“You should not remain a mere spectator”
Karoline Möbius-Woll volunteers as a museum attendant, and works at the cash register and the café. In this interview, she tells us how she got there.
SMU: Karoline, please tell us your earliest memories?
Karoline: I was born in Nordhessen, on a farm in the middle of the forest. Many things that have driven me my whole life originate from there. For example, I am very fond of old things, I love to have them around me. I am also always looking for origins and development – of ideas, realities, and so on. Why and how something developed the way I encounter it now.
Who was very important for you in this?
I had a grandmother who was both an anchor and a compass for me. Her experience reached back into the 19th century, and she told me from her experiences and their consequences. One of them was: You should not remain a mere spectator of your times; you shouldn’t tolerate injustice, you have to stand up against them. For this reason, I studied philosophy and comparative literature studies. My goal was to understand how systems of thought and action develop. Thinkers like Hannah Arendt were very important to me, the clarity of her thought is amazing. Or Jehuda Aschkenasi, my Jewish teacher. He survived Auschwitz, was full of hope about humanity’s skill to be humane.
How did your career evolve?
During my life, I had different jobs. For the longest time, I was an ethics teacher in one of the most catholic regions in Germany. My husband and I raised a daughter and two sons together. Meanwhile, I also have two grandchildren.
How did you become involved with the Schwules Museum?
I taught in vocational schools (German: Berufsschule, Berufsoberschule). I met many young, vulnerable homosexual people there. Vulnerable because they were met with the established (often religiously founded) stereotypes. I stood up for them and decided that I will become active in the community when I retire. That’s what I did. The possibility arose through the volunteers’ fair at the Rotes Rathaus.
What do you appreciate at the Schwules Museum?
I believe that the museum is essential. The entries in our guestbook and the conversations with our visitors show that it is a place where they see their life documented. I can understand that this is very crucial. I want to be a part of that. At the same time, it is a place full of warmth and cordiality. I encounter people with very different lifestyles, thoughtfulness and – I know, this term is everywhere now – mindfulness. I like it.
What of your wishes that the SMU should address in the future?
Especially this museum should always take a stand.