Precious embroidered handkerchief from WWI to be handed over the city of Saint-Quentin Haute Picardie [fr]
The heritage department of the city of Saint-Quentin en Haute Picardie will soon receive a handkerchief embroidered with the words “Saint-Quentin/1917” from Madame Charlotte Masher, a German national living in South Africa, after she graciously handed it over to the French Consulate in Cape Town.
Madame Charlotte Masher was born in Germany in 1928 and has lived in South Africa since 1954. At age 88, she is preparing to move to a retirement home and has now opted to donate a valuable memento she received from her father, dating back to World War I, for fear it might be lost in the move.
The handkerchief, embroidered with the words “Saint-Quentin/1917” belonged to her father – Mr Franz Lechner – who was born in Munich on 24 December 1879. He had given it to her in 1944, when she was 16 years old, before she started working at a telegram office in Munich. At the time there were violent bombings day and night and this handkerchief was supposed to bring her luck in these hard times.
Her father was based in France where he served during the First World War. Even though her father never shared his memories of the war, Madame Masher believes the handkerchief was a gift to her father from a French soldier – perhaps during a ceasefire.
The city of Saint-Quentin has indicated its interest in the handkerchief as it reminds of a tragic time in its history. The city was occupied by the German army between August 1914 and October 1918 and 42 000 inhabitants were expelled in March 1917.
The Consulate of France in Cape Town has taken responsibility of the handkerchief following a meeting with Madame Masher and wishes to thank her for this special gesture.