Rostock, 1922 – I was recently contacted by Rostock University, one of the oldest universities in the world, founded in 1419. They are writing a paper about the women there that were the first ever to become Doctors of Medicine, my grandmother Gertrude Bardenhewer among them. They were asking me for any documents and photos that might be helpful from that time in her life. Sure enough I found some old papers from her time there, as well as some remarkable photos from 1922 when she graduated. One is a beautiful portrait I have posted before; it luckily had the word Rostock on the back of the print. The other was identified by the University, and shows my grandmother and some friends sitting beside the river Warnow eating lunch and relaxing (that’s her in profile).
In looking over her old photos I came across these two others I found very powerful. This is one of her playing guitar along a country road with some young girls is from 1913, just before the outbreak of WWI. They of course had no idea of the horrors to follow and that sadly these bucolic scenes would be coming to an end, replaced by endless miles of trenches and bloody battles.
During the war she was a nurse, and while there were several photos of her treating wounded German soldiers, this one in particular was very striking; She in on the far right in her nurse’s uniform.
I am blessed to have so many photos from her life, but much of the caption on the back of the prints was in German and also hard to read. I sent many of these images to Rostock for them to review and they were kind enough to translate them and give me some additional background info as well. I learned so much about her as a result and I am looking forward to their final writings about her and her amazing achievement.