Monday, June 17, 2019

Blue Skies Above Baden

The Graphic Collection of Freiburg’s Augustinermuseum presently presents gouaches and watercolors of Johann Martin Morat that he painted around 1820 in Baden and Switzerland.

Initially, Red Baron had no intention to visit the exhibition until Professor Jörg Stadelbauer of the Alemannisches Institut offered an Exkursion in das Bild, Freiburg aus der Ferne, i.e., an excursion into paintings showing Freiburg from a distance. In his talk, Professor Stadelbauer started with a photo from 1920 and then went back in history.

Here is a photo of Freiburg at a distance from 1920
with the Schönberg in the background.
Here the same motif painted by Karl Hauptmann in 1910.
A wood engraving of 1887.
Another famous painter from Freiburg, Emil Lugo, did not finish his sketch in 1859.
Another engraving by Rudolf Follenweider around 1820.
Here is the line of sight that all the pictures have in common
drawn on to a topographical map of 1883.
Michael Sauter painted how he imagined Freiburg may have looked
from a distance during the French siege of 1713.
On the right-hand side the Lorettoberg and its chapel.
Here is the first painting of Johann Martin Morat showing vineyards in the foreground.
.The same motif showing a completely different foreground.
On this view, the lecturer and his audience entered into a lively discussion:
Where and what is this house
 that Johann Martin Morat had so prominently placed in the foreground?
Today's view of the Minster church and the Schönberg

Monday, June 10, 2019


This blog will introduce splinters. Splinters are photos or events for which writing a whole blog would be like taking a sledgehammer for cracking a nut*.
*The German proverb is "Mit Kanonen auf Spatzen schießen" meaning taking a cannon to shoot sparrows.

In his show, my favorite Late Night host Stephen Colbert subsumes those fragments under the title Meanwhile. My splinters are mostly funny too but sometimes will complete or update the information contained in previous blogs.

Remember the Holbeinpferd? The foal had to lose weight, but removing the layers of paint took longer than initially thought for the total weight of its Speckmantel (wrapped up bacon) turned out to be 180 kg.

As an example for splinters, I am showing you some photos of the "cleaned" Holbeinpferdchen.

Admire the delicate structure of the concrete surface (©Kunz/Resetz)
The cleaned foal was put back into place on Monday, June 3, but already on June 5, it showed the Dannebrog, the Danish flag. Was this because of the Danish national holiday on June 5, or was it an expression of joy that the Socialist party had won the national election the same day? Nobody knows.


Last week Red Baron was on tour with Freiburg's Museumsgesellschaft. I previously wrote blogs about those annual trips, e.g., to Burgundy or Alto Adige. This year we traveled to Schwäbisch Hall and on our way, we visited the Maulbronn monastery. Here are some splinters from this trip.

Getränkerückgabe: Two pressed persons are in desperate need to return their drinks.

At the Scheffelhof, a restaurant at Maulbronn where our group had lunch this sign pointed to the restrooms.

The surprise, however, came when washing my hands. Water was flowing from an open faucet resembling a water spring. Is this a reminiscence of the Cistercian monks who founded the Maulbronn monastery in 1147? For this monastic order flowing water was a condition sine qua non when choosing the sites for their monasteries.

From the Würth* Collection at Schwäbisch Hall: Here is a painting by the young Pablo Picasso at the age of 19 in Paris without a sou (penny). In the absence of an expensive canvas, Picasso painted an expressionist scene on the cover of a wooden box.
*The Würths made all their money on screws, nuts, and bolts.

From the Ensemble Center Pompidou and Museum Frieder Burda at Baden-Baden: Here is Picasso’s self-portrait huile sur toile one year before his death. The painting genius of the 20th century and lover or rather user of women was always afraid to die too early before having achieved what he had still on his mind.

Picasso became 92 and while he was painting his last self-portrait unshaven and with eyes wide open and full of fear he was possibly thinking back with nostalgia to his rose period of 1904 to 1906, les 30 ans ou la vie en rose as painted by Raoul Dufy in 1901 on display at the Würth Collection at Schwäbisch Hall.  

