Bergerson, Inscribing Yourself

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Andrew Stuart Ber­ger­son, Kan­sas City

A First Arti­cle about Hil­de and Roland

The arti­cle demons­tra­tes how Hil­de and Roland use their cor­re­spon­dence to “inscri­be them­sel­ves” into a Nazi future during their courtship from 1938 to 1940, buil­ding a rela­ti­ons­hip of trust bet­ween them­sel­ves by lin­king it to a rela­ti­ons­hip of trust with God, par­ents, and the Füh­rer.
See: Andrew Stuart Ber­ger­son, T&S Mit­her­aus­ge­ber, “Das Sich-Ein­schrei­ben in die NS-Zukunft: Lie­bes­brie­fe als Quel­le für eine All­tags­ge­schich­te der ‘Volks­ge­mein­schaft.’” In Der Ort der “Volks­ge­mein­schaft” in der deut­schen Gesell­schafts­ge­schich­te, edi­ted by Det­lef Schmie­chen-Acker­mann, Mar­lis Buch­holz, Bian­ca Roitsch, Karl H. Schnei­der, Chris­tia­ne Schrö­der, 223–41. Pader­born: Fer­di­nand Schö­ning, 2018.

An Historical Drama about Hilde and Roland in Englisch

Love in the Age of Hitler: A Courtship in Letters, 1938–1940

An his­to­ri­cal dra­ma by K. Scott Baker, Andrew Stuart Ber­ger­son, and Debo­rah Par­ker.

The let­ters of Hil­de and Roland lend them­sel­ves to adap­tati­on as an his­to­ri­cal dra­ma for many rea­sons. The­re is dra­ma in their self-pre­sen­ta­ti­on as let­ter wri­ters, in the chal­len­ges they face at buil­ding their rela­ti­ons­hip, and in their strug­gles to come to terms with both the Nazi regime and its increa­singly geno­ci­dal war for ‘living space’. Adap­ting the­se let­ters to the thea­ter in trans­la­ti­on allows us to bring the T&S pro­ject to an Eng­lish-speaking audi­ence for the first time.

Schau­spiel Pro­be, Kan­sas City, MO, USA, Mai 2017

In Fall 2016, the inter­na­tio­nal T&S team iden­ti­fied the most “dra­ma­tic” let­ters from the years 1938 to 1940—the peri­od of Hil­de and Roland’s courtship. In the Win­ter of 2016–17, an Ame­ri­can team trans­la­ted a selec­tion of let­ters (in who­le or in part) and draf­ted a two-act “reader’s thea­ter” style play from them. Bea­te Pet­tig­rew direc­ted the play with a cast of stu­dents from John­son Coun­ty Com­mu­ni­ty Col­le­ge in Over­land Park, KS. The play pre­mie­red on 20 May 2017 at the Diasto­le Scholar’s Cen­ter on UMKC cam­pus. (A second free, public per­for­mance of the play will take place June 4 at 2 PM in Grant Reci­tal Hall on UMKC Cam­pus.)

At its pre­mier, the play was per­for­med in the con­text of a work­shop “Wri­ting Yours­elf into Histo­ry.” The work­shop brought scho­l­ars, stu­dents, and Kan­sas City resi­dents to the Diasto­le Scholar’s Cen­ter in order to view the play and respond to it.  The par­ti­ci­pants were invi­ted to watch a series of short, digi­tal lec­tures that framed the play for non-spe­cia­lists. After atten­ding each act, the work­shop par­ti­ci­pants were invi­ted to dis­cuss the play in groups with dis­cus­sion lea­ders. At the end of the work­shop, indi­vi­du­al par­ti­ci­pants were inter­view­ed about their respon­ses to Hil­de & Roland’s lives; their let­ters; and the play; and they were also promp­ted to rela­te Hil­de & Roland’s histo­ry to their or their family’s expe­ri­en­ces and to explo­re the mea­nings that this past might hold for our pre­sent.

The pro­gram for the play is avail­ab­le here. A digi­tal record of this play and work­shop is avail­ab­le on T&S’s You­Tube chan­nel (play­list: Wri­ting Yours­elf into Histo­ry) inclu­ding the intro­duc­to­ry lec­tures and a filmed ver­si­on of the pre­mier per­for­mance. Record­ings of the indi­vi­du­al and group dis­cus­sions in respon­se are avail­ab­le from the pro­ject direc­tors.

The Huma­nities Con­sor­ti­um of UMKC spon­so­red this pro­gram with coope­ra­ti­on of the UMKC depart­ments of Ger­man, Histo­ry, and Thea­t­re; the UMKC School of Gra­dua­te Stu­dies; the High School/College Dual­Credit Part­nership; John­son Coun­ty Com­mu­ni­ty Col­le­ge; the Lee’s Sum­mit School District; the Mid­west Cen­ter for Holo­caust Edu­ca­ti­on; the Shepherd’s Cen­ter KC Cen­tral; and the Mis­sou­ri Huma­nities Coun­cil with the sup­port from the Natio­nal Endow­ment for the Huma­nities.

28. May 1938


O., on May 28, 1938

Dear Herr [Nord­hoff]!

By now you will  have recei­ved the gree­tings from our jovi­al get-tog­e­ther at the bridal show­er of our fel­low choir sin­ger Ilse Wend, which we held at the Restau­rant “Ger­ma­nia”. Today, now that I have slept off my small buzz and the wed­ding nup­ti­als are over, I want to ans­wer your lovely let­ter.

Con­ti­nue rea­ding “28. May 1938”

24. May 1938

T&S Ava­tar


L. on May 24, 1938

Dear Fräu­lein [Lau­be]!

At various points in my last let­ter I wro­te —I had to wri­te — the word God, and I did so not wit­hout some appre­hen­si­on. I would not like you to misun­derstand. It is that much more con­so­ling and reas­su­ring to me that you have a con­nec­tion to God.

Con­ti­nue rea­ding “24. May 1938”

20. May 1938

T&S Ava­tar


O., on May 20, 1938

Dear Mr. Nord­hoff!

Three days have now pas­sed sin­ce I recei­ved your so very kind words. Allow me to express my heart­felt gra­ti­tu­de for the trust you have pla­ced in me. I know to trea­su­re it. I will never for­get how you show­ed me the mea­ning of the con­cepts “desi­re and love” in such genui­ne, vivid words. I was able to tell that we think the same way about many things. I feel and think several things, and yet I often don’t have the abi­li­ty to put it into words. Perhaps this is the rea­son why:

Con­ti­nue rea­ding “20. May 1938”