Trudi, Lina & Hermann Ebeling

An adorable baby girl in her white confirmation dress curiously glancing at the photographer and holding perfectly still for the shot. And a young mother with gentle soft features who couldn’t be more proud of her perfect child.


When you look at this photo, you’d never think that there is so much fear and trouble behind the soft features of the young mother, and there is a very high chance that this baby girl will never get the opportunity to meet her father.

This photo was sent in November 1917. I think you understand now what I mean.

This photograph is of mother Lina Ebeling and her daughter Trudi (perhaps short for Gertrude), as written by the mother herself on the photograph.

On the reverse, Lina writes to someone called Auguste and this is what she writes (see the English translation below):


Bremen, d. 15. Nov. 1917

Liebe Auguste,

Stelle hiermit unser Töchterchen vor. Sie ist heute nun schon 1/4 Jahr und entwickelt sich großartig. Schade, dass mein Hermann nicht sehen kann, wir niedlich sein Töchterchen schon wird. Wer hätte das gedacht, daß wir solange getrennt sein müßten. Voraussichtlich kann Hermann erst im nächsten Jahr August wieder auf Urlaub. Kommen, dann kann unser Trüdchen, wenn sie so kräftig bleibt, ihn gewiß entgegen laufen. Wie geht es dir und deiner Mutter nun? Ich hoffe gut. Diesen Sommer bist du wohl gar nicht weg gewesen? Verliert ihr nicht auch den Mut über die lange Kriegsdauer? Hermann … auch wieder fort, wohin weiß er nicht. Den Schwiegereltern geht es noch gut. Mutter ist in Eurer Nähe gewesen, war noch Lübbeke. Nun liebe Auguste sende dir sowie deiner Mutter, sonstige Verwandte unbekannterweise herzliche Grüße

L. Ebeling

English translation:

Bremen, November 15th, 1917

Dear Auguste,

with this let me introduce you to our daughter. She is already 1/4 of a year old today and is developing very well. Such a pity that Hermann cannot see how cute his little daughter has become. Who would have known that we shall spend such a long time apart. Hermann will probably get his leave only in August next year. Perhaps Trudi will by that time run into his arms. How are you and your mother now? I hope you are well. You didn’t travel anywhere this summer, right? Are you also losing courage about how long this war keeps going on? Hermann … (cannot read) moved on already, but he doesn’t know where to. My in-laws are fine for now. My mother was travelling close to you, she was also in Lübbeke. For now Auguste I send you and your mother and all the relatives many greetings

L. Ebeling

Unfortunately the church books of Bremen are not available online, so I have not been able to locate a marriage registration of Lina and Hermann or their daughter Trudi’s birth who must have been born in the summer of 1917.

I did find a Hermann Ebeling living in Fesenfeld 37A in Bremen in 1939. The German address books do not list any other family members living in the same address, just the head of the family. I think this might be our Hermann because in 1959-60 a Lina Ebeling is living in the same address and is listed as a widow. Lina must have been in her late 60s by then.

Older German address books also often listed the profession of the person. In 1939, Hermann is listed as a head tax inspector.


I can’t even imagine what this young mother must have felt and feared when this photo was taken. She asks Auguste if they too are losing courage about how long the war has been going on. As she writes these lines in November, her only hope is that she will be able to embrace her darling Hermann in August the following year. 10 months to wait and hope while raising their darling baby girl. The WWI only ended in November the following year, so Hermann probably saw quite a bit of action.

I believe that Hermann made it home from WWI. He is listed as a tax inspector up until the Bremen address book of 1958. After that, Lina is listed as a widow to live in that same address. The last time Lina Ebeling is mentioned in the Bremen address book is 1973. I can assume that Hermann passed away in 1958 or 1959 and Lina in 1973 or 1974.

I have not been able to find anything on a Trudi oder Gertrude Ebeling, daughter of Hermann, born in 1917. If you recognise this young mother and the sweet little girl, please let me know. Thanks for reading!

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