The Story Behind My Blog's Title

The Story Behind My Blog's Title
Why is my blog named "My Father's Oldsmobile"? Click on the car and find out.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Destination: Berlin by Stephanie Burkhart -- and a little history to go with it

I've been taking a short bit of a sabbatical from this blog to finish a book that is due very shortly, and to focus on starting a new blog called. Inspirational Ebooks. (don't worry. I'm keeping this one as my personal blog) Today though, I'm pulling myself away from those things so Stephanie Burkhart can share a little history about the setting of her book, Destination: Berlin. This is Stephanie's second visit to my blog, so let's give her another warm welcome.

I'm thrilled to be here visiting Shawna's blog to promote my "sweet" military romance, Destination: Berlin. Thanks for having me, Shawna.

You're most welcome, Steph. I enjoy having you visit!

Just a little about me: I was born and raised in Manchester, NH with a hungry appetite for reading gothic romance, especially by Victoria Holt. I served in the Army for 11 years from 1986-1997 and spent 7 years in Germany. My time in Europe inspired two passions – my love of history and the paranormal. Currently, I live in California and work for LAPD as a 911 Dispatcher.

"Destination: Berlin" was the first novel I wrote, and I used a pen name. (SG Cardin, my maiden name). It is not an inspirational romance, but a "sweet" military romance between Corporal Sharon Cates and Soviet Jr. Sgt. Dimitri Nagory. (The couple share several tender touches and a kiss near the end.)

It's 1988 and Corporal Sharon Cates is traveling to Berlin on the Duty Train to attend the Orientation Tour. On the train she meets Jr. Sgt. Dimitri Nagory. They agree to be friends for the night, then chaos hits – the Duty Train is derailed in the middle of Communist East Germany. The Stasi, (East German secret police) want top secret documents that Sharon has in her briefcase. Dimitri offers his help and Sharon takes him up on it. Destination? Berlin.

I thought I'd talk a little about the rich history of the Berlin Duty Train in this post. Of course, it goes back to the end of World War II. (Shawna's time frame in No Other!) Germany was in tatters. The four allies, the British, French, Americans and Soviets made the decision to occupy Germany, each responsible for a zone of occupation. The French and Americans occupied southern West Germany. The British took the north, and the Soviets took East Germany.

Berlin was divided between the four in a similar fashion, the division called "sectors."

On 10 SEP 1945, the allies enacted railroad regulations that would govern travel through occupied Germany and Berlin that would remain enforced until German unification in OCT 1990.
The Soviets did allow for two routes – One from Frankfurt to Berlin and one from Bremerhaven through Helmstedt-Marienborn. (This is the route Sharon takes in the novel.)

The American, British, and French all had their own duty trains – and they all allowed the others to ride on their trains. In 1945, the Americans established their West Berlin train station in the Lichterfeld-West station approximately half a mile from the major American bases. (McNair, Andrews, Roosevelt, and Turner) In NOV 1945, the first American duty train traveled from Frankfurt to Berlin. At first, the service ran 3 trips a week, in MAY 1947, daily trips started.

Rail traffic to Berlin was denied by the Soviets from JUN 1948 to MAY 1949 when they cut off the borders. The allies enacted an airlift making the Soviet blockade ineffective.

The Soviets were masters of harassment. At the border, they insisted on changing out western locomotives for Deutschen Reichbahn (East German) ones. They also insisted on train commanders presenting them FLAG orders of everyone on board. (Since they couldn't inspect the trains themselves)

For the most part, the duty train ran with no problems and to my knowledge it only derailed once, on 3 JAN 1967 near Potsdam. East German troops held the soldiers at gunpoint for 18 hours while the damaged cars were fixed. What caused the derailment? One theory was it happened because the Americans helped several East Germans cross the wall a few days earlier.
I hope you enjoyed this look at the American history of the Berlin Duty Train, and thanks to everyone who followed me on the tour.

