/ 10 October 2007

What was in Hitler’s postbag?

The intimate correspondence between Adolf Hitler and members of the German public is being made public for the first time, revealing how some sent him gifts of honey while others pleaded with him for their lives.

Four staff were hired to deal exclusively with the mass of post sent to Hitler after he became chancellor in January 1933.

While some wrote to him asking if he would be godfather to their children, or questioned him about whether he drank alcohol, others bombarded him with requests for visits to their regions or money to pay for their weddings. He also received a constant stream of presents including palm trees, embroidered handkerchiefs and honey.

In July 1933 Ernst Selbach, a hotel porter and Nazi party member from Hagen, sent him a violin decorated with 245 ivory swastikas. ”God willing, one day I will hear it being played in his company,” he wrote. Hitler replied: ”Unreserved thanks”.

In a haunting letter Heinrich Herz, a Jewish craftsman from Hamborn am Rhein, wrote in 1934 pleading for him to halt the persecution of Jewish tradesmen. ”Like a lightning bolt from a bright sky, the storm has swept over me. My customers are gone … Honourable Reichskanzler give the order that we will have the prospect of being able to live again. I would thank you thousands and thousands of times.”

The letters, written between 1925 and 1945, were discovered in Moscow and have been published for the first time in Letters to Hitler, which is being launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair this week. – Guardian Unlimited Â