Guest post are a rare event on my blog, mainly because I am not monetized and I don’t do backlinks or anything like it. The more joyous the occasion wheh a friend wants to write about a bridge nonetheless. And possibly even more wonderful when it’s a real life friend and not a travel blogger I met on a social media channel. My friend and former flatmate Luise is an avid traveller and came to travel blogging just a little later than me. On her site Such a Lot of World to See she blogged about her trip through the Balkans, Turkey and Georgia to Azerbaijan. I’m excited she’s bringing you such an insightful post – much longer than my own usual bridge post; she sent it to me saying she „got carried away a little“. That should tell you more than enough about her curiosity and passion for the world.
This year the First World War is more present in German public discourse and consciousness than WW II – usually it is the other way round for various reasons. But anyway it is a “super memorial year”: 100 years since WW I started, 75 years since WW II started, 25 years since the Wall came down. It’s always a mix. When my parents visit me in Greifswald in the North Eastern corner of Germany where I study, we also get to see a colorful mix of old and older, traces left both by the wars and the GDR, and new, what the decreasing population in this region outside the university town do to give it some new direction.
We visit Anklam, a small town 40 kilometers from Greifswald. It was heavily destroyed in the end of the war and modestly rebuilt. When industry closed down after the reunification people started to leave and there are some problems with right wing extremists round here. So I have to admit we are somewhat surprised to see some creative projects going on here. Young people and artists built all kinds of gliders and flying devices decorating the half destroyed church – which even has a roof again – of the hometown of aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal. It is a bright May afternoon and so we have a fantastic view from the tower all across the wide flat lands where he took his first flights.
Far to the East we can see the enormous structure of the Karnin lift bridge which is worth a visit as the guide at the church tells us. After criss-crossing through the fields and along small alleys (some of them remarkably bumpy) we reach the harbor of Kamp where we have a fish sandwich and then start out for the bridge. We just have to walk around the corner at the pier and there it is, the huge lift bridge once enabling Berliners to reach the fancy beach resorts on the island of Usedom within two hours by train. It also gained military importance when the Army Research Center was opened in Peenemünde in the Northern part of Usedom in 1936.
I have been listening to quite some documentaries on 1914 lately, the war that was sparked on a bridge, a quite small one. Here is a bridge that after being an icon of German engineering was sacrificed by its own people at the very end of the next war. When German forces retreated they blew up all parts of the bridge except for the lift. That part was drawn up to allow for the German navy operating in the Szczecin Lagoon to escape to the Baltic Sea if necessary. And that is how we can still see it, the way it was left in the final defeat nearly 70 years ago. Eerie.
The 50x30m lift bridge was part of a two way railroad bridge opened in 1875. It wasn’t rebuilt, partly because of the new German-Polish border now dividing the island across the main railroad. Ever since the war people have to drive further to the North West to Wolgast, cross the bridge there and drive a long way back on the island to reach the so called Kaiserbäder (Emperor’s resorts), more or less doubling travel time from Berlin. There are actually talks of rebuilding the railroad and the bridge, we don’t have border controls between Poland and Germany anymore. This region is trying to become less of an outpost at the far edge.
Until then the former railroad dam is accessible by a nice sand path populated by salamanders and the waters on its sides are home to beavers while the birches that died in the rising waters hold an incredibly huge colony of the prehistoric looking cormorants.
Change is the only constant, even with a door left open by a fleeing army several decades ago.
(Photos by my mother D. Schmidt)
If you have read My Mission statement, you know why I love bridges. To me they are the most universal symbol of connection, of bringing people together and overcoming anything that may seperate us. I want to present to you pictures of bridges that I really love in places that I really love on my blog every Sunday. If you have a picture of a bridge that you would like to share with my readers as a guest post, feel free to contact me!