"These photographs were in the possession of my father-in-law," the letter said. "He died April 2016 and my wife (his daughter) and I are now able to return these."
The German Embassy took the search for the unidentified German castle to social media, posting photos and asking followers if they recognized the castle in the photos. Within 24 hours, a Reddit user correctly identified the castle as Schloss Rüdenhausen in Bavaria. The photos, which were allegedly taken from a photo album in the castle during the war, were returned to the family Castell-Rüdenhausen, which continues to own - and live in - the castle today.
The photos were likely taken from Castle Rüdenhausen in the year 1944 or 1945. At the time, the castle was occupied by an American unit. Declassified American documents show that the 13th century medieval castle served as both a storage facility for art during World War II and also as temporary housing for American soldiers after the war. The father-in-law of the man who wrote the Embassy had served as a lieutenant during the war. The young lieutenant was a so-called "90-day-wonder", which was a term to describe young men who graduated from high school and became officers in just 90 days. When the American lieutenant landed in Normandy towards the end of the war, he was just 20 years old. In the weeks that followed, he made his way from France to Belgium and ultimately, Germany. But reflecting back on his wartime years, the former lieutenant could not confirm with certainty where the castle was.
"When I saw the pictures I thought, this is really neat," he continues. "My wife and I had assumed that these were pictures that he took, which is strange because they didn't carry around cameras. It wasn't until about a year before he passed that he told my wife and I that he took the photos from a photo album in the castle."
The lieutenant's son-in-law suspects that his father-in-law took the photos from the castle as a memory - to show others where he was during the war.
This is not, however, the first known case where items are being returned to Castell-Rüdenhausen.
In 2014, the son of a different American lieutenant contacted the family Castell-Rüdenhausen, stating that his father had a valuable painting that came from the castle. He plans to travel to Castle Rüdenhausen in September of this year to return the painting.
Manto Graf von Castell-Rüdenhausen, the brother of the current owner of the castle, said that receiving the photos is exciting for him and his family.
By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany
© Germany.infoLatest News