Sunday, September 24, 2023

The Wallraf

On my way to Hövelhof, I stopped at Cologne to visit my sister-in-law. Following my overwhelming impression of the paintings at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, I wanted to look at The Wallraf, particularly at works by Käthe Kollwitz.
Wallraf is the short form of the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne's art collection.

The museum claimed that one of the most famous German artists of the 20th century was its guest: Königsberg-born Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) is revered above all for her impressive graphic oeuvre. 

Self-portrait: The Master at his easel
Young Käthe's idols and patrons were two Maxs, Klinger and Liebermann. These artists were influential in her early career.

The empty and the ...
... and the frequented Munich beer garden (1888/89).
The Wallraf showed two little-known oil studies that the young Kollwitz created during her studies in Munich. 

Max Liebermann: Joodse Steeg (Jews'Alley) in Amsterdam, 1905
Käthe's oil paintings are presented in direct proximity to a painting by Liebermann and clearly reflect the influence of the German impressionist.

Max Klinger: Bathing Women, 1912 (©Wikipedia)
In an adjacent room, a Kollwitz etching created in the context of the legendary Weber Zyklus is juxtaposed with works by symbolist Max Klinger (1857-1920), another great role model for Käthe.

"From many wounds, you bleed, o people"
was supposed to become the final leaf of Käthe Kollwitz's cycle "A Weavers' Revolt."
The above etching called Red Baron's particular attention. A copy hung on the wall at my father-in-law's apartment that the family called Ecce homo. Here at The Wallraf, I learned its true origin.

Also, at The Wallraf: The Dying child
In February 1893, Käthe Kollwitz witnessed the premiere of Gerhart Hauptmann's naturalistic drama "The Weavers" at the New Theater Berlin (today's Theater am Schiffbauerdamm). The theater play deals with the Selisian weavers' misery, starvation, and uprising. The emotion of the spectators quickly made "The Weavers" one of the most discussed naturalistic works in Germany. In the same year, Käthe Kollwitz began work on her cycle "A Weavers' Revolt."

Two other paintings at The Wallraf drew my attention:

In 1822, Heinrich Christoph Kolbe painted Johann Wolfgang von Goethe at the age of 73. The Olympian looks with the gaze of an aged wise man, for he had definitely ticked off his Marienbad Elegy.

The Bavarian Franz von Lenbach painted the Prussian Otto Fürst Bismarck in 1888, two years before his resignation as Chancellor of the Second Reich in 1890. Bismarck is 75 by then, but he looks older.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

150 Years Breisgau-Geschichtsverein Schau-ins-Land

It's a long time since you didn't read a new blog. I was simply busy, so:

When people ask,
"Is Red Baron still alive?"
You should tell them, 
"Yes, he's still alive."
He was busy writing websites 
About a reception for AYF students and his annual class reunion alike,
And finally, he traveled on the Road of Democracy.

This text is a verbalization of the popular Hecker Song, which we, a group of members of the Museumsgesellschaft, sang on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of the Baden Revolution while on an excursion to honor its beginning on September 12, 1847, at Offenburg, and its end on July 23, 1849, at Rastatt:

Wenn die Leute fragen,
„Lebt der Hecker noch?“
So sollt ihr ihnen sagen,
„Ja, er lebet noch.”
Er hängt an keinem Baume,
er hängt an keinem Strick,
er hängt an seinem Traume
einer freien Republik …

Friedrich Hecker is the mythical figurehead of the Baden Revolution. After its failure, he fled to the US and lived on a farm in Illinois.

Let's continue with history. Last night, Red Baron was invited to a festive event celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Breisgau-Geschichtsverein Schau-ins-Land.

I will not go into the association's history here because it is described in a Wikipedia article I once initiated, and to which I contributed 65% of the text.

For the 150th anniversary, the Geschichtsverein offers a firework of events, especially excursions. Vice President Renate Liessem-Breinlinger presented the already completed program in a slide show. Red Baron participated only in the visit to the district Waldsee.

In his speech, the chairman of the historical society, Dr. Andreas Jobst, reviewed the work of the Geschichtsverein. He also addressed the general problem of dwindling membership, which affects all societies.

Red Baron took photos of the screen using my Phone's 5x optical zoom.
 The strange coloration is due to the projector's light.
Dr. Jobst underlined his positive outlook for the future with the new modern logo.

The doyen of the early Freiburg and Zähringer history, Prof. Thomas Zotz, held the ceremonial lecture with the title: 
"For our own pleasure
To teach the people, 
To honor our homeland!" 
Foundation and first decades of the Breisgau-Verein Schau-ins-Land.

The original motto of the historical society still gives food for thought today. 

