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Michael Pflug's Biographical Statement, 2000

"In 1954 after nine months in Paris studying fashion design Christiane moved to Wuppertal... more

LETTERS & DOCUMENTS: Berlin 1956-56

Christiane Schütt to Michael Pflug, Wuppertal, January 1956

Outside it has turned very cold and is snowing. I go home quickly in the evening and immediately up to my room, write for awhile, downstairs in the house things quieten down gradually. At first one still hears only a few faucets, and the doors, then it is very quiet. During the day I am in a room where nobody knows me and I am quite undisturbed. Sometimes I look out of the window onto the white roofs and the white hills. The sky is grey, only sometimes it clears up and becomes very bright and the snow blinds. I have nearly finished the Simplicissimus . He has smallpox, and many people do not recognize him anymore.
xxxI hope you had a good trip and have rested a bit. I like to be at home, all are so quiet and know exactly what they want and what they will do. Sometimes everything looks so simple. Last night I woke somebody up in a dream, even though I knew that I should not. Then the light went off, it was so dark that I could only feel myself along the walls and I walked along corridors and over steep stairs, a little as in Rue de Florence. I came into a room with a terrace, inside sat an old man and sang and outside somebody walked and led a monkey on a chain behind him.
xxxThen I was sitting in a rather empty train and looked outside as it went light. It had snowed, the fields were white, and the paths and hedges dark, a little like New Years morning. Many regards.

Wuppertal, Sunday, January 15, 1956

Today was Sunday. I wanted to go on the hill, but it rained and so I stayed home and have done some sewing. Friday I was at your Mothers, it was a little earlier than usual and still bright outside. A clear, warm day with the birds twittering outside. From her window I saw the sunset behind the barren trees.
xxxThe books arrived, if you want to I can send them. Many thanks for your letter, I was very glad to have something. At least one of them is perhaps beautiful , I already though something like that with a still life, but I did not know what was the matter. I have put your watercolor on the wall and the drawing of Sylvia with the pheasant feather from last summer. I am taking the Ungrateful Beggar to work and I am reading a little every evening.
It is now different here, much quieter, since Martha is here. In the evening I am sitting in my room, sometimes the wind rustles outside and I look outside onto the path. Sometimes one hears the rain on the roof. The factory halls are now finished and do not look new at all, grey stone and a blue-grey roof that shimmers brighter in the rain. I hope you are well. Many regards.
P.S. Perhaps you could write me the address of Inge Sück so that I can send her the colors.

Christiane Schütt to Regine Faust, 4th February 1956

...Now something else. This summer Michael is finished with his studies, it is possible that he will move quite far away, if he works with an international organization. That would mean that we might want to see each other for awhile in the summer. It is all a bit different from what you may think, because once you mentioned egoism, in the beginning he always has lent me his colors and he always prepares the grounds for my canvases, that is rather hard work and he also cleaned my brushes and my palette in the summer when I was too tired, and he had to study besides that. Bitterness there is everywhere and some of the things are my fault. ...

Christiane Schütt to Michael Pflug, Wuppertal, 16 February 1956

Thanks for the letter about the nice Sunday, I am glad you had a good time. Here it is snowing a great deal, then it is very clear again and cold. I have done some sewing on Sunday, on the large kitchen table and sometimes I looked out on the snowed-in hills and the small houses. Then I saw your Mother. It is still bright outside when one gets up there in the evening, but she was not there and the woman from across has taken me inside and I could sit in the living room and wait. On the street the children played and most people passed quickly, then it became darker and I could no longer see the brass nameplate on the door and the people only as dark shadows on the white snow. When I left it was already quite dark and rather cold with a very bright moon crescent, bright stars and a greenish hue on the sky, where the sun had gone down. Then I sat at home with my Aunt in the living room and she talked about the past and we talked about various things.
xxxIt was good, so peaceful, if only everything else was also so simple. Now it is late, outside the train is passing and in the house the doors bang. Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. Later I would like to have time for the Cross of Ashes. In Kitzbühel the statues of the Saints in the Church were hung over in violet and the large bell could not be tolled . It was also darker than here, with snow, but on Palm Sunday the willow catkins bloomed. In the classroom we had a large green tiled stove with a stovepipe. The students from out of town, who could not go home at noon, warmed their lunches in it. Many regards. Goodnight.
xxxThe little girl out of the newspaper is very beautiful, who is it?

