Gustave Grupe to Marie Grupe, January 2, 1909

English Text

Page 1 Hamburg, 2 January 1909 My dear aunt! Another year has passed and a very eventful year. If you look at the sum of all incidents and however serious they may be, one of the comforting things about it is that you are still so vigorous at your old age. And if I may talk about myself with you, I am still perfectly healthy. and for us both that remains the point of the whole. The shortage of money beginning in 1907 had an evil effect, some things related to business "broke down". Trade and change, ventures of all kinds. everything is still down. Happy is the one who has not overcharged himself in such a time. My affairs have all been settled and sorted out. Without wanting to portray myself as particularly clever, I want to attribute it to the coincidence that it hit me so well. But all the more I want to praise this coincidence when I notice how many many people here lost their fortune in a thing where they believed before to, God knows, win a lot and therefore risked their whole business on one card. Then it's better to keep what you have with certainty. Like the newspapers tell us, it’s not better in Americas cities. page 2 You already know that we had a visit from Coppenbrugge several times last summer. I then had to show them around. A large new zoo has been set up here by a certain Hagenbeck in Stellingen bordering Altona. For little money you go all the way there. It is a contrast to our zoological garden which opened Pentecost in 1863. As is generally known, we don’t have mountains, therefore they were artificially manufactured in Hagenbeck's Park (inside hollowly) of considerable height, deceptively real, looking like granite, the heights populated with Chamois, wild goats and reindeer. The whole thing makes a pretty good well-successful impression. The demonstration of the astonishing dressage of the wild beasts is highly interesting. One cannot deny the 2 tamers, which alternately take turns, a certain respect. The variety of the many wild animals is astonishing. At one point, for example, you can see 6 lions and tigers walking around in freedom. But as a precaution, the background of a steep mountain is closed, and in front of this predator gorge there is a pond so that the animals do not come to abuse their apparent freedom. All in all, it looks pretty good. Mostly also foreign tribes are there, amongst them some magicians whose productions my good relatives from Coppenbrugge could not admire enough. It was very difficult to make them realize that their fixability was not witchcraft. It is very doubtful whether I have penetrated with my teaching. _ No stranger leaves Hamburg without having visited this park. page 3 Hamburg, 2 January 1909 Of the great forest fires that have raged far in the west of your country, I have read the detailed reports in our newspapers. It is a pity that so much havoc has been wreaked in the gentle Yosemite Valley and other areas. I felt deeply sorry when I read that even the millennial giant trees were lost by fire. They cannot be replaced again. When I wrote earlier about the gloomy economic conditions in Germany, this phenomenon is partly to go back to the sad political actualities that prevail here. You will have read about it, according to English newspaper reports, our emperor has not been put in a very nice light. In our own country we have no freedom of press as in America, England, France, etc. Across the country, outrage was more than ever. Germany our dear Fatherland, the most powerful nation that does much more for schools and suchlike than neighboring countries. _ has, as has now been proven, a representation at the top which accomplished the trick to deeply damage our appearance abroad page 4 in several directions. For a truly patriotic feeling man, this fact is as sad as it is shameful. Much more could be said about it. as a well-trained German, with an invisible muzzle, I cannot agree with the latter. For the rest and despite all of this, we feel quite comfortable in the narrow circle. I don't want to try to find out whether it comes partly from the home-grown vegetables or from our well-fortified health. Yes. Our vegetables, the potatoes, have all recently become empty and we now live from the winter potatoes which we regularly consume, however, I have a larger quantity of good-tasting kale in my land, so that we have a reasonably good prospect of getting through the winter. On January 1st I and my wife thought of you and wished you many more such days. Recommend me to all relatives and to Barthol’s. We found it so nice of the man that he had come to us in the last few days to say goodbye to us, we gave him credit for this. And now farewell, dear aunt, save and take care for yourself. which seems doubly necessary in your old age so that you can delight with a few lines even more often. Your faithful nephew Gustav Grupe