Zu eigner Lust: Yes, I enjoy dealing with Freiburg's history. Since 2002, I have been working on the Freiburgs Geschichte in Zitaten website, adding to it whenever I learn something new. 

Fritz Geiges for the 9th year of the Schau-ins Land! foundation
Dem Volk zur Lehr: My richly illustrated website could convey knowledge of Freiburg's history in a light form. In times when right-wing radical ideas are celebrated happily, and democracies get more and more in distress, a reminder of past times would be so necessary. Remember a Russian proverb, "If you forget the war, then a new war arises."
Democracies, which people in Germany fought for 175 years ago, have their drawbacks but are still the best form of government. 

1896: Vignette by Fritz Geiges in the Schau-ins-Land
Der Heimat zur Ehr!: Certainly, our German history has often not been to our credit. Therefore, looking for positive moments in the past is not forbidden.

Unsurprisingly, Prof. Zotz's last slide showed the great Freiburg influencer Fritz Geiges.

The festive event was followed by a reception, where mostly old white-haired men did justice to the anniversary wine from the Weinbaugemeinde* (wine-growing community) Ebringen.
*Recently, Baden-Württemberg's State Government attributed the title to the community

When I left the building, it was dark. Facing the south side of Freiburg's Minster Church, I tested the wide-angle lens on my iPhone. What a spectacular sight!

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Hövelhof Revisited

The train I just left at Hövelhof Station is heading to Paderborn.
When I arrived with the local train at Hövelhof Station one hour late, my first worry was to miss Karl Epping's successor on a Friday afternoon.

I looked on the Internet and discovered that Karl Epping's meat factory had disappeared. Still, at the same site, Epping Green Energy was now located, i.e., from pork to photovoltaics or sausages to solar modules.

Click to enlarge (©Google Maps)
Hövelhof center. On the upper right, the train station and my Hotel Viktoria. On Parkallee; "Epping Green Energy." Behind is the site of the former meat factory, now transformed into a public square called Hövelmarkt.

I rushed to the address and rang the bell. The door opened, and I looked up to a man standing 6 foot 8. "You must be the grandson," I murmured. 

Markus Epping, CEO of Epping Green Energy, invited me in and offered me a coffee. 

©Epping Green Energy
Markus wants to make his Senne community CO2-neutral by relying on solar energy. He lately generously donated Hövelhof two e-bike charging stations for free use.

And then I mostly talked about my stay as a child at the housing complex his grandfather Karl had built outside Hövelhof, now called Eppinghof. I told Markus I had spent one night with my mother and brother at his grandparents' house. On short notice, the British occupiers had ordered all people to leave their homes at Eppinghof to make room for Jewish women. They didn't come, so we could all return to our lodgings the following day.

The next point of my visit to Hövelhof was the local church, but Markus warned me not to be disappointed, for the complex was completely rebuilt in 1979 except for the two steeples.

I stood in front of St. Johannes Nepomuk, corner of Parkallee/Schlossstraße, where I saw the main entrance walled up.

New St Nepomuk's vast interior in bungalow style looking to the former main entrance.
So, I entered the church from the main entrance in the back.

Red Baron likes to light candles.

St. Nepomuk halfway up the wall, contemplating the cross. Why does Hövelhof honor a bridge saint without a significant stretch of running water? Read Nepomuk's legend here.

Click to enlarge (©Google Maps)
Then I walked down Schlossstraße. On my right is the town hall built where the village school used to be. Here, I turned left and took the long walk down Kirchstraße toward Eppinghof, located in the upper left corner of the map. 

Did I remember this prayer station on my way to school?
Note the many houses in the area that did not exist in 1944. At that time, Hövelhof had less than 5000 inhabitants. Now, the number is close to 16,000. The Eppinghof, where we lived at number 23, is still way out.

In 1945, only the houses on the outside of the street called Eppinghof
 - the odd numbers - were built. Click to enlarge (©Google Maps)
The "official" entry to Eppinhof is on the upper right via Gütersloher Straße. 

To the right is Bredenmeiers Kapelle, which we children avoided because it smelled damp and musty. Red Baron remembers that once in the year, the chapel is the destination of the Hövelhof Ascension procession. 

Red Baron learned, "The small chapel halfway to the Hövelhof church.was built in 1896 by the then-farm owner on the 'Kirchweg' to the Vollmeierhof* Bredemeier "
*A Meierhof or Meyerhof (from Latin: maiores villae) was a farm or building occupied by a noble or ecclesiastical estate administrator (the Meier).

"Inside the chapel is a copy of a Madonna from 1725 on loan from the farm owner; the original is still in the family today."

Turning around the corner, there is the first Eppinghof house built. It is still in its original state. There, where the trailer is parked, we children were playing in the sand when the low-flying plane approached over the gable of the house and strafed us.

