Gottfried's Letters — 10.10.34
In 1934, my cousin Gottfried Ballin was arrested for involvement in an anti-Nazi resistance cell in Cologne. He was convicted for conspiracy to commit high treason, imprisoned, and eventually deported to Auschwitz where he was murdered. His letters from the prisons and concentration camps where he was held have been collected and I’m attempting to translate one letter a week. This is the fourth letter in the series.
I've just received Mother's letter, and since I can't send this letter until tomorrow, I can’t reply quickly. If mother writes me 2 letters a week, that's definitely not too much, since I don't have any other correspondence, and if certain intervals are prescribed for sending books, then they will be long enough for the inspections to take place in the meantime; moreover, the review of well-known classics is not as difficult as that of scientific literature. The translation work has now come to a halt, partly because of my absent-mindedness and the fatigue that comes with it, partly because of the bad light, since I can hardly read in my cell when the weather is bad. That's the thing with tower clocks, because it's not as quiet in prison as you might imagine. There are about 250 men in our wing, they don't speak, but due to the constant changes (entrances and exits, going for walks, getting food, etc.) there is always quite a bit of noise, and my wing is right next to the Gereonswall and the Ring street. So St. Ursula and Gereon are really so close.*
If my letter arrives before Wednesday, mother can perhaps bring me clean shirts and a pair of stockings. Then, over time, my toothbrush also goes to the eternal hunting grounds, it loses its bristles. If it's affordable, I'd also like to have a pair of woolen socks (shoe size 43), because I have cold feet despite my slippers. Actually, I would really like to have a little flower, but since the space here is so small (my little table has a surface of approx. 40 x 65) I would rather do without it, because there is no window sill or some other place for a plant. At most I could put it in a certain quiet location, but that would certainly arouse the displeasure of the sergeant. Also, I don't know if the whole thing is allowed in and of itself. Thank mother for the money. By the way, I wasn't able to hand in dirty laundry because I wasn't here at the right time for the handover on Saturday. Attorney Buhr has been with me in the meantime and promised to come back in the next few days.
It's already getting really cold, and that's why I'm all the happier about the warm things that mother sent me. Den Herbst 33 [Error of the author, 34 is meant, i. Ed.] I can hardly hope to be home, since the trial is more than a month away from starting. So until winter then.
Now something medical for you. Your colleague's position here certainly doesn't seem very desirable to me; when I went to see the doctor several times because of my poor digestion, there were at least 15-20 people in front of the doctor's room. Most of them have to be examined now, so that in milder cases, like mine, the doctor hardly had time to look at me. But that's a wing, how many the prison has in total and how many inmates I know more than 4 but definitely. Then there's the military hospital and not at all, the women's department, so all sorts of work. The medical examination, which according to the regulations has to take place when you are admitted to the institution, consists only of an examination for venereal diseases and the question of whether you have previously had a venereal disease. So I strongly advise against such a position for the future. It may be interesting, but I think what’s nice is different, even for a doctor.
Until next time
I forgot something! I need a hat. Please send me my hat!
*St. Ursula and Gereon are famous Catholic martyrs of Cologne. I think Gottfried is making a joke based on the proximity of the prison to Gereonswall and the Basilica of Saint Ursula.