Comments for Paper Trail

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Produced by Julie Subrin

Other pieces by Julie Subrin

Summary: A stamp auction in Frankfurt leads an author to a war-time love story

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Review of Paper Trail

This is an affecting and nicely drawn story about a story. In the 1990's a German collector finds himself in possession of a set of letters, dated from the late 1930's, from a German Jew to the Swedish woman he loves. The two had met and shared a romantic couple of days together and are now separated but are trying to find a way to be together. Needless to say, that's a problem, given the times.

The collector, Reinhard Kaiser, became obsessed with the love story and took his research beyond the letters; he's now published a book telling the story of Rudolph and Ingeborg. Through interview tape with Kaiser, narration, and excerpts from the letters (read unusually well by a third voice), Julie Subrin weaves a story that, while not extraordinary in the context of its time, drew me in entirely.

I was momentarily exasperated by Subrin's decision not to tell us the how the story came out so as not to give away the end of Kaiser's book. In fact, though, Subrin tells us that what became of Rudolph Kauffman during the war years is "not a happy story" and makes clear that Rudolph and Ingeborg did not get to share the future they dreamed of. We get it.

This is a simple, touching piece of radio that reminds us of the power of the story: one sad story among millions about people far away whom we can't know, but for some reason we care.