Baroness Pauline Gabriele Girard de Soucanton was born at Jewe (Jõhvi) in 1871. (Her birthdate is given as 23 October in "Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels" and "Genealogische Handbuch der baltischen Ritterschaften" but as 4 November on her gravestone.)
Gabriele was the eldest of the four children born to Baron Johann Carl Moritz (“Maurice”) Girard de Soucanton (1846-98) and his first wife, Pauline Strenger (1850-78). Pauline was a daughter of Alexander Strenger (1823-84) and his wife, Pauline Lerche. Pauline Strenger made a good match when she married Baron Maurice at St Petersburg on 29 December 1878. It was a good match for Pauline Strenger. The Girard family originally came from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, moving into the north-German Grand Duchy of Oldenburg and thence into the Russian Empire where they were among the foremost families in Baltic-German society.
On 6 September 1879, Gabriele’s widowed father married her mother’s sister, Rosalie Strenger (1856-1926) at Warsaw, Poland. There were a further four children of this union, half-siblings and first cousins to Gabriele.
On 22 May 1890, Baroness Pauline Gabriele Girard de Soucanton married Baron Eduard Alfred Gustav von Taube (1864-1917). The wedding took place at Rickholz (Riguldi). Gabriele and Gustav had two children: Helene Pauline Julie, known as "Nelly", (1891-1983) and Arved Berend Gustav Etienne (1905-79). There was a third “child” of the household. Gustav and Gabriele employed the young Berlin-educated Baroness Ella von der Brüggen(1890-1981) as a kindergarten teacher for Arved. When Ella's pupil was ten years old and went to school in Reval (Tallinn), she remained in the von Taube household as another daughter to her employers.
World War I destroyed the socio-political relationship between Baltic-Germans and the Russian Empire. Courland was conquered by Germany in 1915 and included into the military Ober Ost (“Upper East”) administration. All German schools and societies were closed in the Estonian Governorate and Germans were ordered to leave the Courland Governorate for inner Russia. After the Russian surrender at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1917, German forces occupied all Russia’s Baltic provinces. The Ober Ost military administration began plans for German colonization of Courland proposing that 1/3 of arable land be reserved for settlement by German war veterans. This was approved by Courland's German nobility. On 28 December 1917, Baron Gustav was murdered by Russian forces. "Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels" and "Genealogische Handbuch der baltischen Ritterschaften" state “von Matrosen ermordet”. Gabriele, Nelly, Arved, and Ella moved into Pomerania. They returned to Rickholz when Germany lost most of the region to Poland.
They would never regain the Baltic-German homeland they had known.
Nelly von Taube married a landowner, Alexander Konstantin Alexis von Barlöwen (1875-1945) of Atla Manor. The couple had a daughter, Gisela von Barlöwen (1921-84), born at Rickholz on 30 September 1921. Baroness Gabriele's little granddchild was born a citizen of an independent Estonia. However, whereas at the start of independence Baltic-Germans owned 58% of land in Estonia, agrarian reforms were implemented to break the socio-political power of the ethnic German population. On 10 October 1919 the Estonian parliament expropriated 1,065 estates (96.6% of all estates). Landowners were permitted to retain only 50 Hectares (0.5 Square Kilometers) of land and farm equipment. This almost instantly bankrupted the landed Baltic-German class.
In the early months of World War II, members of almost all Baltic-German families, including the von Taube and Girard de Soucanton dynasties, were resettled under the Heim ins Reich programme. In accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, they were moved into the Reichsgaue Wartheland and Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreussen, newly established on the territory of occupied Poland. Gabriele’s family were settled in the Reichsgau Wartheland. Arved managed a Polish goods outlet. Ella von der Brüggen acted as his secretary, dealing with accounting and deliveries.
Peace brought as much upheaval as war. The majority of all ethnic Germans were expelled from these lands by a victorious Soviet Union. A further resettlement was planned for the territory remaining to Germany under terms of the border changes promulgated at the Potsdam Conference, i.e. west of the Oder–Neisse line. By 1948, more than 48,000 ethnic Germans had settled in Celle. This number included Gabriele, her daughter, Nelly, and her children along with Ella von der Brüggen.
Baroness Pauline Gabriele von Taube died, aged 84 years, at Stedden, Celle on 1 June 1956.
Her headstone refers to the prophetic Book of Jeremiah 31:3:
Der HERR ist mir erschienen von ferne: Ich habe dich je und je geliebt; darum habe ich dich zu mir gezogen aus lauter Güte.
The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.
See more von Taube or Girard de Soucanton memorials in: