In Memoriam: Michael Klemm


02.11.1942 – 10.11.2014



THE LAST DREAM OF THE OLD OAK TREE.  A Christmas Tale    (excerpt)

On many a warm summer day the Ephemera, the fly that lives but for a day, had danced around his crown—had lived, enjoyed, and felt happy; and then rested for a moment in quiet bliss the tiny creature, on one of the great fresh oak leaves; and then the tree always said:
“Poor little thing! Your whole life is but a single day! How very short! It’s quite melancholy!”
“Melancholy!  Why do you say that?” the Ephemera would then always reply. “It’s wonderfully bright,
warm, and beautiful all around me, and that makes me rejoice!”
“But only one day, and then it’s all done!”
“Done!” repeated the Ephemera.  “What’s the meaning of done? Are you done, too?”
“No; I shall perhaps live for thousands of your days, and my day is whole seasons long!
It’s something so long, that you can’t at all manage to reckon it out.”
“No?  then I don’t understand you.  You say you have thousands of my days; but I have thousands of moments,
in which I can be merry and happy.  Does all the beauty of this world cease when you die?”
“No,” replied the Tree;  “it will certainly last much longer — far longer than I can possibly think.”
“Well, then, we have the same time, only that we reckon differently.”

Hans Christian Andersen


Michael Klemm was an outstanding hospital teacher at the university hospital in Tübingen, Germany for some 30 years. Absolutely committed to the children in hospital, he gave them a voice, first by creating a school magazine – Klinikrundschau – which had readers far beyond the reach of the hospital. Books followed, e.g. Tränen im Regenbogen (Tears under the Rainbow) with stories, fictional and real, recounted by the young patients. That book received a national prize.
As part of the school team, he set up a model for home-school visits: a young patient together with the hospital teacher and a doctor visit the home-school, they explain to the classmates the kid’s illness and its consequences. [A DVD showcasing such visits is still available (also in Italian)].
He and his colleagues set up a charity ‘Kranke Kinder in der Schule‘ (Friends of Sick Children in School).
Logically, he became active also on a political level. Many favorable conditions for teaching sick children were negotiated with the state government, and were avant-garde at the time. One specific regulation Michael moved forward and which is still valued highly today was the ‘Nachteilsausgleich’ (Equitable Chances Rule) which laid the legal basis for granting special conditions (e.g. in exams) to children suffering from health-related disadvantages.
Another passion of his was the founding and building of a European network of hospital teachers, HOPE. He was involved from the beginning in Ljubljana in 1988, and went on to serve as committee member, board member, treasurer, for many years.As a person Michael was a kind and charming man, encouraging and supportive, reliable and unconventional, ever ready to grab his guitar for sing-alongs with children and colleagues. So many photos show him smiling in a circle of colleagues or students.
And till the end he remained serene: “Thank you for my life” was his motto. He was not able to speak anymore, so he chose the tale of the old oak tree and the ephemera (mayfly) (see above) as his last message to his friends.

Maria Schmidt – CM for Germany



13/11/2014 at 09:59:42

Michael is the person who got me involved with HOPE in the first place.  He used to say that Europe is made by us (people travelling around and doing projects together). His example made me an European Hospital Teacher.

Michael had the rare quality of being able to immediately connect with others. You talked with him for 5 minutes and you soon had the feeling you met a deep, respectful and very human person. He loved Italy and has been very active here too.

Hundreds of students have had a better quality of life because they were fortunate enough to meet this brilliant teacher.

Thank you Michael for your wonderful and inspirational model of life.

Michele Capurso, Italy 

13/11/2014 at 23:30:54

I met Michael first in 1988 on the first congress of hospital teachers of Europe in Ljubljana. He was playing the guitar during his lecture. Uuaaauuu, I was totally impressed!!! Not only me but all my colleagues in Ljubljana! At that time I was at the beginning of being a hospital teacher. And I still remember I said to myself: Uf, I wish to be as good as he is…

I was lucky that I had a lot of opportunities to work with him in HOPE: I was working with them on Committee meetings, on Board meetings, on workshops, study days, congresses all over Europe. Once we HOPE people had been working in Tübungen which is a very important city for us from Slovenia. Primoz Trubar, the author of the first two books in Slovenian language, namely worked there in the 16th century. And Michael showed me places where Trubar worked and lived. This I will never forget. I felt so honoured.

