If you find the text too small to read on this website, press the CTRL button and,
without taking your finger off, press the + button, which will enlarge the text.
Keep doing it until you have a comfortable reading size.
(Use the - button to reduce the size)

Today's quote:

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

I think we lost something!

An evening at home with the family during "Advent" in Braunschweig in 1955


I was ten years old when these photos were taken, not of my family but some other, but even in my somewhat dysfunctional family - why do you think I left home at 14 and emigrated at 19? - there were winter evenings during that four-week countdown to Christmas known as "Advent" when we enjoyed something as simple as a game of cards or playing "Mensch ärgere Dich nicht!"



I never had a model railway, not even one small enough to go round and round on the dining-room table, nor did the family own a "Fotoapparat" or camera, not even a cheap Box Brownie, but we did play games of "Snap" with cards home-made from a collection of old cigarette packs.



But just as the ubiquitous smartphone has changed human interaction in recent times, the coming of television spelt the end of card games and even the most German of all board-games, "Mensch ärgere Dich nicht!"



Long before he invaded Poland, Hitler had already invaded German people's minds with the world's first television station which began broadcasting in Berlin on 22 March 1935 for ninety minutes a day three days a week.


"Television under the Swastika"


German 'Fernsehen' - no fancy Greek/Latin portmanteau word for us - resumed its service after the war, just in time for the country to watch 'The Miracle of Bern', when West Germany beat the heavily favoured Golden Team of Hungary 3–2 in the FIFA World Cup Final in 1954.

The live broadcast of this stunning victory, which to many represented the birth of a new Germany, attracted huge crowds outside the few shops that sold television sets which no one could afford.


The scrum outside a shop during the live broadcast of the FIFA World Cup Final in 1954


At the time, a television set was a status symbol few could aspire to. They hadn't become everyday consumer items yet and were available only in shops which still sold more radios than televisions, and tuned in by technicians with the help of a test pattern which filled the screen for more hours than the actual broadcasts.

[You could "upgrade" to colour television with the help of a stick-on perspex screen divided horizontally into three strips coloured blue, orange, and green, which worked reasonably well with landscapes but gave the newsreader a sky-blue forehead and a grass-green chin.]


Television test pattern


Perhaps it was already an indicator of how much television would come to rule our lives that those lucky few who had a 'Fernseher' would turn it on for visitors even if all they could see was the static test pattern.

There was very little television during the day and just a few hours at night, all without commercials which got bunched together in an half-hour-long commercial 'extravaganza' just before the main programme (maybe that's where I got my eating habits from, because to this day I eat all the things I like least before I get stuck into the things I enjoy).

Good ol' days! I think we lost something!

Googlemap Riverbend