Holiday in Germany – A Brief Glimpse Behind the Iron Curtain

August 1951

South Yorkshire Times, August 18th, 1951

Holiday in Germany

A Brief Glimpse Behind the Iron Curtain

A woman with legs scarred and black with bruises wept as she met her 74-year-old mother for the first time in eight years. They were together for only a few hours, then the daughter returned to the Russian zone of Germany. This pathetic re-union was witnessed by Mrs. Ivy Cobb, of 7 Highfield Road, Swinton, back this week after a fortnight’s holiday in a German village on the Kiel Canal.

“Too Terrible”

Mrs. Cobb and her only son, Alan, 15-year-old Mexborough Grammar School boy, have been the guests of Max Kaun, a Bremen school master, whose sister is still living in the Russian zone and who visited her family during Mrs. Cobb’s visit.  Mrs. Cobb later asked what the daughter had revealed in her conversation with her mother but Max would only say “No, it is too terrible.”  Neither would he reveal how his mother had been got out of the Russian zone.

Mrs. Cobb and her son covered upwards of 1,000 miles during their holiday, and visited some of the principal cities and beauty spots in Northern Germany. They also stayed at Neunkirchen where they were the guests of Bernhard Klein who was befriended by Mrs. Cobb during his spell as a P.O.W. at Ravenfield Camp near Rotherham, during the war. Bernhard is an assistant schoolmaster of a school in Neunkirchen. A village concert was arranged during their stay, at which Mrs. Cobb sang a number of English songs.  “The vicar’s daughter came along and she and Klein accompanied me on the violins.” Mrs. Cobb said “We had a great reception and were asked for a repeat performance.”

Particularly Impressed

Mrs. Cobb said she was particularly impressed by the cleanliness she witnessed throughout her stay. “Shop assistants never touch food with their hands” she explained, “Implements similar to salad servers are used to pick up the food and each article is placed on a cardboard base held in the hand. Metal scoops are used for sugar etc. Even fruits on hawkers’ carts are handled with the same care.”

“I never saw a bus ticket nor cigarette end lying about in a tram. While travelling on a tram I was going to tap the ash on the floor when my hand was guided to a receptacle placed in the vehicle for that purpose.” she said.

Prices quoted by Mrs. Cobb will interest English readers. One of her host’s sisters wore a silk dress which had cost about eight marks – about 13s 4d.  Men’s suits could be purchased for £4 10s.  Food, however, is much dearer. Flour sells at 10s 6d a pound, butter 7s. a pound and bananas are 5d. each.

A forceful war reminder came on a visit to Bremen Farge where Mrs. Cobb and her son saw the huge submarine pen constructed but never completed during the war   Five hundred metres long, 300 metres wide and 30 metres high, the pen has walls 26ft thick.