Getting the word out – Hampel-style. Real postcards from the 48%

Alone in Berlin (Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson) is based on the true story of Otto and Elise Hampel (renamed Quangel for the movie).

In the film, they start a postcard campaign after the death of their son, but it was the death of Elise’s brother in 1940, which was the catalyst for the campaign, Their idea was basically, that people would pick up postcards which they left all over Berlin and resist Hitler. Most of the cards were handed into the authorities, because people were scared of being found in possession of such inflammatory material.

Nevertheless, it took the Gestapo two years to find the Hampels, after they had left 200 postcards around Berlin. They were tried for “preparation for high treason”.

After the Second World War ended, historians didn’t think the Hampels important. Otto was a factory worker and Elise a domestic servant, with only elementary school education and the postcards were ungrammatical and full of spelling mistakes.

Rudolf Ditzen, who wrote as Hans Fallada, wrote Every Man Dies Alone, after reading the Hampels’ Gestapo file. It took him only 24 days to write and he died just weeks before publication in 1947. The book wasn’t translated into English until 2009 and became a bestseller in the USA, then in the UK as Alone in Berlin.

The film was released in 2016.

It isn’t illegal to complain about the British Government. Nor is it illegal to prop a postcard up on a windowsill or leave it behind on a bus or train.

You could slip a postcard in books that you donate to jumble sales and charity shops, or sell at boot fairs. Postcards can be pinned to noticeboards, left on cisterns in public loos and slipped into newspapers. Why not prop them up on church pews or slip into books in libraries ? Shove a postcard into supermarket trolleys in their storage bays ? Leave on a park bench, weighted down by a stone ? Postcards will often fit into grooves too which expands placing opportunities.

The important thing to remember is not to leave postcards anywhere which would endanger someone trying to retrieve one. Also, avoid using bad language in case you fall foul of some Victorian obscenity communication law *eye roll*.

It would be great if you could put a website address on the card. Could be The 3 Million for EU citizens or any Remainer website, organisation or Facebook group you think useful, locally or nationally.

The cards need to be eye-catching so someone is drawn to flip over and read it. You could pose a question, draw a diagram, copy a quote. Whatever you want, but do give a website or Facebook group or a Twitter handle for more info – it’s the whole point.

Bollox to Brexit stickers are great but there’s no Step 1 to lead people to a place where they can get information.

Staples record cards white plain 100 for 1.99 and you can customise them with drawings as well as a message. Other places to look, using ‘blank postcard’ or ‘A6 die card’ as search terms are Amazon, eBay, Wilko, W H Smith, local stationery and card stores and post offices. If your group has a logo why not get postcards printed up eg Vistaprint ?

If you aren’t the artistic type, why not look out for eye-catching postcards in charity shops and simply glue white paper cut to size over the writing side, and add your own message ? You would be helping a charity too, could be Oxfam, local hospice, dog and cat rescue etc etc.

Postcards are paper and pretty much biodegradable in 2-6 weeks in landfill and can be recycled if they end up unwanted, as well.

Bottom line, this is a cheap idea which you can customise and take with you anywhere you go.

Real postcards from the 48%


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