05 June 2022

2022-06-03 Photo Finish and Balance Sheet in Rheinberg (7,184 km)

Distance: 7,184 kilometers = 4,464 miles
Travel period: 27.04.2022 - 03.06.2022 = 38 days
Countries: 8 (A • H • RO • MD • UA • SK • PL • D)
Photos: about 2,100
Traffic tickets: none
Major problem: Putin‘s War of Aggression against Ukraine
Travel expenses: affordable
Donations: never enough
Personal meetings: numerous
Experiences: priceless
Risk of repetition: extremely high

Stages (22 stages = 7,184 km = 38 days)

Photographic Supplement

Music Awards and Solidarity with Ukraine in Vienna (A)
Budapest Jazz Club (H)
Shopping in Bucharest (RO)
Wine Country Moldova (MD)
Inside the Beit Kadishin in Czernowitz (UA)
Jewish Cemetery Memorial in Košice (SK)
Close by Adolf Hitler's Wolf's Lair (PL)
Russian Soldier in Berlin (D)

03 June 2022

Stalin and Goldberg in Berlin (6,586 km)

(2022-06-01/03) Berlin is the last stage of my „Journey Along the New Iron Curtain.“ Nowhere are the symbols that illustrated the East-West conflict so present, right up to the remains of the Berlin Wall that divided the city into two hostile parts for more than 28 years from August 1961 to November 1989. That is why there are not one but two Soviet War Memorials, a normal size one in the district of Tiergarten in the West, and a gigantic one in the district of Treptow in the East. There we can read eight quotes by Josef Stalin, engraved in gold letters in Russian and German, on 16 white sarcophagi made of lime sandstone. One quote reads: "Hitler's scoundrels have set themselves the goal to enslave or exterminate the population of Ukraine, Bielorussia, the Baltic States, Moldavia, Crimea and the Caucasus. ‚Our goal is clear and noble. We want to liberate our Soviet soil.‘“ Doesn't it sound very familiar and up-to-date to you and isn't it revealing that already Stalin wanted to liberate not the peoples but the "Soviet soil"?

Let's leave that behind and go to the Havel River, where the Jewish Theater Ship MS Goldberg is moored. The ship was inaugurated ten days ago. The premiere of "The Singer" on 23.05.2022 was attended, among others, by Berlin's Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey, who welcomed the theater ship makers and the audience. Do you have any idea who "The Singer" might be? It is none other than "our" magnificent lyric tenor - Height: 5' 0¼" (1,53 m) - Joseph Schmidt. Berlin has yet another attraction of Jewishness and we are very curious to see how it will be accepted by the audience.

01 June 2022

From Austria-Hungary to Prussia, from Bukovina to Pomerania, from Pojorâta to Stargard (6,395 km)

(2022-05-31/06-01) This journey from Austria-Hungary to Prussia, from Bukovina to Pomerania, from Pojorâta to Stargard took me six years. In July 2016 I discovered along the DN17 between Câmpulung Moldovenesc and Pojorâta in Southern Bukovina "Adrian's Magnificent Chaos En Route to Suceava":

Among my "trophies" were 112 photographic plates more than one hundred years old. For eight of them, the question „Bukovina or not Bukovina? - That is the Question!" could soon be answered in the affirmative:

But what were the other 104 photographic plates about? A barely decipherable town sign on a train platform finally put me on the track to Stargard. Months passed before I finally researched the whole story.

The fascinating photographic plates show the family of Georg Heinrich Traugott Kirsten, Protestants who lived between 1884 - 1888 in Stralsund in Pomerania on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea. In the year 1888 they moved to Stargard, where Georg became Royal Prussian Railways Director, subsequently Privy Council. He headed the Stargard Railways Repair Workshop, one of the dominant empolyers in Pomerania.

The Stargard Museum of Archeology and History was most enthusiastic about this find and and a team was sent to Germany especially to aquire the photographic plates from me and bring them safely back home to Stargard. At that time I wrote: "The round trip from Pomerania in Prussia to Bukovina in Austria-Hungary came to an end. Exciting!" But is that actually true? No, because it is at least as interesting to find out what is still there today. You can see the result in this post. Everything is still there, the railroad station, the railroad repair plant, today an emerging business park, the house of the Royal Prussian Railway Director, today the City Job Center, the old water tower, the workshops, then and now, and even an old steam locomotive. I never thought how far this chance discovery from Bukovina would take me and I am thrilled, about the unique photos, but also about the reconstruction of a family history.

31 May 2022

The Dangerous Proximity to Russia in Gdańsk (6,052 km)

(2022-05-29/31) It all started 42 years ago at the Gdańsk Shipyard, when the free trade union Solidarność was admitted in Poland. It paved the way for the fall of communism in Poland and subsequently in Europe. It is only logical that Solidarność should show solidarity with Ukraine. The people of Gdańsk are aware of their dangerous proximity to Russia. Driving along the Gdańsk Bay and crossing the Vistula River by ferry, it is only 75 km to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

On the way there we pass the former concentration camp Stutthof. „Heinrich Himmler‘s order to commandants of concentration camps, dated 14th of April 1945 commanded that there should be no surrender to enemy camps with prisoners, and organize the evacuation so, that none of the prisoners would get into hands of enemy alive. The order caused that evacuation of the last prisoners of KL Stutthof who so far survived, were evacuated by Baltic Sea. […] The Sea Evacuation caused death of about 50% transported prisoners (out of 4,360). […]“ (Stutthof Museum)

29 May 2022

Adolf Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair in Masuria (5,679 km)

(2022-05-27/29) With its more than 2,000 lakes, the Masurian Lake District is one of the most impressive landscapes I have ever seen. While many of the lakes are accessible and developed for tourism, the forests in the region are off-limits to civilians as military areas; clearly, the border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad is only 38 km away. Have you ever noticed that the military often seizes the most beautiful landscapes as military training areas, barracks sites, missile launching bases, etc.?

This was also the case for Adolf Hitler, who had the Wolf's Lair built here as the first Führer Headquarters on the Eastern Front. On Feb. 11, 1942, Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu (center, saluting) visited Hitler at the Wolf's Lair. The talks focused on the support Antonescu hoped to receive from Hitler against the Iron Guard in Romania. In return, Antonescu was a willing executioner of Nazi German warfare and the Holocaust against the Jews.

Read more: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn1003365

We remember that Antonescu's visit in February 1942 fell exactly between the two waves of deportations from Czernowitz in October 1941 and in June 1942. The battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1943/1943 was not yet lost, and the failed and anyway much too late assassination attempt on Hitler on July 20, 1944 was still far away.