Friday, May 14, 2021

the last book I ever read (Iris Origo's A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary, 1939-1940, excerpt five)

from A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary, 1939-1940 (New York Review Books Classic by Iris Origo:


Today the Hertlins have had a wire from home: Keinerlei Nachrichten. Their three nephews, all in the army, were called up to their regiments on August 21st and since then they have received no word of news from any of them, not even a field postcard. Yesterday, thinking that perhaps it was the post in Italy that was delayed, they sent a wire to their sister in Germany, to which this is the reply. Moreover, Karl added privately to me that he knew beforehand that the boys would not be allowed to write and that even if one of them should be killed or wounded, his parents would probably not be notified for a long time, nor would they be allowed to wear mourning. After an outburst of rage against the inhumanity of the rĂ©gime, “It’s clear,” he added naively “that curses don’t work, or Hitler would long since be dead.”

By the same post they hear from their daughter, begging them to buy her shoes, stockings, gloves, soap and a woollen dress, since she can buy none of these things at home. They assure me that when they left Germany on August 20th no one believed in the possibility of war. They thought that Hitler would succeed in obtaining Danzig and the Corridor and were told that no one would intervene.

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