children and lack of warm cloths. Vlasta Koseova (?) '22 lost her husband - he was arrested and executed. I suppose people at Vassar have already heard from them. I certainly would like to go to Prague if I stay.

I'll write or cable just as soon as I know what I'm going to do. Had my hair done yesterday deep in the bowels of the hotel - underneath the regular beauty parlor. Air raid shelter I suppose.

Met an English woman in the corridor tonight asking for the "chambermaid" to press a dress for her - she had just arrived in town. Wasn't sure I know what a chambermaid was. I allowed that I did - that I didn't know how to reach her - that it occurred to me she might be at her supper (which I hastily translated as "eating"), that we had very little service in this hotel and that I doubted whether she could get anyone to press for her on a Sunday evening. I hope to heavens she either didn't find the maid or that the latter refused to press her dress for her.

A very charming Belgian informed me he found the waiters in the hotel badly trained. I would like to put him and the English woman at the table with the Russian officer who stretched himself the length of the table to spear the butter out from under my nose. European aristocracy has much to learn in values. This hotel is a miracle of comfort and luxury in the midst of what must be intense discomfort if not suffering.

All my love and more Xmas greetings. And my love to Marcia. First time she will have seen the house!


The English woman asked me if she would recognize the maid when she saw her. I said, yes, I thought so.