Until the summer of 1938 the Hindemiths hesitated to actually act on the long-considered retreat from Germany. They left the flat on Sachsenplatz in Berlin in early August, and it was with obvious relief that Hindemith noted in his calendar on 16 August: «last day in Berlin!»
The Hindemiths found their new residence in the Swiss canton of Wallis. Hindemith enthusiastically wrote to Willy Strecker in October 1938: «It is as if this little house were tailor-made for us, and the surroundings are the most beautiful that one could wish for: a lovely meadow and tree landscape surrounded by the most magnificent sights. Behind us the southernmost chain of the Berne Alps, across from us the giant Wallis snow-covered mountains (Weisshorn, etc.) and in front of us, far down below, the Rhone Valley, which one can follow about 40 km upwards. Then there is the isolation in a tiny farming village full of cows with constant tinkling, the little house with a sun veranda and a garden with fruit trees; what more could one want?»
As difficult as the decision to leave Germany and go into exile must have been for Hindemith, he was ultimately strongly convinced of the rightness of his decision: «There are only two things worth striving for: decent music and a pure conscience, and both are being taken care of now. Seen from this vantage point, all previous undertakings were superfluous [...],» he wrote to Willy Strecker in September 1938.
In retrospect, He commented on his political naivety in dealing with those in power in Germany with a good deal of self-criticism. Regarding reports on the treatment of unwanted artists, he replied to his wife from America on 18 February 1939: «I am subsequently seized with a slight horror when I hear such reports; not so much because of the measures taken by an obtuse government, not because of the lamentable victims – they could have gradually noticed that the whole thing was no joke – but I think about how terrible it would have become if, also in this castrated situation, one had been immersed in powerless surrender and a too-finely hidden insurgency.»
And on 6 April he wrote: «The artistic measure taken in Germany is completely in line with all the undertakings of the Reich, which still seems to be dictated solely by megalomania, sadism, and lack of raw materials. I always feel like a mouse who recklessly danced in front of the trap door and also went in; by chance, when it was outside for a moment, the door snapped shut!»