Copenhagen, Tuesday night( September 1941 added in Elisabeth's handwriting)
My dear Li! Here I am once again in the city which is so familiar to me and where a part of my heart has stayed stuck ever since that time fifteen years ago. When I heard the bells from the tower of city hall for the first time again, close to the window of my hotel room, it gripped me tight inside, and everything has stayed so much the same as if nothing out there in the world had changed. It is so strange when suddenly you encounter a piece of your own youth, just as if you were meeting yourself. I liked the trip coming over here too: In Berlin we had pouring rain, over Neustrelitz storm and rainshowers as if from buckets, in Rostock it cleared up, from Wenemünde on the sky was scrubbed clean, almost cloudless, but still a stiff north wind; so it remained until I arrived here. Late at night I walked under a clear and starry sky through the city, darkened, to Bohr.
Bohr and his family are doing fine; he himself has aged a little, his sons are all fully grown now. The conversation quickly turned to the human concerns and unhappy events of these times; about the human affairs the consensus is a given; in questions of politics I find it difficult that even a great man like Bohr can not separate out thinking, feeling, and hating entirely. But probably one ought not to separate these ever. Mrs. Bohr too was well, she asked me a lot about you and the children, especially about Maria. The pictures I will show to her tomorrow night, I have a nice enlarged foto of Maria which I had made for Mama. Later I was sitting for a long time with Bohr alone; it was after midnight when he accompanied me to the streetcar, together with Hans. (Bohr)
Thursday night. I will take this letter with me to Germany after all and send it from there. From everything I have heard, the censorship would delay the arrival several days as well, so it makes no sense to me that a censor should read this letter. Unfortunately, you then have to wait for my letter for almost eight days. I for my part have not received any mail here either.- Yesterday I was again with Bohr for the whole evening; aside from Mrs. Bohr and the children, there was a young English woman, taken in by the Bohrs, because she can not return to England. It is somewhat weird to talk with an English woman these days. During the unavoidable political conversations, where it naturally and automatically became my assigned part to defend our system, she retired, and I thought that was actually quite nice of her.- This morning I was at the pier with Weizsäcker, you know, there along the harbor, where the "Langelinie" is. Now there are German war ships anchored there, torpedo boats, auxiliary cruisers and the like. It was the first warm day, the harbor and the sky above it tinted in a very bright, light blue. At the first light buoy near the end of the pier we stayed for a long time looking at life in the harbor. Two large freighters departed in the direction of Helsinor; a coal ship arrived, probably from Germany, two sailboats, about the size of the one we used to sail here in the past, were leaving the harbor, apparently on an afternoon excursion. At the pavilion on the Langelinie we ate a meal, all around us there were essentially only happy, cheerful people, at least it appeared that way to us. In general, people do look so happy here. At night in the streets one sees all these radiantly happy young couples, apparently going out for a night of dancing, not thinking of anything else. It is difficult to imagine anything more different than the street life over here and in Leipzig.- In Bohr's institute we had some scientific discussions, the Copenhagen group, however, doesn't know much more than we do either. Tomorrow the talks in the German scientific institute are beginning; the first official talk is mine, tomorrow night. Sadly the members of Bohr's institute will not attend for political reasons. It is amazing, given that the Danes are living totally unrestricted, and are living exceptionally well, how much hatred or fear has been galvanized here, so that even a rapprochement in the cultural arena - where it used to be automatic in earlier times - has become almost impossible. In Bohr's institute I gave a short talk in Danish, of course this was just like in the olden days ( the people from the German Scientific Institute had explicitly approved) but nobody wants to go to the German Institute on principle, because during and after its founding a number of brisk militarist speeches on the New Order in Europe were given. - With Kienle and Biermann I have spoken briefly, they were, however, for the most part busy with the observatory.
Saturday night. Now there is only this one night left in Copenhagen. How will the world have changed, I wonder, when I come back here. That everything in the meantime will continue just the same, that the bells in the tower of city hall will toll every hour and play the little melody at noon and midnight, is so weird to me. Yet the people, when I return, will be older, the fate of each one will have changed, and I do not know how I myself will fare. Last night I gave my talk, made a nice acquaintance too. The architect Merck who had built the Reich Sports Arena in Berlin is slated to build a new German school here in Copenhagen, and he came to my talk. On a joint trip aboard the streetcar we had a pretty good time conversing. I always enjoy people who are especially good at something.- Today at noon there was a big reception at the German embassy, with the meal being by far the best part of it. The ambassador was talking animatedly in English to the lady seated next to him, the American ambassador. When she left, I believe I heard her say to somebody: We will meet again, definitely at Christmas, unless something quite unexpected comes up. One has to take these diplomatic dinners in a humorous vein.
Today I was once more, with Weizsäcker, at Bohr's In many ways this was especially nice, the conversation revolved for a large part of the evening around purely human concerns, Bohr was reading aloud, I played a Mozart Sonata (a-Major). On the way home the night sky was again starstudded. - By the Way: two nights ago a wonderful northern light was visible, the whole sky was covered with green, rapidly changing veils.
It is now a quarter of one a.m. and I am rather tired. Tomorrow I will post this letter in Berlin, so you will receive it Monday most likely. In one week I will be with you again and tell you everything that happened to me. And then we all will be together for the winter in Leipzig.
Good night for now! Your Werner