Video: Friederike Knabe remembering Lotta

“A lot of the volunteers I met had met Lotta for the first time in primary school. For their life, they never forgot it. They never forgot Lotta coming to their class, almost to the date when it happened, in ’58 or ’62, whenever it was. It was such an impression on them, that they became volunteers at an early age.”

In 2009, more than 50 events were held coast to coast to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-2009). In Ottawa, USC Canada organized a special “Lotta 100” event to honour their founder. Sherry Tompalski and Graham Thompson were on hand and recorded interviews of participants who shared their recollections and stories about Lotta.

Here is the first in this series, an interview with Friederike Knabe.

Friederike was the Director of Canadian Programs for USC from 1991 to 2001. She travelled frequently across Canada to meet with USC donors and volunteers, and often had the chance to speak directly with people who knew Lotta personally, or who had received a visit from Lotta in their school classroom.

In this video, Friederike talks about Lotta’s uniform, her frugality (she wanted all the money donated to go to those in need), the engaging stories she would write during her overseas visits (her “jottings”), her passion to focus on women’s development (years before other aid agencies), and her legendary personal touch with volunteers and donors.

Thank you Friederike for these reminiscences, and thank you Sherry and Graham for recording these interviews and for adding to our knowledge about this great Canadian humanitarian.

David Rain


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