Postcards in Berlin
Berlin has had a truly turbulent history in the last century, from being ruled over by a genocidal ultra-racist dictator (you know who), having 80% of it’s buildings destroyed by Bomber Harris and co and then having to face the savagery of the vengeful Soviet soldiers, given the terrifying command by their superiors – “The women of Berlin are yours”. Following this, there then began the dissection of this once proud and shining city by the occupying forces: America, France, Soviet Russia and the UK.
After the horrors of WWII and the death of AH, a new era began. The new Soviet leaders of East Germany began the mind boggling task of walling in it’s unwilling citizens within it’s borders to stop the “Brain Drain”- the fleeing of young, professional and useful members of it’s Communist utopia. They created miles and miles of walls, equipped with barbed wire, sentry posts, death strips and self firing guns trailing across Germany and brutally cutting Berlin in half to stop it’s own citizens from escaping. Surely they realised something was wrong when even their own border guards had to be monitored to stop them hopping over to the other side? You try telling them that, I bet they wouldn’t have listened.
All that is in the past now, the wall has been removed and Germany is unified. What remains of its former Soviet rulers can be found scattered across Berlin’s tourist districts in the form of Russian hats, red star badges and fake pieces of the Berlin wall for 4 Euros a pop (bit steep).
The Cold War past of Berlin is now a product for tourists to purchase and stick on a fridge, a distant memory that can now be used to make money. But whilst I was trawling through Mauerpark flea markets I found some items that date back to a time that you wont find references for in any souvenir shop.
I found 2 postcards from the early 40s when the war was in full swing and still going Germany’s way. They seem to be from family members exchanging messages of everyday matters, but they were written whilst their country was engaged in a full-blown World war, and where showing any signs of dissent would see you dragged to the Gestapo’s dungeons for “questioning”.
The text is written in an old style of German handwriting called Sütterlinschrift, which I recently got translated. The Nazi Party banned the use of Sütterlin in 1941, but many German speakers brought up with this writing system continued to use it well into the post-war period.
Mr. Eugen Kirstein and wife
Side wing, right staircase
Berlin, Oct. 1, 1942
Dear Brother and Sister-in-Law,
Unfortunately you were not home yesterday, Wed., Sept. 30, around 6 o’clock in the afternoon; wanted to bring you bird sand and flower vase and inquire humbly about a nice wedding picture or one of the photos taken after the wedding coffee-feast out there in Pankow. Have you been notified yet if they turned out? Please write to me about it, or let Mum know; but please don’t forget!!! Will be glad to pay for the group picture. Now, till then, love and best regards, also to Gitichen,
Paul and Gretchen. Skalitzenr. 78
Fridingen a. D. (at the Danube) near Tuttlingen
Mrs. Gisela Kirstein c/o Heendschel
Paradeplatz 2 b.
Fridingen, 9. 7. 43.
Dear Gisela. Many thanks for your letter. I was already wondering how you all were doing in L. Good that everything is well now and Eugen can come sometimes; otherwise he would miss out on seeing the little one. Our two are going to nursery school and like it pretty well. Did you get my letter? I wrote about the car? Can’t Eugen come sometime and fetch it? Shall I send the cards still here? Love and regards, Hilde, Anni and children. Had the big wash-day.
Letter will follow.
Close up of the postcards here: http://thebaronpictures.tumblr.com/