The Reclam publishers in Leipzig are still well known for their wohlfeil (cheap) booklets with classic texts. Generations of students read in class Reclam booklets of Schiller's Wilhelm Tell, Goethe's Faust, Shakespeare's Hamlet*, and texts of many other classical authors. Some of those booklets were so popular that in 1912 Reclam deployed coin machines in Germany filled with booklets of their most popular authors. Here is a revived Reclam-Bücher-Automat as seen in the lobby of our Hotel Hohenlohe in Schwäbisch Hall.
*in the famous Tieck and Schlegel translation

Friday, May 31, 2019


Yes, Freiburg‘s new city council elected last Sunday is motley although one color is dominant. Here are the results for those 18 parties with 48 candidates each Red Baron had to choose from and to vote for:

As one would expect, the Greens gained two seats but that is not all. For reasons unknown to me, Freiburg has the luxury of an Alternative Green party, i.e., GAF somewhat greyish in the diagram. They jumped from one seat to three seats so that the environmentalists now have a total of 16 out of 48 seats in Freiburg's city council.

The eroding of the two Volksparteien CDU and SPD described in the previous blog is also noticed on the municipal level. In Freiburg, the CDU got the beating (minus three seats of nine in the city council) while the SPD lost "only" two of eight.

The Social Democrats also had more votes than the Christian Democrats. This is possibly due to the facts that our young independent Lordmayor Martin Horn was and still is supported by the SPD and that Ulrich von Kirchbach (SPD), mayor for social and cultural affairs, doing an excellent job is rather popular in Freiburg.

Positive was the turnout: 62,8% of the registered voters cast their votes compared to 51,4% in 2014 and there will be 23 female city councilors.

For the first time, the right-wing populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) will send two deputies (3.6% of the votes) into the city council although they had hoped for more. It clearly shows that green Freiburg is not a breeding ground for right-wing ideas.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Sunday For Future

Last Sunday the election of the European Parliament had a surprise. The continued Fridays for Future student protests against the inactivity of governments with respect to the climate change resulted in massive gains for the European Green parties and for the German Greens, in particular, i.e., they jumped from 10.7% to 20.5% of the votes. A new slogan was born: Sunday for Future.

In Germany the so-called Volksparteien (people’s parties) suffered severe losses, the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) were decreasing from 35.3% to 28.9% of the votes but the Social Democrats (SPD) got a real beating falling from 27.3% to 15.8%.

Although the Social Democrats, governing Germany in a Grand Coalition with the Christian Democrats, had pushed through parliament social benefits for the Geringverdiener (low earners) this was not honored by the voters. The major problem of the SPD is that it lacks personalities like Helmut Schmidt, Willy Brandt, or Gerhard Schröder.

Supported by changes in the climate everybody is experiencing by now and with a clear message, the Greens have overtaken the Social Democrats in the popular vote. While the SPD is licking its wounds, a CDU party official said that the Greens had been stoking the fears of the voters. O that German angst!

Is this the end of the classic Volksparteien in Germany? Seen from my perspective: Both CDU and SPD lack a clear profile. Is a Christian attitude sufficient to electrify a pluralistic electorate and do minor improvements in social benefits mobilize a majority of voters? With Merkel retiring the disease of the SPD, i.e., the deficit of strong personalities has infected the CDU as well.

Presently the Greens in Germany do not have a majority but how will CDU or SPD suffer as the junior partner in a future green-black or green-red coalition government?

Germany’s party landscape is in a state of upheaval.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Asparagus etc.

Today I passed by my bakery and noticed a new loaf of bread marked Kartoffel-Spargel Brot.

It looks like a normal loaf of bread
Adding potatoes to bread is well-known making it crusty and tasty, although you will look in vain for any potato chips inside. This may be different with asparagus.

Being curious I rushed home. I cut the loaf and lo and behold pieces of asparagus are baked into the bread. And the bread tastes asparagus!

Yes, it is true. Germans are mad about and are running wild for white asparagus in particular. It is the season now and Red Baron had the treat of those spears already five times this year. Here is a link showing how asparagus is served in Baden.

Ritter Sport chocolate is known for its diversity and aficionados of the brand frequently propose new fake varieties showing them on Pinterest.

My special choice:
Frankfurt Cider, Onions from Limburg, and Apples and Blackberries at CeBit (©Pinterest)
The asparagus market is tempting and appealing. So this year on April 1, Ritter Sport opened the asparagus season by marketing its Spargel variety guaranteed to contain whole spears.

Well peeled and not at all woody (©Facebook)
Don't be fooled. This year too, on April 1, Freiburg's archdiocese finally lifted a secret that it had closely guarded in laying open a Freiburg Bächle that had been running underground straight down the aisle of the Munster church for centuries.