Christiane Schütt to Regine Faust, Paris, 14 April 1956

Now again I haven’t written for a rather long time, the last one I think was the result of the examination. I had to pay something for the suit, but in spite of that it was quite cheap, I have to change the skirt, otherwise it fits quite well. The last days in Wuppertal were quite busy with packing and the shipping of the crates. Good Friday I went to Paris, the family went to Berchtesgaden and took me along to Cologne, and it was hard to part from each other. If I don’t go in summer to Paris I will make sure I will go to the mountain pasture in Berchtesgaden. They now have horses too there, young colts; and I wanted to go back to the mountains for a long time. In Paris it was rather cold at first, I painted in Sylvia’s studio, the still life with an old lute, a petroleum lamp and an apple. On one Sunday I was in Chantilly, a beautiful old town in the North of Paris with two chateaus, an old one in the town and a newer one "François 1er" a little further outside, next to a lake, surrounded by small islands and a wide rounded rampthat leads to the shore of the lake. Inside are many miniatures by Clouet, Fouquet, Corneille de Lyon and many beautiful landscapes by Poussin but everything diluted by courtly baroque paintings and in a somewhat confusing fashion. In Paris it was a little warmer, so that I could paint outside, Brigitte was there too, we stayed at Jacques and we had it very nice. Here I talked to the principal, he was very nice and he said it would work out, I'm starting on Monday. Here it is raining now, there are no trees, one can never find all the advantages in one place.

Christiane Schütt to Regine Faust, Berlin, 11th June 1956

Many thanks for your two parcels, I didn’t open them, I gave them to Mummi to keep them, and I’m already looking forward to them. I hope that you have settled down in Toronto and that you are feeling better. And now the following: I need a permit to live here: to be able to work in Berlin and to be paid, one has to submit a certificate of currency and one can’t get it without a permit to live here. I didn’t know any of this, through Frau Melm’s help I worked in a temporary job in a Ready-to-Wear house, and now I can’t even get paid because of this stupid permit. I went from office to office and I need premièrement a certificate from you, that you agree, that I go to school here and that I will take a job. You have to mention both and it is necessary, because I am considered an adolescent and you are my parental guardian. I’m really sorry, that we always need another paper and that I have to ask you for it, but it is really necessary. At the moment it rains a lot, I must go out and do more of the paperwork. Perhaps it will all work out. In the three week vacation I will perhaps go to Spain, perhaps with two friends in a car and I will stay in Estella, not Burgos, where Michael’s brother is already for the third year and where he can get me a room and other things because I don’t speak Spanish. Mummi will only allow it if you agree too, it isn’t all that far and only a project for the development of which we have to wait. School is nice and interesting, especially languages. I’ve not done all that well on the last tests but I was quite excited and I was confused. I have to pull myself together because one can’t afford that. The most difficult is physics, math is manageable, it is a lot of material in a short period, but it does help concentration and one develops a methodical way to think, which I need badly. I have just read in parts " Les confessions d’un enfant du siècle" by Musset, if one was reading it all at once, the effect would be that of a pound of glazed fruit, but in small portions it is interesting and the language is really quite refined.
xxxHow does it work out with Peter’s job, the other day you wrote about some negotiation quelquepart, did anything become of it? How is Micky, soon she will go to school. Last night I dreamt about you. You had a very beautiful dress with large discrete flowers and you were standing in a very bright house behind you a glass panel door and a marvelous garden, unfortunately I woke up after that.

Christiane Schütt to Michael Pflug, Wuppertal, July 12 1956

Last night I dreamt of a house, when one looked out of the window it was Summer and through the other window Winter . The windows were open, the ivy tendrils were blown into the room and on the windowsill lay a black cat. The evenings are more beautiful with the dark sky and the many stars. During the day it is hot, all the doors are open and it is a little cooler. I had two white lilies in the room in a small red vase. They look waxen, and are very straight and have a strong scent.
xxxMany thanks for your letter with the nice story. If you are still in Paris I will come to Paris. On the 23rd of July we start our vacation. I have written for colors. Unfortunately they mixed it up and sent me water colors in tubes. But if I do not go to Spain I will have a little more money and can buy some. We have a great deal to do at the moment and we are writing many tests, so I am at home and continue with everything. Nine distaffs, on which one is spinning alternately, but the threads must turn out much smoother. In between I have read stories by Maupassant. I like some of them very much. The stories from the country, from Normandy, his travels are the best ones, so completely different from some of the others. Sylvia has written me, together with your letter, the first time after a long time.

