“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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Arrogance versus Humility

15/09/2014   |   No Comments »

If arrogance is the heady wine of youth, then humility must be its eternal hangover.

–Helen Van Slyke

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Miss Stinnes circumnavigates the world by car

11/09/2014   |   No Comments »

Miss Stinnes, the iron-willed daughter of the successful German industrialist, Hugo Stinnes, was an independent thinker and doer long before women achieved equal rights. As a child she played with spark plugs rather than dolls, and as a teen she knew all known automobile engine types by heart.

Miss Stinnes plans her expedition

Born in 1901, Clärenore Stinnes obtained her drivers’ license at age 18 and participated in her first car race at age 24. When her father, head of no less than 1,500 thriving companies, invited her brothers to join the family business but excluded her because of her gender, Clärenore moved to Berlin to race automobiles on the AVUS under a fictitious name. http://walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/rocket-fritz-conquers-the-avus/‎ Disappointed in her father’s decision, she announced at age 26 that she wanted to discover the world by automobile and proceeded to plan her 29,825-mile expedition. She had become the most successful racecar drive in Europe by then. But her family did not support this “trip around the world” (the circumference of the earth is only 24,860 miles) and Miss Stinnes was forced to look for sponsors. When she had amassed a total of 100,0000 Reichsmark, she planned her route, including ships’ passages and stops to resupply. When the Adlerwerke, a German car manufacturing company formed in 1900, agreed to provide her with an automobile in March 1927, Miss Stinnes was ready to go. Two months later, she launched her expedition and took two technicians and the Swedish cameraman, Carl-Axel Söderström, along. The trip was to take the group through 23 countries. Clärenore hoped to finance the majority of her expedition by shooting travel documentaries. http://www.3sat.de/page/?source=/ard/thementage/175133/index.html

Miss Stinnes Discovers the World

The two technicians quit on the first leg of the trip when the car got stuck in the mud in Russia. They went home. Söderström stayed. Miss Stinnes and Söderström negotiated engine trouble, holdups and sickness together. There were few roads. Streets existed only in Europe and North America. A motorcar had never been to many of the areas the pair traversed. The stretch through Asia and the Gobi dessert turned particularly treacherous when the twosome had to use their pistols to keep savage tribesmen at bay. Afterwards, they continued via Japan and Hawaii to the Americas. In Peru, they had to hire workers to build a makeshift “road” over the Andes. Some days, they were only able to progress less than 500 feet because the car had to be pulled over steep slopes. Miss Stinnes’ expedition took a little over two years and ended in Berlin in June of 1929. The following year, Carl-Axel Söderström and Clärenore Stinnes married. Their many films, diaries and 1400 photos were used to shoot the docudrama “Fräulein Stinnes fährt um die Welt.”

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