| Home |
Maria & Lucille

Dear Lucille,                                 Vienna – November ‘37

Thank you very much for your nice letter. I am very happy to correspond with you.

I live in Austria, in the capital-town, in Vienna. I am 14 years old and go to the “Gymnasium”. I think that is the same as your high-school. We have also many subjekts: German, Latin, French, Geographie, History, Religion and so on. We learn also English at school but not very long. I learn also privat. I think I can speake quite well but the writing is very difficult, because we write in German as we pronounce. So please you must excuse if I make many mistakes.

I love music also very much. I play the piano and I like to go to the opera very much. Did you hear something of Richard Wagner? That is my favourite componist. I go very often to the opera, because we have in Vienna a very good opera. You have in America very often casts of our opera. I like to go to the theatre and to movies also, my favourite Film stars of Holywood are: Myrna Loy, Nelson Eddy and Tyrone Power. I think there we have the same taste.

I have my grandfather in Chicago. He is a Doctor there. My father is also a Doctor. I have no sister and no brother, I am the only child. I look forward to Christmas with great pleasure. We have in Austria and in whole Europe Christmas very nice. We get many many presents and we have a big Christmas-tree with a lot of sweets. Then we have also two weeks holy days. I have this year many wishes. I shall get an evening dress, pink silk, I hope it will be pritty. Now I will tell you how I am looking. I have black hair (curls) and dark eyes. My lashes are very long. I shall send in my next letter a picture, now I can’t, because they are not ready.

I hope that we shall see us once. Don’t you come to the Salzburger Festspieler, you surely heard about it. So many Americans and English are always in Salzburg. The Americans are all very fond of it.

Please be so kind and send me pictures (if you have some at house) of movie-stars or something of Holywood. Now I will finish because it is very late and I must get up very early in the morning, because school begins at eight o’clock.

           My name is pronounced as it is written, Maria. My adresse means: Vienna is the town, it has 2 million inhabitants. III = the district, and Salmgasse is the street. Now you know everything.

Please write me also and say if you want something, I shall send you from Austria.

                                                 Many, many greets

                                                            Your Friend

                                                            Maria Likar

Dear Lucille,                                                      9.I.1938

Thank you very, very much for your letter, the sweet hankerchief and the movie pictures. I send you this little brooch; it is a paseant girl, now it is the great fashion in Salzburg. I hope you will like it.

Now I will tell you about my Christmas. I got a lot of things, dresses, a sweet maive, a brasslet , jumpers, tickets for opera and theatre and so on. We had five weeks holidays. I spend them very nicely. I was invited went to movie, I saw Alibaba come to town, and a Film with Sonja Jennie in German “Eisprinzessin”. I think you call it “Thin Ice.” Once I saw “Meistersinger,” my favourite opera. I saw it for the 11th time I was most beautiful again.

Now we have school again. It is very cold here we have –F degrees. Next year I shall go skying.

I will try to answer your questions.

We see here in Austria many American movies. You must know, that the educated classes (most of them) in Europe know English. So we understand the movies. Of course the ladies use rouge, lipstick, powder and finger nail-polish. Girls in our age use powder and nail polish.

In the town all people leave in flats. I will describe you only my room. It is quite big. Yellow paper, a couch, a toilet-table, a wardrobe, a big fauteur, my piano and my writing-table and other things.

Only at the country, where we stay in summer, we have houses.

We drive also cars. I think I answered all your questions.

What do you do the whole day? I must get up at half past six then I have school till 1. In the afternoon I have twice a week piano lesson once a week English. Then I sometimes are invited perhaps dancing or anything other, or my friends come to visit me. Please would you send me the name and the adresse of a good friend of yours, in the same age? My friend would like two corresponde also. Please tell your friend, if she won’t write first.


            Melitta Strizete

            Vienna II

            Praterstrasse, Austria

Now I must end my letter. Dear Lucille please write me again!




Dear Lucille,                                                  12.III.1938

Please don’t be angry, that I didn’t write you for such a long time. But there was really nothing so interesting to tell you about and I had quite a lot to do for school.

I got also a letter from a little boy in Hudson Ohio and from a girl from Pittsburgh, but I think I will not answer them.

At the 9th of March I had my birthday. I got a sweet yellow Organdi evening dress and long. I showed my dressmaker the picture, you sent me of Myrna Loy, where she wears this white dress. She copied it and I think it stands me very well. In my next letter I shall send you a Foto, where I am wearing the dress. I got also a record: Sweetheart, Eddy and Maidowold is singing it beautiful and it is also a very good English Waltz.

