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Sixteen years ago, during a period of great personal loss, I unexpectedly discovered an envelope that contained 90 hand-painted trench postcards. All of them were addressed to the same woman and signed by the same man, a young German soldier fighting on the Western Front during World War One. My discovery led to an 8-year labor-of-love research project: Who was he? Who was she? What happened to them? Why did he turn to art to communicate with her?

I had so many questions! My research project evolved into a large exhibition, a book, numerous interviews, and a Women’s Institute talk five years ago. Since then, not only have I learned so much more about the German soldier and his art, but I have found myself drawn to the similarities between the terrible war in which he fought a century ago and the ongoing war in Ukraine as well as the soldier’s use of art and the Ukrainians’ use of art as a form of communication, testimony, witnessing, and resistance. Join me for a deeply human story that transcends time and geography.Irene Guenther, Ph.D.