Saturday, June 19, 2010

Letter 240- September 27, 1945

September 27, 1945
(Derdingen, Ger.)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Oi! What a day this has been. Rain, sleet, cold. Ol’ man winter is racin’ down on us like a hurricane and the wind is blowing about like it. All day we’ve been freezing. Tonight, however, the furnaces are going and it’s rather pleasant around here. It sure changed fast enough though. Two weeks ago it was so hot that I almost died but tonight I wouldn’t be surprised if it snowed. “Wish I wuz home.”

By the way, I don’t remember if I mentioned this before but I’m still having some trouble with my hands, and this cold spell has made it necessary for me to wear gloves a great deal. These G.I. gloves aren’t worth a damn, and the leather ones I have are about all washed up. I was wondering if you could get me some leather cloth lined gloves. Even if you got a heavy envelope and sent them first class mail it wouldn’t cost more than 25 or 30 cents to mail. The way my hands are now I really need some warm gloves.

Yesterday I went on a battalion tour of Maulbronn Cloister about 7 miles from here. I’ve been going to church there for the past 2 months but I never knew much about the place except that it was very old. I found out yesterday that it is really on important place in German history, etc.

The cloister was founded about 1100 by a small and fanatical band of monks. They practiced self-abuse of various natures and had very little to do with the outside world. Only in one place in the cloister were they allowed to talk with one another and there they had to walk facing one another to and fro, first one walking backward and then the other. They slept on the floor in an animal skin cape. Even in summer the cold in the stone floor will go right thru shoes. It’s needless to say that the jerks rarely lived beyond 30 years. Despite this the order was very wealthy and powerful. The seal of the order was a mule or “maul”, hence the town “Maulbronn”.

The buildings while interesting and in some places very beautiful are an architectural nightmare. There are 5 kinds of Gothic, Romanesque, and Greek architecture embodied in the chapel alone. There are dated inscriptions all over the place, the oldest being 1296 and the newest “S/Sgt. James Edwards, Providence, R.I. 1945.”

The most important thing about the place is that it was here Goethe wrote “Faust”. He lived and worked in the upper story of a tower. In the cellar they kept people who were supposed to be witches. Schiller was educated here (it’s now a Lutheran seminary) and the German astronomer Kepler lived here.

The guide who was a prisoner at Vaihingen castle before we came got a big kick out of telling us about the American woman doctor who came before the war while they were laying a water pipe in the floor of the chapel that entailed the digging up of one of the old abbots who are buried in the floor. Anyhoo, the lady doctor swiped the Abbot’s skull, took it back to the states, studied it, decided that the Abbot must have been a moron, and made a lamp out of it. Later she felt the pangs of conscience and sent the whole business back and the Krauts buried it. The joke is now, however, that there’s a seven hundred year old Abbot buried there with an electric light globe in his head.

I’ve got to close now but I’ll write more about it in my next letter.

Best Love,

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