A Travellerspoint blog

Carl Hans Lody and Immo Hopman

Two remarkable Germans

I doubt if anyone has heard of these two people,but their story is nonetheless remarkable and worth telling.

While wandering around Lubeck I came across this plaque on the city wall:
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Carl Hans Lody was someone I had never heard of, but the mention of the Tower of London got me googling. It turns out there is an interesting story behind the name. He was the first German spy to be executed in the First World War and the first person to be executed in the Tower of London for 200 years. As a spy he had a lot to learn. He was arrested shortly after the outbreak of the war after sending messages in German back to his bosses. At his trial he impressed the Judge when he refused to divulge the names of his bosses. The Judge thought his loyality was commendable and was impressed with the way Lody conducted himself as a gentleman. He still sentenced him to death though.

Immo Hopman was the Commanding Officer of the German Garrison defending Bruges in the face of the Allied advance in 1944. He is credited with saving the city from destruction. As the Allied troops advanced he was ordered by his senior officers to destroy the city to prevent any tactical advantage to the Allies. He refused, arguing Bruges had no tactical worth. This was a dangerous and extremely unusual step for a German Officer to take but he eventually won the argument and his orders were changed. In addition he agreed with the Mayor of Bruges to withdraw his troops as soon as the Allies attacked. Without his courage Bruges would probably have suffered the same fate as many other cities and been flattened.

Posted by Mick G 13:11 Archived in Germany Tagged people motorcycle educational Comments (3)

Dresden

From the Ashes

semi-overcast 18 °C

Standing on the Promenade on the banks of the Elbe, looking towards the old city, it is impossible today to imagine what this view looked like on the 15th February 1945. 1,300 Allied bombers had spent the 13th and 14th dropping 3,300 tons of bombs and incendiary devices. It turned Dresden into an inferno killing between 35,000 and 130,000 men,women and children. The exact number is not known, but the city population had been swollen by refugees fleeing the advancing Red Army of the Russians. What is known, is that for two weeks the remains of bodies that had been killed were cremated en masse in the Alte Markt in the city centre.

I leave you to make your own judgements about the decision to cause such death and destruction, in the dying months of the war. Yes the Nazi's bombed British Cities and caused many deaths, but for all those who subscribe to the " they started it" argument, try counting from 1 to 35,000 or 130,000. It will probably take as long as it took for that number of people to die and for a city to be totally obliterated. From today's perspective mass bombing seems to have little justification no matter who carried it out.

It is therefore amazing how much of the old city has been rebuilt in the post war years. It took us totally by surprise. We caught the tram into the city expecting to see a city centre marked by the square block buildings of the GDR days but instead saw this.

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Posted by Mick G 12:35 Archived in Germany Comments (2)

Colditz

Where exactly is Colditz ?

all seasons in one day 16 °C

We travelled South from Binz through the former East Germany to an overnight stop near Frankfurt an der Oder. Next day,after an early start we arrived at our accommodation near Dresden during the morning with a view to visiting Colditz in the afternoon. We were staying in Radebeul on the outskirts of Dresden at the Weingut Ulf Grosse which is also a winery and restaurant.

After unloading our bags we were off to find Colditz. However, enquiries with the owner of the winery, as to the location of Schloss Colditz, only created puzzlement. Various pronunciations faired no better. Our German and her English failed miserably. Surely it was famous enough for her to know where it was. Never mind, we decided to reluctantly trust in the Sat Nav.

I have to confess that I have had a long but tempestuous relationship with the Sat Nav. We have both learnt over the years not to entirely trust each other. Consequently I affectionately call her "the bitch" and in return she stops talking to me. Usually she times the bouts of silence at critical moments,such as busy city centres with complicated one way systems. So, it was with some trepidation that the three of us, April, The Bitch and myself set off in search of Colditz. (At this point, I would like to make it perfectly clear that I am not in any way whatsoever inferring April is a bitch, I am referring to the Sat Nav).

