An illustrated book, inspired by the wartime letters written by my maternal German Grandmother to her husband in 1945.
Her letters have a powerful, almost theatrical narrative quality. They tell the story of her journey as a young German mother, fleeing the invading Russians in Czechoslovakia to return to her hometown, Hamburg, at the end of the Second World War. At the beginning of the journey she was heavily pregnant, and traveling alone with her infant daughter. Along the way she encountered many other refugees, some like herself, some from the liberated concentration camps and some from reclaimed land along the German borders. She traveled mainly on foot, relying on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter. Her journey took three months, during which time she gave birth and fell dangerously ill.
Beginning this work was a means for me to question who she was, and to begin to answer the many questions I had about her own beliefs and complicity with the fallen Nazi regime. Many of my questions remain unanswered, but what emerged was a story about survival; a vivid and moving account of an ordinary German woman’s experience of war torn Germany and the strength of the human spirit in dark times.