CHAPTER 24. Heidelberg

The next morning after getting through some shopping, we started in the train for Heidelberg. It was a very ordinary train ride after the last one to Lucerne. We arrived at 7 o’clock and after dinner had a look through the streets. We found things very cheap in Germany and regretted that we could not make any purchase. Early in the morning we started on our sight seeing around the city.

We saw some very interesting things, such as the duelling hall where the university students used to settle their quarrels.

World Tour 1938
Hitler’s open air theatre at Heidelberg
World Tour 1938
Hitler’s open air theatre at Heidelberg

We visited a new outdoor theatre which has been recently built for political purposes. Here they have gathered together 50,000 people, who were able to sit on the stone steps and listen to Hitler.

As I had arranged to go to Frankfurt by the midday bus I had to leave the party before the sight seeing was over. I got into what appeared to be an ordinary bus, but after we got out of the city streets on to the new highway I saw that it was a speed car.

World Tour 1938
the military road between Frankfurt and Heidelberg

We got on to this level concrete road, or roads, as there was a road for traffic in each direction, and the bus kept at a steady 60 for almost all the way. The distance was 65 miles and we got there in 75 minutes. On this road cars could do between 80 and 90 without any risk except that of a blow out. There is no speed limit as far as I know and it is just a case of keeping going as hard as you like. When I got out of the bus I experienced a little difficulty with the language, as I could not find anyone who could understand where I wanted to go.

World Tour 1938
The offices of the “I.G.” Industries at Frankfurt; the dining room for the staff in which 3,000 meals are served daily

I eventually found myself outside what is commonly known here as the I.G. Hochhaus. It is a very big concern and they are housed in one of the largest buildings I saw. It was constructed only eight years ago and it is very modern in every way. There are 3,000 people in the office and they have a separate large building in which the employees get their meals.

The man I was to see was ill, but he had made all arrangements for me to be entertained and his deputy did the job splendidly. I was shown over some of the building. It would have taken the whole afternoon to see all of it. The lifts were something I had not previously seen. They were actually a set of boxes continuously ascending and descending. The doorway was always open and all you had to do was to go to the lift and immediately step inside and either go up or down. When you got to the floor you wanted you just stepped out. There is no waiting and each box will hold two or three if you are quick in getting in.

Then we went into the machine room, where I saw scores of Hollerith machines. A couple of these machines were very interesting. One was used for stock records and it automatically punched the new balance on a new card after the new balance was printed on the sheet. The other was for the conversion of currency. Cards with balances in marks are fitted through the machine and they automatically convert the amount into sterling or other currency and punch the new card accordingly.

By this time the car which had been ordered for us had arrived and we started out to see Frankfurt. Of course, I went to a camera house to see about a new camera and then we drove out to the aerodrome. Here we went to the zeppelin hangar to see the Graf Zeppelin. This was an experience which I did not expect. To actually see and go into this great airship was something I would always remember. The hangar itself is a tremendous building and required special construction. We climbed up the gangway and saw all the instruments for steerage and navigation. We saw the dining room and the cabins. There is plenty of room to walk about and every comfort is provided. Then we went through to the quarters for the crew and here again there is plenty of room for bunks, etc.

We had to hurry, as time was getting on and I wanted to catch the 5.15 bus, which was the last for the day. We returned to the head office again and here I was shown some of the goods made by this firm. I saw dyes of all kinds, but the special items which were interesting to me were synthetic rubber, which was made into motor tyres and all kinds of rubber goods, and also synthetic stones. To see the latter it would be exceedingly difficult for the ordinary person to tell them from the genuine ones. There were so many other things to see that I missed the bus and decided to stay later and catch a train. Then we went out and got a camera and did some other shopping.

World Tour 1938
Party of German despatch riders at Heidelberg

When this was over four of us went to a typical German cafe for dinner. Here I was able to study and learn more about the German people than I had ever known. When the dinner was over it was 9 o’clock and I agreed to stay just as long as my friends wanted me to. Consequently, we visited another cafe where there were about 100 men and women singing folk songs to the accompaniment of a piano accordion. They were all sitting at long tables and were arm in arm with the person next to them. As they sang they swayed sideways to the rhythm of the music. It was very fascinating. We sat down when we found a place and joined up with our neighbours without knowing who they were. Then we had a glass of cider, which was the only refreshment sold. This cider is made by the proprietor and is refreshing, but contains practically no alcohol.

After having seen this we went to another high class cafe where very much the same thing was going on. Here we again listened to the music, but the people and the songs were different. We had champagne for supper and at 11.20 we ordered a taxi to to take us to the station. At 10 minutes to 12 I was hanging out of the window of the train as it pulled out of the station and the three men were shaking hands with me at the same time and gave me a send-off which could not have been better if I had been their own brother.

It was almost 2 in the morning when I tried to sneak into the bedroom without awaking Rozie, but she was already awake and wondering what had happened to me. I was able to give a satisfactory explanation and got to sleep as soon as possible, as I had to be up before six next morning to catch the train to Cologne.

World Tour 1938
Lo listens to the Guide explaining the works of art in a cathedral at Heidelberg, Germany



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