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Between Two Homelands

Letters across the Borders of Nazi Germany

Hedda Kalshoven

Publication Year: 2014

In 1920, at the age of thirteen, Irmgard Gebensleben first traveled from Germany to the Netherlands on a "war-children transport." She would later marry a Dutch man and live and raise her family there while keeping close to her German family and friends through the frequent exchange of letters. Yet during this period geography was not all that separated them. Increasing divergence in political opinions and eventual war between their countries meant letters contained not only family news but personal perspectives on the individual, local, and national choices that would result in the most destructive war in history. This important collection, first assembled by Irmgard Gebensleben's daughter Hedda Kalshoven, gives voice to ordinary Germans in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich and in the occupied Netherlands. The correspondence between Irmgard, her friends, and four generations of her family delve into their most intimate and candid thoughts and feelings about the rise of National Socialism. The responses to the German invasion and occupation of the Netherlands expose the deeply divided loyalties of the family and reveal their attempts to bridge them. Of particular value to historians, the letters evoke the writers' beliefs and their understanding of the events happening around them.This first English translation of Ik denk zoveel aan jullie: Een briefwisseling tussen nederland en duitsland 1920-1949, has been edited, abridged, and annotated by Peter Fritzsche with the assent and collaboration of Hedda Kalshoven. After the book's original publication the diary of Irmgard's brother and loyal Wehrmacht soldier, Eberhard, was discovered and edited by Kalshoven. Fritzsche has drawn on this important additional source in his preface.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Peter Fritzsche

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pp. ix-xxii

...The letters and diary entries that follow have profound things to say about the most brutal regime in the twentieth century. They are an indispensable source for understanding the Nazis. They shed light on the lives...

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pp. xxiii-xxxii

...up. She suffered from homesickness the first few days, but soon began feeling at home with the family that had taken her in. Her foster parents did their best to make the stay of this girl from Braunschweig into an experience...

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Note to the American Edition

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pp. xxxiii-xxxvi

...He was a collector. It was only by finding a document that had Eberhard’s name on it, left in one of the five notebooks, that he had been able to trace me via the internet, since the journals themselves were...

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To Holland (1920–1929)

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pp. 1-15

...are already pretty old, their sons are around twenty years old. We took the streetcar to Willem Barentzstraat. From the outside, the front of the house is pretty drab looking, but in the back there is a balcony, a porch, and a charming little flower garden. At home, we had a warm...

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The Parents (1929–1937)

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pp. 16-119

...has an enormous amount to do; he is barely here for half an hour at lunchtime. Yesterday a conference that lasted a full six hours. When he does come home, he is so exhausted that he can barely eat. M. could not believe that Vati has been going at this pace for years without receiving any financial compensation...

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The Grandmother (1938–1940)

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pp. 120-147

...I come up the road in the evening and see the moon behind the tall Harz pines and everything is still and peaceful, or when next summer our roses bloom, then I think that the Brockenblick will always remain as it was...

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The Brother (1940–1944)

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pp. 148-214

...I am to be put immediately on leave. I am resolved to do everything I can in Berlin to return to duty if I am not offered an especially interesting civilian task. The idea that I should take my leave from the combat...

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The Others (1945–1949)

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pp. 215-234

...ones left, so we have to stay even closer together; write as often as you can, alright? I am so pleased that we have had chance to connect, and I was told by the emissary that I could send along an answer tomorrow....

In Closing

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pp. 235-236

Family Trees

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pp. 237-243


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pp. 244-248

Suggested Reading

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pp. 249-250


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pp. 251-254

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About the Authors, Production Notes

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pp. 255-260

...Hedda Kalshoven is the daughter of Irmgard Gebensleben. She has been married to Albert Kalshoven since 1956. Hester Velmans most recently translated...

E-ISBN-13: 9780252096174
E-ISBN-10: 0252096177
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252038303

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2014