Daily Wisdom

February 18, 2008

A Trip To East Germany

Some time ago, I promised one of the Scrapplers that I would share some pictures from my trip to East Germany. Well, I happened to run across those pictures the other day and decided that there's no time like the present. So here we go. Set your "Way-Back Machine" to February 19, 1990... only days after West Germans were allowed visa-free travel to the East... about the same time that pictures like this were being taken...



As we approached the East German border near the town of Worbis, one of the first things we saw was this imposing structure. It was a guard tower of some sort. I felt like I was being watched until it was out of sight...



Communism is noted for its symbols. There were no statues of Marx or Lenin hanging about, but this medallion reminded me that I was not in Kansas anymore...



Finally, we approached the check point, where we had to show our passports...


Click to enlarge.


My passport was stamped with all the trappings of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. Actually, it is now one of my prized possessions...


Click to enlarge.


A close-up of the stamp on our "Zählkarte" (or "transfer form")...



Even a simple traffic sign can be memorable, especially considering that the DDR no longer exists...



On several occasions, we were welcomed by the East Germans with smiles or waves, as in the case of these kids. They were quick to spot our Mercedes as not being typical East German transport...


Click to enlarge.


When we entered Nordhausen, it was like going back in time. The cobblestone streets were full of pot holes. The "plaster" facades were broken in places on many of the building exteriors giving them an appearance that resembled something out of an old "Combat" episode. The smell of smoke from homes and businesses using coal for heat was overwhelming at times. And watching the locals catch the morning train was interesting indeed...


Click to enlarge.


After leaving Nordhausen, we turned north and drove through the Harz Mountains. The tall, straight pines are magnificent to say the least. In the following photo we happened to be following a typical East German car called the 'Trabant'. These cars were made out of fiberglass and had a 2-stroke engine that was known for being smoky. My hosts referred to them as "Shtinkers" whenever we saw one...


Click to enlarge.


I heard this joke about the Trabant. Someone says: "The Trabant is the most quiet car ever made!" In shock, the natural response is: "Oh, really? How is that possible?" The response: "Well, the car is so small that you drive with your right knee over your right ear, and your left knee over your left ear!"

After driving north through the Harz Mountains, we arrived in Wernigerode. There is a famous castle there (or, "schloss" in German). It is on top of a mountain as you can see in the following photo...



We didn't have time to go up to the castle. Instead, we took a leisurely stroll through the heart of town before heading back to West Germany...


Click to enlarge.


After returning from the wilds of communist East Germany, we decided to stop in Einbeck. Naturally, we had an "Einbecker" beer (a real treat if I do say so), and a piece of cake. Here, I must pay tribute to one of my German friends, "Billy" Spellerberg. Actually, his name is Gerd Spellerberg but everyone called him "Billy". Gerd acquired his nickname near the end of World War II when a U.S. soldier riding on a tank called out... "Hey Billy, come here. I've got something for you", and then threw Gerd a chocolate bar. From that day on, everyone called him "Billy"...



"Billy" Spellerberg was a good friend. He was also a great PLC programmer. Some of the work that Billy and his team created was purchased by Siemens and is sold on the open market today. If you work for a chemical company and you use Siemens PLCs, then there is a good chance that you are benefiting from the work of "Billy" Spellerberg. Billy took this picture of me when I was a bit thinner and a bit better looking...

8 Comments:

At 2/19/2008 1:55 PM , Blogger Ms RightWing's Ink said...

Great travelogue and history lesson! Thanks for sharing

 
At 2/19/2008 5:56 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Danke Shoen Ms. RW! Not as good as some of your photos, but hopefully interesting.

(:D) Best regards,
Und, Auf Wiedersehn!

 
At 2/20/2008 5:23 PM , Blogger Beerme said...

Ahh, Einbeck, naturlich!
Die Erste den Bockbieren, jah!

I hope you tried the Ur-Bock as Einbeck is famous the world over for creating the first of the "bock" beers. In fact the beer from this town was celebrated by no less a personage than Martin Luther who stated, in front of the Worms Reichstag in 1521, "The best drink known to man is called Einbecker Beer"

Way cool pics, dude!

 
At 2/20/2008 7:27 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Beerme,
Actually, I had the pilsner... and I think it's one of the better German pilsners (of the ones I tried anyway). And I lived in Germany for 3 months in 1996 so I tried quite a few.

(:D) Thanks "dude"!

 
At 2/20/2008 7:28 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Beerme,
P.S.-- Thanks for the info on Martin Luther. I didn't know that Einbecker beer was that old!

 
At 2/25/2008 1:20 AM , Anonymous camojack said...

Bier ist gut, ja!

 
At 3/03/2008 8:18 AM , Anonymous Klaus-J.Scheffler said...

You can see more informations about this german region:
http://www.stadtmagazin-nordhausen.com
Try it ! Historical pictures and more.
Klaus

 
At 3/03/2008 8:31 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Klaus,
Thanks for the link!

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home