I had moved with my family from the Römerstadt district in Frankfurt am Main into the Nordweststadt development area. The ongoing construction activity unearthed many artefacts from Roman times. Every day after school and all day during the holidays, I went to the pits to see the archaeologists at work. One day, I was on location when the basement of a Roman building was discovered – imagine that! I was always on the lookout for “Roman shards” – as we called the remnants of amphorae and other richly decorated objects dating back to antiquity. And I did end up finding a lot of fascinating things from the days when Frankfurt had been part of the Roman Empire: an arrowhead, coins showing Roman Emperors, among other things. There was not a doubt in my eight-year-old mind that I would become an archaeologist.
Very soon, everything revolved around politics. My biggest idol at the time was Willy Brandt, Berlin’s governing mayor, who, just a few years later, would become Germany’s Chancellor. I sent him a little booklet of my own political caricatures that were critical of the CDU. Willy Brandt wrote back to me personally on November 5, 1965: “I really enjoyed your drawings of the election campaign, and was especially pleased by the fact that a boy of your age is already taking such a hugely active part in political life.” He also sent me an autographed card along with his letter.
This photo shows how I set up an “office” that was very different from a typical young person’s bedroom. I regularly read daily newspapers and magazines such as the SPIEGEL or STERN, and cut out photographs of all the most important politicians to hang them up on a large poster on my bedroom wall.
I would like to thank the archive of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, in which my booklet of political caricatures and my exchange of letters with Willy Brandt are stored. On 17.10.2016 I was informed by the Head of Archives that, “As the draft of Willy Brandt’s reply contains his own hand-written notes, you can be confident that he did actually see both booklets.”
Here is the reply I received from Willy Brandt, from November 7, 1965