Letters from Helga: A Teen Bride Writes Home From East Africa

She was a beautiful German girl in her late teens; he was a handsome German in his late twenties who had settled in East Africa. They were pen pals. The year was 1934, and Hitler was in power.

By Hitler’s standards Helga did not qualify as “Aryan,” because her Lutheran mother was born Jewish. The family hoped that they could survive the Nazi policies, but wanted to play it safe with their youngest daughter. So when Werner Voigt asked Helga to join him in Africa, she said yes and started to pack. Before long she was on her way.

Helga began writing home from Africa immediately — at first, letters full of the enthusiasm of a young girl on a Great Adventure. She and Werner found they were well suited, and fell in love, and what happened afterwards can be found in three years’ worth of exciting, detailed letters to her family and friends — letters that have amazingly survived.

Werner’s story is told in his book 60 Years in East Africa.

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