Greifswald we have a personal contact with a Mr Rainer Schwenke.
He is a big friend of Sweden, and speaks really good swedish as well. We first met him in 1991, just a few years after the fall of the Berlin wall. Thanks to Rainer we have got to see a lot of interesting places in what used to be DDR.
Already in 1991 we gained access to Peenemünde, thanks to Rainer. The village has also a Swedish heritage, as most cities in northern Germany. Close to Peenemünde you can find Schwedenschanzte, an old defense position since the Thirty Year war. But above all is Peenemünde known because of it's links to Hitlers rocket program; with the V1 and V2 bombs. At the old premises there are still a lot to see, despite the bombings during the war as well as demolishing work by the Russians. Already in the early 90's, we got an VHS movie about the rocket program.
In 1936 the German Air Ministry bought the whole northern peninsula of Usedom from the city Wolgast. Both the German army as well as the airforce, Luftwaffe, started to build research facilities on the premises. But most well known is of course the work of Werner
von Braun. He led the work with the V1 and V2 bombs. The plant for production of liquid oxygen lies in ruins at the entrance to Peenemünde. The power station as well as the railway to Zinnowitz and the airfield remained intact after the end of the war. It was simply taken over by the Russian army!
When we first came to visit Peenemünde in 1991, there were still a lot that remained from the Russians. A wagon that had been part of the Russian staff was then converted to a small restaurant where you could get Wurst mit Kartoffelsalat! Typical for the kind of spirit that came after years of oppression under the communism. The airport was a lot bigger than after the war. The Russians had extended it in order to prepare for a war against the west. During this visit there were still remains of aircrafts littered over the field.
Speaker at the University of Greifswald
Our friend Rainer was often engaged at the University of Greifswald. So at one point, I had the opportunity to speak about Swedish press and journalism. I did it mostly in German, and when I came short of words I could continue in Swedish. this because te students were also learning Swedish! It was a fun day, and I hope tey picked up some of what I told them about free press.
Old Swedish books
It turned out that the University in Greifswald has a huge collection of old Swedish books. Since the University was under Swedish laws until 1848, the law stated that samples of all new books were to be sent to the University for future references!
Maternity ward approved by Karl XII
Thanks to Rainer we also got to see some rare documents with Swedish connections. There were documents signed by Queen Kristina,
another document with drawings of a maternity ward - signed and approved by King Karl XII.
The intention was that all these experiences should form an article in the paper where I was working. But when we were having lunch in Stralsund there was a burglary. My camera and all notes were stolen from the car outside the restaurant! So no photos remains from this early visit in the former DDR.
Back in Greifswald
A few years later we visited Greifswald again. Rainer
managed to get us into the University library once more. This time we only got to see copies of the original documents, but we got a very interesting presentation of the old building by an old professor.
During the same visit, we also went to see the art museum in Greifswald.
It contains a lot of interesting art, both swedish as well as german. among others, you can find work of David Kaspar Friedrich there.