A town in eastern Germany – but where is it?

29 Mar

Over the summer of 2007, I spent five weeks undertaking a grand tour of Europe in a trusty Land Rover (now resident in Poland, apparently). I sailed from East Anglia to the Netherlands then across Germany to the Czech Republic and down to Slovakia. From there, I drove through Austria and southern Germany to north-western France. Then it was back along the coast of northern Europe, through Belgium and the Netherlands before sailing back to England. Phew… I immersed myself in the experience rather than cataloguing it through words and photographs and so I do not have a record of all of the places that I visited.


The trusty Land Rover sneaks into the picture up a Slovakian mountainside

There was, though, one particularly well-preserved town in eastern Germany of which I did take a few photographs. At the time, I was working on my blockbuster of a novel with a WW2 setting. One sub-plot is concerned with the destruction of the German cities and the town I’d chanced upon came to serve as an imaginative template for how such cities might have looked, before the bombing. The only thing is, I can’t remember where the town is or what it’s called…


Eine alte Straße

So this post features more photographs and less text than usual in the hope that somebody, somewhere out there in the world will recognise it and tell me where it is. Suggestions on a virtual postcard, please… German Mike, I’m depending upon you!


Der Marktplatz


Und auch der Markt

I shall leave you with a short extract from my WW2 novel. I attempted to deal with the destruction rather obliquely. My reasons were twofold. Firstly, I felt that there were already plenty of words out there providing straightforward descriptions. In the course of my research, I read W G Sebald’s remarkable work, On the Natural History of Destruction. What could I add to that? And secondly, there’s a tendency for words to fail when trying to comprehend such events, and so you find yourself grasping for new ways to describe them (and failing, in all likelihood).

Razing All Features

Viewing the grid-plan of the city from above, it resembled a Monopoly board which some truculent child had kicked over in a fit of pique, having sensed that the game was turning against him. The child had scattered all the houses and hotels, up-ended the cars and killed the dogs. Firemen were dredging frantically through the rubble for survivors, turning up just the odd boot or top hat. The order of the streets seemed to have been re-arranged entirely: Königswall stood where Viktoriastraße should have been, Friedhof in the space that Hansastraße had previously occupied. The city’s infrastructure has been systematically taken apart. The electricity and the water works had been knocked out, the railway stations turned upside-down. Even the city jail had been breached.  Heaven alone knew where its inmates were now.

Joyeuses Pâques!

All text and images © PSR 2013


8 Responses to “A town in eastern Germany – but where is it?”

  1. J.D.Hughes March 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    Can’t help you with the mystery town, Paul, but I like the economy of style of the extract from your WW2 novel. Nicely written.

  2. Paul Sutton Reeves March 29, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Hi J.D., and thanks very much for your comments.

    I remember at school, in English lessons, we used a little tome called ‘The Essence of Précis’, so I’ve long been aware of the arguments for economy. I also took note of Orwell’s exhortations against purple passages. But it was writing CD reviews for a rock music magazine that I found of most use in honing the technique. There’s nothing like a limit of 200 words to focus the mind!

    I very much admire the writing on your blog, by the way. Your piece on winter was beautifully done.

  3. Ryan Brooks March 29, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Also not much for European cities, Paul, but agreed that your excerpt is really interesting. Sounds like a good read. 🙂

  4. Paul Sutton Reeves March 29, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    Hi Ryan, and thanks for your comments and compliments!

    Hopefully, one day, the book will emerge before a wider public than my current tiny band of readers. Time will tell…

    And that makes two passes on the eastern German town, then.

  5. Mari Biella March 30, 2013 at 5:28 am #

    I’m afraid I can’t help you with this, Paul. The photos do remind me of some of the towns I saw when I was travelling around southern Germany and Bavaria a few years ago, but eastern Germany is a region I’m altogether less acquainted with.

    I’d like to echo the comments above regarding the extract from the novel. The economy of style there makes it more powerful. I’m going to have to take a leaf from your book, given my occasional tendency to purple prose…

  6. Paul Sutton Reeves March 30, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Hi Mari and thank you very much for your kind comment.

    I’m sure that there must be a contradiction there, though – economy of style in a book 150000 words long… I did try to keep the sections on the bombed German cities short, in between much lengthier sections detailing the airmen’s everyday lives.

    I suspect whether prose should be purple or not depends upon the context in which it appears, rather than being a bad thing in itself. Beware of babies and bath water and all of that!

    No answers yet, then. I think it was near Kassel, if that’s any help to anyone!

  7. Bea August 26, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    Hannoversch Münden

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