Monday, December 5, 2011

Side trip to Poland -- Iron Curtain, Part 4

We left Russia, flying from Moscow to Prague. We spent several days in Prague, the well preserved tourist magnet in the Czech Republic. People said Prague should be visited before it became too popular, but we were too late. It is a wonderful city, but crowded with tourists, and sprinkled with pickpockets. One tried to reach into my pack on a subway.

From Prague we took the train to Berlin. There we visited the Checkpoint Charlie site and museum and remnants of the Berlin Wall, both on the border of the former West and East Berlin. You could still see the difference in affluence between the two sectors, though there was rampant construction in the downtown sector of the east--cranes everywhere. Berlin seemed a vibrant, multicultural place.

In Berlin, we rented a car for a day trip to Poland. I have German ancestors who lived in Pommerania, the northwest section of the country, near Kolberg, in a small village called Moitzelfitz. I only had a small 100+ year-old map showing the German villages and roads from that time, but we managed to navigate our way there.

Here is the city limit sign, showing the present Polish name.

The main (only?) street through town.

The old German church was in the center of town, and in disrepair (a new church was next door).

This plaque was on an inside wall. It commemorates the fallen from the war of 1870-71. Family legend has it that my ancestor fled to America to escape military service, perhaps this very war.

There was a fairly modern cemetery on the outskirts of town, but all the graves were Polish. We tried to communicate with some villagers, but nobody spoke English or German, and the minimal Polish phrases in our tour book were insufficient. Eventually, someone fetched a youngish man named Martin, and he spoke English or German, and he was happy to show us around a bit. He took us to the old German cemetery, which was rather broken up and neglected.

At the end of World War 2 the border between Poland and Germany was moved many miles west. Pommerania became part of Poland, and the native German people moved west as well. Martin said there were no more German people left in this part of the country--they had all gone.

1 comment:

  1. I love all the details you give in these posts about language difficulties. It gives an interesting color to the experiences.