Note: [Left out in the book "Liebe Eltern"]

Copenhagen, 3-27-24

Dear parents!

Actually, it is barely worth writing a letter anymore, because in a few days I will be in Mu. (Munich). But I will try anyway; the talks with Bohr are progressing beautifully, and we are in agreement on just about every point already. I also already have almost made friends with all the other people here, and am getting along with them very well. The day after tomorrow I will now definitely go to the country with Bohr early in the morning for three days. Then we come back Monday night or Tuesday morning and on Tuesday at 10:15 in the morning I leave from here to go back to Hamburg. This way I will be, if one doesn’t count train dalays, in Gött. (Göttingen)on Wednesday morning.

[There I am unfortunately laid over. But maybe there is an express train at noon going to Würzburg (there used to be one at 12:21 from Gö.) then I would be in Wü. at 5 pm. And on the 3rd in the morning in Munich. In Wü. I would like to stay at least for a couple of hours. Should I arrive a bit under the weather, you should not be too surprised, naturally, since the trip is rather long]. Otherwise there is little else new to report. The talks with Bohr are, of course, only taking up a few hours of the day, usually while on a walk to the free harbor or in the park. Very often too I will be sitting at night with Bohr, and over a glass (or several) of port wine physics gets richer in new discoveries. Sometimes the content of our talk is actually still true the next morning.- But this kind of description puts Bohr in a false light, his way of doing physics is in reality very "crafted", while he initially just looks for progress in the details.

During the free times I am sitting in the institute and studying all kinds of books, to "elevate" my general knowledge of physics receptively. For the pursuit of my own thoughts I am right now totally incapacitated, unfortunately. At semester's end I am rather depleted, naturally, and also after the talks with Bohr I am often quite bushed. To go to the country makes excellent sense therefore.- Tonight I will play with a young physicist some Beethoven sonatas for cello and piano. This promises to be fun. Without music you really can not live. But when you listen to music you sometimes arrive at the absurd idea that life has meaning. All in all, I am feeling great here, and I am so looking forward to Munich (early on 4-1).

Your Werner

Easter Sunday, Boston, 3-31-1929

Dear parents!

As usual around the weekends, I will again tell you today in a little more detail what is happening. This past week I have not heard anything from you yet (last word from the 11th), the mail is just slow. But you must have gotten at least my arrival telegram; I plan to write you at least once a week, if at all possible, from here on in. Time here is passing rapidly, lectures, car rides, dinners, etc. Originally I had wanted to visit Otto (an uncle)over Easter, but since I had an invitation last night, it seemed useless. (12 hours travel for 12 hours of visiting!). So I had half given up any hopes of celebrating Easter even a little bit, but as luck would have it, more came of it than I had thought.

For one, it turned out that the professor whose guest I was last night, took us to a concert featuring Beethoven's 1st symphony and Beethoven's 9th symph. You can imagine how much I savored this, after weeks of not even being able to play myself. All day today the melodies from it have been whirling around in my head. Today the weather was perfect, the air warm and the sky without a cloud. So I said to my host that today I wanted to go on a walk in the woods where no smell of gasoline and no car horn would intrude. Such a request is considered rather crazy here, but they do not hold it against someone German. Because the train connections were rather poor, this host, Prof. Vallerte, took me in his car, and went to visit friends in a neighboring suburb. In the middle of a large wooded area, I declared I now wanted to get out, which he obliged, baffeled. I would find my way home on my own. Just 50 yards off the road these woods of pines, birches, firs, and so on, become a rather impenetrable tangle. No sign here of any forest management practices. The old tree trunks become rotten, break down, and are lying criss-cross among the new trees; whoever needs wood, may come and cut it, but nobody bothers. The terrain is hilly, and from time to time there are actually real rock formations beckoning you to climb them. In this thicket I was working my way through slowly, then followed a footpath, but had to turn back because the woods changed into a bog, but was generally able to progress along the intuitively chosen direction. (…)

Once I also saw a farm in a clearing in the woods, had to contend with two bothersome large dogs, but nevertheless kept going steadfastly, without knowing quite why, in a certain direction. People were nowhere to be seen in these woods. All at once in the middle. I came upon a glorious blue lake, which reflected pine trees and large cypress like trees. No sound any more except the wind and exuberant little birds, and the air was saturated with the smell of firs; there I stayed for a while, then I discovered, a little beyond, hidden in the thicket a block house of heavy logs, just like our hay huts in the mountains; since there was no smoke rising from the chimney, nobody seemed home and I decided on a more thorough investigation: On the solidly locked door there were symbols from scout troops, and “totems”, one could see at once that rather recently a troop of American scouts had been staying here; one of them must have even had a horse along, judging from the tracks. So, for the rest of the afternoon I entertained myself with my invisible American friends, combed the woods and was happy when I could find any other signs of them and I was feeling somewhat at home doing this; all in all, I found four huts which belonged to this troop, scattered on roughly one square kilometer. On a bluff among the rocks, about one kilometer from the camp I even found a note under a rock, signed by a leader of the troop which was evidently part of a war game; it was from 3-17-28 and had obviously been forgotten; - possibly the leader in question had confused the 28 and the 29.