All these years Michael inspired me in working with sick children. In a way he was the lighthouse for me. I know I found better ways in teaching my pupils because of him.

I never told Michael that in 1988 in Ljubljana he got a nickname. For us, hospital teachers from Ljubljana, Michael Klemm was not Michael Klemm but Small Ponytail. It was because of his hairstyle. So, whenever I came back from HOPE events, my colleaugues asked me: How it was? What are the news? And Small Ponytail, how is he?

I think Small Ponytail is smiling now somewhere reading all our sentences. And I am sure, he is smiling in his naughty way. I will never forget his sympathetic, warm, naughty, friendly, witty, loving smile. NEVER.

Tanja, Ljubljana, Slovenija 

14/11/2014 at 20:19:45

“Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best.”

Baden Powell in his final letter to the Scouts

Dear Michael,

If I had to name one person who followed Baden Powells last words the most, I would name YOU!

Not only were you my teacher in what you did for the education of children and adolescents with medical needs, a pioneer, also in HOPE, but also a wonderful, warm-hearted, cooperative, helpful, supporting and impressing person.

Unfortunately, you left this world a bit too early for me but definitely much better than you found it!

For your obituary you chose Baden Powell’s sign for “end of the trail, gone home”. It is very sad that you “went home” but there is HOPE that your trails will go on in all of us!

Gone home




Thank you so much for having been how you were!

Christine Walser, Committee Member for Switzerland 

14/11/2014 at 23:32:22

A friend in need is a friend indeed, is a saying which I found out fitted well to Michael.
As such I will remember him.

Gerd Falk-Schalk, Sweden 

15/11/2014 at 15:47:52

Michael and I have met each other during our activities of HOPE. Working together during our meetings, European days and congresses was always a very nice and stimulating experience for me. His books and ideas about hospital education were very inspiring. But in my opinion there was more than the level of working together; always I have felt that there was more than a collegial friendship, a friendship based on respect, trust and safety. I have appreciated that Michael introduced me during the HOPE period to other German colleagues. The mentioned memories are a warm treasure for me. In this period my sympathy will be close to Ursula and the ones who loved him.

Hans Courlander, Amsterdam, The Netherlands 

15/11/2014 at 17:12:44

I am very impressed by his life work, dedication to the ill children and his commitment! I regret and we regret very much his loss.
God rest him in peace and deeply condolences to his family, colleagues and his pupils!

Olga Cridland and PAVEL Team, Romania 

16/11/2014 at 12:29:55

Es gibt Menschen, die bleiben, auch wenn sie gegangen sind!

Michael, dich werden wir nie vergessen!

There are people who remain, even if they are gone!

Michael, we will never forget you!

Brigitte Gruber, Austria/ Vienna 

16/11/2014 at 16:44:15

I saw Michael just two times but I have a strong memory of him. It was in London, my first appearance in HOPE. M. had firmly impressed upon me that the ceremony at Westminster required a suitable outfit, and so I had bought the second suit of my life after marriage and I came complete with a necktie.

It was then that I met Michael. He was casually dressed in a mix between a Hell’s Angel and a shepherd. And I have never forgotten about him. While M. and I often shared a laugh about this episode, M. kept telling me how inspiring Michael was to him.

My sincere condolences.

Fabrizio Mencarini, Italy 

16/11/2014 at 16:46:59

I first met Michael in 2002 at a bus stop in Rome; we were both on our way to a HOPE conference in a huge catholic convent on the outskirts of the city.  As a HOPE member I had known his name, but only there at that dusty bus stop I met in person ‘Michael Klemm from Tübingen’, one of the grandees of HOPE.

We quickly discovered our shared love for Italy and the Italian language.  In the following days I kept seeing him sitting at a small table in the hallways of the convent collecting membership fees, not to be overlooked always dressed in the most colorful vests.  He invited the German participants to a tour of the Vatican Museums, a gift to us for his birthday.