Now, we may all think Colditz is a big tourist attraction. Some of us may have seen the film, watched the TV series or even read a book about the escapes by the Officers who were held there in the Second World War. Schloss Colditz is certainly big. It stands over the town of the same name and dominates the skyline. But as for it being a tourist attraction the Germans seem to prefer to keep it pretty low key. Not one sign to the castle entrance could we find. They seemed to be putting as much effort into keeping us out, as they did in trying to keep the prisoners in.

The Sat Nav told me to go up a very small residential street. Surely not I said, and ignored her. Twenty minutes later we were still wandering around the town. It was at this point that "the bitch"exacted her revenge for ignoring her directions. Silence broke out. The message was clear. Find your own way.

So it was, we back tracked to the residential street in the hope she would forgive me and speak again. Silence. I continued on. Into another street. This one smaller than the first. Past a row of private garages and through a startled residents garden. Finally, a clue. two British bikes and a couple of cars. A cobbled path to a large gate, a dozen sentries and the words of" Lilly Marlene" being drowned by some British Officers singing "White Cliffs of Dover" We were there. We had made it. Now to find the escape committee......

Seriously though, if you get the chance, go to Colditz. It's well worth it. (Just don't upset your bitch).

Take the two hour tour and learn about all the escape attempts and "daring do". I won't go into that here ,and spoil it for you. In any case there are some great books about the prisoners and indeed if you are a member of NAM ( you know who you are) read Michael Sutherlands great article in the club newsletter about his visit last year. It inspired our visit. Instead, here are some pictures.
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Posted by Mick G 12:25 Archived in Germany Tagged buildings motorcycle tourist_sites educational Comments (1)

Binz

Time for a re think !

rain 11 °C

Lubeck to Binz

Leaving Lubeck we decided to head for Binz on the island of Rugen. Binz is a very popular holiday resort on the Baltic coast. It expanded in the 19th Century when bathing in the sea became as popular in Germany as it did in Victorian Britain. In the 1930's the resort became more popular as the Nazi party promoted it's fitness and joy program. Binz was one of the major towns selected to promote this. Consequently there are many lovely hotels dating from these period's stretching along the promenade, next to the pristine white beach. However in the 1950's the former GDR came along and spoilt it all by building their customary block houses. Thankfully many have been redesigned.

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We'd noticed on the way to Binz a distinct change between the old West Germany and East Germany towns. The old East German towns have some run down buildings and the block architecture. I'm sure they let anyone be an architect during that period. I imagined the job interview.: Hello Sir can you draw a straight line ? Can you join the straight lines to make an oblong box? Yes you can, then the jobs your's when you reach your 10th birhday.

To add to this general gloomy architecture, were some gloomy straight roads, some gloomy traffic, some gloomy weather and some gloomy scenery. ( I've decided I like the word gloomy...it's onomatopoeic isn't it?). The road situation was so bad we went round some roundabouts three times just to feel the bike lean over !

Serious re think time

The dilemma is: Do we carry on regardless ( I think there's a song about that) or as we always said we would, do we change our plans to suit the circumstances and consequently head South (What do you think?)

Pointless me asking you really. By the time you read this we've already made our mind up.

Here is the reasoning behind our eventual decision:

The weather is poor and likely to continue so. The roads are straight and are likely to continue so (apart from some necessary bends to get round obstacles). We are missing mountains more than we thought we would. We think the weather might be better further South. There are mountains in the South.

The decision. Abandon the Baltic States to another day and head South to the Carpathian Mountains and the Tatra region.

Result: Lots of replanning of routes and places we'd like to see. Gloom lifted!

Posted by Mick G 09:31 Archived in Germany Comments (5)

The Journey so Far

For those who like maps and figures

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For those of you who like statistics:

We have travelled 961.6 miles
We have been riding for a total of 18 hrs 11minutes
We have averaged 53 mph
We have reached a maximum speed of (not telling you)

Now that's all very interesting isn't it !

Posted by Mick G 09:17 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

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