Determination08 May 2005
We didn't intend to celebrate my mother-in-law's 75th birthday on Mother's Days and the anniversary of VE Day. It just happened that way. As a surprise for her, we scanned in some of her old pictures and made a presentation. This picture is my favorite, and seems appropriate for all 3 occasions.
This is her confirmation picture at age 14, spring 1944. A year later her way of life would be destroyed: the war would be lost, her family would lose their house and mill (east of Frankfurt-Oder) and be expelled, and she would leave her family and flee alone to an uncle in bombed-out Hamburg rather than remain as a teenage girl among Russian occupiers.
This picture shows the strength and determination that got her through and enabled her to start her life anew after losing everything. I've never heard her talk with remorse or regret about all that she and her family lost with the war. Her old life was gone, and wishing it would come back would not make the present day any better. Was the end of the war a defeat or a liberation? I think she would say it was both, but more importantly it was a new beginning. She raised a very impressive family, a family which I'm very proud and happy to have married into.
Today she mentioned that the picture was in fact taken in Poland. All nearby German photographers had been called into the military, so her class travelled as a group across to border to a Polish photographer.