May 7, 1932
|Haltingen, 7 May 1932
My Dear Ones
I have been intending to write you for some time now. My Father has informed me several times that I should send our news to you once again. In advance I would like to apologize. For a year now I have had trouble with my health and my nerves did not hold up at times. Exactly a year ago I was operated on my appendix. Then in the fall I had a nervous breakdown and since that time I have not quite recovered yet. Our business is not very profitable right now, so that earnings are poor. For that reason I was forced to help myself. For years now I have been working on a procedure to condense kerneled masses (concrete?).* The first tests have succeeded quite well so far and it is this I would like to build my future on if only my nerves keep steady. The German patent has been assigned so far but the matter has almost driven me to the limit. Now there is some prospect for help for me which is rare in Germany now as far as cases of financing are concerned. Well, this storm will pass too.
Economic circumstances in Siegelau are not exactly brilliant either, for agricultural produce is hardly in demand at all and does not sell for much. It is generally true that agriculture is in rather bad shape. The tax burdens have been raised to an intolerable level and in the state budget savings are made where there is no value to them, actually where they hurt. With us here the present government will have to disappear soon. I have to admit that I am rather in favor of Hitler.** Something else must come. Just recently the French president was shot.*** There will probably be some turbulence. Otherwise I do not much participate in politics. My machines for new tests are more important to me and I live only for that and my business. Even if sacrifices may be large, I am sure I cannot fail to succeed.
With you agriculture will probably have to suffer too. Traders will benefit most too. Work is not well paid for anymore. Here with us wages are decreased continually; now at a 20% rate. Expenditures for food have remained the same even though agriculture receives hardly anything anymore.
I now live immediately at the border of France and Switzerland. There it is rather expensive. It is a five-minute trip to Basel, Bad. Station,**** by electric train, from where it is half an hour to Basel center. Last year there was a lot for me to do in Basel.
My Father's eyes have not improved. He can not write anymore. He is quite interested in what you are doing in America and how you are in general. Mother is sickly too, a lot. I spent Christmas at home. Most of my brothers and sisters are married now and are dispersed over the Black Forest region.
Well, everyone is trying to make it as best he can, and then, dear cousin Helen, if I may write so, just now I have your letter at hand. There is one thing I must say: there is not much of the German in you. On the contrary I have to observe that you are entirely the type of the complete American. Your questions in your letter concern the English language, and I have given up on that for the time being, since mathematics makes great demands on me. Then the entertainment in music the theater: I played the violin too. The closest city is Basel, with 300,000, and there would be no lack of entertainment there but one can not go there a lot since our means do not permit it. I do attend school and courses in Basel frequently. I do not have a car either, nor do I have a radio set, even though I build them myself for an additional income. But there is something I do have; a dear, good wife and a lovely little boy, and with these two I have very nice entertainment indeed. I can see from your letter that you are employed in a business. That is worth a lot now, as a woman gets acquainted with the present economy.
Now I wish that all of you are well and hope to hear from you again too. Best regards from my family and also from Siegelau.
* Vitus had devised a method to speed the setting of concrete. He proudly showed me the patent, but I do not know if he ever realized anything from it. He also showed me his Master Mechanic Certificate.
** The results of Hitler's propaganda machine with every promise at a time when economic conditions were bad and people were vulnerable.
*** Doumer, elected President of France in 1931, was shot by a Russian emigre(accent over the e), Gorguloff.
**** To explain "Basel, Bad. Station," he refers to Basel, Baden Station. Basel, Switzerland, lies on both south and north sides of the Rhine River. Germany has a rail station in Basel, the end of its railroad. Hansrudi described it as a sort of "island" in Basel of the German railroad.