The artists’ ancestors come from regions where today missiles are halving houses, schools and theatres are razed to the ground. Anna German herself was a child of war so the subject of life and death somehow determined her work.
St. Valentine blessed illegal relationships for which he was sentenced to death – he died exactly on February 14. On that day, almost 17 centuries later Anna German was born. Love and condemnation of interweave in her, so today, in February 2023, one year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine – we can call out after the singer: We have to put an end to this!
Human fate is neither a fairy tale nor a dream.
Human fate is an ordinary, dull day.
Human fate is a bringer of hardships, grief and tears sang Anna German in one of her greatest hits. The composition was written already past a car accident in Italy, after which she spent long months recovering, but these words also apply to the time before the artist was born.
It was 1935 when Irma Martens and Eugeniusz German (born Eugen Hörmann) cane to Urgench near ancient Khiva. The choice of the place wasn’t accidental for in this very Uzbekistan, near the border with Turkmenistan there had for long lived Mennonites. They found asylum there by the end of 19th century when tsar Alexander II decided to revoke the privileges given them together with land by Catherine II.
Coming back to Irma and Eugeniusz, the young couple intended to escape from the USSR – especially he who had reasons to fear for his life. As a Schwabisch Baptist born in Łódź, whose ancestors settled down in Ukraine, quickly became object of interest for the NKVD. His father was sent to a gulag and he travelled across the Soviet Union in search for a job. He had no luck and after having a brief respite he had to abandon Donbas to hide from men in black coats. He was moving east and near the Uzbek city of Fergana he met the chosen one.
Irma was a Mennonite and just like him she descended from a family of protestant settlers who came to Russia back in the 19th century. The history of her ancestors were painfully marked by history, the Great Terror in particular. She found herself n Central Asia as a refugee. The couple, as in the abovementioned composition weren’t going to wait for a happy day to come and filled with hope that the fate could change, enjoyed their love.
Urgench: birth of an angel
In “The Unlucky Girl” Anna German sang:
I will welcome you across the threshold for sure
I will not knock on wood
The mirror will break on greeting
And what is to happen, finally let it happen.
These strange, yet poetic words – written by Jerzy Ficowski – perfectly reflect the first moments of the singer’s parents’ life together. Young people were treading on thin ice, spies were being sought around, people were disappearing into torture chambers, so in spite of everything and everyone, they decided to find a job and not be noticed by anyone.
You can read the entire article by following this link.
– Marta Panas-Goworska, Andrzej Goworski
– Translated by Dominik Szczęsny-Kostanecki