Richard Platz, a 20-year-old German on a hike in 1913, rolled a postcard into a bottle and tossed it into the Baltic Sea. Inside, a polite message asking the finder to return it to a Berlin address.
Now, 101 years later, his wish has come true.
Fishermen found the beer bottle intact last month, German media report, and as if that wasn’t surprising enough, a genealogist then managed to track down Platz’s granddaughter.
“It was almost unbelievable,” says Angela Erdmann, 62 and also a Berliner. She never knew Platz, her mother’s father. A baker’s son, Platz died in 1946 at 54.
At the International Maritime Museum in Hamburg, Erdmann was able to hold the bottle and its message in her hands. Even though the damp has made most of the postcard illegible, “that was a pretty moving moment,” she says. “Tears rolled down my cheeks.”
For now, the bottle remains in the museum, where experts will try to decipher its contents.
Holger von Neuhoff of the International Maritime Museum in Hamburg notes, “This is certainly the first time such an old message in a bottle was found, particularly with the bottle intact.”
The Guinness world record holder for the oldest message in a bottle — from 1914 — spent a mere 98 years in the water.