Graunt Helga’s German Bar

Bar with intricate hand-made carvings
Bar with intricate hand-made carvings

My dad now has this beautiful hand carved bar in his home. It is a few hundred year-old replica of a many hundreds of years old original piece. I don’t know much about the history of it, or even if that is true, but I do know (sort of) how it got there.

My great aunt Helga came to the US with her family just as World War II was beginning. Her father was a doctor in Germany, and as Hitler came to power he was recruited for medical experiments. For obvious reasons, they fled to the US, he went first, seeking work and a home, while his family stayed behind. They had already shipped many belongings, including the bar, and traveled with very little. One item in particular - Graunt Helga’s mother’s purse - was lost on the train, and it had all necessary travel documents inside. Chaos ensued, but eventually she was able to find it and get back on track after leaving the children with a stranger for a while.

My Graunt Helga was a wonderful person, kind and understanding, and served as a step-in mom for my own dad, who’s mother passed young. When Helga passed, my great uncle moved out of their house. My dad got to take the bar, and one day it will be mine so I can cherish it for its vintage beauty and memories of one of my most favorite people.

Place(s): Germany, U.S.
Year: 1938

– Mackenzie

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant