Recently, a German fisherman,Konrad Fischer, discovered a message in a bottle off the coast of Kiel in the Baltic Sea. He took it to the Internationales Maritimes Museum in Hamburg and scientists there set about tracking down its owner. And shockingly, they succeeded.
The message was on a post card that had been badly decayed because of the ravages of time and moisture. The Museum intends to do more work to decipher the entire message. But they did determine the address and that it was a request that once found the bottle be returned to the sender. With some research, they found that it had to have been sent by the then 20-year-old Richard Platz.
Apparently, Platz was on a nature hike with a group in 1913 when he threw the bottle into the sea. And the bottle seems to have bobbed around for a century without anyone noticing it. The world really is a big place. It likely never made it out of the Baltic Sea. So you can imagine the number of bottles floating around the oceans proper.
Platz is long dead, of course; he would be 121 today. In fact, he didn’t live that long—dying at 54, shortly after the end of World War II. But the museum folk found his granddaughter, Angela Erdmann, who visited the museum and provided a little background about Platz.
We know three things about him, all good. First, he was the kind of nerd who put messages in bottles and threw them into the sea. Second, he liked to read. And third, he was a Social Democrat.
In this depressing world, the story of the consummation of a century old creative act is cheering.