Thank you so much. How much? More than I can thank you. So I will ask my Father in Heaven to thank you. Two letters written by my dear Mother arrived yesterday. They were long and they were beautiful. They are beautiful because I enjoy reading them again. And then there arrived a love-wrapped package and letter from my dear Father, all prepared with so much love. How can a little heart like mine stand all those blessings? At least, a letter of thanks must go to you soon.
I have been receiving so much love through letters lately that I have been sending silent “thank yous” to precede the written thank you's. No love is sent to anyone that will not return in time. When we have vision, we will not doubt this anymore. It seems to me that your letters are much more wonderful than you feel they are, dear Papa. But your humble attitude is really the right attitude, because when you remain humble, we have room for growth. You can see what happened to me. When we become proud like I did, we just can’t go any further. By ourselves we are nothing. When we give God the praise, then nothing is impossible with faith.
I like your selection of poems. You are working very hard, dear Papa. But your day of rest will come. It is here already, only to be rediscovered by you.
You are having trouble with food, dear Mother. I do too. Today I learned a lesson in that direction. After breakfast my stomach started to ache. It really hurt like it had not for a long time. While I was in pain, I started to think. For lunch I could only eat a handful of almonds and a handful of puffed wheat. And it was very soon that I regretted to have eaten that. A little thought was born out of the pain. I remember the thought, but the pain was all gone before supper. I thought, “God, I enjoy to eat; but You made the food, so You must be even more wonderful than the food You made. I will not struggle in overcoming my appetite, but I will learn to love You even more than food.”
In taking my evening walk, I picked up a milk container which was half full. Someone was apparently not able to drink all. I thought, “We can get full of food so that we cannot eat more, but the peace and joy of God will never make us so full that we cannot enjoy any more of God’s love.” The little voice might also remind me at the dinner table by saying, “Remember the pain?” When God sets a meal before us, we might say, “It is good and it is enough. Thank you, my Heavenly Father.” That way we might learn to be satisfied and not always want more.
The writing paper and envelopes are fine. Color and size, everything is all right. This has been a wonderful day. The pain is away. God lets everything end always well.
Dear Hellmut, I wish for you that during every minute of your finals you may be still and feel God’s peace. You will be able to see so much clearer when you are still. It is close to about eleven P.M. Tuesday.
May God bless you, my dear Ones,
Your boy Peter – now and always.
May I send you the greetings and promise of a beautiful day which is drawing near? It is 5:30 A.M. Wednesday.
June 4, 1953
My dear Parents and Brother,
I am sitting on the balcony of our barrack and am enjoying the cool evening and my visit with you. This noon I received your letter along with Ruth’s letter; but I waited ‘til evening before treating myself to your mail. I also received the letter from Sunday together with Klein’s and Schachner’s letter. I enjoyed all the mail very much. I read the mail from Germany twice. It seems that the trials our friends have to go through are bringing them closer to God.
My own belt buckle did not come back to me yet, dear Mother. A friend, though, had an extra one which he gladly gave to me. Rather than asking me if I had the buckle, would it not be much more in the divine trend to ask, “Peter, have you been thinking of God lately?” How much love does God give us and what small part have we learned to return as yet? In a way we are stealing if we keep His love for personal enjoyment.
Today we marched by a playground where little children were playing. One of the boys remarked that he would love to be a child again. When I saw the little children playing, I felt how wise a thing Jesus said in His words, “Become ye as little children.” The little children have trust and for them only today exists.
Thank you for asking me if I would like to have a vegetable drink. Maybe at my next place I will have the facilities and need for such a thing. Here, I am well provided for. I will let you know when I feel a need arise. All right? If you could send me a stamp or postal once in a while, it would be nice. I have been lazy about making the trip to the post office. I will try to be better. You have spoiled me. And I see now that it is not healthy to be spoiled.
I feel that you did a fine thing in not using the typewriter Sunday morning. The click! click! click! might have disturbed someone’s peace. I liked to listen to your episode at Ralph’s Market. Your problems and mine are so much the same, although we are miles apart. Our weaknesses follow us wherever we go; the fastest train cannot carry us away from them. But the strength to overcome them is equally close by. Wherever we are, we are equipped with the tools to chisel our lives in the image of the Eternal.
Next weeks we will be sleeping, eating, and training in nature. We will have the practical training; we will try to put into practice what we have learned in the classroom. The weather is just right and nice for outdoor living. It promises to be pretty nice. It won’t be too different than being a Boy Scout. To have that attitude makes everything simple. If we think we are playing a game like little children, we will have a lot of fun.
