L., on August 25, 1938
Dear Miss [Laube]!
I very much enjoyed your pictures. I would like to keep all of them. The photograph details are well selected, only one image has too much empty sky. The positions are invariably lively—women always understand better how to place themselves in the right light!—and if I did not know for whom you sat laughing so gracefully as a model, I would actually be jealous.
And one thing became clear to be while looking at the images: your girlfriend brings a string of your nature into pitch, one that I did not yet know, perhaps also cannot know, because it presumes more familiarity, this carefree way of being, this carefree cheerfulness, this unburdened mirth, the way we sometimes could feel during choir practice. Treasure this good cheer and maintain this girl friend with whom you can be so merry even if you must sometimes bear a grudge against her. Because I am writing about detachment, I take note of how strained our encounters are, how you cause my whole person to become taught. Even beforehand the tension and expectation, the preparation, the travel, and then—without intending or noticing it particularly—the introspection of oneself and the other, on top of that the wholly new impressions from the trip; all of that when taken together is a great exertion.
I recently thought, since the dark time of the year is now looming, that it is too bad that we do not live closer to one another, that I am no longer in O. On the contrary, another thought arose immediately — who knows if we would have grown closer in that case, there were a number of obstacles, you understand, that were eliminated with the distance; I believe the distance is good and had to be.
After our first meeting you undertook the task of drawing a conclusion. It will happen soon enough, and it must, that we declare ourselves. If I consider how swiftly the time races forwards, all things considered, how quickly the few hours of our togetherness elapse, then I would like to say that some time will still have to pass before we can declare our relationship. Until then the agreement remains: You too remain free to withdraw and—as far as we esteem one another—without deceit we will deal in truths with one another.
Three things have been settled the way I wanted them to be in the last few days. 1) Our school festival, which was to have take place last Sunday, has been rescheduled for September due to foot-and-mouth disease, and apparently, it will now not take place this year. 2) A few weeks ago, I was urged to travel to the Reich Party Day [in Nuremberg—the 5th celebration of the Nazi party since the birth of the Third Reich]. One cannot just flatly refuse such things, so I declared myself prepared to go there as a civilian; then I was told that accommodations and board would be in the tent camp. That is not for me; as I continued to consider how I could free myself from that snare, I received news that I could withdraw. 3) And now you write that your trip is also cancelled. Another stone from my heart, though only a small one. We would have had to pretend we didn’t know each other, perhaps we would have had to even play these roles with secret pleasure—but it is better that we did not have to do so.
Heartfelt greetings to your parents,
And you yourself, [Miss. Laube], are most heartily greeted by your [Roland Nordhoff].
Until this coming Sunday at the accustomed time. I will return your pictures to you then.