Paper Kisses: A True Love Story

Written by Reinhard Kaiser (trans. Anthea Bell)
Review by Lessa J. Scherrer

“I was not looking for stories when I found Rudolph Kaufmann’s first letters to Ingeborg Magnusson – in May, 1991, at a stamp auction in Frankfurt.” Paper Kisses is that collection of letters, written by Kaufmann to his sweetheart between 1935 and 1939, lovingly saved by Ingeborg until her death in 1972, and, after, by her sister Greta. Kaiser has collated and researched their lives, providing historical data and summaries of what had happened between letters, but otherwise he lets the letters speak for themselves.

                Though they only represent half the story – Ingeborg’s letters to Rudolph have been lost to history – what survives is perhaps the more historically interesting half, Rudi’s experiences in the tightening snare of Hitler’s race laws and the onset of war. His inability to find a job much better than construction worker despite holding a PhD, his arrest and imprisonment on trumped-up charges, his frustrated desire to visit his beloved – all come through, despite his attempts to put a good face on his experiences for Inge. Paper Kisses is a story that will haunt the reader long after the short book is over.