Lines Games

These title is the one given to the last poetry in a book my grandmother wrote years ago. I started to read it this morning and suddently I've realized I didn't really know her. I didn't know anything about her beside the fact that she was a sophisticated intellectual (3 degrees, 5 spoken languages, writer, professor, historian...) and that she wasn't the sweetest grandma you could have. I knew she had an adoration for nature that she would collect( flowers, stones, leaves) and then draw with her enormous collection of pencils. I want to share her story with you, an incredible story. The photos are my way to look at nature, not designing it but capturing it. Something we had in common. And I realized it wasn't the only thing.

discussion on culture

I guess she was sort of an enigma for many, including all the family members. Going through the pages of her book I actually came across the most beautiful poetries I've ever read. Deep, romantic but at the same time frightening, intellectual thoughts I didn't even know I shared with her. I suddently saw my grandmother as a totally different person from the one I knew. Then, the book ends with the {hi}story of her life and that of her {my} family. I was astonished when reading it. Who knew? Not even my mother! I learnt everything that follows this morning:

My Grandmother Barbara Metzeltin was born in Pola in 1910. The town was, at that time, under the Habsburg Empire and had the most famous military harbour. My grand grand father enlisted in the military and started working on the "Viribus Unitis". He participated to the war and, while the boat was sinking because of the bombing he was able to save himself by jumping down and swimming back to the harbour. Pola was conquered by the Italians . The grandgrand father survuved the war but disappeared without a trace for a long time. So myBarbara moved with the rest of the family to Moravia where my grandma attended schools.


After years her father shows up again and they all moved to Vienna. From what I can uderstand she was never able to fit in the city. After finishing high school she wanted to go to the Academy of Beaux Arts but she chose History, Antropology and Germanistic instead. She gets involved in different Intellectal groups where she found a little comfort in a city where she didn't like. In 1934 she graduated Summa cum Laude and she moves to Madrid to work as a lecturer at the local university. She meets my grandpa Günther (german) there.

under the spotlight

The civil war started and they couldn't marry there since there were lots of burocratic complication they had to go through and they get married in 1936 in London. Luckily Günther 's family help with the burocracy and helped them get the necessary papers. His father was an engineer and the General Cirector of the Hanomag, a factory where they build trains.
They couldn't go back right away to Madrid since the war destried most of the place they moved to Switzerland as a temporary residence. Even if I am swiss, after reading what happened next I am disgusted about my country...said this the story goes on:


After couple of years the swiss government decides to kick them out because the war was over, not really caring that in the meantime 4 ckids were born. After years and years of humiating burocratic stuff, the government decides to give a permit to my grandma to stay in switzerland with the kids, but not to my grandpa, who had to wander around Europe like a solitary soul. My grandma though couldn't receive a working permit so...imagine her raising 4 kids... finally some good comes.

dance with me

She had to go in search for help to the last place imaginable: the church. They helped her get a final paper for her and the kids, a working permit and she started theaching german in high school. She died in 2000. Admitting through her wrting that her place was not really switzerland, nor vienna but Istria. But Istria was not longer there. At least the way she remembrerd it. She left hundred and hundred of notebooks with drawings, writings, philosophical theories and, at the end, her last notebooks were all on a search of a deep meaning of life. On religion. Bad thing for all of us is that the notebooks are not all readable. She invented a code language only she and a couple of her dearest friend could read. They are all dead.

watching the game

What I certainly understand now is that she wasn't the sweetest grandmother but she had s o much to give on an intellectual level. So many things I know I inherited from her. I write, I look, I wish my stuff were understood by many. Yet I didn't know her. Happy I do now.
PS: in 2009 my oncle Michael Metzeltin was honored with a "Laudatio" in the same room 65 years ago my grandma received her Summa cum Laude in Vienna. My oncle is the head of the Romanistic Department of the University of Vienna...