Biographies > Carl Bayer 2/7

In August 1923, 20-year-old Karl Bayer left Germany to seek his fortune in America. The young and ambitious mechanic was eager for professional advancement, and the economic situation in Germany seemed hopeless. Even before departure he had already anglicised his name to "Carl", and signed his passport. The travel bag he took with him on the ship also bore his new initials C. F. B. (Carl Friedrich Bayer) – but of course for his relatives he remained "Karl" his whole life long.

Carl did not travel alone: two friends, Philipp Klespies and Albert Lutz, also from Burgsinn, accompanied him. During the Great Depression, therefore, a farmer, a mechanic and a precision mechanic were making their way to the New World. Inflation was rife in Germany: during the 1920s a single loaf of bread cost over 10 million Marks.

In July 1923, a few weeks before his departure, Carl ahd arrived in Munich to apply for an entry visa from the American Consulate-General. He spent the night in Munich with relatives – the Triebel family. One of the members of that family must have written the letter that was discovered 80 years later in Carl's estate; its form and content are of particular historical interest.

The letter mentions Hitler's attempt to seize power in Munich on November 8, 1923, and was written on the blank reverse side of a 100-million-Mark banknote: "Night-time on November 8th – quarter to one in the morning / since I haven't handed in this letter yet, I can tell you the very latest news. Around 2 hours ago there was a huge commotion outside the Löwenbräu beer-cellars, with music playing in between. What's going on, I thought, so I got up and went to have a look. A huge crowd of Hakenkreuzlern (Nazis) was there. I asked what was going on, and they said the government had been overthrown. The whole of Munich is in uproar, all hell has broken loose, and it's the start of Civil War. I'll tell you more later."

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