In my family a samovar plays a significant role: it was a wedding gift by my great-grandparents to their son Oskar and his wife Edith in the 1920s. On their ride to the celebration they forgot it in the train.
The Samovar, 2007
In my family a samovar plays a significant role: the one which was given as a wedding gift by great-grandparents to their oldest son Oskar and his wife Edith in the 1920s.
On their ride to the wedding celebration from Kowno to Klaipeda they forgot the samovar in the train. Since my great-grandfather had the strange tick to write down every train number he was riding they got the samovar back.
Edith and Oskar took the samovar with them when they were settled in Germany in 1941. After Oskar had passed away in 1973 my grandfather tried to convince his sistler-in-law Edith (who had remained childless) to inherit the samovar to HIS children. (Sound)
When I stood in my uncle Georg’s apartment in Vilnius in 2005 during my first research trip, I found a samovar collection. He himself had disappeared in 2000. Everybody there had wondered why my uncle had been collecting this „worthless crap“ (Bild)
Opa: „How about the samovar, now?“
Edith: „Yes, now… I want to give away the samovar. I have most confidence in Irma in terms of keeping it.“
Opa: (in a solemny serious, very assertive voice) „Adi will keep the samovar as we have already said and you do agree. I don’t think the others care a lot about having the samovar. So this chapter is closed.“ (you hear the sound of the stop button of the tape recorder). „Quiet! Do you hear well?“ (again you hear a button of the tape recorder) „Adi will honor the samovar and we will make a plate on which it says: ‚From our brother Oskar and Edith the wedding gift in highest honors.’ And the tradition will be continued! (you hear the sound of the stop button of the tape recorder) „Now listen to my idea“ (again you hear a button of the tape recorder) „Adi with his children, even though he has the girls – but the tradition will be continued, you must understand this too“ (you hear a button of the tape recorder) „What will they do with the samovar? Manfred…“
Opa: „Shhhhhh. Manfred is Oskar’s godson.“
Opa: „if he gets the samovar,“
Opa: „he will pay and send the money to Irmgard, yes – and that remains for Adolf, right? This is what we agreed.“
Edith: „I want, it should stay as family – you know what I mean, family heirloom, yes?“
Opa: „For my sake… you do with the samovar what…“
Edith: „No, no! I want, ehm, with you…“ (you hear a button of the tape recorder)
Opa: „If I were to say, for my boy Adolf, he will continue the tradition.“ (you hear a button of the tape recorder) „For Manfred.“
Opa: „And we will say: ‚Manfred, what is it worth to you’, this amount we send to Irmgard“
Edith: „no, no, no“
Opa: „The samovar stays here“
Opa: „ If you want…“
Edith: „yes, don’t forget, don’t forget the godchild!“
Opa: „ If you want to give it to the godchild…“
Edith: „I want it to, how do you say… to pass it on as family heirloom, that’s all.“
**(Opa: „Oh, Uli is a god boy, very concious of tradition“
Edith: „He is not really tarred with the Ammon-brush“
Opa: „Naa, can’t say that!“
Edith: „Now you tell me, you had two boys, the, the dingus had two boys. Now this one hast wo girls, the other has three girls…“
Opa: „That is the kind of time when there are only girls comming.“
Edith: „yes, I mean, what do you want with the boys (laughs), if it at least wants to be such a Meschinés(?), once, just glue a little weeney to it (laughs) ????
Opa: „I don’t know what …“ (sighs quietly) “there’s nothing you can do!“)**
Edith: „Listen, now I want to ask you first: how about eating?“
Edith eventually willed that Irmgard (her sister-in-law, Opa’s sister) who lived in the USA received the samovar. It is now in New Jersey.
Translation: Patrick Hubenthal, Stefka Ammon