Digest>Archives> March 2009

Rediscovered Image Recalls A Year Of Epic Events


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When this photograph of Germany's Neuwark Lighthouse was taken in 1933 and distributed to American newspapers by Wide World News Photos we can only wonder if German propaganda at that time played a role.

After all, events of that year literally changed much of the world. In America, the Great Depression was into its fourth year, Franklin Roosevelt, who, as president-elect, survived an assassination attempt, became the last president to be inaugurated in the month of March, Prohibition was abolished, and a coup to seize the government from President Roosevelt was uncovered. Also, in 1933, it became illegal for Americans to own gold, and the first case of air sabotage in the United States took place when a United Airlines plane was destroyed by a bomb in Indiana.

At the beginning of the year Adolf Hitler was proclaimed Chancellor of Germany, leading to his dictatorship a few months later. The Nazis were declared the only political party allowed in Germany, the Gestapo was established, the first concentration camp was being completed, and Albert Einstein became a refugee from the Nazi Germany and fled to America.

This original photograph with its original mimeographed caption, which recently came into the Lighthouse Digest collection, tells how this monument to German ingenuity was built in 1300 and was able to withstand pirates and wars and, although it was a relic of a past age, it has kept step with modern times.

Originally built as a fortress style watch tower on an island at the mouth of the Elbe River near Hamburg, Germany, it didn't actually become a lighthouse until 1814. The press release with the 1933 photo said the tower was again a watch tower, but now used to sight planes that pass overhead. Lookouts, stationed in the tower, would send notice to the authorities when they spotted the aircraft. The old cannon in the photo, a relic from an earlier time, was ornamental only, but was used to prove a point.

The massive lighthouse survived World War II and today there are apartments in the old structure and overnight accommodations are reportedly offered by the lighthouse.

This story appeared in the March 2009 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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