2003 • Winter cuts to the bone in Hamburg, but spring is beyond belief—an explosion of green and blooms and outdoor cafes and rowboats on the Alster. Four months here coincided with the start of the Iraq War. I was on guard for hostility, but the opposite turned out to be the case: strangers at a favorite bar in the Schanze would hear my accent and chat me up in earnest, trying to understand why any reasonable American would support an invasion under such thin pretenses. Several relayed the opinion (not necessarily their own) that the U.S. was overreacting to the loss of 3,000 lives on 9-11, compared with the millions who died on the continent in World War II. Hearing this in Germany, of all places, prompted a few say-whats and you-gotta-be-kiddings. Hamburg is a vital port city on the Elbe and was mostly destroyed in Allied bombing raids during WWII (an aerial campaign called Operation Gomorrah caused a firestorm that killed as many as 40,000). Extensive rebuilding has given the city a tidy, newish feel. The black-and-white photos are from the book "Hamburg" by August Rupp, published in 1927. Many thanks to Eva, Reinhardt, and Gisela for this glimpse of what their city looked like before war reshaped it almost entirely.