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Date: November 15th 1919
John Gale (Ralph's brother)
? Schmitz

[Based on the content of the letter below it has been added here under its most likely date of “1919” although the range of all possible dates would be 1919-1922. Similarly the letter contents point to the recipient “My Dear Canadian” as being Capt. John Gale, but this is never directly stated.]

Cologne, the 15th of November

My Dear Canadian friend!

I write this letter, although I don’t know if you have returned home already, but I suppose you have now and therefore will tell you something of the states here in Germany and of my further life since we have last seen each other. Much has changed here in Rhineland. They have occupied our home now, that is bitter for a people, which likes freedom, although the British behave correctly. Poverty and famine are terrible here, for, although England and America send clothes and foodstuffs: The people cannot buy! The reason is the deep value of our mark. Well, the wages of our workers have increased about 100 pCt, but the prices for English and American merchandise are 15, 20 times and more Dearer than in peace times. So we pay for a pound of butter 25 marks (in peace times 1½ mark), for flour 5 marks (0,20!) for oil 22 marks (O,60!) for soap 6 marks (0,20!) etc, clothes cost [?] till [?]500 marks, in peacetimes 40 marks and more I believe that you understand me then, when I say: We have intolerable states in Germany! Many Die by hunger, many more will Die, when the hopeless winter comes. Coal and wood are failing too in our paradise. In spite of these states the richer classes live more shamelessly than before. An international army of userers, not only of Germans, but also French, Americains, and English exploit the people, and British Authority and German Police are powerless against these rascals.

In our private life has changed and happened much too. A few weeks after your leaving [Princes?] Coy I turned soldier – by conscription naturally. And I was but 17 years old then. I was a “knight” and “warrior till revolution and armistice came. Nobody was luckier than my father’s only son, when I could return home again, although I never was Directly in the front (2 months in the garrison of Cologne, near home and 4 months in Lorraine – not near home, but seventy km behind the Americain lines). If you would know the life in the Prussian army, you would believe me, that I had enough with that half year, even without seeing the front. A few weeks after my arrival at home, my father stopped working for Mr. Rupke, whom he always hated (perhaps will you believe me that he had reasons!) and for whom he was forced to work for poor wages because of the reclamation. So we now are dwelling at Cologne. I myself visit the University of Bonn since Dec. 18, studying law.

So I have told you all that happened here since you left us, and it would be a great pleasure for me, if you would write me once too. And now be greeted by

Your German friend
[?] Schmitz
[?] (Cologne)

Original Scans

Original Scans