88 Year Old Message in a Bottle

88 Year Old Message in a Bottle Found in 12th Century Cathedral

Peter Brandt is a roofer in Goslar, Germany, and was tasked in 2018 with maintenance of the roof of the Goslar Cathedral entrance hall. In the process of examining the building, he made a surprising discovery – an 88 year old message in a bottle, written by his own grandfather in 1930!

Goslar Cathedral 88 year old message in a bottle

Goslar Cathedral, where Willi Brandt’s message in a bottle lay hidden for 88 years.

Willi Brandt Peter Brandt's grandfather's message in a bottle

Contents of the 88 Year Old Message in a Bottle

The letter in the bottle was relatively brief.

Ominously, the writers rejoiced that  “difficult times of war lie behind us,”. In fact, just a few years after writing the note, Willi Brandt enlisted as a soldier in World War II. He was fortunate in that he was captured and survived. Willi returned to Goslar after the war and started a roofing business. According to his grandson Peter, Willi never talked about the war.

“It was an exciting find,” Peter told the Washington Post, adding that one line from the bottled message has stuck in his mind: “We worked an entire week for 1 pound of butter and 1 bread.”  Both Germany as a whole and Goslar specifically are doing so much better today that such hardship is nearly unthinkable.

88 Year Old Message in a Bottle Offers Opportunity to Reflect

It is amazing that this message in a bottle comes from a time almost precisely between the two Great Wars that consumed Germany and many other nations in the 20th century. Willi Brandt would have been just a child during the first World War, but he was in the prime of his life when the second came around.

Messages in bottles are practically unique in their ability to capture such moments in time. There’s something about a letter in a bottle, sitting, waiting, preserved and patient, that nothing else can replicate. Something almost magic.

This 88 year old message in a bottle reconnected a grandson with his grandfather, and brought to light a moment of calm in Germany’s most turbulent years. It reminds us that people basically want the same things everywhere – we want to work, to be good at something, we want to eat–and…we want to live in peace. Too often, that last part is easier said than done.

Luckily, there will always be messages in bottles to remind us of who we are.