“A unique parallel between a young girl’s life in an uncompromising family and the tensions mounting on both sides of the Berlin Wall as she finds a way to freedom. A remarkable journey.”

—Zohreh Ghahremani, Author of Sky of Red Poppies

Walled-In

In her memoir, Walled-In, J. Elke Ertle shares what it was like to grow up in West Berlin, Germany, during the aftermath of World War II, a time when the city was divided into American, British, French, and Soviet occupation sectors. Initially, forty percent of all structures in the city were destroyed. There was little food or shelter. Many died, but Elke’s family survives.

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About the author, J. Elke Ertle

J. Elke Ertle was born and raised in West Berlin following World War II, a time when the city was the focus of an escalating Cold War between East and West. During the first twenty-one years of her life, she lived with her mother and father in the British sector of the city and was known by her first name, Jutta.

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Living History with J. Elke Ertle on YouTube

J. Elke Ertle shared her eye witness recollections of President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 Berlin visit in a conversation with Stephen Fagin, Associate Curator, Sixth Floor Museum at Daley Plaza, Dallas Texas. The Museum’s Living History Series recognizes Kennedy’s life, assassination and legacy.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lCh0uFDtm4

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What happened to the East German Mark?

29/01/2015   |   No Comments »

What happened to the East German Mark following German reunification? The obsolete coins were melted down. But the obsolete banknotes underwent a far more interesting death.

Life of the East German Mark

It all started in 1948. Three days after the Western Allies introduced the West German Deutsche Mark in the American, British and French sectors, the Soviets issued an East German version of the Deutsche Mark in their sector. Although the two currencies bore the same name – Deutsche Mark – they differed in appearance and value. Then, in 1964, the East German government changed the name of their currency to Mark der Deutschen Notenbank. In 1968, they changed that name again to Mark der DDR or simply “Mark.” It remained the East German currency until German reunification in 1990.

Mark der DDR - 1968 to 1989

Mark der DDR – 1968 to 1989

The Mark following Reunification

Political unification also meant the end of the East German Mark. On 1 July 1990, the Mark was officially demonetized, and East Germany adopted the West German Deutsche Mark. East German citizens were allowed to convert up to 4,000 Mark into Deutsche Mark at a ratio of 1:1. A smaller amount applied to children and a larger one to pensioners. Savings in excess of 4,000 Mark, company debts and housing loans could be converted at a rate of 2:1. Funds acquired shortly before reunification were considered “speculative” and could only be converted at a rate of 3:1.

Destruction of the Mark

Following reunification, the obsolete East German currency became the property of the Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau – KfW – (Credit Institute for Reconstruction). About 4,500 tons of obsolete coins were recycled by selling a portion of them to the auto industry and melting down the rest. The obsolete banknotes, however, (about 620 million Mark) http://www.spiegel.de/einestages/vergessene-orte-a-946505.html were placed into storage in two sandstone caverns in the mountains near Halberstadt in Saxony-Anhalt. There they were left to rot. During the slow process of decomposition, however, two youths broke into the caves and made off with some of the money. Following the theft in 2001, the KfW opted to burn the remaining out-of-date East German paper currency. Thus in 2002, the last obsolete Marks were burned.

 

 

 

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Learn from the tailor

26/01/2015   |   No Comments »

A tailor carefully measures his patrons before cutting their patterns. Family and long-time friends, on the other hand, often label us by who we used to be instead of who we have become. Wouldn’t it make more sense to learn from the tailor and re-measure?

J. Elke Ertle

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