At the end of the war, Germany was quite broken. It’s no wonder that organized religion took hold—replacing their faith in a crazed Führer. Going through my parents’ old red leather photo album, I came across several photos of nuns, with the label Die Diakonessen.
Who were these Diakonessen? I’ve now found out that they are still active—still working with refugees and immigrants. They're a faith-based charity made up of Germany’s Protestant churches—apolitical and social welfare-minded. At the end of the Second World War they expanded their mission to meet the intense needs of the millions of homeless. They were there for my mom as she recovered from her time in the Soviet mines.
In the late forties and early fifties, my mom helped out in a hospital run by these Sisters. The experience must have had a strong impact on her because I was named after a set of twins she helped to deliver. I used to complain about my German-sounding names and express relief that Gabriele was at least born before Ulrike.
My poor parents, how were they to know what the trendy names were here in Canada? What's in a name? Maybe it's honour towards the past and hope for the future.