Story This Week: A Treasure Trove Of Letters

Our story this week takes place in the present time. Francine Kiefer of Washington D.C., granddaughter of Felix Kiefer, has travelled over from the USA to Ettlingen to present our municipal archive with an entire trunk of letters from the years 1911 through 1919 for safekeeping and research purposes.

The trunk contains over 2,000 letters, written mainly between Felix and his wife Erne during the Great War years of 1914 through 1918. It also includes letters from Felix to the rest of his family in Ettlingen as well as several letters exchanged between other members of the family, his war diaries, First World War maps, a family "Chronicle" written by Felix's father Alexander Kiefer (Ettlingen's master builder) and Felix's WW1 medals.

Felix's story, together with the story of his brother Tor, will be told in our partner blog The Kiefer Brothers.

Excerpt from one of Felix's letters to his wife Erne.
The collection of letters between Felix and Erne tells the love story of the couple separated by the war, Felix serving as an officer first at the Western and then at the Eastern Front, Erne serving as a nurse in a lazaret on the Western Front.

Felix kept various diaries during the war, all of which have likewise been perfectly preserved in the trunk. Although most of these are handwritten, we are very fortunate that one has been typewritten and therefore presents no problems as far as reading is concerned.

An excerpt from Felix's meticulously kept handwritten diary of 1916.
We hope that these diaries and letters will provide us with more insights into life at the front. Felix's brother, Tor, also spent much of the war stationed at the Eastern Front and the two apparently met up on several occasions. Tor's letters, which have been held in our municipal archives for several decades, have so far proved extremely interesting and informative, both with regard to historical and social aspects.

The letters, diaries, maps and medals were presented by Francine Kiefer and her husband to the Stadtarchiv Ettlingen.

Francine Kiefer, a political journalist based in Washington D.C., who writes for the Christian Science Monitor, hopes that the collection will attract the interest of historians and academics worldwide.

Kathy Quinlan-Flatter, the creator of this blog, who first contacted Francine Kiefer in March 2014 to discuss the collection of Kiefer letters held in the Stadtarchiv Ettlingen.

As a result of their correspondence and the current global interest in the Great War, Francine Kiefer decided to present the Stadtarchiv Ettlingen with her treasure trove of letters.