Members hear of East Germany

THE MONTROSE and District Probus Club met on Tuesday, March 8, when they were faced with another change to the published programme.

Members were grateful to one of their own, the Rev. George Hastie, who gave an interesting lecture on East Germany, with particular reference to the cities of Dresden and Leipzig.

His interest in Germany started when he was a young lad and was able to tune in to radio programmes in French and German in the post-war years.

Germany at that time, was certainly not a customary destination for popular holidays. The Partition of Germany in the late 1940s meant that many of the great cities were in the East behind the Iron Curtain and under Communist control. Much of the re-building in that era was typically stark and bleak and the people were denied much in the way of freedom or modern technology.

Telephones were a relative rarity and were often tapped by the Secret Police. Dresden, especially, had been very badly bombed towards the end of the war, and around six square miles of the city had been devastated. Many fine buildings were destroyed and some were left in ruins for decades as a reminder of what had happened.

It is reckoned that around 25,000 people died as a result of the bombing and thousands of bodies were cremated openly in the city centre.

Cities like Dresden and Leipzig were carefully and lovingly re-constructed after Germany was re-unified and the computers which were once used as instruments for war were put to a much more peaceful use in helping to rebuild the prominent churches and buildings.

The great Frauenkirche in the centre of Dresden stood for years in ruins, but is now totally restored and is surmounted by a cross gifted by the British people, and presented by the Duke of Kent to the people of the city.

Leipzig has many associations with J.S. Bach and it was here that the peaceful protests took place which ultimately led to the end of East Germany as a Communist state the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the re-unification of East and West Germany.

Members were grateful to Mr Hastie for sharing his experiences with them and sharing his excellent collection of photographs. The vote of thanks was ably proposed by Larry Morgan.