Michael motivated me to become active in HOPE, and I followed in his footsteps: from committee member to board member, to treasurer.  Through all these years he remained my loyal mentor; I remember poring over fat binders together with him in his little witch house on the outskirts of the university town of Tübingen; he showed me how to cut through administrative red tape – but mostly he gave me an idea of the soul of HOPE.   I will miss him.

Maria Schmidt, Ludwigsburg, Germany 

16/11/2014 at 18:46:37

Was ich dir nicht mehr persönlich sagen konnte …

Dear Michael,

als ich im Jahr 2000 die Schulleitung der Schule für Kranke in Münster übernahm, habe ich versucht, Kontakte zu knüpfen und mich mit erfahrenen und innovativen Kolleginnen und Kollegen auszutauschen. Bei verschiedenen Fortbildungen, Hospitationen etc. z.B. in Tübingen bin ich dabei dir begegnet. Dein Spirit hat mir sofort sehr imponiert und auch der Austausch mit der H.O.P.E-Gemeinde, mit der du mich vertraut gemacht hast. Unvergesslich ist mir mein erster H.O.P.E-Kongress in Rom und deine Geburtstagsfeier in der frisch renovierten Sixtinischen Kapelle. Vorausschauend hattest du mehrere Karten besorgt und spontan konnte ich eine davon bekommen.Vorbei an langen Schlangen sind wir exklusiv geführt worden und haben zu deinem 60. Geburtstag in der Kapelle – natürlich heimlich- mit Sekt angestoßen. Ich glaube, dass ist ein Beispiel für deine Kreativität, deine mit-reißende und gleichzeitig sensible Art und den Mut außerhalb vorgegebener Pfade zu wandeln. Ich danke für wunderbare Gespräche, genußvollen Austauschund viele Anregungen.

In liebevoller Erinnerung

Rosalia Abbenhaus, Münster, Deutschland 

16/11/2014 at 21:12:14

Michael Klemm hat sehr viel dazu beigetragen, dass die Tübinger Klinikschule auch über Baden-Württemberg hinaus als Vorreiter für Pädagogik bei Krankheit gilt. Die Veröffentlichungen wie zum Beispiel „liebe Klasse, ich habe Krebs“ haben mit zur Enttabuisierung von krebskranken Kindern und Jugendlichen beigetragen.
Das Konzept der Heimatschulbesuche hat er mit wesentlich entwickelt.
Seine konkreten Vorschläge zur Handhabung von Nachteilsausgleich waren wegweisend für die Praxis der Integration von chronisch kranken Schülern in Regelschulen.
Seine Initiative, den Verein Klinikpädagogik e.V.zu gründen hat mit dazu beigetragen, dass chronisch kranken Kindern unbürokratisch geholfen werden konnte, und darüber hinaus wurde über diesen Verein auch ermutigt, sich bei HOPE zu engagieren und überhaupt Weiterbildung und Öffnung nach allen Richtungen war konzeptionell vorbedacht.

Edith Ramminger, Schule für Kranke am Universitätsklinikum Tübingen; Kranke Kinder in der Schule e.V., Tübingen, DE 

16/11/2014 at 23:47:11

How typical of Michael that he should want to be remembered with a smile!  Yes, we can grant him that wish because he brought us such warmth and made us smile so often.  But we shall also remember the hard working Michael, who was so involved in helping others and his big contribution to HOPE.  Thank you so much, Michael – yes we will remember you with a big smile and lots of gratitude for your work and friendship.  It was a privilege to know and work with you.

Cherida Coleman, UK 

17/11/2014 17h30


I remember meeting you in Ljlubljana in 1988, we were young and we started a wonderful adventure in which you gave all your professionalism and your heart, your passion and your belief. It started in a big amphitheater of the hospital and we did not know each other, in few minutes you gathered all of us with your guitar, we were singing all together.

It was the start and you gave a particular note to it, you were looking like a hippie !

I have been really lucky to know you and to work with you in the board or during meetings and congresses, you gave us all your expertise in the field of reintegration sick children in homeschools as we did not have it yet in France.

