by Thomas (DM1TBE)
The holidays seasons like Christmas or Easter provide an opportunity to return to the family. So I drove across Germany to Potsdam, where I have grown up, during the extended Easter weekend.
Potsdam is a historic city located in the state of Brandenburg, Germany, next to the capital Berlin. It has a rich history dating back to medieval times, when it was founded as a settlement on the banks of the Havel River. In the 18th century, Potsdam became the residence of the Prussian royal family and was transformed into a center of arts, architecture, and culture. The famous Sanssouci Palace, built by Frederick the Great, is one of the many palaces and gardens that reflect the city’s royal heritage.
Close to the Sanssouci Palace, the Neue Palais, a grand palace, is located. It is a magnificent example of Baroque architecture, with its grand façade, opulent interiors, and beautiful gardens, and it was used as a guest residence for the Prussian royal family. Later William II, German Emperor and King of Prussia, made it to its main seat.
Potsdam was also a significant location during World War II. During the last days of the war, the 12th German Army tried to break through the Soviet blockade around Berlin, which caused fierce fighting close to the city.
Less than a month before Germany’s final surrender, 1700 tones of bombs were dropped causing destruction of a large part of the city center. Still a lot of dangerous stuff from those times is found during construction works until today.
The city also served as the site of the Potsdam Conference in 1945, where leaders of the Allied powers met to discuss the future of post-war Europe – here with Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman and Josef Stalin during July 1945.
Before I started the trip, I checked which ham radio programs offer outdoor activations in the region. The whole area is more or less flat, so not SOTA summit within a radius of a one-hour drive. Also, no POTA park existed, so I thought suggesting two would be good, for me and POTA :).
One new park later accepted by POTA was the Babelsberg Park with its Babelsberg Palace. The palace was the summer residence of Prince William, later German Emperor William I and King of Prussia, and his wife.
The park and the palace is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
From the park, you have a good view to the Glienicke Bridge, probably better known from Steven Spielberg’s movie “Bridge of Spies”.
The Bridge of Spies connects Berlin (formerly West-Berlin part) with Potsdam, (formerly East Germany), hence formerly the Soviet and Western (US, UK & France) controlled parts of Germany. The bridge was used as an exchange for spies between Western and Eastern powers. Probably most prominent was the CIA pilot Gary Powers, who was shot down over the Soviet Union with a U-2 spy plane in 1960. Below is an image of the beginning of another spy exchange in 1986.
I grew up during those times less than a mile away from that bridge, in Potsdam, i.e. in the Soviet controlled part of Germany, and the area up to the bridge, where a lot of Soviet army installation were located, was my playground.
The weather that day was difficult, with dark clouds and heavy rain the night before. However, I had only limited time to spend in Potsdam, so I had to try it anyway. I chose a place in front of the Palace …
…. with a nice view on the Glienicker Bridge.
The place, I chose for the activation, was close to the previous position of the Berlin Wall and was as border zone blocked from the public. 35 years ago, I would have been shot down at this position. The following image shows the former border, also known as Iron Curtain (red), the two parks I had planned to activate and my position during the activation.
The equipment I used was nothing special. Due to the weather and the immediate risk of rain, I wanted to complete the activation as quickly as possible. So I went with:
- Elecraft KX3 Transceiver
- 12V 4Ah LiFePO4 from EREMIT (german only) with battery management system
- BaMaTech – BaMaKeY TP-III – ultra-compact twin paddle key
- 10 m / 33 ft fibreglass mast “mini” (67 cm / 26 in collapsed) from DX-Wire (german only)
- Wire antenna with the extension for the 30/15-meter band from ANjo (german only)
- No-name pen & paper, i.e. not as luxurious as Thomas (K4SWL)
The actual activation took rather long. I only used the 30-meter band, for reasons, I laid out here on QRPer as I wasn’t keen to stress my luck with the weather too much.
It took me nearly 40 minutes to get 15 QSOs into my log. 09:29 UTC on a public holiday like the Good Friday might not be the best time for an activation. During the activation, a bunch of kids came along and wanted to know what I am doing there. I explained and demonstrated the morse paddles and let them try it out. Hopefully, they are the tomorrow’s chasers.
The QSOs were widely spread over the continent. With 15 QSOs the ATNO (All Time New One) activation of this park was successful.
Many thanks to all chaser for this ATNO.