## Gerda

Gerda Schellhase, fotographer unknown

randform reader Bart asked about my grandmother Gerda. As said before I am reluctant to talk about my family. However in some sense – especially if they are rather part of history- I may make an exception. Talking about them may be important to understand history.

Gerda was musically rather gifted. She gained admission to the reknown Stern Conservatory. Her father, a cellist, wanted her to be a pianist. After his suicide however it was not possible to maintain her education. My greatgrandmother Grete (who took also partially care of me, when I was small) ran a pub and I guess the costs of the conservatory may have played a role in that carrier path.
Gerda married and got my father at a very young age at the beginning of the forties. She got divorced when my father was 1 year old. After that she got engaged with a russian army officer, who was probably in the army of Vlassov or Krasnov.
He died at the end of world war II before they could marry. It is told that he was a russian nobel, but I don’t know wether this is true. It seems Gerda went to russia in the seventies to look for the place, where he came from.

After the war was over she spoke fluently russian, played the piano well and lived in Berlin-East. After working as a shop assistant and helping out her mother etc., she finally got a rather good job at the berlin state library, Unter den Linden, where she was a “Lektor für volksdemokratische Sprache”. Amongst others she had a relationship with a russian “starnyi maschinist” (a mechanical engineer) who was called “Kottki”. However Kottki got problems due to this. Due to economic or political reasons she went with my father finally to Berlin-West in 1954. Here she found a job as a gate keeper for Siemens in Berlin-Siemensstadt and later on remarried a warehouseman. My father gave her piano away to movers, when I was five years old. She died in her late fifties from brain cancer.

Gerda and Grete Schellhase on the balcony at their appartment in Fuldastr. Berlin-Neukölln around 1933, fotographer unknown

### 4 Responses to “Gerda”

1. muesli Says:

Nad wrote: “My greatgrandmother Grete (who took also partially care of me, when I was small)”

Do you have any recollections of your greatgrandmother ? With her experience she must have been a great caretaker.

2. muesli Says:

You haven’t answered my question and by the way why did your father give away the piano? how did you do your lessons then? Did he buy another one?

@muesli

I have some recollections of Grete, for example I remember exactly when she taught me how to tie a shoelace. i must have been four years old or so. We shared an appartment, when I was small. She lived in one room and my parents, my sister and me in the other room (plus one common room and a tiny kitchen). My mom was working mostly full-time. Grete would often take me with her when she visited her friends (like she knew a lot of other pubowners) and eventually feed me with things like Leberwurst. But at the age of 2 1/2 I was sent the whole day to Siemens-Betriebskindergarten.

My father had not so many good memories with the piano. Moreover we moved
into a clairaudient 70s highriser where you can’t play an instrument unless you want
to get into trouble. Luckily today there are electronic instruments. My father actually soldered together a kind of electric piano construction kit when I was a little older, but it had split manuals and there was no way to get lessons for this instrument. So my sister and me didn’t learn an instrument as a kid and neither did the other kids around us.

I took though some instrumental lessons when I was a student, but when I started with my diploma thesis and later the Ph.D. thesis, I couldn’t maintain this. Both – working (after the prediploma I financed my studies myself) and doing a thesis left no time for instrumental lessons and this didn’t get much better after the thesis.

It’s only very recently that I started to learn the guitar (my husband Tim teaches me an hour every one or two weeks), but don’t be afraid – I currently do not intend to torment you with the result

4. muesli Says:

“So she was rather openly opposing the Nazis. In fact Rheinhold bailed her out from the SS, which arrested her, because she secretely supported her former jewish landladies with money (she was seen by neighbours, when she regularily slipped an enveloppe).”

So she was being bailed out by a Nazi and married him – I wouldn’t call that “opposing the Nazis”. Other people left their life in the battle against the Nazi’s and your grandmother married a Nazi!

It must feel awkward to have all those Nazi’s in the family. Aren’t you afraid that there are some genetic leftovers?

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