Here within these walls

024

I’m back from my lovely Heimaturlaub and my German battle continues: there is so much going on that I don’t have time for anything, not for writing my tack-för-senast-mejls , not for buying food (Ingrid feeds me), not for getting sleep. Because I resigned at my job, had to decide for a new job, have to clean and paint my apartment, organize a major move, well you get the idea. But I will tell you about all these things later, not today. Because today is not only the day I actually signed my new job contract, today is most foremost my last night in My Father’s House.

As we all know, I really enjoyed my time here and I recently was informed about something very exciting for a historian like me. As I was sitting at the Sunday fika with my choir leader, telling her I lived on the second floor of the church now, she said, “Oh, in the old school? You know there is this legendary teacher who lived there all her life?” She then showed me the book that teacher, Ragna, wrote and I was allowed to borrow it from the church’s library.

As I lay in bed that night, I started reading about that lady who came to Hamburg in the 1920s as a young teacher and stayed forever, through the Holocaust and the Second World War, through the Post-War times and the German division, through Hamburg’s flood catastrophe, basically through a long time of very important German history. And as I read her own first hand record of this time, I learn that all of that happened right here. Ragna draws up the picture of the quarter and the church building and everything is pretty much the same today, all the stories, the apartments. She tells me of the school room that is now my living room. She recounts the time when Swedish refugees grouped in the church below me, and how the wounded were helped in my kitchen, how the starved travellers were fed in today’s kitchen café.

Ingrid spoke to a very old lady in the church who has known the teacher and she tells us, “The teacher made a green wooden cupboard herself, from scratch, she also painted the decorations. Please see to it that it is not thrown away when they start renovating the church”. That cupboard is in my hall. A small organ, most likely the one Ragna used for music class, stands next to it. The door handles I press to get in are the ones she touched, too. On my floor dozens of Swedish exile children have walked. Talk about living in a historic place!

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