I will be a good boy and take the vitamins conscientiously as soon as they arrive. I have taken the vitamins Papa sent me regularly. I have been feeling quite well. Since it has gotten warmer, we get more fresh salads. This is very much to my liking.
I’ll wish you a good night for now, eat a few nuts yet, take a shower, wash two pieces of underwear, and slip under my blanket and sleep.
Peter loves you.
My letters and soul needs very much polishing. Your boy, Peter
June 6, 1953
My dear Papa, Mother and brother Hellmut,
May I send you greetings of peace and gladness this evening? It is not early anymore; the stars and fireflies have been shining since quite a little while. It is wonderfully cool now. It is such a present to be outside and just relax. This letter I am writing you for a special reason tonight. Does the introduction give you a hint? It will be Father’s Day soon. May I say, Papa, that you have been a kind and loving Father for all these years since we have met? Thank you for providing for me so thoughtfully for so many years; for standing so many hours on your feet and selling little fishes so that I might have a home and a meal every day. But also for your spiritual guidance may I thank you. You have always let us be and trusted that the good would win. If we only believe in the good, it alone can win.
It is not easy for you to stand on your feet for so many hours each day and sell little fishes; but there is a reason. God has placed you in this position that you might learn a certain thing. When you have learned, you will graduate from the Stock Company. And it is wonderful to know that God never tests us beyond our strength. There are many struggles which you have had, but don’t you feel now that you become stronger because of them? I feel so much stronger in every way this evening than I did four months ago. And is it not the final end result which matters? Your final end result will be good because you are a brave and silent soldier. When you come home tonight, there is a wonderful rest period awaiting you. When you enter the store in the morning, then say to yourself, “I am not working for money. I am working for God.” Your days will be so wonderful if you can always remember that it is God we are serving. He pays His employees much more generously than any other employer. He will give you peace and joy during the busiest days. Money cannot buy such riches. And work can no longer be called work when we do it gladly.
I am discovering here in my work that when the joy of God comes into our hearts, work is changed into a game that we want to play forever.
May I wish you – but especially my dear Father – a good night? And may I wish you a heart which knows peace so that you may see the Pole Star of your life on all your voyages.
Your soldier boy and son and fellow sailor,
June 7, 1953
My dear Papa, and Mother and Brother,
The fireflies are lighting up in the forest already. But I still have enough light to send you greetings from my heart. It is a happy and peaceful heart tonight. I feel so rich with such a heart. I have not much money in my pocket but I always have what I need. That is enough. I feel like a boy who has a dollar in this pocket and has ten cents worth of desires. Therefore, I am richer than the man who has ten dollars in his pocket but a hundred dollars worth of desire.
It is not the food we eat which gives us strength, but it is the love of God on the food and all around us which makes us strong. One day we will be open to the love of God all around us and we will not have to eat anymore. A handful of nuts made me right away strong and happy this morning, because I was thinking of the love connected with the nuts.
Your boy, Peter
June 11, 1953
My very dear Friends, Mother, Papa, and Hellmut,
Tonight is a night to be grateful to God for the help and strength He has been in my life. If I would not have been able to depend on God these last few days, the river would have seemed much wider and swifter and more treacherous. Three nights I spent with the boys in the open. One night we all had a little tent to sleep in, but the next nights a rain coat was our protection against the elements and the forest ground was our bed. Actually, we were supposed to sleep only three hours on two now nights, but I slept lots more. And God closed my eyes and gave me rest even during the time it rained.
Such rain and lightening and thunder as I saw last night I never saw before. God put the greatest fireworks out last night which I have ever seen. The lightening was so bright that it blinded me. I thought, unless we have true wisdom, we are walking in the dark. And if God would show Himself to us in the His great Gory, we could not see Him. His great light would blind us. All selfishness must have turned to real love before we can see Him. Only slowly, step by step, through little deeds of kindnesses, will we become accustomed to the Light.
I have come to my favorite spot in the forest tonight to thank God for all these wonderful things He is teaching me; to thank you for all your wonderful mail which is giving me strength and teaching me to see the light and adding new and stronger strands to my rope of faith.
Your wonderful toothbrush came to me while I was on bivouac the first day. I had neglected to take mine along. No better time could the toothbrush have arrived.
The stamps arrived tonight at just the right time. I was just out of useable three-cent stamps and had only one airmail postcard.
Before we went on bivouac most of the boys in my barrack locked up their clothes and equipment. They were afraid it might be stolen. The wave of fear also seized me for a while until God brought light to me. I was on the verge of putting away my last piece of valuable clothing when God sent me help. And then I felt that His Light is the greatest protection. What is rightfully mine cannot be taken. I unpacked everything again. A great feeling of security came to my heart.