I am really sad that you are no longer with us, it is a big loss for us and specially for your family

I will remember you always

Élisabeth Cauchon, Paris, France 

17/11/2014 at 00:18

Lieber Michael,

weißt Du noch, 2000 HOPE in Barcelona. Da haben wir uns zum erste Male getroffen. Ich war erst einige Jahre an der Krankenhausschule in Essen, Du ein „alter Hase“ vom Fach. Dort habe ich sehr vieles von Dir mit nach Hause genommen. Dann 2002 HOPE in Rom. Wir trafen uns wieder, und wir feierten Deinen 60. Geburtstag zusammen. Auch war ich an Deiner Schule in Tübingen eingeladen zu einer Fortbildung, habe so manches Mal in Deinen Veröffentlichungen nachgelesen, wenn ich Heimatschulen besucht hatte oder mit lebensbedrohlich erkrankten Kindern zu tun hatte. Du und Deine „alten“ Mitstreiter, z.B. Werner Häcker, habt Großartiges im Fachbereich Pädagogik bei Krankheit geleistet.

Nun lieber Michael hast Du nach langem Leiden die irdische Welt, viel zu früh, verlassen. Du lebst nun in der geistigen Welt weiter fort. Deine Familie, Deine engsten Freunde und all die Dich kannten und geschätzt hatten, behalten Dich in wertvoller Erinnerung. Ich habe heute in der Krankenhauskapelle eine Kerze für Dich angezündet. Möge Deine Seele vom Licht ewig getragen werden.

Sei herzlich gegrüßt, wo auch immer Du bist,

Johannes Persie, Essen, Deutschland 

17/11/2014 at 12:56:58

Dear Michael, from 1988: Ljubljana, Amsterdam, Uppsala, Pamplona, París, Meissen, Roma, Barcelona, Birmingham, Bruxelles, Tubingen, Lörrach … How many memories!!!

Your smile, your blue eyes, our discussions about HOPE, your colored vests, your guitar are in my mind, in my heart and in my life!

Olga Lizasoain (founding member of HOPE, Spain) 

17/11/2014 at 14:44:15

Michael was one of the first people I met and worked with during the Paris congress.
I have many fond memories of his introduction of HOPE to me.

Marie Sherlock, London, UK 

17/11/2014 at 19:14:29

I’ve met Michael 20 years ago when he came to Italy for attending a congress for hospital teachers. That was just the first of lots of congresses where I had the chance to meet a very comunicative and enthusiastic person. I mostly remember his explenation of difference between “school of origin” (scuola di origine) and “school that somebody belongs to” (scuola di appartenenza). His teaching still represents a huge value for all of us and so his memory.

Flavia Tarquini, Italy 

17/11/2014 at 21:11:26

As one of the founding fathers of HOPE, from 1988 Michael Klemm built HOPE and much of his work is still our foundation today. As HOPE we stand on his shoulders and we are very grateful for that. If HOPE can see further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of a giant. Michael Klemm built bridges between hospital teachers in Europe. We will remember Michael as a bridge builder, building bridges between people, between races, between cultures, between countries, trying to find common ground.

Jan Haverkate from the Netherlands (president of HOPE) 

17/11/2014 at 21:57:43

Michael was a great hospital teacher and a nice guy.

Those who were in Ljubljana in 1988, they will all remember him with his guitar; but he was not only a man enjoying life and putting joy in life, he was a great professional focused on coping with illness and on reintegration to ordinary school.

He thought about creating tools to link all of us; and supported the idea of a virtual library about hospital pedagogy.
He was interested in somatic problems, as in psychiatric topics; and knew the importance of being connected to the outside world and to the other professionals.
He knew how important it is to be ‘aware’ of politics and politicians.
He was a good treasurer with a huge sense of responsibility; with a talent for working together and for efficiency!  It was pleasant to work with him.

A little bit seductor, he enjoyed sharing ideas:  I mean not only sharing his own ideas, he was curious of what the others were doing.    At all the various HOPE events, we expected to see Michael:

Beautiful eyes, beautiful smile, beautiful guy:   He will stay in our mind.

