The necklace from the Reich Chancellery
A multifaceted historical artifact
After the Second World War, Jeanne Pimrose Warburton, a young woman from northern England, applied for a job as secretary to the British military government in Germany. She was hired and transferred to war-torn Berlin in 1946. Much of her free time was spent at the Eichkamp Riding Club and well-known tourist spots in the city, where she relaxed with her friends and took photos. In October 1946, one of these outings took her to the ruins of the Reich Chancellery. In the final months of the war, the headquarters of Adolf Hitler’s government had been heavily damaged and finally captured by the Red Army.
Soviet sentries were standing guard here now, but they allowed members of the occupying powers to enter. While walking around the “Reich Chancellor’s Palace,” which had contained the public rooms and the “Führer’s apartment,” Jeanne Warburton noticed small, cut glass beads among the rubble. They came from a fallen chandelier, and she collected 78 of these glittering crystals. When Jeanne Warburton returned to England at the end of 1947 she packed up the glass beads and decided to have a necklace made of them, as a souvenir of Berlin.
Sixty-four years later, in 2011, Jeanne’s son Phil Ratcliffe was looking for a British map of Berlin from 1946. He contacted the curator of the Allied Museum’s British collection, Bernd von Kostka, who was supposed to make a copy of the map available to him during a visit to the Museum. This developed into an email exchange that led to an extremely interesting offer.
Phil Ratcliffe had been thinking for some time about putting his mother’s necklace into knowledgeable hands. Now he decided to return the necklace to the city where it had originated. During his second visit to Berlin in early 2012, Phil Ratcliffe donated the historic piece of jewelry to the Allied Museum. Here it will be put on display on a suitable occasion, as a multifaceted artifact offering a small glimpse of the much larger history of the Western powers in Berlin.