Thirty Years of LLL Presence in Berlin, Germany
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 37 No. 5, October-November 2001, pp. 117
In 1972, LLL NEWS reported that a Group opened in Berlin, Germany. This was in the days when Berlin was a divided city, symbolic of the Cold War, and the western part of the city was split into allied sectors. The first LLL meeting took place in the American community. With the transitory nature of the military population there was a succession of Leaders over the years. When the Allies departed in 1993-1994, there was no Leader left to run an English-speaking Group, so the files and the Library were returned to LLL Germany, which was then still an Area within the LLLI International Division.
In the meantime, a few German women from the former East Berlin had discovered LLL through German publications that were freely available there at that time. They were accredited as Leaders by LLL Deutschland, an LLL Affiliate, without having attended any LLL meetings, and started a German- speaking LLL Group. Berlin is a sprawling city, and one Group is definitely not enough, so a second LLL Group was founded in the mid-1990s. In 1996, I moved to Berlin from the Cologne, Germany area where I had been involved in three different Groups, both German and English-speaking. I decided to reactivate the English-speaking Group at the beginning of 1997 in order to serve the international community as a whole. Shortly after this, due to family needs and Leaders' relocation to other towns, both German Groups disbanded.
This has meant that the International
Group I lead has a large number of mothers from many different countries
at every meeting, and more often than not we hold the meetings in English
and German, translating back and forth. Our lending Library contains
books in both languages and I am working with two English-speaking Leader
Applicants; there are also several German mothers keen to begin the
application process. The Group has a super core of regular attendees
and members, and we hold extra meetings for members only as an extra
benefit of membership. Once a year we have a family party and feast
ourselves on the international potluck buffet! Evaluation Meetings are
not possible because of the distances involved in getting across the
city, but email is a passable substitute when we have things to discuss
and organize. I also network with other breastfeeding support organizations
here to ensure that every mother can find competent help in her area.
The 25th anniversary of the founding of LLL Deutschland will be celebrated in Berlin, Germany in October. 2002. We would welcome contributions for a celebratory booklet from any Leaders who have been connected with LLL in Germany in the past. Please write to Eleanor Emerson, Bertramstr. 132a, 13467 Berlin, Germany or Eleanor.Emerson@lalecheliga.de (email).
In 2000, LLL Germany and LLL Deutschland merged, echoing on a smaller scale the political reunification that happened 10 years earlier. LLL Deutschland will, celebrate its 25th anniversary in October 2002 with a Conference in Berlin. A new district has been formed in this northeastern part of the country, and although we have few Leaders, there are many isolated Leader Applicants who are eager to bring LLL's information and support to the mothers of the former East Germany. I am excited by the growth of LLL in my corner of the world, and I am proud of the fact that, despite a frequent turnover of Leaders and Groups, we have managed to keep a La Leche League presence in Berlin for over 30 years.
Eleanor Emerson has been a Leader since 1993, and lives in Berlin, Germany with her husband, Stewart and their two girls, Nina (12) and Erika (8). Eleanor is Area Coordinator of Leaders for the English-speaking branch of LLL Deutschland.
Please send STORIES, short ones (one to two paragraphs is great!) or longer ones, in the language you prefer to Welda Höerz, Bechtolsheimstr. 4, 80999 Munich, Germany.