What did Rufus write in his diary for Halloween 1933?
It wasn’t very chatty, I’m afraid: “31 October: Out to breakfast on Unter den Linden. To see Herr Hartman, Voigt, etc in a.m. re Reichstag Fire Trial and Labour camp visit. Call up Bismarck’s introduction – also lunch at “Alte Inn.” To see Winter in p.m. at Agriculture Ministry and Dr Borner of Nazi foreign bureau. Call Hanfstaengl 10am – Jager 74-11.”
Why would he go out to breakfast on Unter den Linden?
Well, it was where you went to see what was going on – like going to a cafe on the Champs Elysee in Paris.
It was where they had parades. Here’s Hitler in 1936, driving through the Brandenburger Tor into Unter den Linden.
Okay. So, after breakfast he went to to see Herr Hartman about the Reichstag Fire Trial. Why would he do that?
The Reichstag fire had happened a month after Hitler became Chancellor. Here it is, burning away. The guy accused of setting it was on trial and Rufus wanted a ticket for the press gallery. And he went to see Herr Voigt to arrange a trip to a Nazi Labour Camp. He wanted to fill his time with interesting visits while waiting for an interview with Hitler.
Is that why he called Hanfstaengl – he was the guy they called Putzi, wasn’t he?
Yes, Putzi and a man named Thomsen were Hitler’s assistants – they arranged their boss’s itinerary, including his interviews.
Hey, that’s cool knowing Putzi’s phone number! But Jager 74-11 isn’t a very big number, is it? I suppose there just weren’t that many phones. Those were hard times in Germany.
You’re right. But getting back to Rufus’s day, the Alte Inn, where he had lunch, was a journalists’ hangout. Rufus had had supper there with Charlie Woodsworth a few nights earlier. Charlie was a useful guy to know – the son of the famous J.S. Woodsworth (founder of the CCF /NDP,) and he spoke fluent German. Every morning he came to Rufus’s room in the Kaiserhof to read him the German newspaper headlines while he was shaving.
Now that’s efficient use of time, I must say! So, what were his afternoon appointments all about?
He was planning a trip to Danzig and Warsaw – that would account for the Foreign ministry. But your guess is as good as mine about the Agriculture ministry, though Herr Winter was a bit of a find – he’d been to school in England and spoke English like a Brit. Rufus hit it off with him and was later invited to dinner with his family.
Another picture of Unter den Linden, taken at about that time, judging by the cars. The street name means Under the Lime Trees and you can see why. Rufus would have had his breakfast at a cafe somewhere along the avenue.