How cool would it be to find a real message in a bottle? Well, that’s exactly what happened to these people. Some were simply beachcombing while others came to find the bottles by a pure twist of fate. From love notes floating the oceans for more than 80 years to historical messages from Auschwitz prisoners these bottled messages will captivate you. Next time you’re at the beach keep your eyes open for any bottles near the water, you never know what you’ll find!
Construction workers working near the former Auschwitz concentration camp found a bottle encased in a cement wall they were tearing down which now houses a vocational school.
“In 1944 there were camp prisoners constructing a bomb shelter for the soldiers and they must have placed the bottle in the wall as they were pouring concrete,” said memorial spokesperson, Jarek Mensfelt, to The Local.
The letter which appears to have been scribbled on a piece of cement bag was signed by 7 Auschwitz prisoners, among them 6 Poles and 1 Frenchman aged 18 to 20-years-old, the letter also included their camp identification numbers.
Based on the names and identification numbers, Auschwitz-Birkenau historians were able to determine that 2 of the Polish men had survived the Holocaust, but their whereabouts were unknown.
According to Mensfelt, finding concentration camp survivors can prove difficult so the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and museum sent out a personal appeal for anyone who may know these prisoners to contact them.
Later in 2009 Mensfelt spoke with the granddaughter of the French prisoner, Albert Veissid, who just celebrated his 85th birthday in Marseilles, France.
Veissid told French news agency that he doesn’t remember the bottle, “yet it’s absolutely my name on the message and my registration number: 12063. I can’t forget that number because it’s on my arm.”
The letter was scheduled for delivery to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum on May 6, 2009.
Merle Brandell was beachcombing near the village of Nelson Lagoon, Alaska when he spotted a bottle that caught his eye. He picked it up and noticed there was a note inside. The note was ripped at the seams and appeared to be old.
“Dear Finder,” the letter read. “My name is Emily Hwaung and I am in fourth grade at North City School. This letter is part of our science project to study oceans and learn about people in distant lands. Please send the date and location of the bottle with your address. I will send you my picture and tell you when and where the bottle was placed in the ocean. Your friend, Emily Hwaung.”
The note had no date other than a return address to North City Elementary School in Shoreline. 34-year old Brandell immediately wrote a letter to the school explaining how he found the letter 1,735 away in Alaska and much to his surprise 30-year old Emily Hwaung responded ecstatic to find out that her 20 yr. old letter was found years later.
In 1988 12-year old Patrick Fiddler from Charleston, W. Va dropped a simple “Hi’ note with his address into the Atlantic Ocean off North Carolina. Three years later almost 9,400 miles away the note was found by a tourist when it washed ashore on the tiny Indian Ocean nation of Mauritius. Within a matter of weeks the 12-year old found a note addressed to him that read, “On our holidays in Mauritius, I found your message on the seashore at Tron aux Biches”. The sender’s name was illegible.
During the Christmas holidays back in 1979 John and Dottie Peckman put a message in a wine bottle and threw it overboard from a cruise carrying them from Acapulco to Hawaii. The note listed their names, address, and the promise of a reward for whoever finds the message. Much to their surprise 3 years later and across 9,000 miles of ocean Nguyen Van Hoa spotted the wine bottle as it floated by his boat 10 miles off the coast of Thailand in the South China Sea. At the time, Hoa, a former lieutenant from the South Vietnamese army, was escaping the reeducation camp where he had been imprisoned with fellow officers following the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. At the time, Hoa, who was fleeing aboard a fishing boat with 30 other refugees, including his 16-year-old brother, Van Cuong, was looking for water when he spotted the wine bottle.
Months later, Hoa and his family, including his brother Van, were boarding a plane headed to California to meet the Peckmans. Thanks to Peckman’s wine bottle, Hoa and his family escaped Thailand and were on their way to freedom.
When John Baker was 10 years old he dumped his mother’s entire bottle of vanilla down the sink and decided to use the bottle for a message. He took a piece of paper and wrote, “My name is Josh Baker. I’m 10. If you find this, put it on the news. The date is April 16, 1995.” Baker stuffed the note inside the bottle of vanilla extract and threw it out into Wisconsin’s White Lake. Years went on and Baker graduated high school and enlisted in the Marines. In a pure twist of irony, Baker survived the war in Iraq but lost his life back home in a tragic car accident. His family and friends were devastated by their loss.
In what could only be described as an unexplained act of fate, months after Baker’s death two of his friends, Steve Lieder and Robert Duncan, stumbled upon a bottle in Wisconsin’s White Lake. Just like something out of a dramatic movie, Steve and Robert opened the bottle to find John Baker’s note.
Today, Baker’s childhood note is displayed in the Baker’s home as a constant reminder that John, although gone, is always with them.
In 1999 fisherman Steve Gowan found a bottle clinging to his fishing nets. Inside the eroded bottle were two notes written by Private Thomas Hughes dated September 9, 1914. The first note asked the person who finds the bottle to forward the second letter to his wife Elizabeth Hughes. The second letter was a love letter to his wife Elizabeth in which he expressed how she was constantly in his thoughts as he made his way to France in the early days of WWI.
After reading the love letter Gowan felt a personal responsibility to see that Private Hughes’s 85-year old letters found their way home to his loved ones. Gowan assumed Elizabeth probably passed on so he began searching for her descendants and his search lead him to Thomas and Elizabeth’s daughter, Emily, who lived in Auckland, New Zealand.
Sadly, Gowan later found out that Private Thomas Hughes died in battle shortly after sending the bottle. He never got to see his beloved Elizabeth again nor ever meet his 2-year old daughter Emily. After hearing about Steve Gowan’s findings, The New Zealand Post offered to fly Gowan to New Zealand so he can hand deliver the bottle to Emily. As Emily later shared with the newspaper, her father’s notes couldn’t come home until the right boat came along at the right time with the right fisherman.
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