As Sharon unfastened the ropes that held the boat docked, Dimitri put the trolling motor into the water and turned it on. The boat slowly pulled away from the bank. Dimitri kept it as close as he could to land. The boat plodded forward. The once dark orange rays of sunlight were slowly growing lighter. Sharon could being to make out the contrasting shadows of the tree line against the water.

"Can't we go any faster?" she asked. She sat next to Dimitri. He was near the bow, holding the pedal down on the trolling motor.

"This motor is intentionally slow, but it's noiseless. If I turn on the engine, it will make a lot of noise and attract attention to us," he began.

"We don't want that," Sharon muttered.

"No, we don't, but I'll use it if I have to – if I need a sudden burst of speed."

Sharon understood. She sat down with her back against the side of the boat and looked past Dimitri's shoulder. The small tributary gave way to the Wansee. The sun dared to show a tiny sliver of itself as it crested the horizon. Sharon guessed the lake was five hundred meters wide.

As Dimitri headed toward the center of the river, Sharon quickly studied her surroundings. The East German side thinned out considerably, revealing about five kilometers of barren, unplowed land.

"No man's land," Dimitri whispered. "Look." He pointed toward the right.

Sharon saw Freedom Bridge looming in front of them. She would guess it was about three hundred meters directly ahead. The water's current seemed smooth and rhythmic.

"Now look to the left. There's the American guardhouse."

Excellent, Stephanie!

Here are some links to more stuff:
Destination: Berlin's Book Trailer
About the Berlin Duty Train

Destination: Berlin is a Print book only. Here's where you can buy it:

Goodie Time: Post a comment. I'll pick two lucky winners out of a hat to receive an autographed postcard of the cover. Today, I'll also be picking one lucky winner to win an autographed copy of "Destination: Berlin." I'm on Pacific Standard Time (PST) so I'll be back early 29 JULY to announce the winners.

For more about Stephanie Burkhart visit:

SG Cardin/Stephanie Burkhart Online
Romance Under the Moonlight

Steph, thanks for coming again! This book sounds great and I wish you the best of luck. Please come visit again!


  1. Hi, Stephanie and Shawna,
    Wow, this was a really great posting, so interesting. You really captured the feel of that time, Steph. I had never heard of the duty train. Nice job. Good luck with your books!

  2. You always have the best pictures...and excerpts! Have a happy day!

  3. Steph, this book sounds like an original, and I think it'd be a suspenseful movie. :)

  4. Hi everyone. Popping in before I head off to work.

    GINA - I'm glad you enjoyed the post. The Duty Train had a rich military history. I'm happy to share it.

    LIANA - Thanks for popping in, Sweetie. Berlin is a very photogenic city.

    MISS MAE - I agree - it would make a great movie. hehe


  5. Hi Shawna and Stephanie,
    I enjoyed the interview. Stehpanie has had such interesting experiences, and it's great that she has them for her book. I'd love to read Destination Berlin.
    pallotta at gailpallotta dot com

  6. HI Steph and Shawna,
    The history of this duty train is unreal. We in the States often do not realize how fortunate we are not to have lived with this type of situation on our home soil. The brief friendships that must have been created then lost during those trips on that train boggle my mind.
    I definitely have Destination: Berlin on my TBR list.

  7. Hi Steph,
    Interesting blog as always. I am starting to feel as if I know Berlin now and I have never visited there.



  8. Hi everyone! Thanks so much for being patient with me and thanks so much for popping into my Destination: Berlin Blog Tour.

    Congrats to Postcard Winners Liana and Rebecca Vickery!

    Congrats to Gail Pallota for winning an autographed copy of Destination: Berlin.

    Winners please send me an email with your snail mails and I will get the prizes out to you shortly.


    Now...hehe... I start another blog tour on 1 AUG for my children's book, "The Giving Meadow." Hope to see you there. My first stop, Gina's blog at


  9. I love the pictures, Stephanie. I'm actually reading this novel right now. The cover is really beautiful, the image online doesn't do it justice. You have a very strong voice. I predict you will go very far. ;)


1970 Olds 442


If you're curious about the story behind the name of my blog, click on the car. :)