Reinhard Kaiser translated from the German by Anthea Bell

Paper Kisses

A True Love Story


Publication Date: Aug 17, 2006

120 pp

Trade Paperback

List Price US $13.95
ISBN: 9781590511817


A fascinating piece of literary detective work about star-crossed lovers in Nazi Germany.

Rudolf Kaufmann, a young Jewish geologist, met Ingeborg Magnusson, a young Swedish woman gifted in languages, in Italy in 1935, and the two quickly fell in love. They spent just a few days together before they had to part. He traveled once to see her in Stockholm; she went once to Germany. After that they had to make do with an exchange of letters—ordinary, sad, and dramatic at the same time—telling the story of a love that blossomed under traumatic circumstances. Paper Kisses covers the period from 1935 to 1941, when Rudolf, having fled Nazi Germany for the apparent safety of Lithuania, was to disappear from view.

Sixty years later, at a stamp auction, author Reinhard Kaiser bought a packet of envelopes that still held their original handwritten contents. The tale he discovered on the pages of Rudolf’s letters to his beloved “Ingelein” immediately captivated Kaiser. How did such precious personal correspondence end up on the auctioneer’s table? What became of Ingeborg’s letters to Rudolf? Did either of the star-crossed lovers survive the war? Kaiser tracked down photographs, documentary records, and finally living members of the couple’s families to fill in the gaps of their story.

In Paper Kisses, Kaiser allows the letters to speak for themselves, while providing enough historic context to reveal how remarkable the couple’s loyalty, optimism, and resourcefulness were against the backdrop of the harrowing events of World War II. Kaiser’s own fascinating literary detective work frames the narrative, as he makes one unexpected find after another. Paper Kisses is both a story of a poignant love affair and a chronicle of a thrilling investigation.



Excerpt from Paper Kisses

“Dismissed from his position at Greifswald University, [Rudolf Kaufmann] sought work in Italy, where, in the summer of 1935, he fell in love with Ingeborg Magnusson, a 28-year-old Swedish insurance company worker on holiday… Interweaving excerpts from their letters with information he gathered from relatives, [Reinhard Kaiser’s] gem of a story provides readers with a fresh, intimate angle from which to view the devastating effects of Hitler’s war on the world.” —Publishers Weekly

“That Kaiser took the time to introduce Rudolf and Inge to modern readers — whose primary form of written communication is likely electronic — is both rewarding and humbling. Covering the years leading up to Hitler’s Final Solution, their letters serve as an obvious yet striking reminder that beneath every stamp lies a story — one that, unlike books, is neither intended to be understood by a wide audience nor cataloged by the Library of Congress.” —Forward

“The story is compelling, and the experience is similar to reading Anne Frank’s Diary. Black-and-white photographs and reproductions of letters and documents enhance the text.” —School Library Journal