Looking down the aisle to the altar (©Archdiocese Freiburg)
Freiburgers say that if you step in one of those brooklets running through the city and its suburbs you must marry someone from Freiburg. So the Church regards this newly opened Bächle running inside the Munster as an effective method of fighting concubinages.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Dürre und Starkregen

There has been no rain of blogs recently, a drought that I am not going to compensate by heavy rainfall. Private reasons made that I had little time for writing and the circumstances did not encourage me either. But yes, I am back at last.

Droughts and heavy rainfalls are one consequence of the climatic change we are living through. These two weather phenomena are increasingly observed globally.

Last week Red Baron listened to two talks in the framework of the Freiburger Umweltgespräche (Freiburg Environmental Talks) organized at the local Jazz House.

In his presentation about climate change and water shortage in Germany's southwest, Dr. Andreas Becker of the German Meteorological Service presented measured hard data but refused to paint horror scenarios.

Here is a global map of greenhouse gas emissions showing a pattern one would expect. Not only the consumption-friendly western countries but the populous economies of China and India stick out too.

Dr. Becker presented the increase of CO2 concentration in the air from a measuring station at the Mount Loa Observatory on Hawaii serving as the reference point for the world. Recently a record "air mark" of 415 ppm was exceeded.

"As recently as 1910, atmospheric CO2 stood at 300 ppm – higher than it had been for some 800,000 years at least* – but jumped up another 100+ ppm over the next century as pollution levels skyrocketed."
*Measured in drill cores from ice layers

For the future Dr. Becker presented two values to choose from: In the case that the signatories of the Paris climate agreement take efficient countermeasures against the emission of CO2, a value of 400 ppm could be capped by 2100. Taking no measures will extrapolate the CO2 concentration to 1370 ppm in the same year.

As far as the total amount of rain in Baden-Württemberg is concerned the region still seems to be well off.

On a global level, however, observed climatic changes are dramatic. The ice around the North Pole is melting rapidly as shown by the decrease of the surface covered by ice from 1980 to 2018. The albedo of the white snow reflecting the solar radiation becomes lower further heating up the sea and the cold mass of ice is diminishing.

At first look, these effects alone may not seem to be of great concern, but to say it with a quotation from Schiller's drama Wallenstein: The curse of an evil deed is propagating and it will bring forth evil. In fact, climatologists recently observed - with the temperature difference and gradient between the Arctic and the equator region becoming smaller - a weakening of the powerful jetstream. This leads to stable and stationary weather conditions around the globe causing either persistent rain or long periods of heat and drought, exactly the climate Germany's southwest had lived through last year.

Dr. Becker said that 2018 - shown with a mean temperature of more than 3 degrees too warm and with 40% less precipitation than the mean on the slide - still only was an exceptional year.

Again, while the total amount of rain for April to Oktober shows no decreasing trend, air temperatures are increasing due to the increasing sunshine duration.

The drought in the region is caused by the increased water evaporation at higher temperatures but is further accentuated by warm and dry southern winds streaming through the Belfort Gap along the Rhine Valley and sweeping the water vapor.

The balance between precipitation and evaporation looks particularly grim for the region around Berlin.

Professor Markus Weiler's talk was centered around heavy rainfall and flooding in towns and rather technical. I only retained one of his slides showing a persistent local depression, i.e., a rain cell of only 10 kilometers diameter but stationary for one hour with precipitation of around 50 mm destroying the nearby town of Braunsbach by flooding.

As early as 2008, Red Baron reported about climate change at a Stammtisch of the Freiburg-Madison Gesellschaft. I accentuated the topic further in 2014 and 2015 harping on the Energiewende (energy system transformation).

We cannot escape. Climate change is real!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Aus den Partnerstädten

Thanks for the information MvS sent me via email on April 4, about Satya Rhodes-Conway's (SRC) stunning victory in her quest for the post of Madison's mayor against incumbent Mayor Paul Soglin.

I tried hard to find more information on the Internet for an article to be published in the local Badische Zeitung (BZ), but I was blocked by the following message:

Although for newspapers like the NYT or WP the new EU Data Protection Regulation never posed a problem Madison is still a no-information-city for Europeans. So sad!

Nevertheless, in piecing together what I could find on the Internet - SRC's Wikipedia article was only written on April 8 (!) - I sent the following text to the BZ on April 4, harping on Mayor Soglin's volte-face that possibly explains his bad score.

