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A Letter from Hanna to Tante Irene

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Hanna passed away peacefully this morning at 6:00am Eastern Standard Time (January 8, 1930-May 20, 2010). What a faithful and cheerful witness she made to us in the family. She has now gathered together with Ruthie, our mother and father, James, and even with her God-mother, Tante Irene, after whom she was also named: Johanna Irene Maria Krey.

I read the letters in which my father asked Tante Irene very formally to become Hanna’s Godmother or sponsor. He asked on the Third day of Christmas, 1929, before she was born when they did not even know whether it would be a boy or girl. Then when Tante Irene agreed and made the faithful promises, Father had to write her on January 24, 1930, that she was already born on January 8th and he had forgotten to allow her sponsors to speak for and represent Tante Irene. He asked her to go to the Brandenburg Liturgical Agenda and say her seven “yeses” to the Baptism faith questions in the baptism liturgy there.

At the end of my mother’s letter of  September 8, 1945 to Tante Irene from Vegesack, Hanna added a brief note. The letters were written on scraps of paper; good paper was not to be had after the war:

Dear Tante Irene,

Perhaps you could come visit us sometime, right? It could happen that you get some time off. Even if it could be for only a few days, it would be glorious. But it is probably out of the question.

Our little Peter has now become cute (drollig). It would be nice if you could get to know our whole family sometime. We have a real happy time together. We big ones can already really pitch in and help Mother (Mutti), as long as the schools remain closed. It is really aweful; we are all falling so far behind that we will never really be able to  make up the [school] work.

Now I will close, because the kitchen work is calling. I’m sure that Mother has already written you all the rest.

With hearty greetings and kisses from your loving,


As a Luther scholar I add a few sentences from Luther’s Commentary on Romans: “Hence ‘Hannan’ (which in Hebrew means ‘one who has shown mercy’) signifies ‘one who has given a benefit.’ Hence  ‘Hanna’ means ‘grace’ or ‘benefit’ or ‘good gift.‘”[1]

Doesn’t Johanna’s name describe her perfectly?



[1] Wilhelm Pauck, editor, Luther: Lectures on Romans, (Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 1961), page 269.


Written by peterkrey

May 20, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Posted in Letters

One Response

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  1. It was really nice that you stood up to read this at the memorial. Something about Hannah’s words in the letter seem very full of life. It also struck me as interesting like Ashley said when she says “Right?” like she is hopping she can see her god mother soon like a young person would say. It’s a beautiful letter.

    Mark Krey

    June 20, 2010 at 6:36 am

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