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A letter from Paris

Koffmann´s letter, posted in Paris on the 19th of December 1996, consists of 12 pages and is hand written. She dated the letter with "August 28, 1996". But, at this time, H. Beyer was together with Koffmann in the Caucasus. Did it take her four months to finish the letter? No mention was made of this list of claims while he was still in the Caucasus. The letter, written in the name of the RSC, is not addressed to anyone and has no formal ending. It is a collection of false descriptions, contradictions and untruths. Now Koffmann is saying, "I don't need the car!".
The Germans had asked her, Koffmann, for help in obtaining Russian papers for the off-road vehicle Lada Niva. At the same time, she portrays the issue as if her journey to the Caucasus and the vehicle caused her financial loss.  She claims that only after H. Beyer's departure did she discover that the car, in which she travelled with him for many days, was in such a bad condition that a general overhaul was necessary. In 1995, we had the car checked in a government testing station to establish it's condition and we have the resulting document. No repairs were necessary apart from changing a wing and something to weld. H. Beyer had offered to have this done by his friend, a Russian mechanic, at no cost to Koffmann. She did not take up this offer. Because she cannot otherwise justify the bad condition of the vehicle, she listsamong others the following "defects":

  • no cigarette lighter in the car (Koffmann does not smoke)
  • the car is hand painted
  • the plastic interior is old
  • a black cloud comes out of the exhaust

It is not necessary to comment on this list. Further she wrote: The display instruments of the car do not work and a repair of the engine in necessary. That was not the truth. She wrote, during a meeting of the RSC the problem was discussed together with a lawyer. She continues and says that the car could not be registered in the name of the RSC because they had no offices or bank account. Today, the car has the Moscow registration "M 026 UK (77)" and is  registered as Koffmann's private car. Without comment, at the end of the letter, she lists costs incurred through the car amounting to 4.8 million roubles. In addition, her travel costs, Paris-Moscow-Caucasus and back, are mentioned. At the end, comes her personal costs of 8.5 million roubles (about DM 3,000.00 in 1996) which were incurred "through our fault". A very large sum for her.

             Parts of the original letter.


The only purpose of this letter is to portray the Germans as swindlers. She claims only to have come to the Caucasus to help the Germans. She received an old, dilapidated vehicle, which she didn't need. Koffmann would obviously like to deny the fact of German assistance, hich the RSC urgently needed. She ensured that she obtained the most important part of the assistance - the cross-country vehicle - for herself. To avoid any moral responsibility, further help was refused. Her second intention is clearly to drive the Germans out of the region. This suspicion was confirmed in 1998. She behaved in such a manner to H. Beyer that neither he nor any other member of his group would ever have the wish to revisit the region. The reader can guess what happened next. Koffmann is using the car today, which she supposedly didn't need, daily for her field-work and undertakes, despite it's age, long trips with it in the Caucasus. The agreed Power of Attorney, for the occasional use of the car by the Germans, has never been received.

Following Koffmann's letter, a discussion took place about whether to continue with the planned assistance for the RSC. We agreed that because the RSC did not solely consist of Koffmann, we would honour our pledge and continue the endeavour. We wrote two letters to her. We tried to clarify the supplied assistance. We announced planned assistance consisting of equipment she had indicated to be important. She has not answered these letters. Because of this, the plan to continue to assist the RSC has been shelved. We are continuing our field-work in the old Soviet Union as we begun - without any contact with the RSC. In the Summer of 1998 there was a last meeting, for a few minutes, with Koffmann. She still claimed that she didn't use or need the Lada Niva because she had bought her own Lada which was in Moscow. But, on June 10th 1998, she was registered with the Lada Niva at the police station in the town of Tyrnausz (Elbrus district), 70 km from her base. The police showed us the written entry. We also discovered that after having had the car for almost two years she was still using German car papers and plates. A few weeks later she exchanged the German for Russian plates.

Koffmann´s Gasik, veteran of the Caucasus expeditions . M.-J. Koffmann  on the way in the Caucasus (Summer 1998),  in her Lada Niva, a present of the German study group.

To explain Koffmann's behaviour we think it is necessary to understand the events surounding the Koffmann-Pallix-Expedition. We can reconstruct these through investigations made in the Caucasus, which was the destination of the expedition. As far as we are aware, this is the first time that some important aspects of the expedition have been published. Some of those who reported the expedition had apparently reasons for not mentioning important facts. The following does not pretend to be a complete picture, because even we have not been able to learn all the details.

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