There are many poems that have been written about Christmas lights over the past half a century. Some tied in together with the Christmas trees, some deal with the struggles with decorating them with lighting. However, this poem, written by Keith Darnay, puts the Christmas lights in the forefront, as they represent the color, love and true meaning of Christmas. This video and poem were released 35 years ago on a TV Station in Minot, ND, as Mr. Darnay was starting his promising career in broadcasting, which has been 40 years and counting. Enjoy the video but especially the poem. 🙂 ❤
The Files has a quiz on Christmas lights and ist history. Feel free to challenge yourselves and click here.
When we think about Thanksgiving, we think about not only giving thanks for what we have and accomplished, we also take pride in two things: feasting and sports. It is a known variable that we enjoy our dinner with a good football game with the Detroit Lions or any professional NFL team. If we’re not into football, there’s the Thanksgiving Parade and any Hallmark films.
Yet for the young and old at heart, there are children’s TV specials that bring the family together, let alone some great friends. During the 1980s, I remember many specials being televised for Thanksgiving and it set the precedent for an even larger number of holiday specials that came 1-2 weeks later.
The Garfield Thanksgiving Special was one of them. Produced 30 years ago after the Fall of the Wall, it was one of the last specials where Lorenzo Music played the voice of Garfield (he died in 2001). He played Garfield from 1982 to 1994 mainly in the TV series. The plot of the 23 minute show is in a City where the Jon Arbuckle, Garfield’s owner, took the cat to the vet to check him out, but also check out the vet herself, Liz. All on the day before Thanksgiving where themes such as food versus dieting, romance, and even the role of grandma are presented. The Special may be 30 years old, but it’s great for all ages and it’s an excellent example of how Thanksgiving is celebrated, both the wrong way as well as the right way. 😀
So enjoy! 🙂 ❤
Garfield was created in 1978 and first published on June 19th of that same year. It holds the world record for having the highest number of newspapers that carry the series. It has had 12 TV specials, two movies and two TV series with a third one on the way. Its main home is at Paws Inc. in Muncie, Indiana. Its creator: Jim Davis. To read the comic strip or visit the website, click here.
Berlin, 1959. Two years before the erection of the Wall and the closing of the border that would separate East and West Germany until 1989. The city was in the midst of a rebuild 14 years after the end of World War II . People were still able to pass despite the city being occupied in four areas by their respective allies who liberated them from the Nazis: The USA, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. Yet the passage is restricted. Inspite of the rebuilding efforts, there were some differences between what would become East and West Berlin. In this documentary produced by the BBC 60 years ago, the host of Panorama took a walk through Berlin and interviewed several Berliners, showing you the difference in terms of progression and regression. Enjoy the documentary! 🙂
Compare Berlin of 60 years ago with today. What has changed and what has remained the same? Do we still have a difference between the former East and West or has Berlin grown together?
You can choose another city in Germany if you wish- whether it is Munich, Hamburg, Erfurt, Dresden, Flensburg, Rostock- regardless of population and size. Do this comparison using this time with a time before 1989 or even before the Wall in 1961. Compare and present to your classmates. Many will be amazed at the difference and will provoke a conversation that will last an entire classroom session.
Useful for any language class, including English and Germany, as well as history, sociology, social studies and political science. For college level, that, plus architecture, engineering and planning. 🙂
There are several literary pieces and documentaries that focus on aspects of the Great Storm of 1978/79, and the catastrophic winter that followed, which brought the northern half of West Germany and all of East Germany to a complete standstill. The majority of the pieces have focused on the hardest hit areas of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein- in particular, the areas of Kiel and Flensburg.
Der Große Schnee (in English: The Big Snow), written by Helmuth Sethe of the Husumer Nachrichten (Husum News, part of shz, Inc.) focuses on both the Great Storm that started right before the New Year, plus the winter that followed, which included the winter storm on 13 February- a month and a half later. All of them affecting Schleswig-Holstein, but with a focus on the North Sea coastal area (Dithmarschen and greater Husum), as well as the cities of Flensburg and Kiel and the surrounding areas. It was originally written after the winter storm in February that same year, but has been edited and republished multiple times, with the last edition having been released in 2011.
