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SHARKHUNTERS International
Berlin Patrol 2012
Friday, 7 September
Off to Poland...........well, it is Poland today.  Until 1945 this was part of Germany but borders were re-drawn.  With the European Union, we do not even need to show our passports at the border as we did in past years.

 
Museum for the Battle for Seelow Heights   Outside displays
     


There are more artifacts on display inside the Museum like this field telephone and an officer's tunic.  The Seelow Heights battle was one of the most bitter, bloody battles of World War Two.  It took place in the last weeks of the war and knowing that Berlin was only some 40 kilometers away and this was the last German defense, the Soviets fought doggedly to break through and the Germans resisted fiercely, knowing that they were the last defense for Berlin and the very existence of the Reich itself.  Finally, overwhelmed by massive amounts of Soviet troops, the area was taken by the Soviets and the road to Berlin was virtually wide open.

 
     
 

Welcome to Poland and the fortress village of Küstrin (in German) or Kostrzyn (in Polish).  This is one of the most fought over, most conquered and most frequently destroyed villages in the world.  It was again flattened during the fierce battle before Seelow Heights and this time, the decision was made to just leave it flattened so we see no houses, no cathedral - even the fortress where Friederich the Great was going to be beheaded...........nothing is left but basements.

When Friederich was a young prince, in his twenties, he was in his father's army but he and his best friend decided they didn't like army life, so they deserted to write poetry and play the flute.  They were captured and the king sentenced them both to beheading.  The nobility raised a huge clamor that the prince, the heir to the throne, must not be executed.  The king relented and spared his son's life, but Friederich's punishment was that he had to witness his best friend having his head chopped off.

It appears, as we will see later, that his father was not a nice guy.

     
 
Our first stop in this area is usually this quaint truck stop   It is really good food and the price is very low.
The goulash soup is great, loaded with meat!
     
 

We have no idea what the signs say or how to read the menu in Polish,

 

but our Berliner friend translates.  Fortunately, it is a short menu

     

  
With a friendly smile from our Polish waitress and a last gulp of our Polish beer, we depart and head into the ghost town - Küstrin.

 


BARGAINS!

On our way, we stop at this massive flea market that has grown immensely since our first visit here.  It is huge!  There are bargains galore, as Poland does not use the Euro but remains with the Polish Zloty and the exchange rate with the Yankee Dollar is quite good.
  

   



                  Overview of the ancient town of Küstrin
 

Against cautions that we must not go into basements for safety concerns, COOPER drops down into this one in particular to shoot a few photos.

This place is somewhat special because this basement and the house that stood above it was the home of the royal alchemist working for the king.  As we remember from high school history, alchemists worked very hard to try to make gold from other base metals.  This cannot be done because gold is an element and cannot be created from other metals, but this was not known at the time this alchemist was here.

The king, Friederich's father, became impatient that the alchemist could not accomplish this task - and he hanged him in the town square!  But, it is said, he used a golden rope.  The alchemist must have been thrilled...

As we said before, and you will see further on, this king was not a fun guy.

 
     
 

When we got to one particular basement, our guide (black coat) had to

 

pause - tears welled up in his eyes before he could continue.

 

This basement had been his home!  He lived in the house that had stood here until he was eight years of age, then the Soviets came and the cannons were roaring.  The family had to hide in this very basement to stay alive.  They were able to finally escape into Berlin to avoid being killed by the artillery fire, but the house was destroyed.

     

Just outside the fortress walls is a new archeological dig.  They are finding evidence of people living here many centuries before Küstrin was settled.

FAREWELL USSR!
Those who have been here with us before will remember the obelisk at the front gate that had a huge Red Star with the Hammer and Sickle which stood over the Soviet cemetery.........the obelisk and the cemetery are gone now.  When the Soviet Union evaporated, there was no one to take care of this memorial.  The Polish didn't care about the Soviets, the Germans wouldn't because this was no longer Germany, and Russia had no money.

The Polish suggested some years ago that the Russians remove the fallen soldiers and take the obelisk back to Russia to which the Russians replied that they certainly would - if the Polish would pay for them to do this.  The Polish saw no reason for them to pay the bill, so the place was falling into ruin.  Finally the Russians found the money and moved all out of Küstrin and brought it all back to Russia.

 

 

      What the heck?

This piece of "modern art" was here for a short term exhibition, but it may have given us an insight how a modern day superstition began.

When he was just a child, Friederich had a pet rabbit but he had to keep him hidden from his father because he was not allowed such a pet.  His father, the king, found out about the rabbit and in front of Friederich, he crushed the rabbits head under his boot!  He then made Friederich skin his pet rabbit, cook it and eat it!  We told you that Friederich's father was not a fun guy.

Without his father's knowledge, Friederich kept one of the rabbit's feet, which he kept inside his tunic, to remind him of his pet rabbit.  Could it be that this is the beginning of the superstition that a rabbit's foot is good luck?


FAREWELL............

 

Tables were reserved for our Sharkhunters group in the Bastion Restaurant where the beautiful Wiolken (Viola) took care of us.

This was a splendid day, but a sad one as well.  This was our Farewell Dinner - tomorrow, we go our separate ways.  Our Berlin 'Patrol' of 2012 is finished.  Shouldn't
YOU have been with us for the 2012 Berlin 'Patrol'?  Join us next year.

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