Friday 16 September 2011

The girls' letters

I have spent quite a lot of time now, transcribing some of the girls’ letters. It is now 1943 and they are in their late teens. One girl is already married and another is engaged. They all talk about their “duty” year – Reichsarbeitsdienst and their Kriegshilefearbeit – later war work. The girls seemed to have enjoyed the work although it was hard and certainly character-building. Some more sinister elements creep into the narrative now. There is much mention of the raids on Nuremburg and concern now about whether all of the young men will return. One girl expressed a feeling of pride that she was helping with the war effort by sorting the post for the forces. Another is helping to build aircraft parts at Siemens. A third is testing chemicals to be used as part of the ammunition. Much of the handwriting is very hard to read but I’m gradually getting there. I had the pleasure today of transcribing one that was much easier to read. The transcription process is important. It leads to a much more intimate relationship with the girls. I feel that I am beginning to know them very well indeed.

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