Freiherr Günther von Hünefeld

Hünefeld, Freiherr Günther von

deutscher Flugpionier. Er initiierte den ersten Ost-West-Flug über den Nordatlantik mit der Junkers W 33 „Bremen“ im Jahr 1928 (1892-1929). Autograph letter signed (“Günther”). Berlin. 2½ pp. Large-4to.
$ 6,534 / 6.000 € (78224)

Written in English to his American fiancée Evelyn F. Amberson, living in Edenburg, Pennsylvania. “Eva Liebchen! [Eva Dearest!] Enclosed you find a dear little ring that I wish you to have. I feel that I shall soon be going home and that we shall never marry here. I have had the Nigerian Topaz stone of your betrothal ring reset in the wedding-band. Thus, Geliebte [Beloved], you will after all wear both rings. For you I have chosen this lovely golden topaz because to me it signifies the bright ray of pure golden sunshine that you have brought into my lonely life during these last weary months.

I do hope that you will like it, meine Liebe [my Love]. I had hoped myself to place on your little hand the two rings but since that serious illness in Japan I have felt that Gott [God] may will otherwise so I have had the rings combined and now am writing this letter, enclosing the ring and addressing the envelope to you before undergoing a very dangerous operation. Also, after my death, you are to receive all my many medals and orders together with my citations. I flatter myself with the belief that you might like to have them, Liebling [Darling], and they can be sent to you two or three at once in envelopes. Then you will not be obligated to pay duty on them. Also, you are to receive a few things from the Far East upon which there is no duty or only a very little and a large portrait of myself which was made in the Emperor’s palace in Tokio [sic] for you, Geliebte [Beloved]. Lieber Gott [Dear God], how I wanted to give these things to you! They are yet in trunks and boxes. What joy to have unpacked them together! But now that can never be for if you receive this letter I shall be in eternity. I believe in a life hereafter, meine [my] Eva, and that I shall be able to be near you often so you must permit me to see how very brave you can be. Try not to grieve for me, Liebling. It is indeed tragic that we should be parted forever by death in this life and sometimes I am rebellious and bitter because it must be so, but we must after all bow our heads to the will of Gott and accept patiently and courageously whatever may come to us. Also, perhaps it will be easier for you if I repeat that death only can free me from pain that is at times the most unbearable torture. The medicine that I have always taken to ease the pain no longer is effective and one cannot suffer so for long without seeking the aid of powerful drugs. Operations only ease the pain for a few months. Then it is once more frightful agony. At times, Liebchen, it seems that I shall go mad. Many nights during this last month, in the silence and loneliness of my room, unable to sleep because of that maddening pain, I have paced the floor or sat in a chair for endless hours and often I have fallen to my knees and prayed for merciful death to free me from such agony! Only der lieber Gott [dear God] and Dr. Kreuger know what I have had to bear. So, Geliebte, when one considers these things it is no doubt better that I should go, but it is hard, so hard when we love each other so and there is now the greatest reason to live. Dr. Kreuger believes that this time he will really cure me, but other times he has thought likewise and I do not believe that I shall recover from the operation in any case. I have recently endured too much, my strength is failing and I am so tired, so very tired, meine Liebe. I am afraid that our beautiful dreams of happiness will never be anything else, but I shall try to live for the sake of that happiness. How wonderful it would be to be well and happy like other people! But if I do not live please, meine Eva, remember that I am wholly yours and I believe that I shall be able to watch over you in that other life where there is no pain and that I shall expect you to be brave always. Some day, you know, we shall be together forever, Geliebte. Finally, I wish to thank you for these months of joy and hope that your sweet love has given to me and may der lieber Gott bless you, my own dearest, dearest Eva, and guard you from all pain and hardship all the days of your life. Life is cruel and merciless but meet it with a brave smile and it will not seem so hard to face. Farewell now, meine Liebe, and I kiss the little ring. Ever your own loving Gűnther.” Prussian aristocrat Hünefeld was blind in one eye and following his rejection by the German Air Service during World War I, he was wounded at Flanders as a volunteer motorcyclist. Undeterred by poor health, he enjoyed a diplomatic career while serving in Constantinople and the Netherlands. After American aviator Charles Lindbergh made the first non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927, Hünefeld began planning a similar flight but from east to west, which the prevailing winds would make more difficult. He bought two Junkers W 33 single-engine planes from aircraft engineer Hugo Junkers who supported his endeavor. Separate attempts for a transatlantic flight in 1927 by Hünefeld with Bavarian bomber squadron commander and head of Deutsche Luft Hansa, Hermann Köhl, and another with James Fitzmaurice, a Royal Airforce pilot and Irish National Army Air Service commandant, were scrapped due to poor weather. Hünefeld and Köhl then enlisted Fitzmaurice as navigator, and on April 12, the three man crew departed Baldonnel Aerodrome in Ireland aboard the Bremen, crashing onto Canada’s Greenly Island the following day after a flight of 36½ hours. The damaged plane and crew remained on the rocky island, slightly west of Newfoundland’s northern tip for two weeks while making repairs, after which they traveled to New York City to be honored with a ticker tape parade on April 30. On May 2, Congress authorized President Coolidge to award the flyers the United States Distinguished Flying Cross and, upon returning to Ireland on June 30, they were feted in Dublin. Hünefeld had endured poor health throughout his life but, as he recounts in our letter, he was suffering with stomach cancer. Knowing that his condition was terminal, he and Swedish pilot Karl Gunnar Lindner attempted to fly around the world beginning in September 1928. However, his health forced them to abandon their mission in Tokyo a month later. Returning to Berlin, Hünefeld prepared for surgery, penning our poignant love letter, only to die under anesthesia before the surgery could be performed. Our touching letter is written to his untraceable fiancée, who remains a mystery and is not mentioned in any biographical accounts of the famed aviator. The February 6, 1929 announcement of his death in the New York Times discusses his political career and literary endeavors and states, “The Baron never married. He used to say that he had three wives, ‘the pen, politics and aviation.’ He lived with his mother in a suburb of Berlin.” Written on two separate sheets. Folded and lightly creased along the top edge. With the original envelope. In very good condition..

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