Monday, 16 March 2015

People of the Internet: Help me solve a mystery

You may have noticed that I like mysteries. Whether it's reading books involving webs of intrigue (Series of Unfortunate Events, I'm looking at you) or dipping into my own mysterious enterprises (hello there, Finish This Book) I quite enjoy spending my time researching and studying things to make them make sense.

So I'm going to share a little mystery of my own with you now, in the hope that someone out there can help me get to the bottom of it.

I found this in a charity shop in Dunoon several years ago and I'm not sure what it was that drew me to it. I studied German in high school for several years, but not well enough that I could read a whole book in it, so why I pulled this copy out from the shelf I don't know.

Inside I found something which made me buy it though. A whole 50p, even though I couldn't read it, beyond the fact that the title was 'My [Something] Aunt[?]'. I'll reveal why in a minute.

Firstly, what I know. This book is called Meine Strahlenden Tanten which translates as 'My Radiant Aunts'. It's actually a German translation of a book by Ruth Park, published in 1955 and translated to the German by someone called Heinz Kotthaus; this edition was published in 1963.

Furthermore, I know that this book was given as a birthday present to someone, presumably Brunhilde Ruminski, in May 1965. How do I know this?

Well, inside the front cover it's got:

And more tellingly, on the next page it has:

Which my rudimentary German (and Google) tells me this says 'a birthday greeting from your aunt [Something] in May 1965'. Any suggestions what that name is? I just can't figure it out.

But still, that's not what the mystery is, though I wonder if it might help shed some light on the origin of the mystery within the pages, because what I found when I opened the book, what made me shell out 50p for a book I can't actually read was this:

Isn't that incredible? It's a photo of a zeppelin over a bunch of buildings, presumably in Germany because written on the back of it is:

It seems to suggest that the photo was taken on the 25th of June, 1933 which is interesting because my googling brought up German Postal History which has a postcard of a 'Graf Zeppelin' taken on the exact same date. And I found a newspaper article, which can be read here, from the 29th of June, 1933. Can't be a coincidence, can it?

The last bit of text in brackets says 'Saar' which is a river which runs through France and Germany and that last note clearly says it's over someplace beginning with V, but my Google-fu is failing me here and I can't work out exactly what it says.

So, People of the Internet, help me out! Can you tell me what the message on the back of the photo says? Do you know someone who speaks German and can help figure this out? Do you know Brunhilde Ruminski?

If not, pass the link on to someone who might.


  1. Good morning Click - what a wonderful find.

    The second part of that word looks like Hirshen which means deer or hind and you'll see lots of restaurants zum Hirshen .. etc ... But the first part looks like Vaur and there's no Vaurhirshen in Saarland.... Saarland is the province around Saarbrucken, Sankt Wendel and I think over as far as Venlo certainly down to the French border and I think over as far as Kaiserslautern. I have some friends in Munich who are translators and would be intrigued by this. Will pass it on.
    Lucky you.. I usually just find junk in charity shops lol Nice junk, but junk nonetheless.

  2. I've just been told this Click

    Graf Zeppelin over Neunkirchen (Saarland)

  3. I don't speak German but I posted it on both Twitter an fb and hopefully someone can help.

    1. Thanks for sharing it. :-)

      Fil's commented to let me know that the main bit of writing says 'Graf Zeppelin over Neunkirchen' which is in Saarland, but I'd still love to know more about who might have taken it.

  4. Hi Click, I've just changed browsers and I'm checking on work I did yesterday and a whole lot of stuff hasn't gone up ... I left you a few comments ... a friend in Germany translated the postcard for you as Graf Zeppelin over Neunkirchen, Saarland.
    Happy St Patrick's Day
    Fil’s Place - Old songs and Memories

    1. Wow! You were very quick with that. Thank you. That's solved my little mystery about where it was. It's quite an interesting snippet of history.

      And don't worry about your posts not showing up. I got them, I just don't get online a huge amount so it takes me a while to approve posts sometimes. :-)

      Happy St Patrick's Day back!


Let me know what you think. :-)