Christiane Schütt to Regine Faust, Paris, 24.VII. 1956

I’m now in Paris, for three days, Michael is here too, in August he goes to Tunis and we want to get married before that. Could you please send me an authorization, that you agree? Could you please send it soon, we want to get married in Germany, and we want to do it during my vacation and while he is still here, as soon as we have all the papers I would also need a death certificate of Hans Georg , I think you once sent me one but I’m not quite sure. If you still have one could you please send it along, and you would get it back very soon and a certificate that you are my guardian and also a birth certificate. Now the fact is, that I’m possibly pregnant, but it isn’t sure yet. If I am pregnant I would have to leave school. Could I then come and join you and find a job to work as long as possible (in a household for instance, if possible something better), then I would have the money for the clinic and what one would need immediately and if for the first few months I’m staying with you and look after the baby then I can do something in your household and wait until Michael is ready to get me. Do you think that could work out and you would have enough room and it wouldn’t be too much for you? I haven’t talked to Mummi about it, because I wasn’t sure in Berlin, and I have written it to her now that we will get married and that she should send me the papers because I don’t have them all with me. With the other I’m still not sure and I’m also afraid to tell her about it. If I knew that if I was pregnant I wouldn’t depend on her and could join you I would be reassured. Do you think that it would be easier in Canada to earn the necessary money? In Berlin it’s still depending on my application for residency there and I would hardly get that and also I in that case would prefer to join you rather than staying here. Now the question arises how long a visitors visa would take and whether one could work with it. Because I wouldn’t stay there more than a year and a half. Can you possibly write me very soon what you think about all of this and send me the permission as soon as possible.
xxxAdresse: C/O Bonneville, 8, rue Guénégaud, Paris VI e, France. That is the apartment of Sylvia’s parents near Bld St. Germain, a quiet street, it is an old house with very beautiful rooms and beautifully furnished with antiques. In the front one looks into the street and in the back into a courtyard with the cupola of the Institut and a lot of wild wine. It is warm here summery and nice. I’m a lot outside and I’m drawing. In the evening the sky turns very clear and reflects in the water, when it is quiet one hears the bells ring the hours from the many churches. I have three weeks vacation: then I will go back to Berlin. In the meantime we would be married, we wanted to do it here but it would take too long to complete all the formalities. Eventually, I could get a flight from Berlin to New York for $500 both ways. If that succeeded, even with a train to Toronto it probably would still be cheaper than by boat.
xxxPlease write me soon what you think about all.

Christiane Schütt to Regine Faust, Paris, 1st August 1956

Now we have all the information for what documents I will still need. We have found out that I need the following:
1. Your birth certificate.
2. Your agreement to our marriage which has to be notarized by the German Consulate in Toronto or anywhere else in Canada. I wrote it in the last letter but only found out yesterday about the notarization by the Consulate.
3. Proof of who my father was, for instance the judgement from the court case, or the certificate of recognition, I don’t know exactly whether I have that or whether you, I will send a letter to Mummi by the same mail, she should look for it among my papers, and should send it to me, if I have it. But if you have it could you please send it, I will return it immediately, when I don’t need it anymore.
xxxI hope all of this can be done as soon as possible, because in three weeks at the latest Michael has to be in Tunis. We want to go to Munich and stay at his mothers, and we have to apply for the Bans a week before the wedding, while submitting all the documents. And so it is all very urgent. Please excuse me if all of this had to be done on short notice, but until now I didn’t know that it would be so urgent.
xxxThe worst is this document war and those awful bureaucrats, who instead of helping one, can still sabotage everything.
xxxPlease send these things again to 8, rue Guénégaud, Paris VI e C/O Bonneville. Otherwise it is very nice here. During the day I’m in Sylvia’s studio and I’m painting. I’ve seen a few very nice movies, a Mexican film, Viva Zapata, and an old French film. Sunday we spent in the country with Robert and Sylvia, in a small old town, forty km from Paris, Chevreuse. There is a very beautiful chateau there on a hill and very fortified. One of the buildings consisted of a single room, with a large white column in the center and wooden beams. In the garden was a well and we threw a burning piece of paper into it, one could see how deep it was and how far down the water level was. We walked through the wheat fields and the forest, that was really beautiful, especially in the evening when the forest by the street was very dark and only the road was still visible in the evening light.
xxxFor a few days it was very hot here, now it has cooled down and one feels better and I can paint better.
xxxI regret very much to have left the school in Berlin, I had hoped for it for so long and it went so well. Perhaps I can try in Canada to do something similar even though it would have been better in Germany. Well, one has to take it as it comes. I hope everything works out with the documents, I will immediately write to Mummi. A few days here in Paris are quite nice. I’m quite afraid of Mummi. As long as there were no complaints against me and I didn’t have to make too many demands on her, everything went well and that sometimes was quite nice. But now?

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