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Hitchhiking in post-war Germany


Life as a foreign student in post-war Germany
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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There was a lot of tennis and swimming, and I stayed with a German couple who again couldn’t have been kinder. And we also were in contact – well, it was a strange system: Darmstadt was in the German... sorry, it was in the American zone, but Frankfurt, where food was coming from, was in the British zone, so we had to go up and change zones. We got picked up by a jeep, and we got given all sorts of vouchers for getting things, and so in the event we got a lot of things which weren’t available in Germany, like coffee and tobacco and liquor at knock-down prices and so forth, which we got our total rations for, and then took them back and of course shared them as we could with our friends. But it was a wonderful experience seeing how they coped.

And you mentioned about opera. They had opera there: it seemed to me that every city, no matter how bombed, had an opera. This was not their opera house, which was hopeless, but they had it in a large hall and they put... I went to a couple of operas and I also went, I think, yes, to A Midsummer Night’s Dream in German, which was an interesting experience, and they really put... I mean, the quality of the production was good, the scenery of course was makeshift, obviously, but it was really a heart-warming experience.

Norman Greenwood (1925-2012) was born in Australia and graduated from Melbourne University before going to Cambridge. His wide-ranging research in inorganic and structural chemistry made major advances in the chemistry of boron hydrides and other main-group element compounds. He also pioneered the application of Mössbauer spectroscopy to problems in chemistry. He was a prolific writer and inspirational lecturer on chemical and educational themes, and held numerous visiting professorships throughout the world.

Listeners: Brian Johnson

Professor Brian FG Johnson FRS, FRSE, FRS Chem, FAcad Eu, FAS. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Edinburgh 1991-1995, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Cambridge 1995-2005, Master Fitzwilliam College Cambridge 1999-2005. Research interests include studies of transition metal carbonyls, organometallic chemistry, nano- particles and homogeneous catalysis. Professor Johnson is the author of over 1000 research articles and papers.

Tags: Darmstadt, Germany, Frankfurt, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Duration: 1 minute, 50 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011