Dr Edmund Forster

The Man Who Invented Hitler: The Making of the Führer

Family Letters and Post Cards


Edmund to his father from Halle, 3.3.1905
Lieber Vater,
Besten Dank für Deine Karte. Mit dem Geld ist es nicht dringend, ich habe noch etwas… wegen einer besonderen Angelegenheit wirst Du mir vielleicht doch noch etwas schicken müssen. Ich habe im Sommer eine Mensur gehabt, bei der sonst nichts dabei rausgekommen ist, als dass die Polizei es gemerkt hat. Wir sind dann zu 3 Monaten Festung verurteilt worden. Ich habe es natürlich Wernicke erzählt, der sehr nett war und meinte ich solle es jetzt in den Ferien abmachen. Ich habe deshalb am 15. III für vorläufig 4 Wochen Urlaub genommen, da doch voraussichtlich Begnadigung erfolgen wird – und werde dann nach Strassburg fahren, wo ich die Sache auf einem Fort absitzen werde. Es ist langweilig aber nicht zu ändern. Vielleicht reiche ich nicht mit dem Reisegeld, ich werde Dir dann schreiben, dass Du mir noch etwas schickst.
Mit besten Grüßen an alle,


Dear Father,
Many thanks for your postcard. It’s not that urgent about the money, I still have some… but because of a very special affair, you will probably have to send me some more. I had a student’s duel in summer, nothing much came of it apart from the police finding out about it. We were sentenced to Festung (prison) for three month. Of course, I told Wernicke about it, who was very nice and who advised me to sort out things in the holidays. I have therefore temporarily taken a 4 weeks holiday from the 15th March onwards, as we will probably be reprieved – and will then come to Strassburg, where I will serve the sentence in a fort. It is boring, but cannot be helped. Maybe I will run out of money, if which case I will write to you, so that you can send me some more.
All the best to everybody,

Edmund on his Medical Studies in Munich:
“I like it (Munich) very much. There is always much to do and see. Last week I visited Prof. Karl Voit. Best greetings from him to you. On Sunday, I will be at the Bollinger’s place for lunch … I also attend lectures of Fritz Voit (lecturer). He teaches well, but is afraid that we do not pay enough attention. … I was hiking and love the beautiful landscape.” …..

Edmund on his First Days as a Doctor:
“Yesterday, I did my first surgery. I cut off a tumour of a man and vaccinated 7 children and therefore have to be definitely called a benefactor of humanity.”

Edmund – Postcard dated 24.2.1902 (probably from Hamburg) prior to his embarking on an extensive trip as a ships doctor on the Suevia:
“Right now, I am looking for malaria parasites in mosquitoes at the Institute of Tropical Medicine. I will start my journey to Japan on the 10th (of March).”

Diary entry of Dirk 12.6.1909 (Strassburg)
“Edmund was here for some days. Fortunately, the feeling of alienation between us did not appear. … We got along well with each other. Afterwards, I had even the impression that I had again defended my opinion towards his definite opinion after all. … Edmund, the parents and I did a hike to the “Fuchsfalle”. I mention this, because Edmund promised to remember this place when he will write his memoirs.”

Diary entry of Dirk 24.8.1909
Friday evening. Forster family was sitting in the garden, when Edmund, who was there for some days or weeks, started to talk about my friends. He spoke highly of Pupi, and criticised Ernst Stadler, who “reads Stephan George and writes long and aesthetic letters to the ´stupid cow`”…When I started to defend my friends, he reproached me with having become Verblödung (feeble-minded) that was too much for our parents and who demanded “facts or silence” (Tatsachen oder Schweigen)… I was out of my mind with rage not only because I know very well about his feelings for Gretchen (Gretchen was then Dirk’s girlfriend) but also due to the malicious way in which he expresses and represents himself…I do not remember how we settled the argument. The parents were as nice as ever with me. But my relationships with Edmund are disturbed. His intentions were probably OK but his behaviour lacks reflection.”

Family Postcards – Courtsey Marie-Rose von Wesendonk Family Archive Tuscany

24.11.02: Edmund from Geneva to his parents: “I do not have presents for you. It was impossible to find anything worth buying here as everything is unbelievable crude, bourgeois…my accommodation is terrible and I am really fed up with the food at the pension. I am already looking forward to reasonable fodder.”

18.1.1903: Edmund to Mina (his mother) from Geneva: “I again had an angina that is why I didn’t write to you. I would like you to send me some handkerchiefs.”

3.4.1903: Edmund from Geneva to his parents, who just have visited him: “The weather is still terrible, cold and rainy.”

12.11.1903: Edmund from Geneva to his father: “Many congratulations to the rector. I particularly like that despite the Catholicism. I would like to have the following books! …. Please, send the bike to my home address and soon.”

19.4.1905: Edmund from Halle: “We still have winter here, no leaves on the trees, no flowers. The journey was all right. I have only few things to do, therefore I could have stayed much longer in Strassburg. I have got a little statistic on the French side of psychosis. Wernicke has sprained his ankle, doesn’t work in the clinic, but is in a good mood.”

