Berlin is far away from the sea, but the Germans made up this loss by making artificial beaches in the city. Perhaps the oldest one is the Strandbad-Wannsee beach in Berlin made in 1907. Some are very near the Berlin wall itself. We find a photograph of a German lady in one such beach, possibly this very one. The number of pebbles declare the beach to be artificial and man made for particular requirements. The lady on the beach is unknown but could very well be Ms Manuela C Didier Hartung, companion of M.A. Rahman Chughtai in Berlin on 27th June, 1937.
We know that Hartung is an important German name. We find the well known Fritz Hartung, the historian in that time period. Also we know of the famous artist Hans Hartung also in Berlin at that time. Manuela could be related to any of them or even more. But we hear of so many artists in Berlin at that period. Two sons of Paul Gaugain, Emil and Jean Gaugain were in the city as well as a Jewish artist who was scribbling political messages on panes of show cases during the night. One thing Chughtai does tells us is that a group of German artists, poets and intellectuals had assembled in Berlin to welcome him and some of them wrote poems on him (probably lost). June was also an important month for William Lyon Mackenzie, Prime Minster of Canada was also visiting at Adlon Hotel. The famous American journalist Ms Ruth Hamilton was also there with her own questions. Berlin was center of attraction for many. The passport of Chughtai tells us that he entered Germany on 24th June, 1937, a police report on 25th June, and it ends with 3rd July, 1937, when he exits Germany. The dates may be deceptive but the same are documented in the passport.
We know of number of Germans befriending M.A. Rahman Chughtai. Foremost Elza Huiffner, Hannah Huiffner, Agnes Werner, but we have no first hand account of Manuela, for reasons unknown. The autobiography of Chughtai is full of many details, and there could be a reason for same. The name may be sensitive in nature to those times as Chughtai was a British subject. And by this time he was titled too with the title of Khan Bahadur. So there may be political reasons for same. Our job is to record history and we do it well.
With due thanks to Elizbeth Chughtai for this valuable translation:
An Rahman Chughtai
You son of Lahore
Tanned in saturated colour
With the far eastern sun –
With the beam of the sun
Warming me – to meet me
In the cold occident.
What separates both of us…?
Nothing!! With the same thinking
You are feeling…
Like I do.., the bosom of nature—
And its wonders.
We feel the same… both of us…!
And when you leave,
Many thousand miles—
Till eternity will stay with me
The beauty of your soul…!
Dedication to R. Ch. Lahore – India
– In sincere friendship –
Manuela C. Didier Hartung
Berlin N.4, 27. Juni 1937
N 4 is the Post Office address in Berlin and that Post Office is still there, and it started in those times.