Saruul Wandan was 11 years old when in 1986 she, her parents and two younger siblings moved from the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar to communist East Germany. Her father, an official in the Mongolian Ministry for Food and Light Industries, was sent as an interpreter to Forst, an old textile manufacturing town in the Lausitz region. Before the end of communism the area close to the Polish border had a prospering textile industry where many workers from ‘socialist brother states’ like Mongolia did their training. Forst still calls itself the ‘Manchester of Germany.’
Saruul went to school there, but Forst was just the first stop. Next the family moved to Berlin and then to Hohenstein-Ernstthal in Saxony. There she experienced the fall of the wall. Her parents decided to stay in reunited Germany. Just a few years later Saruul’s father died and the family went through hard times.
When she was 18 Saruul’s parents told her she had been adopted. It turned out that she was the youngest of many siblings, relatives who during her rare visits to Mongolia she had been led to believe were her uncles and aunts. Her beloved biological mother Dolgor is the woman she called Grandma. Dolgor’s youngest brother and his wife initially were unable to have children so Dolgor decided to give him her youngest daughter. For a long time Saruul was reluctant to talk about this because she feared Germans would perceive it as peculiar. But now she is open about it and takes pride in both her families and her two mothers who are so close to her.
“For a long time, I was torn over whether Mongolia is my homeland. I was born there and have so many memories of it. But now I think that it is people who make a place your home. My homeland is where my relatives are. That’s why I have two homelands: Mongolia because most of my family lives there and Germany because my children, my husband, my Mama and my sisters live here. I am always coming home, no matter where I am.”
Saruul completed a degree in communications studies in Dresden, got married and moved to Plauen at the border of the Czech Republic. “I chose love,” Saruul says about her decision to move to the town. She was pregnant with her first child. But finding a job in the communications field was difficult. Saruul wanted to find a way of uniting family and work. And she longed for her first homeland: “I wanted to create a connection between the two worlds I live in. Between my homeland Mongolia, where processing cashmere wool is a centuries-old tradition, and Europe where there is a growing demand for high-quality, well designed fashion.”
Today Saruul Fischer works in her studio in Plauen designing classic and trendy clothing under her small label “Edelziege.” The clothes are produced in small numbers from 100 percent cashmere. The wool is obtained from the undercoat of free-ranging cashmere goats. The fashion label has enabled Saruul Fischer to build a bridge to her homeland. Twice a year she travels to Mongolia to negotiate with producers. Nearly every day she talks on Skype with her co-designer in Ulaanbaatar. “Today my life is closely connected to Mongolia.”