Riches from the RubbleArticle
How and when did you learn where these objects had come from?
I lived with Peter Grämer from 1978 onward. He had various art objects in his atelier. They were an inspiration for his painting. In 1999, when we moved from Berlin to Potsdam, I noticed that there were cardboard boxes and crates with shards and other art objects. That was when my husband took the opportunity to tell me about his expeditions to the ruins in the 1960s.
Why did it take so long for him to talk about it, even to you?
It just wasn't anything that was on our minds. It was something from his student days, and those days were over when we met. We were fully occupied with our careers, his as a freelance painter, and mine as a teacher. Until 1999, we lived in the abandoned building that used to be the Estonian embassy in the Tiergarten district of Berlin. That building and the neighboring ruins of the Greek embassy gave us enough to talk about, and we were kept busy by the things that had to be done to stay there and make sure we could continue to live there.
Find from the ruin © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
What made you approach us now?
In the later years of his life, after we had moved again, this time from Potsdam to the Zehlendorf district of Berlin, my husband often said that he definitely wanted to return to the museum everything he had found during the “excavations” of his student days, because he always saw himself as just a temporary guardian of these cultural artifacts destroyed by the war. Unfortunately, he didn't manage to do that before he died. He also didn't know how he should go about it. After his death, I was faced with the task of putting both his own works of art and the objects he excavated into the right hands.
Three years after his death, I had the good fortune to meet Katharina Ribbe through friends of mine, and she put me in touch with the SPK and helped me to return the items. I am glad that I found that support. It's important to know who to turn to, first of all. I am very thankful and happy that the objects are now being properly stored again, and that they will hopefully survive and can be used for future studies.