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Americans had fewer options for travel due to the escalation of war between Germany and Britain, and Berta and Ben were grateful to have secured one of the five cabins available to passengers.

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Berta and Ben anticipated a journey of almost a month, and they settled into a routine of reading, writing, and playing cards. They had slept for only a few hours when, at 5 A. There was a German submarine alongside the ship, he said, and the Robin Moor had been ordered to stop. Berta heard hushed voices and running feet outside the door, and the gentle lapping of waves against the side of the ship. For a moment, she and Ben stood beside their bunks, too stunned to do anything. Ben said that he was sorry for getting her into this mess; she told him it was pointless to feel that way.

She pulled on a pair of pants and two sweaters over her pajamas, wondering if perhaps the Germans simply wanted food or supplies. After all, she reasoned, the United States had not yet entered the war. At that moment, the first mate of the Robin Moor, Melvin Mundy, was out on the open water in a lifeboat. Mundy, who grew up in South Carolina, was a seasoned mariner. The lights that signalled back indicated that the vessel was pursuing the ship, and instructed the Robin Moor not to use its wireless, and to send a boat out.

Together with several other members of the crew, Mundy rowed toward the submarine in semi-darkness. He was no stranger to belligerence. At age seventeen, he had falsified a birth certificate so he could join the military and, after the Great War ended, had entered the Merchant Marines as a cabin boy and worked his way up through the ranks. He kept a trunkful of books on seafaring and, during brief visits home to Pennsylvania, where his family lived, he sat on the porch and taught his children to navigate by the stars. By the time war broke out again in Europe, he was commanding a cargo ship called the S.

Black Osprey, which made regular trips across the Atlantic; in , it had been detained by the British, who held the ship and its crew off the coast of Dover. For several weeks they had come under German fire, until the British finally released them. Mundy could see that the submarine before him was roughly two hundred and twenty feet long, with guns mounted on the conning tower and a painted image of a laughing cow, in red. Mundy answered that he was carrying general merchandise for South African ports.

The commander had noticed heavy machinery on board the American ship; Mundy explained that this was simply automobile parts that did not fit in the hold. The commander ordered Mundy to board the submarine.

This pact between Hitler and Stalin paved the way for WWII

Somehow, as the lifeboat rocked in the rough water and Mundy climbed up from it, the U-boat shifted and crushed his ankle; jagged bone protruded through the skin. And yet he proceeded onto the vessel, apparently without delay. The submarine commander, whose name was Jost Metzler, had been instructed not to destroy American ships; even as tensions flared over American aid to the British, Hitler wanted to avoid provoking the United States into entering into the war. Still, U-boat commanders placed a premium on sinking as many tons of shipping as possible, since their supervisors kept detailed statistics and rewarded high performers, and sometimes these incentives trumped explicit orders.

Metzler, who was on his third patrol with the submarine, U, and had already sunk more than twenty-seven thousand tons of British shipping since the start of the year, regarded auto parts and engines as contraband. If Mundy was surprised, he did not say so. He asked how long the Robin Moor had. The commander said twenty minutes. Mundy asked for more time, arguing that the ship carried eight passengers, including a small child.

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Metzler refused. Mundy emphasized that there were women aboard as well as an elderly couple. Metzler said that he would perhaps give them thirty minutes, but warned that, if they tried to send an SOS, he would sink them immediately. An elderly man and woman, who had spent years in Trinidad and were planning to retire to South Africa, were guided onto the same boat. So, too, were a chemical engineer from Ohio and his wife, travelling with their two-year-old son. As soon as the lifeboats steadied themselves on the water, the men rowed furiously away from the ship.

They had made several hundred yards when, on the deck of the submarine, they saw German sailors moving about and preparing to fire. Berta glanced at her watch. At A. Then came more than thirty rounds of gunfire. Some of the crew members feared that the Germans would turn their guns on the lifeboats, too, though the third mate reasoned that if the Nazis wanted to kill them, they never would have made it off the ship.

The Robin Moor split apart and sank within minutes. Some of the crew and passengers, including Berta and Ben, stood up in their lifeboats, as a kind of salute. This means war! Berta allowed herself one last hope that the submarine would tow them to a shipping lane or some other place of rescue. But when Metzler came around to the lifeboats, he said simply that he would radio their position on an open frequency, and instructed them to stay where they were.

