“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 finds 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. • READ MOREDOWNLOAD A FREE EXCERPT

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. READ MORE

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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Meeting each other halfway

01/09/2014   |   No Comments »

Most people are willing to meet each other halfway; trouble is, most people are pretty pure judges of distance.

–Anonymous

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Two Common Autobahn Fallacies

28/08/2014   |   No Comments »

I just have to mention the word “Autobahn,” and the eyes of my male friends light up instantly. “Still no speed limit, right?” Their question sounds like a curious mix of awe and envy because Germany’s Autobahnen (motorways) are famous for their absence of speed limits.

Autobahn Fallacy # 1

“True,” I want to tell my friends, “but also a bit misleading. There is hardly a significant stretch of Autobahn that allows you to press the pedal to the metal.” But I usually just let it go. Why not let them feel the excitement of the wind in their hair. If only for a brief moment. In reality, German motorways have no posted speed limit, UNLESS…. and that one little word changes everything. There is no speed limit for cars and motorbikes UNLESS the motorway traverses an urbanized area or unless the stretch is accident-prone or under construction. And since German summers are short, construction zones are ubiquitous. There are few stretches that allow a motorist to test the car’s muscle.

Autobahn by Langsdorf Credit: Wikipedia

Autobahn by Langsdorf
Credit: Wikipedia

Autobahn Fallacy # 2

Generally, Adolf Hitler is credited with the planning, design and construction of the German Autobahn. Another half-truth. The Nazis initially rejected the Autobahn as a “luxury road.” But after coming to power in 1933, Hitler embraced the Autobahn project as his idea. His propaganda machines called it Straßen des Führers – roads of the Führer. Although about a quarter of Germany’s current motorway network was originally constructed during the Third Reich, the initial planning and design work had been done much earlier. Stufa (Studiengesellschaft für den Automobilstraßenbau – study group for road construction) began planning a German highway network as early as 1924, long before Hitler. Next, a private initiative (HaFraBa) designed and partially built a “car only road” from Hamburg via Frankfurt am Main to Basel in Switzerland. HaFraBa completed parts of that road in the late 1930s and early 1940′s prior to the start of World War II. And the very first stretch of today’s Autobahn was completed in 1932, also prior to Hitler’s ascent to power. It stretched between Cologne and Bonn and was inaugurated on 6 August 1932 by Konrad Adenauer, then Mayor of Cologne and later Chancellor of West Germany. http://german.about.com/library/blgermyth08.htm The stretch of Autobahn was initially known as Kraftfahrstraße (motor vehicle road). Today, that same stretch is called Bundesautobahn (Federal motorway) 555.

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