Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Old Postcard Wednesday--Child's silhouette, wartime Germany

When I purchased this old postcard I intended to post it during one of the windstorms sure to come this winter. The first one arrived Tuesday evening, just in time for me to begin this edition of Old Postcard Wednesday. There are alarming gusts outside now pitting the various wind chimes against one another in a strange competition. Then there is silence, and I wonder if that is the end of it....until the next strong gust. Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile are, by now, aware that we have three giant Sequoias in our backyard and I admit to a certain degree of angst on windy winter days and nights because of their immensity. I tucked this sonnet away in, of all places, my underwear drawer to calm me, if needed:

Sonnet: The Wind -by Dr. John Celes 

What shakes the trees so violently? 'Tis Wind;
What moves the clouds hither/thither? 'Tis Wind;
What takes the tornado around? 'Tis Wind;
What brings the sandstorm on the earth? 'Tis Wind.

What makes the cool and gentle breeze? 'Tis Wind;
What makes the boughs and leaves to dance? 'Tis Wind;
What makes the autumn leaves to fall? 'Tis Wind;
What makes the honey-bees to fly? 'Tis Wind.

What makes pollen reach in showers? 'Tis Wind;
What makes the dust to climb towers? 'Tis Wind;
What spreads the perfume of flowers? 'Tis Wind;
What makes the rain-clouds advance far? 'Tis Wind.

What makes the Wind to blow? 'Tis God;
What makes a Tempest stop? 'Tis our Lord.

Some online old postcard sellers do not show the back of the postcards they have for sale, and such was the case regarding today's postcard. I love silhouettes, and I thought this one was particularly eye-catching. When I turned it over last evening to see if there was a written message on the back I immediately thought: oh here we go again!...perhaps if Francessa reads this post she will grace us with another translation in her comments!  [Postscript: She translated it for us! See first comment.]

It was not until I scanned the postcard and had it enlarged on the monitor that I paid any attention to the stamp. Truly, I gasped -- just wasn't prepared to see a 6-Pfennig Hitler Head stamp. It adds a whole different twist to the mood of the front silhouette. What seemed a somewhat playful scene of a child fighting against a gust of wind to maintain control of her umbrella becomes a child caught in the winds of war. How quickly our impressions of something can change, be changed, when we have more than only partial information. This serves as a reminder to keep our eyes wide open, to look at both sides of any given situation, and to bravely hold onto our truths.

To end the year on a lighter note, I thought you would be as interested as I was to learn a bit about the place where this old postcard was postmarked back in 1944, Wuppertal-Elberfeld. (emphasis added)
Elberfeld is a municipal subdivision of the German city of Wuppertal; it was an independent town until 1929.

Wuppertal is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in and around the Wupper river valley, and is situated east of the city of Düsseldorf and south of the Ruhr area. With a population of approximately 350,000, it is the largest city in the Bergisches Land. Wuppertal is known for its steep slopes, its woods and parks, and its suspension railway, the Wuppertal Schwebebahn. Two-thirds of the total municipal area of Wuppertal is green space. From any part of the city it is only a ten-minute walk in one of the public parks or woodland paths.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Wuppertal was one of the biggest industrial regions of continental Europe. Wuppertal today is still a major industrial centre, being home to industries such as textiles, metallurgy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals (Aspirin was invented in Wuppertal in 1897 by Bayer), electronics, automobiles, rubber, vehicles and printing equipment. . .

Wuppertal in its present borders was formed in 1929 by merging the early-industrial cities of Barmen and Elberfeld with Vohwinkel, Ronsdorf, Cronenberg, Langerfeld, and Beyenburg. The initial name Barmen-Elberfeld was changed in a 1930 referendum to Wuppertal (“Wupper Valley”). . .

During World War II, about 40% of buildings in the city were destroyed by Allied bombing, as were many other German cities and industrial centres. . .

The US 78th Infantry Division captured Wuppertal against scant resistance on 16 April 1945. After the last World War, the U.S.A. held the intellectual ownership rights to Bayer and other German companies and organisations. Wuppertal became a part of the British Zone of Occupation, and subsequently part of the new state of North Rhine-Westphalia in West Germany. [Source: Wikipedia]

Finally, two videos of present-day Wuppertal. The first one, delightfully, shows quite a few people sporting umbrellas!

(Runs 3:58)

The second features Wuppertal's unique hanging monorail train.

(Runs 2:05)



francessa said...

Now Lydia, this one was a bit of a challenge, because it's written in Old German Script. I still learned it in school, so I could finally decipher it, but I was totally out of practice.

The card is written to one Mrs Suthov in Greiten (Rhineland)Germany

It says: Dear Mrs Suthov!
I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a good turn of the year,
Yours, Kristine

It's interesting what you're writing about Wuppertal.

Dee Newman said...

Great post. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the city and the history of the area. The post card,the stamp and the sonnet was a wonderful way to introduce the post. Thanks Francessa for translating the card.

mythopolis said...

Well, even knowing a little German, I could not decipher it. Books of that era also had the old script. Cool that Fran.. could read it. The girl on the card reminded me of the girl on the Morton salt boxes...

The monorail is pretty cool and I liked the engineering idea of having it just follow the river's path. That must make for an interesting ride!

Fireblossom said...

Now want to ride on that hanging monorail!