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He also approached Mundy and handed him bandages for his ankle. Then the submarine pulled away from them and disappeared beneath the surface. The sea churned violently, and the boats bobbed in the smoldering wreckage. In the late afternoon, crew members lashed the four lifeboats together so that they would not drift apart during the night. Still, when night came, hardly anyone slept. Berta thought about her mother, in New Haven, who had made her own perilous ocean crossing to America from Holland, years earlier, with several small children in tow; Berta was the youngest of five siblings, the only one born in America, and the only girl.

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The next morning, the passengers and crew assessed their supplies. They had butter and a few raw onions; brown bread from the U-boat commander; eighty pounds of hard tack, a dense cracker; and ten gallons of water, which they decided to ration, allowing themselves two half-glasses each per day. Any lingering hope that the Germans had radioed for help was now fading. The captain argued that their best chance of survival lay in reaching either a shipping lane or a largely barren island off the coast of Brazil called St. It is suitable for agile and innovative companies.

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Your success begins here: contact us! In , large parts of Northwest Germany had been covered with heaths and bog. As late as the turn of the 18th to the 19th century, the barren and almost treeless heathlands were still perceived as hostile and threatening environments, as evinced by two travel logs of journeys between and As I had traversed the Hanoverian dominions in so many directions, I did not expect to find nature clothed in charms, or a high degree of population, fertility, and cultivation.


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Next to Lauenburg, I think it is the worst tract of an equal extent that I ever met with. The soil is one vast sandy desert, which is either naturally bare, or covered with patches of heath or grass. On leaving Zell we passed through a dark wood, of at least two leagues in extent; and from that city to Harburgh , in a line of nearly twenty German miles, we travelled over sandy plains and extensive heaths. At a great distance, geese, ducks and sheep of a very poor appearance, never failed to indicate the vicinity of some wretched hamlet.

What habitations! Whole families, of the most wretched appearance, and covered with tattered garments, associate together, eat and sleep with their cattle. Near these real catacombs we observed growing a few stalks of rye and barley, and here and there a few tufu of buck-wheat. The straw is short and stunted, and the ears of a diminutive size. Population and agriculture must ever be dependant on each other. The poem Der Heideknabe "The Heath Lad" from the year by Friedrich Hebbel stresses the unearthly atmosphere and the bleak solitude of the heaths:.

Towards the middle of the 19th century the first positive descriptions of the heath emerged, initially inspired by the romantic movement. With the Industrial Revolution in Germany, unspoilt nature became more important for people, providing a welcome contrast with the rapidly burgeoning cities. Because the heathlands of North Germany were being increasingly decimated by cultivation and reforestation, they now appeared to be worth protecting. Numerous writers and painters portrayed the beauty of the heath, particularly when it was in bloom in August and September. One important heathland artist was Eugen Bracht.

His purported remains were buried in a juniper copse at Tietlingen near Walsrode in Around , there were growing demands to save the heathland and bogs of northwest Germany, which were threatened by reforestation and drainage. He had learned in of plans for building weekend houses on the Totengrund.

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In the same year, an appeal by Curt Floerike appeared in Kosmos magazine, citing the establishment of national parks in the United States and calling for them in Germany. They planned to create national parks in the Alps , the Central Uplands and in the north German geest region. By , the society had 13, members.

One problem that arose as early as the s was the steadily increasing number of visitors. In , in order to keep visitors away from sensitive areas of heathland, a volunteer Heath Guard Heidewacht was founded. Although plans to build a motorway through the park and for the heath to be used as a military training area were stopped, in the Heidewacht was disbanded, mainly because it was made up of members of social democratic youth organisations. Jews could no longer be members of the society. Here the heathland has largely been preserved, albeit no longer accessible to the general public.

A large area of the nature park belonging to the society near Schneverdingen was taken over by the British Army of the Rhine in for use as a tank training area. In the s, during military exercises, British tanks even pushed forward as far as the Wilseder Berg.

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Continual exercising over the area by armoured vehicles completely destroyed the vegetation on the Osterheide near Schneverdingen , forming large areas of sand dunes. Nowadays hardly any traces of the tank training area are left. The base camp for military exercises, Reinsehlen Camp , has been turned into a nature reserve. The heath was the scene of the unconditional surrender of German forces in the Netherlands, north west Germany, including all islands, Denmark and all naval ships in those areas to the Allies under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery , on 4 May , at the end of the Second World War in Europe.

It is also the area where the body of Heinrich Himmler , a leading figure in Nazi Germany and head of the SS , was secretly buried in an unmarked grave following his suicide. Today the area is a popular tourist destination. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Landscape, area of heath, geest and woodland in Lower Saxony, Germany.

This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Wet sand heath near the Pietzmoor.