In the cases of Karl and Philipp, never in a million years would I have guessed that they were sentenced to prison, as this letter from Karl's wife Hedwig to her sister-in-law Anna indicates. They of course were not perfect men and like all others had their flaws.
So this story in summary is that two brothers, likely attempting to bring some money into their family, purchase fractured silver, which is typically old silver jewelry or old silverware that gets melted down and is then sold by weight. They were arrested, tried, and sentenced because the silver had been previously stolen.
This of course assumes that they indeed did not steal the silver in the first place, and nothing in their life stories indicate that they were the "thieving kind."
In the letter, Hedwig discusses the state of her declining health, the financial struggles as a result, and the burden that Karl's incarceration has placed on her and her two little children, Heinz and Hanna. Interestingly she also alludes to the recent forced exile from Schubin at the hands of the Poles, which she believes is the cause of their troubles in Berlin.
This letter is the only letter so far that discusses Karl and Philipp's incarceration and thus brings up more questions such as "Did they serve the entire 2 1/2 years?" or "Why wasn't their imprisonment discussed in any other letters in the period of 1920 through 1923?"
My guess is that Karl and Philipp, while not totally naive and innocent, were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Hopefully we will through additional letters, discover more of this surprising story.
Below is the original German letter, followed by the English translation.
With thanks to our fine translator Matthias Steinke, below is the English translation:
Berlin, the 15th. October 20
My very dear ones!
Please excuse, if I confirm the receipt of the sent 1000 Mark only now and thank you heartily for it.
Now you gave me a great pleasure with it, because I just can really need it. As you probably already know I am
not very healthy and stayed 4 weeks at my sister for recovery but without success.
Then, at the instance of the doctor again for 6 week a cure that was good, because I gained 12 pounds and my
cough became better. The little one (my daughter) was in Wuerzburg at my brother and my son at my sister in Anklam.
Due to my homesickness I was a couple of days very excited, like I unfortunately was often during the last years, and that brought me where I am now. During the time where I was in Anklam Karl and Philipp bought "fracture" silver, but it were stolen things and Carl and Philipp became arrested. After I was back I set of course everything in motion and hired a lawyer who costs over two thousand five hundred Marks. Karl was set free for a bail of 20000 Mark which paid my siblings.
On October 8th was the trial and Carl as also Philipp were sentenced to 2 1/2 years prison. You can imagine my sorrow; I am now with my two children "breadless" and reliant on the grace of my siblings.
Karl was taken to prison instantly. I already visited Carl, he is totally broken, brought him food and something to smoke. But I cant do it for the duration, because where shall I take the money. My husband was very assiduous and industrious but hadn't luck. As far as I live in Berlin I was supported by my siblings and also now I am reliant on their grace. Also Theo finds it hard, sends Philipp also food although he also has a very hard time.
It hurts me to write this to you, but what can one do, nobody can anything for this misfortune.
I am Pleased, that you, my dears are fine and that you support the dear parents. I like the dear mother(in law) very very much, I recently got a letter from her, we both got on very well together.
Now you will think I want something from you, but that's not the case, because I don't want to beg, and it's very hard for me to send you the truth. What I will do now, I still don't know.
My illness already cost me more than 3500 Mark. I am still in treatment. But now I have enough lamented, yes?
Unfortunately its very hard to find an apartment for the dear parents. I wanted give the dear parents our store and the room which we also rented to the store. But the dear father didn't want it, so I sold the store. The things are disstrained, everything is gone.
The Polaks (Poles) are responsible for our entire misfortune, because in Schubin we were doing well.
I would be happy to hear from you again. My children don't let me cry, if they see it, they also start to cry and kiss me continually.
I am the only one of my siblings, who isn't it going well. I it will become, I still don't know.
I thank you again very heartily and greet (and) kiss you
Heinz and Hanna also greet.