Portraits: Ursula Populoh

“My father was killed in action in WWII and our apartment in Munich was bombed, so we were evacuated to Noerdlingen, which is a small town in the south of Bavaria, a region called Swabia. The first nine years of my life, I lived with my mother in this small town. And then we moved to Nuremberg, where my mother is from. We lived there- or I lived there- until 1963. My mother was killed in a fire accident [in a warehouse] in 1961, so all of a sudden, I was orphaned. I had a brother, whom I raised, who was 10 years my junior. When my mother was killed, I just couldn’t handle to look at anything which had belonged to her. I gave everything away. She walks out in the morning and doesn’t come back? It was so tremendously devastating for me. And then I couldn’t cry because I didn’t want my little brother to feel even more distraught... I hope you understand. I cherished my mother, but to touch something or look at something which she had held would have been impossible for me. So... no, there is nothing... left here, but... How should I say…? You don’t need physical things, you need memories. What [my daughter] was interested in were the songs, because I grew up in a time when there was nothing. I mean- no TV, no radio, nothing. My mother was in a choir. She had a really nice voice, so we always sang when we went into the forest foraging. I know a lot of songs. So this is something she had taught me.  I remember my mother telling me that graveyards are for the living. Memories of those who passed are what keeps them alive. That’s a certain mantra for me, which I passed on to [my daughter]. Things don’t count, but memories.” Ursula PopulohImmigrated to the United States from Germany in 1985Migrated to Baltimore in 2008Photo by Sean ScheidtInterview by Ashley Minner, 4/6/17Baltimore, Maryland
Ursula Populoh

“My father was killed in action in WWII and our apartment in Munich was bombed, so we were evacuated to Noerdlingen, which is a small town in the south of Bavaria, a region called Swabia. The first nine years of my life, I lived with my mother in this small town. And then we moved to Nuremberg, where my mother is from. We lived there- or I lived there- until 1963. My mother was killed in a fire accident [in a warehouse] in 1961, so all of a sudden, I was orphaned. I had a brother, whom I raised, who was 10 years my junior. When my mother was killed, I just couldn’t handle to look at anything which had belonged to her. I gave everything away. She walks out in the morning and doesn’t come back? It was so tremendously devastating for me. And then I couldn’t cry because I didn’t want my little brother to feel even more distraught... I hope you understand. I cherished my mother, but to touch something or look at something which she had held would have been impossible for me. So... no, there is nothing... left here, but... How should I say…? You don’t need physical things, you need memories. What [my daughter] was interested in were the songs, because I grew up in a time when there was nothing. I mean- no TV, no radio, nothing. My mother was in a choir. She had a really nice voice, so we always sang when we went into the forest foraging. I know a lot of songs. So this is something she had taught me. I remember my mother telling me that graveyards are for the living. Memories of those who passed are what keeps them alive. That’s a certain mantra for me, which I passed on to [my daughter]. Things don’t count, but memories.”  

Ursula Populoh 

Immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1985 

Migrated to Baltimore in 2008 

Photo by Sean Scheidt 

Interview by Ashley Minner, 4/6/17 

Baltimore, Maryland