31.12.1916 (Teisendorf): From Edmund to his parents: “Best wishes for the new year, which will hopefully bring peace. Address: Prof. Forster, Marine Stabsarzt, Marine Kriegslazarett II, Marine Korps.”

18.9.1920: Edmund and Mina are in Unterwössen. Edmund writes to his mother (Mina): “Today, the light is wonderful, but I cannot paint, as we are too far into the mountains.”

18.9.1920: Mila to Mina: “Mundl (Balduin) looks fabulous in the brown jacket, which you have sent him. He is already getting fat – hopefully the boots will arrive soon.

13.8.1922 (Mayerhofen): Mila to Mina: “Dear Mother, many thanks for your postcard, which very much calmed me. Now the weather is finally beautiful and we can start now to make longer tours in the mountains. But don’t worry, we do not go without guide. I already feel better and accompany Mundl so that he does not have to go alone. Everything is wonderful, but I miss the children very much.”

18.6.1923 (Deisenhofen): Lilly to Dirk: “Please, write to Edmund to send a carpet for Mother. She will be very pleased and Edmund knows what they need in Deisenhofen.”

27. 7.1923: Lilly to Dirk: “Yesterday, Ed, Mila and Baldu came to see me in the hospital. (She had just given birth to her first child). Edmund only talked about money and gave me a senseless lecture about our salary. But I said nothing.”

7.5.1925 (Greifswald): Edmund to Mina: “Dear Mother, many thanks for your letter. By the end of next week, we can move in. It is pretty small and only few students. But the clinic is very beautiful.”

20.8.1926: Mila writes to Mina that she is with Edmund and the children in Stubbenkammer, Island Rügen and that she hopes the apples (from Mila’s garden) for Gretchen have safely arrived in Deisenhofen

11.10.1926: Edmund and family spent five days in Amsterdam and then went on to the Baltic.

27.12.1926: “Unfortunately, Mila had again suffered from her appendix, although she is getting better.”

21.1.1927 (Berlin): Lilly to Dirk: “On Wednesday, Edmunds came and they go back to Greifswald tonight. Edmund gave me the advice to bear Vincent (Rikikiki) at home. I took a note of his midwife”.

2.2.1927 (Berlin): Lilly to Dirk: “On Sunday, Edmund was here and held a lecture about Lattner’s (an artist friend of theirs at Greifswald – DL) pictures for many neurologists. I recognised a kind of defence of his clinic and it was not badly performed. “

25.8.1928: Lilly to Dirk: “My birthday was a kind of country wedding (in Deisenhofen). Edmund stayed very long and was nice. About Mila’s matters orally. Edmunds’ certainly expect us at Edmunds’ birthday party. He will pick us up.”

20.4.1929: Lilly to Dirk: “I am just expecting the Edmunds and Marienfeld. For the drive back, they were looking for the fourth person that is why I go with them to Greifswald tomorrow. Not for very long, since I do not want to leave the children too long.”

27.4.1929: Lilly yo Dirk: “We were very pleased about your letter and telegram. Both were sent to Greifswald and made me feel better. The drive was pretty cold. Greifswald is now calm and Edmund works a lot. Yesterday, I wanted to accompany Edmund to Bergen to Billroth’s party, but we couldn’t go because of snow and rain. “

30.4.1929: “On Thursday night, Edmunds will come for 3 days. A bit tiring, but necessary after the long hospitality in Greifswald.”

3.5.1929: Lilly to Dirk: “Vincent (their son – DL) has tonsillitis. But since the Edmunds are staying here with me, I have not called Doctor B. I am very pleased that they are here. Although it takes lots of time, it is a pleasant alternative.”

7.5.1929: Dirk to Lilly: “On Sunday, Zadora and I were in Potsdam. He is very nice. Tonight I will visit the premiere in the Renaissance Theatre with Teacher L?.Tomorrow afternoon I will meet Frau von Kaufmann and then I will go with Edmunds to Bürgen.”

13.5.1929: Lilly to Dirk: “On Tuesday, I shall accompany Edmund on a journey for 3 – 4 days to Danzig. I would like to go, but am not ready to decide, as you have just returned. Besides, the journey is very male, lots of men of science. Could you bring Edmund good red Bordeaux (he will pay for it). Maybe about 10 bottles, as a little compensation for his hospitality. “

Letters and postcards between Lilly and Dirk

9. June 1933: “Edmund sent a nice letter from Budapest. That is why I thought you might drive over on Sunday. Edmund suggested Bodensee for the 16th. Didn’t we already talk to Mother about this due to Lindau? The suggestion is all right with us.” (Note: The family hated Mina’s house at Deisenhofen near Lindau which they regarded as ugly, poorly constructed and too small to hold a large family gathering – DL)

8.9.1933 (Munich): Lilly to Dirk: (Three days before Edmund’s death – DL) “Many thanks for your letters. It sounds all a bit more serious then I had expected. It all depends on Edmund’s health. Mutter is sad, but calm. “

