Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lineage and Legacy

  A few weeks ago I received a lovely note from Susanne Hagen, the editor-in-chief of a beautiful magazine called Angerburger Heimatbrief.  This thoughtful magazine, which produces articles photographs, and poetry with great love and care reaches a world-wide audience of people who are still connected in some way to East Prussia, be it through family, friends, history, war stories, music, art, literature or just plain and simple heartfelt memories.
  So, when Susanne (who had run across a previous blog post of mine about five generations of East Prussian women) asked me to write an article for the Angerburger Heimatbrief, introducing my soon-to-be published novel – The Last Daughter of Prussia, I was honored.
  I am especially thrilled to have a place in the magazine because Angerburg is mentioned many times in my novel as the largest and nearest town to the estate Guja where my heroine Manya von Falken lives.

  Here is a little piece of the article I wrote. The entire article will be published in German in the next issue of the magazine, thanks also to the fabulous translation abilities of my friend Christine Matthäi and her sister, Sigrid Börner. I speak German, however writing an in-depth article is a completely different linguistic ball game.

Daughters of East Prussia:

Behind me is the first woman of the five generations I write about in the article –
my great-great grandmother,  Coelestine Baroness von Schenk zu Tautenburg.
I am the last of the East Prussian women belonging to this line.
© Photo by Christine Matthäi

War disperses families to all parts of the earth. My family is no exception. When the great evacuation of East Prussia took place in 1944 /1945, my mother Owanta Gisela von Sanden lost her home in Guja, near Angerburg. Fortunately for me, she and my father Ejnar Gottlieb, a medical doctor, immigrated to the northern Bahamas, an archipelago of seven hundred islands located in the warm, turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

The Bahamas.
I grew up on the two most northern islands - Grand Bahama where you see Freeport,
and Abaco - which on this map is noted with the town Marsh Harbour.

  My childish spirit blossomed on these sun-kissed shores where the ocean was my teacher and the turtles, dolphins, egrets and wild horses my friends. 

This is me as a child with my best, most faithful friend, Cora

But this intimate connection to nature is not unique to me – it is a gift from my mother’s family, a sacred respect for creation passed down by the generations of men and women who lived in East Prussia long before I was born. My grandparents Walter and Edith von Sanden, both avid naturalists, were part of this lineage. Well known and respected for their expression of nature’s beauty, they left a vast legacy of literature, photographs, art and sculptures. 
My grandparents Walter and Edith von Sanden-Guja
©Photo Gottlieb Family

Bronze cockerel sculpted by my grandmother
© Photo Gottlieb Family

One of the many photographs my grandfather Walter von Sanden took,
 documenting life in East Prussia
©Photo Gottlieb Family

  Although East Prussia no longer exists on a modern map today, my roots have always traveled to that vanished land. As a child I asked a lot of questions about the “old country.” I was always surprised to discover that most English-speaking people had never even heard of East Prussia. Later, when I read my grandfather’s books, Das Gute Land, Die Zugvögel and Schicksal Ostpreussen, I was left with a feeling that the story of East Prussia’s loss and devastation needed to be told in a different way so that people who do not read history books  would know what happened in those final months of WW2, when millions of people were forced to flee through the bitterest of winters. And so I began writing my soon-to-be published novel – The Last Daughter of Prussia.

A lake in East Prussia full of  lilies
© Photo Gottlieb Family

Until next time...

– Marina Gottlieb Sarles

c) All content and photos are the private property of the Gottlieb family, unless otherwise stated or linked,  and may not be used without permission.
(c) Privatbesitz Gottlieb Familie

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on the magazine article — and what an especially wonderful post this is! How beautiful to see your deep respect for the earth and the oceans traced back to your family's roots in East Prussia. Amazing photos to match your heartfelt prose. Brava.