Thursday, August 27, 2009

PFF: Postcards with History: Berlin wall

Sometimes a mundane tourist postcard can be a window on history in a way that can take your breath away. That’s the case of someone doing a grand tourist tour of Europe in August 1961.

Postcard of Hanau am Main – Marktplatz, Dated Friday Aug. 25, postmarked Aug 26 1961 by the US Army Air Force Postal service. Addressed to Gregg Spence in Dayton Ohio.
“Here at Hanau, just outside Frankfurt, we found Capt. Don and family greeting us at the airport. After touring in Holland, France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland, we are glad to be with our own people. The tense feeling over Berlin has decreased somewhat. Next we go to Bremen and British Isles. When we return, I want to see if the porch roof has leaks, see back steps and find leak on big roof – [illegible]"

Just one sentence but what a piece of history. I direct you to and the Wikipedia entry on the Berlin Wall for background history.

The first iteration of the wall was constructed during the night of August 12-13, 1961. All border crossings to East Germany were closed. Barbed wire and rolled barbed wire (concertina wire) were strung up. See image below.

Streets were torn up, and the rail lines and subway lines connecting East and West were broken. Soon, the building of a solid wall began. As of August 23, citizens of West Berlin were no longer allowed to enter East Berlin. On September 20, forced evacuation of houses immediately at the border started. (People were jumping from the windows, you see, and running to West Berlin).

The West did not really respond except with words, and the building of the wall continued. Who knew what importance the Berlin Wall would have over time? At the moment, maybe a leaky roof in Dayton Ohio was more important to the writer. What aspects of history are happening today that we are overlooking?

November 9, 2009 will be the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.



Kate said...

My husband and I travelled to East Germany on a tour while the wall was still intact. It was a sobering and uncomfortable experience. Later when the wall was dismantled, I was teaching in a St. Paul, MN high school. An all-school assembly was called to commemorate the event, and I read Robert Frost's "Mending Wall" that begins "Something there is that doesn't like a wall..."

Postcardy said...

Who knows what that is happening now will seem important for history.As they say, "Hindsight is better than foresight."

Bella Foxx said...

Very interesting post. I like the picture of the soldier jumping over the wire. I believe I read something about that once, but can't remember for sure.

Snap said...

Wonderful postcard and post. Very interesting.

MuseSwings said...

What an interesting bit of history. I remember the news reports about the Berlin wall - and then the much happier reports when it was pulverized!

JamaGenie said...

What an interesting bit of history, both on the postcard and in your additions. Can't believe it's been 20 years already. Seems like only yesterday that I and my co-workers stopped whatever we were doing and clapped and cheered when we heard the news. I truly had given up on The Wall coming down in my lifetime. We never should've allowed it to go up in the first place.

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

It's wonderful to find a card that reflects a piece of history like this. The impact of the wall on families who lived in Berlin must have been dreadful, but there are so many other boundaries still, that do much the same.

maryt/theteach said...

Wow, Viridian! History in the making! Amazing! :)

dmarks said...

A great piece of history. I have a piece of the Berlin Wall, stored inside a wooden Gorbachev nesting doll.

Margo said...

what a great, thought provoking post. It could be an example of the language barrier- sometimes signs of change are hard enough to see without the added disadvantage of not speaking the local language. When we lived in Holland, I would go through the whole day walking around, seeing people (all speaking Dutch) and then would get home and see something on CNN international that explained why everyone looked so serious. Sometimes I'd look at the local newspaper - and only be able to grasp that a certain kind of something had happened! :)

Beth Niquette said...

My Mother traveled to Romania a year or so after the wall fell. What an incredible saga of history.

Very sobering. Wonderful post.

Lola said...

What an interesting piece of history! I travelled to East Berlin while the Wall was still there - a really eerie experience!

Thanks for stopping by - I'm so glad since I've now come across yr great site!

Hsppy PFF!

PS Daniel's going to have a very full schedule ahead of him judging from all the comments about him!

Terry said...

Happy PFF to you .
What a truly amazing card you have shared.
Thank you for sharing this today.
We have a friend who lived there and each year He and his family celebrate the day the wall came down.
They have friends and family over and share memories some good,some sad of what it was like.
It was very eye opening .
Have a wonderful weekend.
Happy Trails

viridian said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. It means a lot to me to have someone read and comment.

Marie Reed said...

I know exactly where Hanau is too! I actually just moved back to Germany and live in a little town called Partenheim now:) It's so nice to slowly but surely get back into blogging! Hooray for your history filled post!


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