I will always remember the story you told us a long time ago, dear Mother, about the white family who was accused for the dry weather. No one can harm you if your heart remains open and full of love.
In the morning, just before we left on our hike, fear and doubt once more came to my heart. I was undecided. But God helped me. Nothing was missing when I returned today. And besides the few material possessions that were there, my faith in God’s protection grew stronger again. The material possessions were only incidental in teaching me faith. God made me also a present by letting me come back to the barrack a night earlier. I was taken back by truck because I have kitchen duty tomorrow. He knows what is best for us.
I like your picture, Mother. Please let me keep it for a while.
I have my Social Security card with me, but there should be a duplicate with my papers.
Please forgive me if I don’t answer your letters individually. As far as I know, next Thursday will be the last time I will be receiving mail here. A week from tomorrow I will probably be shipping out. Now is a good time to look at the “is done” pile and thank God for the help He has given me during the last four months of training. It is good to thank God for the money we have already paid off on the house instead of constantly wishing that the little balance might be paid off.
Good night my dear Ones.
Thank your for you love.
Your little boy, Peter
I will let you know as soon as I know what my next assignment is. Now is the most wonderful time to try to be calm. God will help us when we ask Him for Help. How can such a loving Father ever say NO?
June 15, 1953
My dear Mother and my dear Father and my dear Brother,
We received our orders today which assign us to our next place of duty. Before you go on and read this, be calm and know that any deal we get is a good deal and the right deal. Everything comes from God. I am going to Europe. Where in Europe, I do not know yet. I will be shipping from a camp thirty miles from New York City. I might have about two weeks leave, which I will spend in New York. I will write again soon. We must be grateful for everything that comes our way.
Your boy always, Peter
June 15, 1953
My dear Ones,
Are you happy about the way God is leading me? Do not be only overjoyed for me, but please also pray for the Mothers whose sons are going to Korea. His divine protection covers every little piece of earth in all lands. If you would like to send me a letter while I am on furlough, please send it to Harry Herbert or Clay.
I do not yet know what date I am leaving for Europe. All I am trying to do now is to be peaceful and live as if only today and now existed.
The wonderful package with dates and nuts and raisins arrived this evening. It is a wonderful package. Maybe a boy in Korea would love a package like that once instead of me?
Your boy, Peter
June 17, 1953
My dear Mother, my dear Father and my dear Brother,
These last few days at this camp are days during which I must learn patience and calmness. The last few days I must not waste and just hope for time to pass. On the contrary, I should attempt to fill these hours fuller with kind deeds and calmness. It is a good thing that God does not tell us when we change our place of abode. It takes great calmness inside not to be affected by future happenings. To be able to fill the hours as they roll around takes many cares from our mind. Let us ask God to help us learn this.
I saw my orders today and can give you a little additional information. Before I continue, though, may I ask you not to write about my orders to Germany. Maybe you have done so already, then we must feel it has happened because God wanted it to happen. It is no government secret where I am going. I only feel that the news will not help anyone to be more peaceful inside. They will be filled with high expectations about my coming, but their minds will not be at peace. And should I not be able to visit our friends, they will be sad. One cannot tell what God has in store for us. We should not build our happiness in the future, but now.
I am not being sent as a medical man to Europe. I am being sent as an interpreter. But my mission is the same whatever my outward job may be. The apostle Peter was a fisherman, but he said, “Thee I will serve.” If I would have known about this assignment four months ago already, I would have been excited for four months. And I might not have heard the still, small voice within which told me what my real mission is. Outwardly, we might have different duties but inwardly we have the same duty. We must try to please God in every way possible.
Dear Mother, your letters are not only an inspiration for me but for all people. Please do me a favor and write others more than you write me. I will be happy when I know that others are happy because of you. The more people we can help, the greater will be our service towards God. Spreading His joy in all places, that must be our aim. One day the circle of love will be closed and we will again be one great family with God as our Father.
It might be a while before I can send you my new address. All right?
May God bless you and keep your minds at peace. Your boy, Peter, Dieter
New York – On Furlough
Brooklyn, June 19, 1953
My dear Mother, my dear Father and my dear Brother,
I am using a second-hand sheet of paper but my love for you is first-hand.
God works in mysterious ways. About five years ago I was there where I am now. I am in the same place, yet I see different things. A different window pane has been inserted in the window of my soul. I am in a big city. I am in New York City. I am sitting in the kitchen of Harry Herbert. The big noise of the city does not penetrate to this quiet little corner. The kitchen window is open; the horizon is dark except for one neon sign which is flickering on and off in the distance. I am so glad tonight; it is quiet gladness of the soul. It is the peace that one may depend upon, whether he is in the army or in civilian life which I feel tonight. Real happiness is in us and we take it along wherever we go.