From my grandmother I got a spring-suit, also very nice. In the afternoon friends came to me it was very nice. Today we have a holyday to celebrate the friendship with Germany. It is very sad that Toscanini doesn’t want to come to Salzburg. Did you ever hear a concert or an opera when he conducted? He is wonderful. Are you singing now? We had a celebration at school and I had to play the piano, during my friend sang Viennese-songs. We had great applause. Then I had also to play Theature. I was a girl of a Boardingschool. It was very funy.

Today in the afternoon perhaps I will go the “Rosalie”. That film with Eddy, Eleanor Pavell, Iona Massey. Her really name is Iona Hoiniary. She is an Hungarian, was at Viennese Opera and then she was engaged by a Holywooder firm. I saw her very often in Vienna and now I am very curious how she is doing in Holywood. Please send me again movie-pictures, you know whom I like. Myrna Loy, Gable, Eddy Taylor and so on. What shall I send you? Are you interesting in movie-picture or stamps collecting? Please answer me soon, Dear Lucille, don’t wait so long then I will answer also very soon!




Dear Lucille,                                                  9.IV.1938

Just now I got your letter and answer it in the same hour. Thank you very much for your kind letter and for the nice movie-pictures. I will send you also some. In this letter I send you a picture of the “Fuhrer” I don’t know how you would say in English. Today he came again to Vienna. I saw him myself. Standing in his car he arrived under the indescribable jubilation of the people. For the Easter holidays I will probably go away. But I don’t want it, because it is always so nice in Vienna (to Easter). On Easter Thirstday , we call it green-Thirstday , I would go to the opera. There is every year “Parsifal” by Richard Wagner. On Saturday I would go with my friends to the church “Auferstehung”. I can’t translate that. That is a clerical service on the street. On then we are allways going together to a Restaurant to take the dinner. That’s every year very nice and funny. And then on Easter-Sunday and Monday, there are parties, theatre, movie and so on. On the 20th Adolf Hitler has birthday. There we have no school an in the evening is my favorite opera “Meistersinger”. There I would wear my new dress. In this letter I can’t send you my picture because it is to heavy then, but in my next letter quiet sure. Now I must close.

PS. Please answer me also so soon as I.





PS. Please take care on the stampe. Perhaps it is from the vote and then it is very precious!

My dear Lucille,                                        July 21st 1938

Oh please don’t be angry that I didn’t write you for so long time. But I was so lazy and it was so hot in Vienna last month. Now I hope you will take it easy and answer me again.

Now I am the first week at the country. On the 14th our holidays began. In the forenoon I go swimming or I play tennis and in the afternoon I make excursions or some else. In our Hotel I made the acquaintance of a very nice girl in my age and to boys of Mondle – Germany. That’s very amusing and sometimes we go also together dancing. Here I stay till the 4th of August and then I go on a big lake. Here there is also a picture-house. But the worries are very bad. I would enjoy it very much if you would write some wishes. You sent me ever a sweet charm. Many, many thanks. It is really so nice of you to send me my favorites. I wear it very much.

What do you do the whol day? Have you now your big holidays?

Please answer me again!

                                    Your affectionate



My next addresse ist



Pritschitz am Woerthersee

Villa “ Zuflucht”



Please what means in the American movie O.K.?

My dear Lucille!                                15th September 38

Why didn’t you answer me? I wrote you a letter from Kuidberg where I stood for my summer holidays. I returned at the end of August and then I went for a week to my friend on the [illegible] (that’s very high), where I was invited. We had very fine weather and made nice excursions. Often we listened into the whireless , because there were sometimes transmissions of the Nuernberger Parteitag. Now, Nuernberg is a beautiful old town in the middle of Germany. You will know the name from “The Mastersingers of Nuernberg”. Now in this town every year the German faction days take place. I don’t know if I explain that quite write. There are hold speeches and so on. We heard also speaking the Fuhrer(Adolf Hitler). He said, that if the German in the Tschechoslovakia don’t get their liberty we shall make war. Today the English Premier-minister Chamberlain went by airship to Hitler.

Three days ago I cam back from the [illegible]. During this time I saw three movies. Dubble-wedding with my favorite Myrna Loy and William Powell. Perhaps you have another title. Now a movie is coming again with M. Loy, Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. It’s called “Test Pilot”. The day before yesterday I saw a very exciting Italian movie in German language and yesterday I was in the “non stop Vino”. There the pictures run the whole day and you can stay as long as you want. But you see only pictures, which are just actually.

Now I have nothing to do but playing the piano. You must make great progresses, if you play so difficult and well known things. Now I am changing school because I was in a monastery all the private schools got closed. Now I will go to a public-school. It begins of the 3rd October. Now my friends are all coming back and its very nice in Vienna. We are going to the city, buying things and so on. Monday I will going to the opera.

I send you some Five pictures and one of myself I hope you will like them. There is also a picture of the Fuhrer.

Please dear Lucille write me very, very soon an send me please movie picture (you know which I like) an if you have some pictures of fashions our nice dresses!

