Documents

Over six decades, Hilde kept diaries, collected photographs, and saved theater reviews of plays she performed in.  Some of these photographs are featured in the play.

From Hilde's album of reviews, here is a review of Zuckmayer's "Katherina Knie" in which Hilde played the lead role.

Hildegard's brother Ralph took his own life in 1925. At the time, he was a medical student in Leipzig, near Dresden, and he was writing a scientific essay on "The Formation of Sexual Characteristics and their Relation to the Gonads."  This work was published by the Pathology Institute of the University of Freiburg.

Here's the editorial Preface to Ralph Zucker’s essay, 

which I translate as follows (please excuse my inadequate German): 

“The author had almost made the following written work ready for publication, when he was – in the middle of a state examination, through a mishap – torn away from his life, still so young and entirely filled with scientific endeavor.  I took it as my duty, even after his death, to get into print this diligent although not exhaustive synopsis of recent literature on the problem of the development of secondary sexual character.”

What was the mishap or accident (“Unglücksfall”) to which the editor refers?  This is the account that Hilde told us, which is echoed in Erich Kästner’s fictionalized rendition of Ralph Zucker’s life: Ralph, a medical student, had taken an important examination.  Another student told him – as a kind of joke – that he had failed.  Despondent, he took his own life that day.  But actually he had passed the exam, with high marks. 

This is the last sentence in Ralph Zucker’s essay: 

Möge dieser literarische Beitrag als Anregung genommen werden "umzuschaffen das Geschaffene, damit sich's nicht zum Starrung waffne" (Goethe)

“May this written contribution be taken as an encouragement ‘to reconstruct the already constructed, so that it does not arm itself and become something rigid’ (Goethe).”

Here is a page from Hilde's diary written in 1938, the year she came to America.  In it she discusses the possibility of inviting her mother and grandmother to come to America, and her father's response to that prospect:

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Here's an early photo of HIlde -- I'm not sure how old she is, perhaps 12 or so.

 

In October 1931, Hilde wrote this note to her (soon to be born) son Peter, on a blank page of the (original edition) of Rilke's Duino Elegies :

 

 

"When you, dear Peter, sometime many years hence -- when we are no longer there -- receive this book in your hands, then admire a little this small and swollen but -- between us -- very, very diligent woman."

 

Hilde had a small volume of "Erinnerungen" (Souvenirs) written by her mother, father, brother, and classmates and friends between 1919 and 1921, when she was about 10-12 years old.  Each entry is charmingly written, with exquisite and unique penmanship.  It would be good to display pages from the volume on this website, but we haven't got around to doing that yet.