National Geographic : 1947 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine Acme Berlin Still Has Sidewalk Cafes, but Little Gayety Easter paraders relax glumly before a cafe on the wide Kurfiirsten-Damm, in the British occupation zone. Instead of the fine wines and liqueurs of peacetime, they drink imitation fruit juices and ersatz coffee. This section was known to prewar visitors for its smart shops, theaters, dance halls, cabarets, and restaurants. to the area. The burgomaster of every hamlet must find quarters for numbers allotted to his district. Incidentally, there are almost no isolated farmhouses in Germany. Farm folk live in villages and go out to their fields, sometimes miles from their homes. One of the revealing sights of Germany is the way anchorless populations travel. In the seatless, cavernous railroad stations of the cities you see these people sitting on their luggage, sometimes eating bread, often drows ing, nearly all of them apathetic, waiting for hours, sometimes for days, for a train. They must have permits to buy tickets unless they have a travel order. A citizen I saw at one of the stations in Frankfurt told me he had escaped hours of waiting in line by offering a clerk a package of cigarettes. He had motioned to the clerk, who left the line of people he was serving and went behind the building to take the bribe. On a daylight trip out of Frankfurt to the east, I rode a civilian train. One compartment in a third-class coach was reserved for Allied personnel. Germans on that train and trying to get on it reminded me of moths clinging to the win dow screen of a lighted room on a summer night. Some were on top of coaches, though this kind of riding is verboten. On the open platform in front of our com partment eight or ten people occupied all the standing space all day. The man I sat with happened to be an American citizen of German birth who was working for the Army as a censor of private letters. He said that the passengers were mainly houseless people who had recently come into the United States Zone, had been mistakenly sent to Frankfurt for quarters, had found none, and now were going somewhere else-like the boll weevil in the old song, "just a-hunting for a home." They did not look undernourished.