                 Your affectionate friend



My dear Lucille,                                            18.XI.1938

I received your letter and the pictures, many thanks for it. Now I have to work a little more. We have all our tests in November. Yesterday we had Latin Arithmetic and most tomorrow English. A Dictation. That will be very funny, because our English teacher a lady of 50 has a dreadful pronunciation. She isn’t an English, realy she only stood for a year in London. We all together don’t like her. She is old, ugly, and angry. We shall have a dictation about the colonies. The last time was beautiful. Our Fuhrer stood in Vienna for three days. There were so many people at the Hotel, though he was not officially here, that you can’t imagine. I myself waited 4 hours. But that doesn’t matter. I think never a man was loved by the whole nation like this – Just I read in the paper that you hear in the newspapers in Germany are dreadful conditions and I don’t know what else. That is not true. That’s only wrote by the Jews to prevent peace. Everything is in best order. It is so funny if you sit in Germany and you reads things that never happened. That I only tell you, that you know how the things stay realy.

          Yesterday I saw the American movie Chicago. Technical splendid only a little bit noisy. Have German movie saw too. On Saturday I am going with my friend in the Burg theatre to Thomas Paine. I think that was an American hero.

The clothes you sent me were very nice. Except the evening dresses they were all imitated “Dirndl”. Dirndl wear the German peasants. How do you like the new styles? I find them very funny. They don’t dress very well. I think they are only to be worn by young and very fine faves, but unfortunately the older ladies were them too. I like my long curls better and will wear them nevertheless. I have got some new things. A scotch taffeta afternoon dress black hat, pumps and a blue winter coat. Also some jumpers. Pullovers and note books are my hobby. How sweet a gray one with wine-read collar from Angora-wool. I send you two sweet blouses. That one with Plisse I got in white.

The broches are German costumes, now the peasants in the mountains are wearing them. One is Tyrolia and the other the “Salzkammergut”.

           Now dear Lucille I hope that you will answer me quickly.

                                 Many kisses and greets

                                 Your friend



My dear Lucille!                                 March, 20th 1939

I am so sorry, that I didn’t get any message of you since November, though I wrote you again. Perhaps you didn’t get it, for there were some pictures and Fotos in the letter. So you can imagine that I had a great pleasure, when I got your letter. You know that since autumn many things have changed and that our Fuhrer adds Checkoslovakia to the Reich. We were standing hours and hours yesterday to cheer him.

            On the 9th of March I had my 15th birthday. I got a very fine surprise. When I entered my room, I saw such a cosy corner. I wanted always. It consists of two big and comfortable armchairs with big flowers, a carpet and a sweet little tea-table. Here I can welcome now my friends. I was very happy about it. Then I got a light-grey dress. The skirt is quite (I don’t know how to say do you know the French word “Plisse”) with wine-read belt. It’s very smart. Then I got 4 jumpers in all colors (you know that’s my hobby), records and so on. Two week ago I visited all “Ring-Performances”. Did you hear about Wagner’s “Ring des [illegible]”. That’s a Music-Drama divided in four evenings. Best I like Siegfried and Gotterdaemmerung. It is about the old northern-gods. We call that “Mythos”. I think you would like it also very much, for you are Germanic too.

I saw a lot of movies. But I think you don’t know these. We don’t have so many English and American movies now, because we can’t pay them with gold, and ours are as good as yours.

Last week we had an accident. My grandmother, I liked very much died. She had an operation and died. It was a dreadful time. My mother is very unhappy and sad.

A beautiful movie I saw for the third time. Scarlett Pimpernel with Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon. It is about the French Revolution. Now I remember that I wrote you after Christmas from Munich, where I made a journey and sent you very nice pictures from there. It’s really a pity. I will write you never more about politic (I think that’s the reason), though I am very interested in it. Perhaps they don’t allow in America that one is writing good things (the truth) about our Fuhrer Leader and our Empire. Tell me Lucille, do you beliefe too in these lies, the Jews are writing about us? It would realy be a pitty.

I am quite astonished that you are playing the piano as well. Those are rather difficult peaces. I am playing too, but I think not so well.

Here we had also the flu. I had it too, but not very bad. Now please write me very quickly, that I know if you go any letter or not.

                                                with love



Commentary by Michael Luick-Thrams

            Lou Celle Nelson Fertik--as a girl known by her given name, "Lucille"--approached me one bright Indian Summer afternoon in late 2002, following a TRACES program at the Fort Dodge/Iowa Public Library. As usual following a program, a small crowd swarmed the podium, wanting to pose post-presentation questions, cite "my grandmother was from Germany" to my lightly-veiled irritated stare* or purchase a book published by our non-profit, loss-making educational organization. Among those hovering around me, Lou Celle--toddering behind a walker--pushed to the front until she was able to shout above the din "I had a pen pal in Vienna during the Hitler years..." Of course interested in this lead but preoccupied, I shook her hand and asked her to kindly send me a note about the story, then counted out change for a pushy woman next to her...

