All that you can't leave behind

"Dear Dieter - on this blurred photo you'll see our house, and to the right the shed with my coach. We could retrofit it as your room so that you're left undisturbed. Knowing you I believe this will be your preferred choice. Let this sink in and come! Yours Geist + Herta"

Learning that that my grandfather was stranded without means in Rio de Janeiro after Hitler had passed an exchange embargo, Paul Weirich wrote the above letter, offering his former school classmate a place to stay. After journeying over many weeks, across unfinished and failing railroads, Wolfdietrich Wickert reached the small town of Jaguary the day after Christmas with nothing but a worn-out suit and a small handbag. The year was 1934.
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After a week going through numerous shelves and cabinets filled with glass and silverware, maps, books, table cloth from my Oma, paintings and woodwork from Opa, I'm flying back with an extra suitcase to ferry home some of those items. Ironically, a large share was once brought over from Europe - maybe when my grandparents first flew back to Germany after the war, precisely to go through whatever was left of their original belongings, or what they inherited from their parents. At some point, holding Brazil to be their new home, they took the decision never to move back - and had thus to go through a similar process in deciding what to bring, and what to leave behind. Granted, it's much easier to put items on a box and ship them overseas nowadays, but allow me some historical nostalgia as I pack...
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I was also completely dazzled by some of stories recovered from family chronicles, travel memories and diaries. How my grand-grandfather, just days before he was about to emigrate to North America, went to say farewell to an old friend - and meeting his daughter, decided for a complete change of plans, eventually settling down in pre-WWI Kassel. Or how my grandmother and her brother worked two jobs to afford bringing the rest of the family to South America, literally with the last ship before ports were closed ahead of WWII. And of course my grandfather's journey, a little glimpse of which is illustrated by the postcard story above.
My transatlantic musings, past and present, pale in comparison.
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