• cv: Dr. Kim H. Veltman

cv: Dr. Kim H. Veltman


Christel Ilse Gerhard in Memoriam (1931-2019)

Christel was an enigma. She was one of the best-known individuals in Wolfenbüttel because for the last 30 years of her life she went for a walk through the town practically every day. But there is not a single photo of her in Google Images. And although I took occasional photos of her, almost all I can find is a picture of her in Halberstadt and a silhouette in Wolfenbüttel (figs. 1-2). She always wore a cap: often red, but also blue and other colours, which reflected her inner weather. She almost always wore trousers to avoid attention to the swollen arteries of her legs. Sweaters were another staple feature of her dress code. And then there was her walking stick, which she used in the last decade of her life after someone had bumped into her with a shopping cart, and caused her to fall and break her hip. The clothes always gave a subtle statement, but they never followed the fashions of the day. They were primarily practical: to feel comfortable and to keep warm. 

She was a teacher, who was always learning. She read the local papers as if it were a scientific task. Her main interests were astronomy, religion, art and botany. She was always gentle. If she was very annoyed, she would smile and in rare cases simply leave. She had many books: as often browsing, as reading them from cover to cover. Her main interest was reading persons’ minds, and hearts and souls (fig.15).

The beginning of our friendship was unusual. One evening in the late 1970s, in Wolfenbüttel, I was having a discussion about Wunderkammers with Dr. Gabriella Belloni, a fellow Stipendiat. If that topic really interests you, she said, I can show you one of the most amazing Wunderkammers in the world right here in Wolfenbüttel. I said yes and she took me to Stadtmarkt 14, the Alte Apotheke (fig. 3). 


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