There are several photos and stories that were in connection with the great winter disaster and were graphic in detail- with reports of people and animals both freezing to death while being snowed in, collapsed roofs because of the thickness of the snow, capsized boats and people treading through icy waters along flooded streets of coastal cities. Yet there were some glaring facts that are worth mentioning about this storm according to the writer. Here are the top five worth mentioning:
Power outages- Many towns and villages were without power because of downed power lines due to ice. But no area was as bad as the districts of Schleswig-Flensburg and Nordfriesland. There, as many as 111 villages were without electricity for days, many of them were cut off from the rest of the world. Many had to make due with cutting up wood and creating fireplaces to keep warm.
Stranded vacationers- Many vacationers were returning from Scandanavia when they were greeted by barricades at the German/Danish borders in Krusau and Ellund. Reason: The storm forced an executive order by the West German and state governments to shut down all traffic (rail and vehicular) on the German side. Traffic jams of more than 10 kilometers on the Danish side, plus stranded drivers seeking shelter were the result.
Field Landing-When the state prime minister Gerhard Stoltenberg was finally informed of the current weather situation in Schleswig-Holstein (he and his family were on vacation at that time), he did not realize how bad it was until his helicopter had to land in a nearby field and he had to go by truck and sleigh to visit the hard hit regions. Reason: The snow had drifted in at the airports and with drifts as high as 6 meters, it was impossible for any aircraft to land even.
The Sleigh as Transportation-With no possibilities with the car, many people had to make do with sleds, sleighs and even skis. It was not a rarity to watch people cross-country ski in the countryside during this time as the snow was thick enough to warrant it. Sleds were not only used for downhill fun, but also for shopping. It was a site to watch people pull their groceries home on an open sled.
Flensburg as Little Venice- The storms produced a series of high tides (up to four meters) which flooded much of the city center and Roter Strasse, as well as everything along the Fjorde. Many people had to use boats to get by. These tides left another mess though- erosion, especially along the areas near Wassersleben near the Bridge of Friendship at the border.
There are many more examples to mention in the book, yet these five came to mind when reading this book myself. There have been countless other winter storms afterwards that crippled the region and brought with it high snow drifts, ice and flooding, including the last big snow storm in Flensburg in early 2018. But none was as glaring and captivating as the one from 40 years ago, especially when reading the accounts written by the editor. The book did bring back some memories of snow storms that I dealt with as a child growing up in Minnesota and a snowstorm of similar proportions happened shortly after this one, which left a big drift of a meter to the door of our house on a lake. Yet for those who lived through this harsh winter in northern Germany of 40 years ago, this book will bring back some memories of how one survived one of the worst of all time. So read it, share your stories, ask others about it. You’ll be amazed at the stories they will share about this event.
You can also watch some of the documentaries that were from the last entry by clicking here.
December 28th of 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the Blizzard that brought the World to a total standstill. It also marked the start of the Long Winter, whose combination of blizzards and high tides created havoc in both sides of Germany. Both of which have broken records and have remained in the top ten ever since.
On 28th December, 1978, a combination of a low pressure system from the Mediterranean Sea, which brought moisture and mild temperatures, and a high pressure system from Scandinavia, which featured frigid temperatures, collided over the Baltic Sea, unleashing what was considered at that time “The Blizzard of the Century!” Winds of up to 160 kph, combined with snow drifts of up to 7 meters (20 feet) and high tides that were half the height, literally brought everything to a standstill beginning on December 28th, 1978 and ending on January 3rd, 1979. An average of 70 centimeters of snow fell in most of the affected regions while 30 centimeters of thick ice were reported! The entire northern half of West Germany and all of East Germany were affected- from Flensburg and Hamburg to Brunswick and Cologne; Rostock and Neu Brandenburg to Leipzig and Erfurt. All were affected. The island of Rügen was cut off from the rest of the world for days until help arrived. Snow blocked transport of coal from the Lausitz region to the burning plants, thus bringing blackouts in electricity to wide areas in East Germany. And motorways were littered with stranded cars from Frankfurt/Main all the way to the Danish border near Flensburg and beyond. Hundreds of people lost their lives in that storm.
