President Rosemary, Malgorzata (our Friendship Link Co-ordinator) and Hilaria (one of our new members) visited one of our Friendship Link Clubs, S I Essen Victoria.
President Rosemary wrote:
On the morning of Friday 18th October we flew to Dusseldorf where we were met by Ann-Dore and then travelled to Essen to have lunch in a traditional cafe with a group of members whose warmth of welcome was amazing. After lunch we had a guided tour led by Michaela, a club member and Lutheran minister, visiting the magnificent abbey and learning of the key role powerful women had played in its history. The evening was spent in a brewery and beer keller with more Soroptimist sisters meeting us.
On the Saturday morning our new friends had arranged a bus tour of Essen and the surrounding countryside. I particularly enjoyed seeing the preserved coal mine – a memorial to the importance of coal mining in the area – and the magnificent mansion of the Krupp family. We then went to the home of Frederika who had prepared a delicious lunch. After lunch we visited Elisabeth’s home – she gave an extremely interesting talk on the famous Krupp dynasty and the role of its strong and philanthropic female members. This was followed by a tour of the historic model village managed today by the Krupp Foundation.
In the evening we were invited to a wonderful restaurant where we met even more Soroptimist sisters. President Dorothee spoke eloquently of the club activities and presented us with a gift.
On Sunday morning we visited the inspiring synagogue, now a museum and educational centre dedicated to all aspects of Jewish life. We then travelled into the countryside where we enjoyed a traditional lunch before we said our goodbyes and departed for our evening flight.
The warmth, generosity and true friendship we received was overwhelming and we have some wonderful memories. Grateful thanks to the committee who co-ordinated the programme, transport and social events. We send newly installed President Nadja and all our new friends best wishes for their new year.
At Frederika’s home, Malgorzata was asked to share her story of her father’s life during the World War Two. Malgorzata wrote:
My father worked in the mines near Essen/Oberhausen where he was sent in 1942 to do compulsory labour. This was very hard work; people only received two bowls of watery soup a day and many did not survive. However, my father was lucky – a German supervisor provided bread, ham and cheese and his wife prepared sandwiches for my father over a substantial period of time, they risked their lives to do this. I shared this story with my son, Peter, who said that even in the harshest of ideologies, such as fascism, human values can win.
I was very glad to be able to share this story and I understand that Ann-Dore and Michaela may try to find the family of that man who helped my father survive doing harsh labour at the age of 16 or 17.
We had such a lovely and warm reception in Essen in 2019 – who would have thought about it in the 1940s? Times and people can change; life goes on and memories shape us all; one can find light in the darkest moments in our European history.
Thank you members of S I Essen Victoria