This glass, one of a set of four, is from my mother’s mother. She was from Kaiserslautern and considered herself a Rheinländer. These glasses reminded her of her home and homeland.
After the First War, Kaiserslautern was occupied by the French. Food was scarce, and Germany was on the edge of revolution. Between 1921 and 1923 Germany experienced hyperinflation. I remember seeing a 1 million Mark bill from that time. She said you needed a wheel barrel full of these to buy a loaf of bread. In 1923, she was able to migrate to New York, where her sister and brother-in-law lived, to escape the crashing economy and starvation. This is where she later met my grandfather.
My grandparents married in Toronto in 1927. They subsequently moved to England in 1933. My grandmother didn’t like the English weather, but I believe she appreciated being able to regularly visit her sister, Kathchen, and brothers in Kaiserslautern. In a visit in 1938, she and my mother were arrested for questioning by the Gestapo. My Mother, about 9 years old at the time, recalled a large room and her clinging on to her mother’s side. The officer stood and saluted “Heil Hitler”. My grandmother stiffened and said “Guten Tag”.
The two sons of my grandmother’s sister were killed during the war, Richard went missing on the eastern front in 1945 and August died in 1942 in North Africa. Their third son, Klaus was born in 1940.
I first met Klaus in 1963 in Toronto, and then 10 years later, in Kaiserslautern. We visited his mother, Tante Kathchen, and her husband Onkle Daniel. Although well into their seventies at the time, Kathchen pulled out a bottle of Rhein wine, fill up our glasses and toasted “acht Komma null!”