This blizzard was just the beginning of the winter that crippled everything in Germany, for another round of snow and ice of similar proportions fell later on February 18/19, 1979. The total amount of snow that fell during the entire period was over 100 centimeters, double the amount the region receives per year.
And while the government was late in response to the New Year storms and have since improved on providing emergencies in cases like these (and the numbers have increased over the last 10 years), many documentaries have been produced to describe the events in detail from eyewitness accounts. Three of which have been dug out of the attic for you to have a look, to see how powerful the storm really was. It still ranks as one of the ten worst winter storms on record since 1949. The first documentary looks at what happened in West Germany. The second is how the storm affected the eastern half. The third one looks at the storm from a photographer’s perspective, as he did a series of aerial photos of the regions of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg after the first storm hit the region. Both West German-states, combined with the coastal areas of Mecklenburg-Pommerania (and especially the islands of Usedom and Rügen) were the hardest hit regions by this New Year’s storm.
So sit back, have some hot cocoa and popcorn ready and be prepared to watch how 1979 entered both Germanys with a lot of ice and snow. Enjoy! 🙂
And to point out, the photos presented here were from the Winter storms that pummeled Europe and the US in 2010/11, which was half as bad as what happened here. Nevertheless, especially in the top picture, you can imagine the height and thickness of the snow drifts that left many land regions looking like those under water. Just to point this out. 🙂
From time to time, the Flensburg Files will introduce you to some video clips of Germany in the past. Some of them have been digitally remastered to resemble its original appearance in color. And there will be some that are in connection with certain current events and/or stories that will come in the Files. The reason behind this is twofold. The first is because we’ve been discovering old film with events that happened between 50 and 90 years ago that until now, had been stuck in the attic. Whenever a grandfather or grandmother passes on, the next of kin happens to find them while sorting through their belongings. Upon watching the hidden films, they find a bit more facts about what had happened in their lives that they (mostly unknowingly) had contributed to history. This is especially true with German history for two world wars plus the infamous Cold War had almost wiped away relicts of history that had been at least a century old, because of air raids and bombings, forced demolitions based on dictator’s orders, and in some cases, the need to erase the past and move forward without even going back to tell it. By discovering such artefacts, we can piece together how Germany was like in the past to better understand where they came from. Secondly, thanks to digital technology, one can remaster the found films and photos to have them available online for future use, especially in the classroom. While reenactments and museums can provide you with some examples of certain times and how they lived, they are not as genuine as the films and photos taken by those who had lived throgh it and told the families about it.
And with that we will look at Berlin after World War II had ended. Here we have two film clips, comparing the German capital between May, just after the war had ended, and July, where the reconstruction of the city was in full gear. Knowing the the war had virtually halted all aspects of life, these people continued on with life as if nothing happened except their main task was to rebuild and start over. These people had suffered greatly because of the Third Reich. Many women had lost their male partners; their children, their fathers, for they either had been killed or taken prisoner. The end result was the influx of immigrants from Turkey and all points to the east; many of whom have been living in Germany ever since. Their role, combined with the role of the women as the sole breadwinner and mother would eventually remake Germany into what it is today- a country where people of gender and background can work for a living, live in peaceful co-existence and be open to multi-culture and change.
And so, with that in mind, have a look at the two clips and compare. What was similar and what was different between the two? We know that in less than 4 years time, Berlin would be the capital of East Germany with the West German capital being in Bonn. And furthermore, 10-15 years was needed at least to convert Berlin into what it was before the bombings. But what else is different? Have a look and think about it. 🙂