-Germany in 1940 and 41 did not look like a country at war, except for all the military uniforms. This photograph in a Berlin part did not look much different thzn before the War. The photograph is undated, but was probably taken in April 1940. We are not sure why the ladies have carts. Put your cursor on the image to zoom in on the family. A reader writes, "The people pushing carts here is interesting. First they look identical. Were they a goverment issue? The goods being carried look like liquid containers. Was it water?" HBC is unsure about what is in the carts. Could they be picnic lunches? Perhaps our German readers will know.
We believe this is a major Berlin city park, Perhaps our readers will recognize the building in the background. The parks along with most of the city were destroyed in the War. Berlin by the end of the War was a huge pile of rubble. I am unsure how the parks were rebuilt after the War.
This looks to nus a if it was taken early in the War. As the trees are out but it is a little chilly (several people are searing cists), it was we think taken in the spring. We would guess that 1940 was the most likely, but 1941 is possible. Except for the soldier, there is no hint a war is in progress. This photograph could have easily been taken before the War.
We are not sure why the ladies have carts. Put your cursor on the image to zoom in on the family. A reader writes, "The people pushing carts here is interesting. First they look identical. Were they a goverment issue? The goods being carried look like liquid containers. Was it water?" HBC is unsure about what is in the carts. Could they be picnic lunches? Perhaps our German readers will know. A British reader writes, "The Carts look like baby peramabulators (Brit speak for carriage) to me. In England, because the Royal family used them, the fashion was for elaborately sprung and high off the ground parambulators, or prams as the British called them. Having ridden in one as a baby I can attest that they felt very insecure, a bit like a carnival ride. They did allow the mother to rock the pram when it was stationary and sooth the baby. After riding in such a rocking and swaying contraption the baby probably needed soothing. In some other European countries perambulators seem to have been lower to the ground and convertible later into push chairs for toddlers. I have seen pictures of refugees in France pushing just such piled high with posessions. Low slung prams were also used in Britain but, because of their lower cost and lack of Royal association, generally only by mothers of a lower social order. Obviously lower class British babies had to look up to upper class babies and vice versa. I went back to the original image and used a magnifier. I am certain that the black shape with a white dot in it near the top of the more distant cart is the back of a little girl's head with a white bow or ribbon in the hair. That one has been converted, as they were designed to be, for use by a toddler. The child is sitting up and has her back to the direction of travel but is facing her mother. Which is (was) a much better arrangement for the child, who is far more interested in her mother's face than the oncoming scenery.
Also note that in the family group in the foreground the small boy on the left and the larger boy on the right, with one arm around his sister, are both looking down into the cart or permabulator. Either it contains a much loved baby sibling or something very very good to eat. (HBC Note: This is a good point. Obviously there was something very important in the cart. Note that the nearby cart is awo-wheel one while the distant one is a four wheel cart. In America I have nevee seen a two-wheel baby carriage. Our reader replies, "Look again at the foreground "Cart". On the right hand side one can clearly see that there are two wheels on that side, one behind the other. The rear wheels seem to be on a narrower track than the front wheels. This was common in baby carriages, to allow wheels of larger diameter to overlap. Though why it would be necessary if the wheels were small I don't know. Tradition maybe. I am sure they are baby carriages." The second set of wheels are difficult to see, but there are two akles, so they must be there.]
The woman pushing the perambulator is clearly wearing the walking out coat and hat uniform of a nanny or a nursemaid. At the beginning of World War II even middle class families would have had servants, including nursemaids. Middle class mothers did not change diapers. Nanny has one controlling hand on the smallest boy so he does not embarass her in front of his parents. Mother and father are on the right, also looking down at the baby in the pram.
We suspect that British parks would have looked very different at this time, but we do not yet have many details. A British reader tells us, "The public parks were fenced by iron railings about four feet high with
gates at various points. They had usually tarmac paths and benches at
intervals. There would be flower beds and lawns maintained by the local
authority parks department. They had a park keeper. The smaller parks,
such as that opposite our house in London was strictly ornamental. 'Keep
off the Grass' signs were everywhere. The surface was ideal for roller
skating, but we could only do this when the park keeper was not patrolling.
The park keeper supervived the general conduct of the users. He locked
the gates at sundown and opened them quite early in the morning. 7 days
a week and Bank Holidays. The larger parks would have an ornamental
area, usually a play area with swings and roundabouts, for childen under
Secondary School age. Ther might be a boating pond for children to sail
their model boats. Band Stands were often a feature. Tennis courts,
putting greens, and team game areas were in the larger parks. They were
all patrolled and the gates locked at night. The medium sized one would
have areas for picnics and general messing about.
In about 1941-42. The government ordered all iron railings and gates,
other than those of historic interest to be removed and sent for scrap
metal, so the parks lost their security. Many of the play areas and
ornamental flower beds were allocated to the public for growing food.
(Allotments) The fencing was not replaced after the war, and few parks
have dedicated 'Keepers' now. They are usually policed by Police
In Canterbury we have a small 'park' called the Dane John Gardens which
has grass, a children's play area. a band stand and ornamental flower
beds. There is a very pleasant riverside area called the West Gate
gardens which have very well kept flower beds and lawn areas. I'll take
some photos and send the to you. There are several small childrens play
areas around the city.
Some councils had 'Commons'. Theses were open spaces on which in former
times, cattel and sheep were grazed, but in time the these became play
areas and general recreation areas. The large ones today are in the
suburbs, such as Blackheath, Wimbledon. and Wandsworth. " Another British reader tells us, "I don't know. I think they contained bomb shelters and sandbagged enclosures for Anti Aircraft guns. I son't think they were peaceful parks. The British were certain they were going to get a rain of death from the air."
This is a rare color photo and obviously a propoganda one. Color film was not widely available at the time.
I can't imagine the women on a family walk in the park being shown pushing anything other than a perambulator, certainly not water carts or anything else implying shortage or inconvenience.
This was quite a large family with five perhaps six children. The older lady does seem to be a nanny. Notice that the boys seem to be wearing different shades of grey and brown except for the coloful red beret. We think that there is a brown shift in this print. Color images like this are very helpful because almost all of our images from the 1930s and 40s give no hint of color.
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