We all scattered into many directions this morning. Some boys went North, others South, West or East. Many good-byes were said; many good-byes touched my heart. The cook said, “Peter, I have always had something against the C.O.’s but, since I knew you, I have changed my mind.” I received many wishes from the heart. I wished many friends God’s blessings. They help the most.
On the way to New York, I gave my fellow travelers little helping hands. It is wonderful to help and to see the little smiles.
This thought came to me when I saw the sign:
100 MILES TO NEW YORK
When we are one hundred miles from New York City, we cannot see the City yet. However, although we do not see the towers of the City, we still are sure that there is a city called New York City. And if we travel a bit further, we will reach the City.
A similar proposition holds true in regard to God’s joy and love and home. We should not have to see in order to believe. We should believe in the promise of those who have been in heaven and know of its splendor. As we travel further on the road of kindness, we will come closer and closer to the City of the Holy Grail. One day we will awaken and behold the glistening towers of our true home.
God is greater and more wonderful than all the things he has created. When I saw the complex and huge constructions of the City, I thought, indeed, God is the greatest intelligence which exists. The thing which caught my attention in this big city was not so much the big buildings but the people that lived in all the big and little buildings. Oh, what a drama this life is! I am beginning to feel more and more what work there is to be done. I need His help for this work; alone, it is a lost cause. I would not know what I should do each hour of the day if God would not move my hands and heart.
I have two weeks vacation. I do not yet know where I will spend the two weeks. I only know that I will spend the first night with Harry. I would like to visit all our friends and relatives here. I would like to feed the squirrels in Central Park and maybe take a walk on Riverside Drive. I will be thinking of you. I will be and I am always near you for I love you. If there is anything or anyone in particular whom you would like me to see in New York City, please write me to Harry Herbert’s address.
Happiness, real happiness comes to our heart in doing good and right things. We should never look for rewards for any good deed we do; we will spoil it ourselves if our heart is set on rewards.
It is a few minutes past midnight now. Harry does not know that I am sitting in the kitchen. But he knows now. He quietly stepped into the door just now. You should have seen the surprised eyes.
Two hours have passed filled with beautiful thoughts spoken between two searching souls. In speaking about the real things, time has become unreal. The army is really a blessing in my life. It has sent me all the way to New York so that I may spend these beautiful hours with a friend.
Good night, my dear Ones. Many of the best double grade “A” wishes from your dear friend Harry.
May God bless you,
Your boy and big-time traveler, Peter
California, Virginia, New York, Europe! All these places have one thing in common; God is in all of them.
Woodmere, Long Island, June 23 and 24, 1953
My dear Mother, my dear Father, and my dear Brother Hellmut,
I am sitting somewhere where we sat about six and two-thirds years ago. I am sitting at the breakfast table of Aunt Ruth –
It is some hours later. The night has slipped in-between yesterday and today. It is a beautiful morning filled with sunshine and a gentle breeze. I am glad to be where I am. It is wonderful to be in Ruth’s house and garden and to sit at their table and talk with them. It is beautiful here; it is beautiful anywhere. God is in all places and all beings. It is we who fail to see this sometimes. God has protected and is protecting Ruth and her family. He is feeding them daily. He is letting the children grow up. He loves the Kaplans just as He loves the Laues.
There is no reason why we should love one person more or less than any other person. It is God whom we love in all things and beings. They are all so very kind to me and it comes from their heart. I am spending about four or five days here. It is a wonderful experience to see life from so many different positions. Unless we take a little sip from all different kinds of wine, we will not know which wine is the best. Someone might advise us as to what is the best, but we humans like to do a little bit of tasting ourselves.
Dear Ones, I am beginning to see how closely a home is representative of the mind of its inhabitants. I think it is time for us to do a bit of cleaning up and throwing out. If our mind is cluttered up like our garage and the front room, then it is time to do something about this. Once we make the start to throw the junk and unneeded items out of our house, it will be easier for us to clear our mind.
I would like you to do me a favor. Would you please only keep one outfit of clothes for me and would you please give the rest to someone who has none? It is a shame to have the clothes just hanging in the closet while others go naked. The army has given me plenty of clothes for today and tomorrow. When I went into the forest and made my bed out of leaves and let my clothes be my blanket, I felt very happy and free. We really don’t need many of the things we have in our home. We only think we need them. Anything we don’t use, we don’t need.