In all of this, the sun began to set, and I had to hurry to get out of the thicket before dark. And I found a few foot paths in the desired direction and arrived at the wood’s edge with the first stars. On the road I hitchhiked as is customary here, taking the first ride offered, and reached with some detours the house at about half past eight. This was my Easter Sunday celebration.

On Wednesday night I will leave here, Thursday I will visit the Niagara Falls, Friday I get to Chicago and will give my first lecture there.

Many warm greetings, also to Aunt Muckl, your Werner

Leipzig, 12-15-1930

(Three weeks after his father's death from typhoid fever)

Dear Mama!

Unfortunately it is so late now that the letter will only reach you the day after tomorrow. But even if you do not get a letter from me every day you must know that I am thinking around the clock of you and dear Papa and of the place under the fir trees of the Waldfriedhof cemetery. Sometimes I also imagine the days long ago, before the war, when we would trek through the Forstenried park to Starnberg, had to climb fences and to flee the wild boars; or the bicycle trips to Dachau.- When it comes right down to it, Papa did have a wonderful life; I remember telling him so once in Fieberbrunn; then he replied "Oh well, Werner, that may be true- especially when I think of some other people- but this or the other thing could have been even better yet." I laughed at him then, and he let it be, contented. And another time Papa said to me verbatim "You know, Werner, getting old, that is the very worst thing." Or another time he said, jokingly, "If I were to catch on one day that you are letting me win in chess, then life no longer will be fun for me". Therefore maybe his life was overall the best for him this way.- Is there a life after death? I really believe that human language and our thoughts are not suited to ask such a question nor to answer it; whatever is beyond our world is also beyond our capacity to think; to fathom that, we were not endowed. We also do not understand where the world is coming from and where it is going; why should we understand where people are coming from and where they are going. But we still can sense Papa's love in everything he has left us, the words he spoke to us, all that is yet alive and lingers on; a saying comes to mind which ends this way- "but if it went down glowingly, it will continue to glow back a long time." What I mean is that as long as we are on this earth we will have to be satisfied sensing this glowing-back. What will be later on- well, we just do not know.- But the dear Lord did not create people to let them die, but so that they are happy on earth and reflect this happiness to others - which is what came to pass so perfectly well with Papa.- I can remember the time when I myself was most alive, you know, about ten years ago; then too the best thing in my life was that my own happiness was transferred to others; I was so keenly aware of it being that way, and you will remember how I was received in Munich. From your many letters you too have a sense how much more even this was true for Papa and that is why it must have been very nice for Papa as well.

[But I want to write about some practical issues too now. I will have the money for Aunt Muckl transferred as of 1-1-31.]At Christmas you will probably come here on the 23rd . I would like to ask you about that: What will you let me give you for Christmas? Once Papa told me in secret we should get together and give you a large carpet for the parlor. But I have a sense that would now not please you anymore; or perhaps yes, knowing that Papa intended this for you? I just wanted to ask you first. Maybe you know of something better something you need more now. I am already looking forward to your arrival on the 23rd. Many warm greetings from your Werner

Leipzig, 2-6-1937

Dear Mama!

Unfortunately, I don't much manage to write letters, I forgot also the birthday of Aunt Nelly. I am immersed in many things that occupy me a lot, partly work, partly politics, and much more, so the thoughts are quite reluctant to gather themselves for a letter. On top of it, my body is sometimes on strike now, in the afternoons I am so tired that I have trouble not falling asleep at my desk. Even though I am not staying up late at night.- To report on the pleasurable things: I had dinner with Edwin Fisher on Thursday. It is always special to encounter people who are masterfully in command of something. His way of talking about music or about people is not just spontaneous, but sometimes almost as diligent and humble as Bohr's is. He knows exactly how incredibly difficult all true mastery is, and therefore talks with the greatest respect even of those who are only half as accomplished as he is. At night then I heard him play in the Gewandhaus, the c-minor concerto by Beethoven; I knew it well, because I had once practiced it and learned it by heart. Every note was deliberately conceived and the whole thing was played with the greatest respect for Beethoven, it was a great pleasure.

On Monday night, by the way, we had chamber music here at the house, and Erwin (his brother)was here too as a listener.-

My vacation plans are as follows: I want to come to Munich on about 2-24, and then spend a week at the mountain hut. At this time it looks like only Euler will come along. Afterwards, following a few days in Munich, I will return here. [Your questions about the new house, the radio, etc will best be addressed at that time too.] Now many greetings, your Werner