A 1916 Christmas Wish From Zurich

Oskar Kiefer, our sculptor in Ettlingen, was friends with a family in Zurich, Switzerland who ran an architectural practice, designing and building houses. This is the letter, with Christmas wishes, sent by the family to Oskar Kiefer at Christmas 1916. It reflects the general feeling that by this time, people were very tired of the war and were longing only for peace.

The letter makes reference to the offer for peace negotiations made by the Central Powers on December 12, 1916, an offer that was rejected by the Entente.

The photo depicted at the end of this Christmas wish is not the photo referred to in the letter. This is an ironic postcard of the time, of a mother telling her child the "fairy-story" that once upon a time, the whole world was at peace.

The letter was written on December 18, 1916. Despite the fact that it was clearly a personal letter, it was opened by the XIVth Battalion in Freiburg "under martial law".

"Christmas is once again just around the corner and still there is no peace in sight. The Germans' recent idea for peace brought great joy, but it was a weak light of hope. How happy the whole world would in fact be if this senseless warring would stop. Now, I’m sending you the photo despite the war. I hope that you will receive it. I don’t even know whether you are at home or at the front? The photo brings you our best wishes at the turn of the year and shows that we have not forgotten you and would be delighted to have you in Zurich once again.

We are all well. We feel the effects of the war too, but in comparison with all the misery surrounding us, we should be content. Many complain here too, whilst others profit from the war, such is life. Of course, next to nothing is happening in our business. Who wants to build houses when you don’t know if they will be gunned down? Who knows, perhaps we – our business – is no longer in fashion and the whole thing is now in younger hands. One must expect such things. The children send their best regards and my husband too. He is very busy in the town council, etc. The children are dancing in charity balls, a crazy idea in my opinion, but we have somehow slipped into it. An awful lot of this type of thing is being arranged. I, of course, have enough to do with sewing, ironing, etc. all prosaic things that need to be done and require time. And so the days fly by despite the war and one becomes old before one knows it. Once again we send you our best wishes and warmest greetings."




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