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Against Time: Letters from Nazi Germany, 1938–1939

Francis W. Hoeber
Against Time Cover
Transactions 105, Part 1
336 pages (8 FM; 328 text)
ISBN: 978-1-60618-051-8

Johannes Höber left Nazi Germany for America on November 12, 1938. His wife Elfriede and their nine-year-old daughter Susanne were unable to leave until September of the following year, after the outbreak of World War II. Fifty years later, Johannes and Elfriede’s son found an old folder containing the long letters they exchanged during the many months they were separated. In these letters, Elfriede describes the worsening situation in Germany and Johannes describes his flight from Europe and his excited entry into American life.

Against Time: Letters from Nazi Germany, 1938–1939, collects 135 of those letters with an introduction, extensive notes, and an epilogue that sets the letters in the context of their time. The letters tell the story of a couple driven from their home by the Nazis and forced to make a new life in a new country. Johannes’s letters are carefully organized and precise, self-conscious, and at the same time full of colorful detail and rich accounts of people, places, and events that convey his deep interest in the new world he observed. Elfriede’s letters sometimes seem slightly chaotic, but they convey a full sense of her strong feelings as she navigated daily life in a frighteningly transformed Germany. Together, the letters portray the intense relationship of a fascinating couple in a critical time.