This set of postcards comes from the grandmother of Chad Guthrie’s wife. She lived in Koblenz, Germany throughout World War II, but moved to Paris after due to destruction of the city and widespread poverty. While in Paris she worked for the United States Embassy as a translator and married a Serbian. In 1965, they left Paris for Detroit.
Creative and Technical Specifications
File Format: JPG
File Size: 1.61 MB
Dimensions: 3264 x 2448
Each picture represents one of the postcards in the collection. The hope was the capture the full image. A black background was used in order to make the image the focal point; although the postcard typically took up the entire frame of the picture in order to capture the most detail.
This is a collection of postcards featuring scenes from the Rhine River of western Europe. The river begins in the Alps of Switzerland and breaks off into several creeks and streams in the delta region of the Netherlands. This collection originally had twelve postcards, but only six remain.
The images are reprinted from original landscape paintings done by Nikolai von Astudin. Prior to the onset of World War II, he painted 38 different scenes and Hoursch & Bechstedt, a publisher in Cologne, Germany, featured his work on postcards. Throughout WWII, Cologne was repeatedly raided by bombers. One of the most infamous bombings took place on May 3, 1942, the city was bombed by 1,000 members of the Royal Air Force. According to a news report released in 1992 to commemorate the event, 90% of the central city had been flattened and 3,300 homes were destroyed.
In light of the war, the images produced by Nikolai von Astudin tell a story of peaceful times. There is a serene feeling from looking at each image, yet when put into historical context, to contemplate the war torn city is somewhat unimaginable. In less than a decade after painting the scenes, much of city of Cologne was destroyed and the Rhine River became a disputed territory between armies.
The woman who brought these postcards with her to America tells a much more intimate story. It can be easy to overlook the people who lived through wars. Many were forced to leave their homes to find a safer place to live. It is not just the military strategies or political feats that need considering; the lives at risk and the social consequences also deserve attention. This collection of postcards reminds modern audiences of the actual people involved. Students Having this collection of postcards is a way to look back and see how a token of home was brought
We can infer that six of the postcards were used for their original purpose, considering there are only six remaining.
By working with this set of historical ephemera, students can make a more personal connection with WWII and immigration to America. The postcards date back prior to the outbreak of war, so it gives students the opportunity to think about the implications of the war. They obviously served a purpose for the woman who brought them to America. As someone who immigrated because of the war, it opens the door to learning about the policies that were in place at the time and how immigration has affected the nation throughout its history. It can also be used in the context of adding humanity to WWII. From my own experience as a student, learning about wars was always more engaging when an actual person was involved. Although I do not know that much about the woman now, I am curious to know more. Similarly, students can do independent research on people who left Europe due to the war and their transition into life in America.