The house 23, where we lived, was transformed into a bungalow. However, the two windows on the first floor and the entrance door are still in their original position. 

I knocked at the door. A man opened, listened to my story, and quite unfriendly shut the door again. 

Anyway, the second floor where my family lived was gone, so I was looking for other houses still in their original state.

Down the street, I found what I was looking for. Forget about the solar panels (Epping Green Energy?) and the skylights. The window on the house's gable is that of our kitchen/living room. And most impressive, on the outer wall of the gable wall, you can still see the square where the small window for venting the only mutual toilet used to be.

Being back in the village, I needed a rest. I had a pot of coffee and an enormous piece of cherry pie at Bäckerei Schuhmacher, located at the bifurcation of Gütersloher and Bielefelder Straße. 

©ludger 1961/Wikipedia
The green space opposite St. Nepomuk is flanked by the former unpretentious prince-bishop's hunting lodge, which now serves as the parsonage.

The Mahn- und Gedenkstätte für die Opfer von Krieg und Gewaltherrschaft (Memorial for the victims of war and tyranny) dominates the center of the site.

As an example of the steles surrounding the memorial, the one marked 1944 is shown when little Manfred came to Hövelhof.

A recent Hövelhof attraction is Hermann der Kantige (Hermann the Edgy). Red Baron blogged the story of Hermann the Cheruscan, also known as Arminius, and the Edgy is just a reminiscence of the original memorial near Detmold about which I blogged. 

I read, "A scaled-down copy of the Hermann Memorial was scanned. On this basis, a digital surface model was created. The then cut-out metal surfaces were welded together and then painted."

In the evening, Red Baron went to Hövelmarkt and had dinner at the Einstein. This central square is an attraction of the village.

The asparagus season long over, I had the Sauce Hollandaise on a schnitzel (a specialty?) with Bratkartoffeln, as my mother used to make them with roasted onions and finely chopped bacon. Needless to say, I could not conquer the mass of the getting used to schnitzel, but I ate all the fried potatoes.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

I Remember Hövelhof

While Gary Moore remembers Paris in '49, Red Baron remembers Hövelhof, a community in the region Senne in east Westphalia between Bielefeld and Paderborn, in '44.

Under Napoleon, Hövelhof became part of the Kingdom of Westphalia, with Kassel as its capital.
Der Code Napoléon pour le Royaume de Westphalie
The French emperor appointed his youngest brother, Jérôme Bonaparte, as king of Westphalia (1807-1813), who signed a decree on Christmas Eve 1807 in which Hövelhof gained its independence as a municipality.

I lived in Hövelhof from July 1944 to fall of 1945 and went to elementary school there.

Before that, our family was in the Sudetenland, but as the Russian front in the east drew closer, my father thought it would be better if we lived further west.

He knew someone in Westphalia, Karl Epping, the uncrowned king of Hövelhof. Epping owned a meat processing plant and a sausage factory in the village. In 1944, he started with the help of Russian prisoners of war building accommodations for evacuees and bombed-out people far outside the village center. Today, the still-existing settlement is called Eppinghof.

Did my father buy the Westfälisches Volksblatt? (Click to enlarge)
In 1944, on July 21, our family stood on a platform in Paderborn station waiting for the train to Hövelhof to leave. My father went to buy a newspaper and returned with the news, "On July 20, an assassination attempt was made on Hitler."

We lived on the upper floor of the second house from the right.
My mother, wearing a white apron, looks out the kitchen/living room window.
In those houses of the settlement, there were two "apartments," each consisting of a kitchen/living room and a bedroom, with unit one on the first floor and a second on the second floor. Both apartments shared one toilet, which was located halfway up the stairs.

My father soon had to say goodbye since, as a specialized engineer, he had to continue in the distant Sudetenland to ensure the functionality of the X-ray facilities, which were frequently damaged by war impact.

Little Manfred, my mother, and my brother standing at the entrance door
The settlement was still under construction when we moved into one of the houses in our first-floor apartment. Every morning, Russian prisoners of war were driven in from the nearby POW camp "Stalag 326" Stuckenbrock-Senne. The men built the outer walls of the houses from large prefabricated bricks by filling the joints with mortar.

A row of finished Behelfsheime (temporary (?) accommodations)
They were a funny crowd, especially taking my two-year-old brother to their hearts. They greeted him with terms of endearment like Адреяашка парашка, whatever that meant. These Russian POWs were quite happy. They were not in the fire on the Eastern Front; they got their food and had work. A single older soldier, a constable with an old shotgun, was enough to guard them.

