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Christine   By:

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E text prepared by Al Haines






My daughter Christine, who wrote me these letters, died at a hospital in Stuttgart on the morning of August 8th, 1914, of acute double pneumonia. I have kept the letters private for nearly three years, because, apart from the love in them that made them sacred things in days when we each still hoarded what we had of good, they seemed to me, who did not know the Germans and thought of them, as most people in England for a long while thought, without any bitterness and with a great inclination to explain away and excuse, too extreme and sweeping in their judgments. Now, as the years have passed, and each has been more full of actions on Germany's part difficult to explain except in one way and impossible to excuse, I feel that these letters, giving a picture of the state of mind of the German public immediately before the War, and written by some one who went there enthusiastically ready to like everything and everybody, may have a certain value in helping to put together a small corner of the great picture of Germany which it will be necessary to keep clear and naked before us in the future if the world is to be saved.

I am publishing the letters just as they came to me, leaving out nothing. We no longer in these days belong to small circles, to limited little groups. We have been stripped of our secrecies and of our private hoards. We live in a great relationship. We share our griefs; and anything there is of love and happiness, any smallest expression of it, should be shared too. This is why I am leaving out nothing in the letters.

The war killed Christine, just as surely as if she had been a soldier in the trenches. I will not write of her great gift, which was extraordinary. That too has been lost to the world, broken and thrown away by the war.

I never saw her again. I had a telegram saying she was dead. I tried to go to Stuttgart, but was turned back at the frontier. The two last letters, the ones from Halle and from Wurzburg, reached me after I knew that she was dead.

ALICE CHOLMONDELEY, London, May, 1917.

Publishers' Note

The Publishers have considered it best to alter some of the personal names in the following pages.


Lutzowstrasse 49, Berlin, Thursday, May 28th, 1914 .

My blessed little mother,

Here I am safe, and before I unpack or do a thing I'm writing you a little line of love. I sent a telegram at the station, so that you'll know at once that nobody has eaten me on the way, as you seemed rather to fear. It is wonderful to be here, quite on my own, as if I were a young man starting his career. I feel quite solemn, it's such a great new adventure, Kloster can't see me till Saturday, but the moment I've had a bath and tidied up I shall get out my fiddle and see if I've forgotten how to play it between London and Berlin. If only I can be sure you aren't going to be too lonely! Beloved mother, it will only be a year, or even less if I work fearfully hard and really get on, and once it is over a year is nothing. Oh, I know you'll write and tell me you don't mind a bit and rather like it, but you see your Chris hasn't lived with you all her life for nothing; she knows you very well now, at least, as much of your dear sacred self that you will show her. Of course I know you're going to be brave and all that, but one can be very unhappy while one is being brave, and besides, one isn't brave unless one is suffering. The worst of it is that we're so poor, or you could have come with me and we'd have taken a house and set up housekeeping together for my year of study. Well, we won't be poor for ever, little mother. I'm going to be your son, and husband, and everything else that loves and is devoted, and I'm going to earn both our livings for us, and take care of you forever. You've taken care of me till now, and now it's my turn... Continue reading book >>

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