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GERMANY — A 101-year-old message in a bottle has finally made its way home, a museum announced Monday.
An old beer bottle containing a postcard dated May 17, 1913, was pulled out of the Baltic Sea near Kiel, Germany, by fishermen last month, according to AFP. The writer of the postcard, then-20-year-old Richard Platz, requested that it be returned to his address in Berlin, but likely didn't expect the bottle's journey would take 101 years.
Researchers from the International Maritime Museum in Hamburg instead located his 62-year-old granddaughter, Angela Erdmann.
"It was very surprising," she told The Guardian. "A man stood in front of my door and told me he had post from my grandfather. He then told me that a message in a bottle was found and that the name that was on the card was that of my grandfather."
Erdmann's grandfather died six years before she was born so she never knew him, but said receiving the message in the bottle has made her feel closer to him. Platz threw the bottle into the ocean during a nature hike along the Baltic Coast, according to NPR.
Most of the writing on the postcard was illegible due to water damage, according to reports. However, Platz's address and request to have the bottle sent home was still visible. Erdmann said her grandfather also included two stamps in the beer bottle so whoever found it would not incur cost sending it back to him.
Receiving the bottle has prompted Erdmann to learn more about his life, she said.
"I knew very little about my grandfather, but I found out that he was a writer who was very open-minded, believed in freedom and that everyone should respect each other," she told The Guardian. "He did a lot for the young and later traveled with his wife and two daughters. It was wonderful because I could see where my roots came from."
The bottle is possibly the oldest message in a bottle ever recovered. According to Guinness World Records, the previous oldest message in a bottle was at sea for 97 years and 309 days before it found by a fisherman in 2012.
The bottle is on display at the International Maritime Museum in Hamburg, Germany.