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

Unsere Partnerstadt Madison, Wisconsin, hat gewählt und zwar eine neue Bürgermeisterin. Hier mein Vorschlag eines Artikels in der Reihe „ Aus den Partnerstädten“. Leider hat die EU-Datenschutzverordnung dazu geführt, dass es für Europäer keinen Zugriff auf Zeitungsinhalte in Madison mehr gibt. Bei meiner Beschwerde hat mich der „hostmaster“ nur hingehalten.

Ich kann Ihnen ein Wahlkampffoto Satya Rhodes-Conways anbieten.

Freiburgs Partnerstadt Madison hat eine neue Bürgermeisterin

Am 2. April hat die ehemalige Alderwoman (Stadträtin von 2017 bis 2013) Satya Rhodes-Conway, kurz SRC, den amtierenden Bürgermeister Madisons, Paul Soglin, mit fast 62% der Stimmen deutlich geschlagen.

Paul Soglin, zuletzt als progressiver Linker und Grüner ein Madisoner Urgestein, war bereits 1973 mit 27 Jahren Bürgermeister, wurde dann mit einer Unterbrechung zwischen 1989 und 1997 erneut gewählt, um schließlich im Jahre 2011 zum dritten Mal anzutreten und den in Freiburg populären Mayor Dave (David Cieslewicz) im Jahr 2011 aus dem Amt zu drängen. Soglin war populär, denn bei seiner Wiederwahl 2015 siegte er haushoch mit 72%.

So strebte Paul nach Höherem, war Kandidat für den Posten des Gouverneurs von Wisconsin und verkündete im Juli 2018: „Ich hatte immer das Gefühl, dass sechs bis acht Jahre hintereinander als Bürgermeister lang genug sind. Ich versichere Ihnen, dass es keine Fortsetzung meiner dritten Amtszeit geben wird“. Anschließend sprach er sich für die linksradikale Satya Rhodes-Conway als Nachfolgerin aus.

Als Soglin dann bei den Vorwahlen am 14. August 2018 zum Gouverneur nur auf Platz sieben von acht Kandidaten landete, wollte er es noch einmal wissen, doch er verlor die Bürgermeisterwahl vom 2. April 2019 deutlich.

Über Satya Rhodes-Conway, die zuletzt für COWS, das Zentrum für Wisconsins Strategie, arbeitete, ist wenig bekannt. So gibt es über sie noch keinen Wikipedia-Eintrag. Man weiß, sie hat einen geschickten Wahlkampf geführt und hier das Versagen der US-Bundespolitik zum Thema gemacht: „Es liegt jetzt an den Städten, bei den aktuellen Themen aktiv zu werden. Wir brauchen Personen, die bereit und in der Lage sind, beim Klima, bei Rassengerechtigkeit, beim Wohnen und öffentlichem Nahverkehr, Themen die besonders den Arbeiterfamilien wichtig sind, zu führen. Ich bin bereit, eine Führungsrolle zu übernehmen." Unsere Partnerstadt in den USA ist deutlich nach links gerutscht.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

I even offered them a photo of SRC's election campaign.


Here is what Fabian Vögtle made out of my text in the BZ on April 10:

Too sad.

Monday, April 1, 2019

The i-B6

Entrance to Grünwälderstraße
As my faithful readers may remember: Twice a week Red Baron tries hard to keep his aching muscles alive at Kieser Training by displacing weights on machines. Kieser’s gym is located on Grünwälderstraße, just three houses away from the historical Harmonie building that had played such an important role in the Baden Revolution of 1848/49.

The i-Beast
The other day when I entered the Kieser premises a new machine labeled i-B6 struck my eyes. My first ideas were: Does Kieser now work with Apple or does the “i” rather stand for iron and the “B” for Beast?

The roped off Beast just stood there motionless in the middle of the foyer. I learned that i-B6 actually means infimetrische Beinpresse (infimetric leg press), i.e., no longer will the user train his muscles with weights but as I translated from German, "Do your workouts with an especially thrilling partner: Yourself." No fooling around, the i-Beast will come to life this morning, on April 1 (sic!).

Following a purely accidental observation on an arm-curling training machine, the late American inventor Arthur Jones developed the principle of push and pull. While one arm is bent up, the other is drawn down. Jones noticed that if the two movements are synchronized the usual stack of weights does not move and therefore is no longer needed. In case of the i-Beast not your arms but your legs are infimetrically trained.

Here is a photo of my Freiburg Kieser Training team posing for the recent open day event. They are proudly grouped around the i-Beast.

©Kieser Training