Maria's ambition was to always work as an artist. There was nothing more that she wanted in life. Her artistry extended to sculptures, paintings, charcoal drawings, creation of dolls, jewellery, pottery, illustrations and journalism.


Maria Theresia Jelkmann was born in 1923 in Berlin, and residing in Kew England since 1967.

Maria's ambition was to always work as an artist. From an early age she realised that she also had a talent for writing. When a German publisher gave her the opportunity to write short stories, as well as to provide illustrations for children's books, she grasped the chance with both hands. For many years, even after she moved to London, she was commissioned to illustrate and to write regular features about London life in well-known German newspapers. It is hoped that, at some stage, a list of some of these will be published.

Maria studied art and fashion design while living in Germany. Prior to the commencement of the 2nd WW, she learned everything about art while living in Berlin.

In the latter part of the war, the German authorities sent Maria with a small group of art students to Silesia, situated in the South East of Germany, but now part of Poland. Under Hitler's instructions, artists and students of art were encouraged to continue their education in art school. However, she was not expected to work in the youth movement or to bear arms or work in factories. It was Hitler's wish that groups of artists be selected for use by the government to help its propaganda war. These artists were expected to draw scenes depicting victories by German armed forces.

When the Berlin wall was being constructed and travel restrictions were being imposed on East German citizens, Maria escaped from the Eastern zone of the city to West Berlin. Thanks to a kind farmer who cooperated in the arrangements, she escaped with a group of about a dozen other East Germans. Her escape was planned to take place under cover of darkness by crossing a field which straddled both East and West Berlin. Had she been seized by the East German authorities, the penalties would have been quite severe. Had she been arrested by the West Berlin police, she would have been sent back to East Berlin.

In 1962, she made her first visit to London. It was during this visit and subsequent trips to London that she became friends with Curt Geiger and Irene Hertzfeldt, a German couple. Curt was working in London as the foreign correspondent for the German newspaper, Sud-Deutsche Zeitung. The couple decided not to return to Germany. Although non-Jewish herself, Maria grew close to Curt and Irene, who was of Jewish descent. Over the subsequent years, Maria developed very strong relationships with many German Jewish refugee families in London. She was now a part of a community in London where she felt both welcome and safe.

Apart from the close friendships that developed between Maria and the many families in London, she became a passionate reader of Charles Dickens' novels. Much of Dickens' works were based around life in London and Maria is in no doubt, that part of the attraction for London emanated from her love for Dickens. She moved to London permanently in 1967.

Although the British government allowed Maria to reside in England, she was not permitted to take employment in the country. Whatever she earned to support herself had to be generated from overseas income. Fortunately, a number of publishers in Munich employed Maria between 1950 and 1960 to write poems and children's short stories. The same publishers continued to commission her to provide illustrations for children's books as well as short weekly features of life in London and England i.e. Olaf Klama & Maria Saekel-Jelkmann 'Veronika, der lenz ist da!' and illustrations to Carl Brinitzer 'Wo die queen regiert'. A list of some other selected releases is available upon request.


Most of her sculptures had been created during the years when she was in pain. The tortured looks on the faces of many of her sculptures are a clue to the severity of the agony and distress that Maria had to bear. Whilst living in Kew, she brought in three kilns into her flat and made all of the sculptures right there.

These comprise of water colours, illustrations of books from the years before her arrival in London, oil paintings, enamels and charcoal drawings. The charcoal drawings were done at art classes in London.

Her creativity as an artist of many dimensions is evident. She also created many pieces of costume jewellery (painting with beads).

Among the variety of her other work are dolls some over one metre in height. She created over 30 of them. The inspiration for the creation of this series was the 'Miss World' contest and homage to her time at the textile and fashion school. They depict the various costumes of different nationalities. The expressions on each of the contestant's faces denote anxiety, suspense and resignation.


The works and talent of Maria as an artist, deserves a wider audience, not just in Germany and the UK, but elsewhere, despite having lived nearly half her life in each country. Her autobiography to be published in the future, will take the reader into the mind of a unique personality. Her personal experiences in the pre-war period, life in Germany during and after the war and especially her life in Britain, where she made inroads into Medical Dowsing, will be of interest to all.

When asked whether she has ever held any grudges or grievances against Britain or the USA for the devastation caused to the city of her birth, her answer was 'the Germans started the war, and when you start something you need to bear the consequences'. 'One cannot blame the other side'. 'If Hitler had not started destroying Poland, Berlin would not have been bombed'.

Her autobiography will provide forthright answers on a number of issues relating to the 2nd WW and the horrific treatment of Jewish people in Germany by the Nazi regime.


In 1968 Maria was diagnosed with cancer. Ten years later she had undergone multiple procedures which compounded the problems. She was in a desperate state. There was no obvious cure for what she described as a ‘gross mis-diagnosis' of her ailment, both in Germany as well as in England. She was living with horrific pain and she was contemplating ending it all. The only option left to her was to research complementary medicine and to start to help herself. All types of conventional medicine had been tried without any success. Maria had no choice but to try something entirely different while her health slowly deteriorated.

She decided that unless she took matters into her own hands she would not survive. She decided to experiment with what is termed today as ‘medical dowsing'. Slowly but surely her health improved. Her friends in London could not believe that Maria's health had changed so dramatically for the better. Having seen how seriously ill she was, some of her friends who had selected hymns for Maria's funeral were now beginning to ask her for help in dealing with their own physical ailments. This was when it dawned on Maria that medical dowsing based on the use of the pendulum had potential benefits not only for herself but also for others.