Christian Lieutenant, Brussels, Belgium 

18/11/2014 at 14:13:46

Tuesday 18th November 2014 at 13:00

In a moment I will be silent in remembrance of my generous and dedicated colleague. Honour to the memory of Michal Klemm.

Palle Yndal-Olsen, Hillerød, Danmark 

19/11/2014 at 22:08:36

“When it is time to go for the last appointment, the only thing we take with us, is all what we were giving”

Michael’s luggage must be very heavy!
A hand to stretch out,
A hand to calm or to soothe,
A kindly and meaningful look,
Large smiling eyes
A laugh that brings warmth and
Singing musical notes or
Words that reassure,
Projects with hospitalized children for their support in hope and courage,
To summarize his sincerity and his friendship always shared with his surrounding.

Thanks Michael for this wonderful testimony.

Martine Cogels, Belgium 

21/11/2014 at 18:51:04

Hope m’a apporté une aide précieuse tout au long de ma carrière à l’hôpital et Michael en était l’un des maillons forts.

Il était sérieux, respectueux et toujours souriant, toujours disponible pour échanger sur nos pratiques. Nous avions tissé, au fil des années, une sincère amitié. Sa disparition me touche.

Je présente toutes mes condoléances à sa famille.

Annie (ancienne membre du comité et ancienne présidente de Hope France).

Annie Gadrat, France 

24/11/2014 at 09:00:36

Michael habe ich  im Leben mindestens dreimal gesehen. Einmal in Mailand, dann in Tübingen und letztesmal vielleicht bei  der 7. HOPE  Konferenz in München. Wie erinnere ich mich auf Michael? Er war ein netter Mann mit Seidenhalstuch und hat in Mailand eine gute Vorstellung auf italienisch gehalten.

Er ruhe in Frieden! Mit Liebe und mit Gebet: Marta László CM Hungary-Budapest

Marta László, Budapest, Hungary 

24/11/2014 at 17:37:41

Michael und ich haben 25 Jahre gemeinsam an der Klinikschule in Tübingen gewirkt. Michael und ich sind sehr unterschiedlich und wir haben uns “meistens” hervorragend ergänzt.
Eine kleine Anekdote: Über unseren Verein “Klinikpädagogik” haben wir für unseren technischen Lehrer ein “Schutzgasschweißgerät” angeschafft und haben das Schwäbische Tagblatt dazu eingeladen. Am anderen Tag kam ein Bericht mit einem Bild. Dummerweise war auf dem Bild eine große Wanduhr zu sehen und sie zeigte 5 Minuten vor 12 Uhr. Der damalige Rektor bestellte Michael und mich ins Rektorat und stellte uns zur Rede, wie wir dazu kommen, während der Unterrichtszeit, etwas anderes zu tun, als zu unterrichten. Michael sagte dann sehr spontan: “Wir haben unseren Unterricht auf den Nachmittag verlegt!”
Als wir unsere ersten 10 “Klinik-Rundschauen” gestaltet haben, wollte unser Rektor, dass er die Zeitung vor Erscheinen kontrollieren kann. Kurzerhand hat Michael mit den Erzieherinnen ausgemacht, dass nicht die Schule, sondern die Erzieherinnen unsere “Klinik-Rundschau” herausgeben.
Als wir noch in der alten Kinderklinik in der Rümelinstraße waren, hatten wir ein Schulzimmer mit etwa 12 qm. Da wurde unterrichtet, diskutiert, gelacht und geweint. Michael hatte die Angewohnheit, seine etwas feuchten Socken über die Heizung zu legen: Der Geruch war umwerfend!!!
Wenn ich unsere gemeinsamen 25 Jahre anschaue, merke ich, dass wir unendlich viel gemeinsam erreicht haben und ich dafür sehr dankbar bin.
Mein Sohn Ben, der bei unseren Klinikfreizeiten als 10jähriger Junge dabei war, sagte jetzt über Michael:
“Michael war absolut authentisch”.
Ich danke Dir Michael für unsere gemeinsame Zeit.

Werner Häcker, ehemaliger Konrektor an der Klinikschule Tübingen, Deutschland

Foto-0045 Michael_Klemm-Abschiedsfeier-7653-25 Foto-0046