            A couple weeks later a Priority Mail packet arrived at TRACES' office. Opening it, I delighted in the rare value of Lou Celle's donation to our growing documentation of Midwesterners' encounters with individuals in or from Nazi-occupied Europe. What a treasure, these dog-eared letters and assorted clippings of so long ago! Tellingly, the two teens wrote of evening gowns and Hollywood idols (infatuations much tamer than those with today's often risqué teeny stars!), concerts and countryside strolls. As the 18-month-long exchange of experiences and ideas progressed, however, Maria's letters turned increasingly political--and increasingly valuable as raw documentation of how even relatively apolitical youth can fall victim to subtle-yet-pervasive propaganda. Maria's thorough brainwashing was clearly mapped out in her own hand--or was it?

            Both Lou Celle and I questioned the apparent contradictions and pregnant possibilities which were perhaps "hidden" between Maria's lines. Her grandfather, she wrote, was a doctor in Chicago--but why that? Had he fled the on-coming Nazi occupation of Austria? If so, was he a Jew? (As in Germany, a disproportionate number of doctors and lawyers, professors and journalists were "non-Aryans" and thus in danger.) Maria herself kept ever on the move--why? Was she really going on "trips" or was she, too, sidestepping the authorities? One address she sent Lucille/Lou Celle was "Villa Zuflucht"--and while "Villa Refuge" could, indeed, well have been a getaway's legitimate name, was it a code for her own exile? She sent to Iowa various clippings of "the Leader"--because she, at her young age, already was such an ideologue, or because she wanted to throw would-be censors off her trail by offering "proof" to anyone tampering with her mail that she, too, was a "good" Nazi?

            All "history" is fiction, in as far as none of us "were there"--save for good souls like Lou Celle, of course. Rather, we moderns dig around in journals and letters, tattered photo collections and faded newspaper piles to ferret out what we "think" we "know" happened years, decades or centuries ago. Of course, any given rendering of "the historical Truth" is subjective and partial. To me, though, the most important ingredient in "good" history--as opposed to superficial "hobbyist" history--is distilling what seems to have occurred to its essence, then outlining its lasting significance to the human experience; the "right questions" are more important than the "right answers" in such an exercise. Believing that "history" is relevant only in as much as it offers meaning for those of us alive today and beyond, my goal in working with TRACES is to document how cultures and individuals change--or don't--over time. And, I believe, understanding the possible outcomes of a given collective or individual act can free us to live better, fuller lives by offering roadmaps for living in a world full of richness as well as rogues.


*Not to be rude or arrogant, but 53% of all Iowans--and similar numbers of other Upper Midwesterners--have German ancestry! Had I a dime for every audience member who after a program pushed her or his way through the crowd, planted themselves unavoidably in front of me and announced, beaming, "My mother/father/grandmother/grandfather/milk man came from Germany," TRACES already would have the million or so dollars needed to open the permanent museum we plan to eventually build, in which to preserve and present the precious stories on this web site. Want to donate to that crucial fund? You don't have to be "German" to do so--just interested in Life!

LouCelle's latest letter, written in response to the above "commentary", follows:



In early November 2010 TRACES received an utterly unexpected email from an unknown woman, tipping us off that "Maria" from our web site had a post-war fate about which we knew nothing. Following a link the woman kindly provided, we did a search on the web and discovered:

According to a Georgetown University biography about her, Maria Likar Shrady "was born in Austria on March 9, 1924, the daughter of Theodor and Louise (von Peter) Likar-Waltersdorff, and was educated at public and private schools in Vienna. During the war she fled Vienna to her family's country home in the Alps, where she met Frederick Shrady while working as an interpreter for the American Army Fine Arts and Monuments Department".

Her future husband was an interesting person himself: "Shrady had no formal training in sculpture, but he had been a successful painter before World War II, studying at Oxford and Paris. Because of his fluency in French, he was inducted into the foreign service and was finally stationed in the Bavarian countryside, where he met his wife... They married in July, 1946. After the war, Frederick Shrady resumed his career as an artist, only this time as a sculptor instead of a painter. Shrady is perhaps best known for his religiously inspired sculpture, including Peter the Fisherman at Fordham University and several pieces at the Vatican. [He] died on January 20, 1990".

Maria wrote several books; her first was in 1957, Come, Southwind, with an introduction by Martin C. D'Arcy. In 1961 she won the Christopher Book Award for In the Spirit of Wonder; other works included Moments of Insight, The Mother Teresa Story, and translations of various religious writings. She spent much of her later life in Connecticut.

| Home |