10.9.1933 (Deisenhofen): Dirk to Lilly: “I am calm and the children are happy. Beautiful weather. Edmund impresses me. Yesterday, I talked to Mila and it all sounded a bit worrying. I offered to come to Greifswald and she sounded very happy about this. In eight days, everything will be decided. The cost of the trip aside, I am not in the mood to go for such a long journey. “

13.9.1933: (Greifswald): Lilly to Dirk (2 days after Edmund’s death – DL) “My dear Dirkirchen, it is a sad journey to Greifswald. But now I am a bit calmer, as I have heard how deeply Edmund suffered and that he had not the power anymore to continue. I admire Mila’s braveness. She wants to move with the children to Mother and later – provided the pension – to Munich. Tomorrow, the funeral will take place. You will be in my mind. Mother is relatively calm. I have told her that she has to look after Mila, the children and Gretchen, and she liked that. Women always need a word.”

15.9.1933 (Greifswald): Lilly to Dirk: “I do not know, whether you will get my letter before you leave Paris. But I promised to write you. You wanted to know about the funeral. It is hard to describe. Only verbally possible. Many people. Priest was bad, so Mother told him after the funeral in the car. Bonhöffer’s speech was half-hearted, but well because of his appearance. The rector was very emotional. Lots of flowers, honest affection by the staff. Salutes were fired by the Marine-association. You should have spoken some nice words. That was missing most. In the evening, we sat together with Poll, Liebner, Sascha and the Lattners. The latter have really proofed their friendship….”

17.9.1933 (Paris) Dirk to Lilly: “I have just got your letter from Greifswald. Many thanks, darling. I will remind what you said. Some time ago, you said that you would need me. Now it is the opposite, I need you. You weren’t as affected by the situation as I was. My visit to Greifswald was very sad, with the consequences that came later. Here in Paris, the news has not yet been widely spread, and if it is, then Forster is written with ö…”

18.9.1933: Lilly to Dirk: “A week after Edmund’s death, Mila does not mention his death in a single word. It is all about money!”

21.9.1933 (Berlin): Lilly to Dirk: “I had two calm, but also very depressing days in Greifswald. Mila is brave and firm, as ever. Fortunately, she has a life insurance of about 20000 Marks and she must absolutely get a pension. So she will manage to survive. Her intention to leave Greifswald as soon as possible is the only right thing she can do. I have only visited the rector Meissner, the dean was not in Greifswald. In spite his – as everybody says – wonderful and warm speech, I, while talking to him, felt also antipathy of him, also desires to apologize. …. I am very touched by all this and I really do need you, darling. Tomorrow morning, I will talk to the minister in the Ministry of Culture and will then take the night train back to Paris.”

Letter from Dirk Forster to Paul Bretschneider (Mila’s brother and a priest) Neut Altmannsdor – 1.12.1940
“There is nothing good to say about Mila. The argument concerning the inheritance is very much advanced. What she will get at last will be only a little part. You know that I didn’t want it that way, since I am convinced that she will spend the money all at once. But she urged me and I gave in to get rid of all the troubles. After my return from Deisenhofen I intended to visit her to sort out our problems. But then I received two letters of her that caused me to think again about doings so… It is difficult to deal with Mila. …. Concerning the inheritance, it was me who suffered from her strange manner. But this is only temporary and will soon be forgotten. … We (in Deisenhofen) only discuss her matters, as we do not agree with the lifestyle of the three….”

Dirk Forster to Paul Bretschneider 12.3.1941
“Dear Paul, many thanks for your letter….. I do not worry about the story with Mila anymore. Sometimes, I am sorry about the boys. But I will only approach her again, when she will change her manner and will approach me first in a human way….”

Excerpt from a letter of Mina Forster (Edmund’s mother) to Ludwig Zürn 22.2.1933. He was preparing a history of the Forster family, possibly to refute charges of having Jewish blood! Dirk’s wife Lilly was part-Jewish a fact that brought an end chances of promotion in the German diplomatic survey.
“My husband Josef Forster visited the Gymnasium in Augsburg….he studied in Munich and Leipzig and got a 1 (best mark in Germany) for his final exams … he volunteered for the military service in 1870 and became doctor in the Königlich Bayerischen Infanterie Regiment (Royal Bavarian Infantry Regiment). He worked in the battles of Sedan, Coulmiers, Orleans Loignay-Pomry and Beauganey… Once back in Munich he became professor and had close contact with his sister Anna Julie, who was married to architect August Voit. Voit’s father was professor at the academy and built the Glaspalast (glass palace) and the new Pinairothek. And there, Josef met Voit’s cousin Mina von Hösslin. Mina came from an Augsburger patrician family and had ancestors in Lindau (Lake Konstanz)…Josef was highly esteemed because of his kindness and humanity (Menschlichkeit)… his son Arne died of lunge illness after four years of war service …since my husband loved his home at the Bodensee, I am very grateful for your interest in his life.”