You're right, that image becomes disturbing when you see the stamp.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

ironic, i guess that this picture was on a card from Germany and that the first thing i though of when i saw the image was the famous piece of graffitti by Banksy on the West Bank Wall

And how funny that the message should be to wish a merry christmas - and you post it now!,r:15,s:0

Looking to the Stars said...

Once again, what a fantastic post! I never knew that there was a Hitler stamp. Loved the postcard and all the info. Thanks :)

Lydia said...

****Francessa~ What a hero, what a translation champ you are! Thank you for doing this for us. Believe me, it was well worth it because it adds demonstrably to the depth of the card. As Pixies mentioned, it is darned weird that the message turned out to be a Christmas greeting! What are the odds?! I was even wondering whether it was written in German or not, and how interesting to find that it is in Old German Script, and that you learned it in school (do they still teach it, I wonder?). Many, many thanks for helping out on this one in such a big way. xo

Lydia said...

Dee Newman~ Yes, indeed, thanks to Francessa for the translation. It adds so much! I am pleased and honored you enjoyed the post as much as you did.

mythopolis~ I had not realized it, but you are right about the similarity to the earlier Morton salt girl. Wonder which preceded which! It really is fascinating the way the monorail follows the river. How unique!

Fireblossom~ I won $35 on a Powerball ticket last week. Good omen for my winning the Big One that will fund such adventures! We could all go....oh what fun. :)

Pixies~ Yes, you have hit on another art similarity of the girl silhouette. It was not until the first year I was blogging that I became aware of Banksy. I saw one image and found it perfect for a post I wrote about "First Memories." Afterward, I looked at much of his work online and realized there is a true cult following, which I certainly understand. Many thanks for the links!

Looking to the Stars~ Thank you! I never even wondered about a Hitler stamp, and last night I searched to find out what I could about the one on this old postcard...and found there were many, some quite ornate such as one anniversary or birthday commemoration. It sure was eerie finding I had one in my possession (this one is not rare, btw).

susan said...

Nova Scotia is infamous for intense wind storms particularly in winter but there are no sequoias to be blown over (and they would be). I hope the ones in your yard weather many more winters and continue to shelter you with their grace and beauty.

The postcard is very elegant. Thank heavens that war came and went. May they all be done with soon.

Hattie said...

I learned that old script in German class, and the writing is clear, but the turn of phrase is quaint. I'm glad Francesca could translate it.
That was some windstorm! I experienced it in Seattle.
Best to your sequoias!

Kathe W. said...

great post and a perfect day to post it after all the weather we had yesterday! Cheers!

francessa said...

Lydia, that was a pleasure. I love all the interesting comments and coincidences.

There's a real storm here in Germany, too where I dwell at the moment.

I don't think they teach the Old German Script any longer, maybe there are courses for kids interested in history. When we learned it at school it was considered as a kind of calligraphy and had to be written with ink and dip pen. I think they wanted us to be able to read the writings of our ancestors.

Lydia said...

susan~ Your assured (and they would be made me shudder, and realize why there are no Sequoias in Nova Scotia! I appreciate your blessing on our trees, and send them blessings myself (especially in windstorms).
"War....what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!" - remember that song?

Hattie~ Francessa will be interested to read that you learned the old script in German class. I am curious as to what school system taught it. When I took German in middle school we didn't touch it.
Thanks for greeting my Sequoias, and I hope Seattle's trees held firm to the ground in that last storm.

Kathe~ Indeed, what weather it was! I hope there is not much more of that this winter. Have a safe and happy new year.

francessa~ I must look for some reports on the current weather there. You stay safe!
I think it is beautiful that the Old German Script was taught in schools and it's too bad if it is not any longer. Being able to read the writings of your ancestors is noble. I hope you commit to teaching it to the kids in your family (in all that spare time you have...hahahah!).

Mama Zen said...

What an amazing find!

Snowbrush said...

Wow, a Hitler stamp!

That's a great-looking postcard, but it's hard to imagine that Germany would have been turning out quality paper and ink for the postcard market in 1944, so I wonder when the card was actually printed.

Lydia said...

Mama Zen~ I thought so. :)

Snowbrush~ The Hitler stamp really gives me the creeps. It is historical, however.

You make a really good point about the age of the card. I imagine you are right, that Germany wasn't producing this kind of thing during the war. Now that we know the message on back is a Christmas greeting, I wonder if the card was considered special enough to be considered a gift of sorts.

Snowbrush said...

"The Hitler stamp really gives me the creeps. It is historical, however."

Tell me about it--I've got a Nazi flag in some closet somewhere around here. I once thought of burning it, but I realized that it wouldn't do anyone any good, and, as you pointed out, it is a historic artifact.

izzy said...

Inside out- and the power of push/pull... I used to collect old postcards, but we moved too much and most got lost. Thanks for raising this one and all it's significances.

Lydia said...

Snowbrush~ Items such as these should be donated to appropriate museums, etc. :)

izzy~ Thank you for stopping by with your comments. I hope that your old postcards found appreciative homes. :)

The Poetry Palace said...

quite creative piece.


Hope all is well,
Glad to land on your island that showcase fabulous poetry talent, way to go!!!

Welcome join us by submitting a free verse or a poem of your choice today,


Happy New Year!
Bless You.


Lydia said...

The Poetry Palace~ Thank you for your visit and I will come have a tour of your blog. Happy New Year to you, too!



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