This story is not an everyday story. It is a personal story.
There is a small picture from my grandmother’s possession, which has never received much attention. It is a picture of a piece of embroidery in a frame.
My grandmother had a great passion for all things beautiful: antique furniture, porcelain, books, sculptures and paintings. The picture was always a bit lost in the abundance of her lovingly cared for collection.
After my parents died, the little picture came to be my possession. When I took it, I noticed for the first time that there was a handwritten text by my grandmother on the back of it. This is the unedited transcript:
This embroidery comes from my Greek blouse, she has seen a lot.
In 1938 she was introduced to me by my dear husband, Prof. Dr. Hans Kuron, who bought it in Greece. In 1943 we were totally bombed out in Berlin, W.30 Münchener Strasse. Miraculously, the Greek blouse survived.
She also remained my property while fleeing from our Schierwens estate in Pomerania and Eberswalde. When we fled through the front in the Altmark in 1945, only with a small suitcase (grandmother, daughter Brigitte and I), she was there.
I wore her when I expected my daughter Renate in 1945. When we were flown out of Berlin in 1949 to the west, she travelled with us in the textile box. I wore her when I expected my son Hans-Christian in 1950.
Even when my husband was full professor again, he often looked forward to seeing me wearing her. In 1958 Brigitte studied in Hamburg and she wore her, happily. Then the Greek blouse changed the owner again. This time it was my daughter Renate, who suddenly was wearing her. Her husband, Tenor Dr. Hayashi often admired her in it.
Now she is but a tattered piece of cloth, but the memories of 40 years of life are in her.
It is worth putting this embroidery in a frame.
This story still touches me a lot. And now I live in Berlin, the city where my grandparents were very happy. My grandfather was a professor of soil science and soil conservation and lived there happily with his wife and his young daughter.
The terrible war put an end to this idyll.
I find it extremely interesting to observe that a really profane thing – a blouse – can tell the story of an entire family. In fact, it was my grandmother, who taught me to always handle both animate and inanimate things with care- be it humans, animals, antiques, food or clothing – and acknowledge their value.
What I want to say is that inanimate, lifeless things are not just things. We live surrounded by so many of them and never pay attention to them. They deserve to be treated well so that we can enjoy them for a long time. In the case of my grandmother’s “Greek blouse” we are talking about a period of over 40 (!) years. Almost a lifetime.
What does this mean in the age of fast fashion and throwaway society? Perhaps this text encourages you to reflect on it.
Now I’m in Berlin, looking at the framed embroidery of the Greek blouse. One of my next trips will take me to Schöneberg, the place where her long and eventful family history began.