Skip to main content

From the Shoebox: Germany in the early 60s


This is another nostalgic dive into pictures from my earliest years of traveling, with my parents, as a U.S. Army dependent in Europe. Based in Heidelberg, above, from 1959 to 1961, we spent many weekends traveling the area around us, including boat trips on the Rhine and other nearby rivers.

46254592Castles on the Rhine (and vineyards, too)

Unfortunately, I had not developed a real habit of labeling, and in many cases I have only a limited sense of just where we are in the picture. It's almost like an ongoing Where in the World puzzle!


My father was a fairly rigid (he would have said organized) conductor of travel, and not always fond of stopping just because something looked interesting, if it wasn't on the schedule. My sister and I sometimes joke that we "drove past America." We didn't do the kind of wandering, poking, asking that has become my style.


Still, we saw a lot, and learned a lot, and I'm sure that at least in part my traveling bug starts from there.45814583

There were even castles to visit, especially those in Bavaria built by the allegedly mad King Ludwig. Back then, we were told that he was only called mad when he ran out of this own money and began spending state funds on his castle projects. The carriage pictures here are from Linderhof, the only one of his palaces completed in his lifetime.


The garden scene is from one of the palaces also, perhaps Herrenchiemsee.


And more riverside scenes...


Seeing so many forts and castles along the river made it clear to me how much Europe had been divided into hundreds of independent, semi-independent and dependent feudal states. Later, it helped me better understand the struggles over unification in Germany, Italy and elsewhere. 46574664

Hardly a sizable town to be found without a river winding through it, and a good view from the hills...but I'm no longer sure which one this is. Note the very tall church with the very short nave. Compare the proportion to Heidelberg's Heiliggeistkirche in the top photo.


Tracks of the funicular leading up to Heidelberg Castle.

And, traveling on my own (sort of) for the first time, several high school classmates and I visited Berlin, deep inside East Germany. The 'sort of' is because as military dependents with parents in 'sensitive' positions, we weren't allowed to travel that route by car; instead we went on a daily special Hannover-to-Berlin overnight train operated by the Army.


We went in late April, 1961, just 4 months before the Berlin Wall was started. As you can see, the Brandenburg Gate was a crossing point between East and West, but it was possible to simply walk or drive through, or to go by subway. Except not for us. The Army banned us from crossing without escort, which meant an Army bus, Army tour guide and armed soldier on board.

Not a very exciting tour, actually: other than the Gate, and the Soviet military memorial at Treptow, below, we mostly saw still-destroyed buildings, including the Reichstag and plazas, along with a commentary about how different it was in West Berlin. Almost as if it were a sales pitch! How different today!



Images (23)
  • 4566
  • 4577
  • 4581
  • 4583
  • 4584
  • 4589
  • 4592
  • 4597
  • 4610
  • 4616
  • 4625
  • 4650
  • 4654
  • 4657
  • 4658
  • 4660
  • 4664
  • 4671
  • 4674
  • 4681
  • 4820
  • 4822
  • 4688

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Add Comment

Comments (5)

Newest · Oldest · Popular

Looked up one more.   The one with the river barge is taken from Heidelberg looking across the Neckar River.  I was able to match up some of the structures from then and now.  I once tried to rent a top floor apartment on that side of the river back in 1990.

George G

Link copied to your clipboard.