For our second book club assignment, we were supposed to write a letter between two characters in the book. I have chosen to write from the perspective of Werner writing to Jutta. If you want to look at previous posts and refresh on the plot of the book, here is the link. Since the last post however, there have been new developments in the book. To understand these letters it is important to know that Werner has now joined the army and is using his radio skills to pin-point enemy broadcasts. Werner has also become more aware of himself and his surroundings; he is less susceptible to the ideas the Reich is promoting and has disregarded many of the values of the Reich. Werner is beginning to see the similarities between people on both sides of the war effort, and is once again softening up. I hope that you enjoy the small exchange I created; the first letter from Jutta is from the book and I wrote the second one from Werner.
Jutta’s letter to Werner
Why don’t you write.
Things seem to be getting worse and worse every day here. The factories run day and night and the stacks never stop smoking and its been cold here so everyone burns everything to stay warm. Sawdust, hard coal, lime, garbage. War widows cry on the streets. So many soldiers have died at war and every day there are more. I’m working at the laundry with the twins, Hannah and Susanne, and Claudia Forster, you remember her, we’re mending tunics and trousers mostly. I am getting better with a needle so at least I’m not pricking myself all the time. Right now I just finished my homework. Do you have homework? There are fabric shortages and people bring slip covers, curtains, old coats. Anything that can be used they say must be used. Just like all of us here. Ha. I found this under your cot. Seems like you could use it.
Werner’s letter to Jutta
Sorry I have not written in a long time; I have been very busy. I have left school, they put me in the front lines. A
commander called me into his office one night, and said that I had been pretending to be 16 so I would not have to go to war. He said that Dr. Hauptman brought it to his attention. I left very soon after. I am 18 now according to all legal documents. I got a haircut and I met some interesting people here; Neumann and Neumann two, they are nice enough. I miss Fredrick though. He left school when he was beat badly by some boys. I recently visited him and he did not even remember me, it was too sad to bare. Yet I miss you more than anyone else, but I wouldn’t want you to be here. I can’t say where I am, but its very cold here. I’m sorry to hear that it is cold at home as well, but I am happy to know that you are safe with Frau Elena.
I got sick a few weeks ago and I thought of Frau Elena’s stews. Does Frau Elena still make stews for everyone at the orphanage?
Are there still enough supplies still for you all to live well? It seems like we too are running out of resources here.
I have found out why they wanted me to learn trigonometry. To triangulate broadcasts. All these triangles, all these numbers, they mean more to me now.
They are places, people, lives at stake in the war. They are people like you and me living in places like Schulpforta and Zollverein, struggling to make it through this war. We have both been put into use in this war, like you said in your last letter, but I wonder if it is worth anything.
They want me to look for terrorist broadcasts.
Don’t the people we are fighting want the same thing as us; peace?
I know that this letter probably will not reach you, and if it does,
I think most of it will be censored. I hope that you understand that it has been hard for me to write to you; it is hard to be truthful. Sometimes writing feels hopeless, but then I remember that you are my hope. The only thing that helps get through this is the thought that one day soon I will see you again. Stay safe, Jutta.
Thank you for sending my journal. It means a lot. It reminds me of when we used to listen to the radio together.
I really wanted to do the censored letter as well to draw contrast and show the gap between what is said and what is meant. If you want to check out some more letters, go to these blogs: Sydney, Vanessa, Rachael, Kaleigh!