The secret of reconciliation is called memory.
During my current visit to Hövelhof, I read that from 1941 to 1945, prisoner-of-war transports arrived in freight cars at the train station. The POWs dragged themselves from there on the "Russenweg" six kilometers to the notorious "Stalag 326". Tens of thousands are said to have met their deaths there. Looking for the origin of the inscription, I found the following brochure:

Forced laborers and prisoners of war in the Third Reich (©Körber Stiftung)
A Russian Proverb states, "If you forget the war, then a new war arises." How true.

My reception as a nine-year-old on the grounds of the village school was one of curiosity and reluctance. Although I had the right prayer book, my classmates made me feel that, as a settlement resident, I did not belong to the establishment.

The first lesson in the morning was always devoted to religious education because Hövelhof belongs to the Archdiocese of Paderborn. In German, the comparative and superlative forms of the adjective "black" are jokingly Münster and Paderborn, where the color black stands for Catholicism.

It was taken for granted that pupils attended the Holy Mass at 7 AM before classes started at 8 AM. My walk from the settlement to the village school and the church next to it was over half an hour, so my mother had dispensed me from attending early mass.

The type of classroom I remember well (©Schulmuseum Riege near Hövelhof)
Looking at the photo from the school museum: No, we were no longer taught Sütterlin, but the heavy wooden desks with their inkwells and the satchels (Ranzen) we pupils carried are from yesteryear.

In the village school, we were educated strictly separated by sex and probably still according to the Prussian School Regulations of 1872. Corporal punishment with cane strokes on hands or buttocks was common.

A female teacher looked after the male classes one to three simultaneously, and an old male teacher cared for the boys from the 4th grade onwards. This "simultaneous teaching" worked out because some grades were "immobilized" with written work while the teachers at the front presented the program of another age group.

The teaching program of my year was so simple that I was more interested in the lessons for the older years. In religious education, I was the best anyway because I owned a children's Bible and had read it at least three times in the absence of other books, which I had to leave behind in the Sudetenland.

In the fall of 1944, I transferred to the "upper" section of the village school.

My blond-haired brother is in the foreground.
After morning school, we "settlement children" played in the sand in the afternoon. The whole surrounding area, the Senne, consists of sand. People cited: Gott schuf in seinem Zorn den Sennesand bei Paderborn (In his anger, God created the sand of the Senne near Paderborn.)

And then they came. Silver air fleets of the Americans flew over Hövelhof at a great height. The planes hummed, glittered in the sun, and dropped strips of metal foils to interfere with German Radar. These strips we children collected as Lametta for future Christmas tree decorations.  

Once, we children experienced a high-up dogfight. Suddenly, plane parts fell from the sky. We took refuge in a nearby copse, held our breaths, and prayed many "Our Father."

The Western front was approaching, noticeable by the increased appearance of low-flying fighter planes. One day, we children were shot at by a board gun but were not hit playing in the shade of a house. I still remember looking downstream at how the sand was stirred up by the impact of the shells.

The house that protected us.
Red Baron is sitting on the right, directing the crowd.
At the beginning of May 1945, I witnessed the invasion of the American troops approaching Hövelhof on the road from Gütersloh. The Wehrmacht started building a tank barrage to prevent the village's capture but soon gave up, so the people of Hövelhof and their houses stayed unharmed.

Without schooling during the first weeks of the occupation, we settlement children spent part of our time in the village among the GIs. Here, I had my first contact with the English language.    

Soon, the British took command in Westphalia. Suddenly, as a nearly ten-year-old, I was accused of stealing cigarettes from the English officers' mess. I was in tears. My mother intervened, and the village chaplain took me to the task. Of course, there was nothing; a classmate had falsely accused me.

The war was over, my father had eventually made his way from Sudetenland to Hövelhof, and we, in our best clothes, had a photo taken on the edge of the forest in the summer of 1945. Although living in poor conditions, our family was overjoyed to have survived the war unharmed.

Here are the brothers with a friend and a better view of the houses of the Eppinghof
At the end of the summer of 1944, preparatory classes for my first Holy Communion began in the parish church. This meant walking from the settlement to Hövelhof again in the afternoon. Our chaplain thus supplemented the daily religious lessons at school with communion instructions in the church. I remember his stout and soft hands that stood out from the horny hands of my schoolmates who had to help their parents on Hövelhof farms. The chaplain stroked my hair sometimes, but that was all.

The atmosphere between the villagers and the inhabitants of the settlement deteriorated. I remember well that one Sunday, this same chaplain announced from the pulpit, "Those of you who put your feet under our tables," creating a pogrom atmosphere. Nothing happened because the settlement was too remote, far from the village.

In the fall of 1945, my father took me to Hamburg, where I attended secondary school while my mother and brother remained in Hövelhof. I slept in my father's office until he found appropriate housing for the whole family. But that is a different story.

I am incredibly grateful to my parents that they cared well for us children in those precarious times.