Today I am sending you the cups that Papa had left here. Please don’t waste your precious energy trying to sell them. Use the cups to make others happy. Maybe you could give them to S.R.F for the little gift shop. I’ll mark the ones which Ruth thinks are a little more valuable.
Yesterday morning I stood by the garden gate and watched the cars go by. Everyone was going somewhere. The thoughts came to me that we are there already. God is bedside us wherever we are. I am beginning to feel that there is not real difference between army life and civilian life. A happy heart depends on us and not on our surroundings. Although the Herbert’s home is simple, I am glad to be there. Although my physical accommodations in the army are simple, I can be happy there because God is by my side.
I love you, my dear Ones; I love you very much. The more I will learn to love God, the closer will I also come to you. Maybe one day I will stand in front of your door, although I am thousands of miles away.
Dear Papa, thank you for your dear letter. It came just in time. It seems to me that your letters are becoming free of tensions. You will not have struggled in vain. God is very close to you.
Good-bye, my dear Ones, and may God bless you,
Your little adventurer,
Brooklyn, June 27, 1953
My good Comrades and Shipmates,
Let us sail together across the ocean of life towards the shores of peace. Together with you and with God we will have a good crew. The sailing date is today and now, so, let us not miss the boat.
Yesterday I returned from Ruth’s home to Harry’s. I spent close too five days in Ruth’s home. They were five wonderful days. I have an open invitation to return any time I like. I don’t even have to call first. There is a room and a bed always ready. It might take a few minutes to put sheets on my bed and to dust the furniture a little, but otherwise there is always a room empty and waiting for a guest. The Kaplans are really fine people. Their world is a different world than ours but they are still good and kind. If God would not think of them as He does of us, they could not have prospered and progressed in their realm. The Kaplans are growing in the understanding of life, like the rest of the world. Let us always first correct our own faults before we comment on the faults of others. We might think that our children are spoiled and disobedient. I thought so for a minute. But as soon as that unkind thought crossed my mind, the little voice inside became active. I am a spoiled and disobedient child, too. I am often disobedient to my heavenly Father, to the little voice of conscience. Just because we are in a different class does not mean we are better. God has an equally great amount of love for both the saint and the sinner. However, the sinner is in greater need of love than the saint. Ruth and Harry and Bethy and Linda Kaplan are all included.
Yesterday, when I returned to Harry’s, I found that sweet letter from you waiting for me. Harry and his mother and I, we all enjoyed your letter. I will ask you to send your letters to other kind folks until I get a new and more permanent address. They will enjoy your letter just as much as I do – please.
Did we not have some kind of agreement that you would write to others and less to me? Let us find each other more and more in God because the outer communication system not only might but will break down one day. If we learn to find each other in God, our boat will continue to sail in fresh, sweet waters; otherwise, it might have to sail on the ocean of tears.
This afternoon at three o’clock Harry and I will be with our good friend Clay. We will be thinking of you all. We will enjoy the little sweet package together; and your dear letter, also. This will not be a climax in our lives. We must look at these rest stops as periods of relaxation and refueling so that with renewed energy we may continue our climb. Our mountain has no peak; our peak vanishes in the golden light.
I have received the vitamins from Dr. Vaughn. I received them quite a little while ago but failed to tell you about it. I have written to Dr. Vaughn and thanked him for his kindness.
I have no idea yet what my sailing date is, but I have the feeling that I will be a few weeks in Camp Kilmer before we ship out. May God keep your minds at peace. He can give you a mind that is at peace. You only have to believe He can do this for you and it is so. If you want something with your heart’s desire and trust in God for help, then you are helped.
I am sitting in one corner of the sofa and Harry is sitting in the other looking through the paper. Please pray for me when you think of me that my ego will leave Peter. Your prayers will help me.
Yesterday evening Harry and I visited a good friend. We came home close to midnight. Two more hours passed like minutes filled with wonderful words and vibrations that chase away sleep.
The good things to you all from Harry and Peter
Letter number 100 only contained photographs. It was out of chronological sequence. Judging by the fact that Peter was standing next to the hospital entrance in Nuremberg, Germany where he was stationed and the picture of Peter sitting on his Lambretta motor scooter, the picture dates to about April, May, or June of 1954.
Peter first mentioned getting a motor scooter in letter number 168, dated March 24, 1954. In letter number 171, dated April 11, 1954, Peter mentions the first time about taking a trip to the Alps during the Easter holidays which he did.
Peter drove the motor scooter for maybe three or four months. He traded it in for a motorcycle. Towards the end of his tour of duty, he bought a convertible – a 1954 Opel.