Friday, July 11, 2008


This is another old postcard from the city of Hamburg in the 1930’s.

Hamburg was virtually destroyed during the War. The 1943 firestorm alone wiped out such a huge portion of the city that an infuriated Hitler wanted summarily to execute 30,000 Allied prisoners of war in retaliation, a measure against which Hitler’s generals successfully pleaded (knowing that it would be their necks on the line at war’s end if Hitler’s wishes were carried out). The only way to experience the old city of Hamburg today is through old photographs and postcards that survived the war.

Monckebergstrasse, which connects the Rathaus with the Central Train Station, was and is the main and most fashionable shopping street of Hamburg. It was named after a former mayor of Hamburg.

The small Classical building with the portico at the bottom of the postcard was erected as a library. It now houses a Burger King franchise. I am not making this up.

The small statue and fountain in front of the library-turned-Burger King were erected to Honor Mayor Monckeberg.

All other buildings in the postcard, as far as the eye can see, were destroyed during the War. I have literally no idea how the small Classical building managed to survive.

Hamburg no longer has streetcars.

The second building on the right side of the street was the Levantehaus, erected as a Kontorhaus (a counting house). It was considered to be one of the finest buildings in Hamburg before the War.

It was rebuilt, in a much-simplified version, after the war. A few years ago, the Levantehaus was totally refurbished. The first two floors now house a two-level indoor shopping mall devoted to luxury goods.

Hamburg’s city ticket agency for classical music events is located there, and we were able to pick up all of our concert and opera tickets at one time in one place, freeing us of the need to traipse all over town buying tickets. No service charges were imposed for buying tickets at the city ticket agency, and ticket-holders were allotted free subway transportation to and from all concert and theater venues on performance evenings.

The upper floors of the Levantehaus now house a luxury hotel, also called the Levantehaus.

We stayed at the Levantehaus during our time in Hamburg. It was the finest hotel I have ever experienced, with a standard of luxury and service almost too ridiculous to contemplate. The hotel even had a swimming pool with a Romanesque ceiling, which we used every single day.

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