by Roelof Hamoen
Dutch railwayenthusiasts who loved steamlocos some 25
years ago, only had to travel to the big neighbour:
Germany. So did I. Being 14 years old, I visited the
famous steamshed of Rheine for the first time in 1972. A
lot of visits followed to sheds all over West-Germany,
until the end of regular steamworkings in 1977.
More excitement offered East-Germany in 1974. It was behind the Iron Curtain and people warned me for policemen at every corner of the street. I noticed that taking photographs from the platforms and other public places wasn't forbidden at all. Still my best railway-memory in the former GDR is the ride behind an original (Pacific) 01 from Dresden to Berlin. Speed went up to 120 km/h. I still regret that I had to refuse the offer for a ride on the loco a few days later, because my visum didn't allow a longer stay. But in the GDR steam was decreasing also. We heard stories about old types of German locos still running in Poland. So a first visit to Poland was planned in 1976, and next few was held two years later. At the beginning of the eighties other countries began to attract me, so Poland was vistited less.
Looking back on the first experiences in Poland, I'm still aware that a lot of the things we saw are kept only as personal memories because it was too risky to take the camera out of the bag. On the other hand: the permit of the Railway Museum allowed us to take pictures of locos in sheds all over the country. This wasn't possible in most of the other former communist countries in Eastern Europe. You may call it cynical that photographing trains is allowed nowadays, but that the interesting steamlocos are disappeared...
'Dziekuje bardzo' to all people in Poland who gave us such great experiences!
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