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Edward Wahl letters

Identifier: RHC-114

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 235 letters written by Private Edward Wahl to his wife, Vera (whom he usually addresses as "my dearest/beloved mother"), at their home in Lyons, Kansas dated from 28 February 1944 until 4 October 1945. It also includes a few letters written to Edward Wahl from friends and relatives, along and other documentation regarding him.

Contents generally reflect Edward's disgruntlement and disgust with the Armed Forces for his being drafted at the age of 37 with three dependents, and his passive resistance by refusing to seek advancement in any way during his service. He seems unwilling to believe that the culture and routines of army life are not set up for his convenience and comfort. Frequently mentioned are concerns about Vera's and the two sons' health, worries relating to the family's financial situation, collection of rents for a local farm property, and mention of news received from relatives and friends.

He also provides interesting details of his experiences and acquaintances made during training at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Custer, use made of leisure time, weekend passes to town where they are allowed to stay at hotels and private residences. Edward often mentions his Sunday attendance at religious services at the post chapel or at a Methodist church in the local town.

Most valuable is his description of the AuTrain (Michigan) prisoner of war camp where he has been put in charge of the camp's PX (Post Exchange). He frequently mentions his commanding officers, fellow soldiers, work as an interpreter, specific German prisoners of war, their stories and holiday celebrations, and details of camp organization and routine.


  • 1944-1945


Access to Materials

Collection is open for research use. Materials may be accessed by request at Special Collections and University Archives in Seidman House. Materials do not circulate.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is the physical property of Grand Valley State University, but all literary rights are retained by the original creators of materials, their estates, heirs, or third parties. It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure appropriate permissions for publication beyond the bounds of fair use.

Biographical Note

Edward Wahl was born 2 November 1906 in Memelburg, East Prussia (now KlaipÄ—da, Lithuania). His parents were August Wahl (1877-1932) and Olga Bertha Ruckman Wahl (1880-1958). He had a twin sister, Helena (1906-1982); his other siblings include: August Jr. (1902-1996), Hedwig (1904-1989), Alma (1907-1908), Bertha Olga (1913-1980), Amelia A. (1917-2009), Arthur Julius (1920-2009), and Richard W. (1923-2012). August Wahl immigrated to Kansas in 1909 where his elder brother lived, followed by the rest of his family in 1910. Edward was naturalized in 1918.

He attended the University of Kansas, matriculating in September 1927 and graduating with an LL.B. degree (bachelor of law) in September 1932. By 1934 he was a practicing attorney in Lyons, Kansas where he evidently met his future wife, Vera Vivian Volkmann. She was born on 5 December 1909 and was the daughter of Albert William Volkmann (1881-1944), a bank cashier, and Ida J. Schmidt Volkmann (1883-1961), residents of Lyons.

Vera graduated from Southwestern College, Winfield, Kansas in 1930 with a degree in music education; she taught in the public schools in Lyons and Dexter, Kansas. Edward and Vera were married on 26 June 1937, and they had two sons: David E. Wahl (born 1938) and Dr. Robert W. Wahl (born 1942). Edward died on 23 May 1993 and is buried in Lyons Municipal Cemetery, Lyons, Kansas; Vera died on 14 January 2004 and is also buried in Lyons Municipal Cemetery.

Edward Wahl was drafted into the U.S. Army in February 1944 and reported for duty at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on 29 February where he had basic training. On 1 April 1944 he arrived at Fort Custer, Battle Creek, Michigan where he was part of the Military Police Replacement Training Center. He remained there until October when he was transferred to Fort Sheridan, Illinois for his posting assignment, on 26 October, to the Prisoner of War camp in AuTrain, Michigan. In mid-September 1945 he passed through Fort Sheridan on his way to the Separation Center at Fort Logan, Colorado where he was ultimately discharged from the service in October 1945.


0.84 Linear feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is organized in four series: 1) Letters from Edward Wahl, arranged in chronological order; 2) Greeting cards, notes, and leaflets from Edward Wahl; 3) Letters to Edward Wahl and miscellaneous documents; 4) Calendar of letters and collection notes.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was purchased piecemeal in sixteen separate online auctions from a dealer in Irvine, California from February, March, and April 2017. The collection into many lots by the dealer, and unfortunately not all lots were acquired. Partial transcripts of three letters not acquired are included in this collection.
Edward Wahl letters, RHC-114
Robert Beasecker
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Grand Valley State University Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Seidman House
1 Campus Drive
Allendale MI 49401 United States