This rectangular tablecloth is made from white cotton. It is embroidered with green fir branches, which were applied by hand. An English language imprint on one part of the tablecloth is noteworthy. It shows that the tablecloth had previously been a flour sack.

Christmas tablecloth made from a flour sack, 1948

Object of the month December 2020

This rectangular tablecloth is made from white cotton. It is embroidered with green fir branches, which were applied by hand. An English language imprint on one part of the tablecloth is noteworthy. It shows that the tablecloth had previously been a flour sack.
Although do-it-yourself (DIY) is a popular trend nowadays, in 1948 that was often the only way to come up with the things needed for everyday life. This homemade tablecloth's original use as a flour sack is given away by the imprint on the material.
SDTB / C. Kirchner

Nowadays, apartments and buildings everywhere are adorned with Christmas decorations. This well established seasonal custom serves to provide a sense of stability. This is especially true in times of crisis. But how can you engender the festive spirit of Advent when no Christmas decorations can be found? This tablecloth from 1948 is a great example of how people during the impoverished post-war period used their ingenuity to produce the missing accessories themselves. They simply made do with what was available.

This tablecloth is the handiwork of Rita Borchard. She was a Berlin resident working for the Western Allies at Tempelhof Airport, where during the Berlin Airlift planes landed at one-minute intervals from June 1948 to May 1949, The Allies had to supply the West Berlin populace with coal, food and building materials from the air because the Soviet Union had blocked all the land and water routes.

The goods being flown in included flour, which was delivered in large sacks. Rita Borchardt was thus able to get hold of an empty sack from the USA, which she used to fashion a Christmas tablecloth that helped conjure up a festive atmosphere despite all the adversity.