Saturday, March 25, 2017

Freiburg Under Construction

At present Freiburg is one big construction site. The Verkehrsbetriebe (VAG) are building a new streetcar line running in front of the new university library to the site where once the Siegesdenkmal (victory monument) stood. All the following impressive aerial photos are from a ©BZ photo gallery.

Presently bicycles are parked at the site of the already terminated track bed for the new line in front of the university library. A search for a future parking space is on.


More trees are actually planted at the Square of the Old Synagogue. The municipal theater is on the right, Kollegiengebäude 2 (KG2) on the left, and the old university building (KG1) on the left in the back of the building site.


A water basin marks the layout of the Old Synagogue shown below on an old postcard.



Building activities at the site of the Siegesdenkmal. Note the scaffolded steeple of the Münster church in the back.


Car traffic is greatly compromised with two lanes only.


Seventeen century stonewalled arches of Vauban's fortifications near the Christoffel Gate are exposed.


The arches are located in the north of the plan showing Vauban's masterpiece.


This how the site should look at the end of 2018. Note the new site for the Siegesdenkmal and the new streetcar tracks.



Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 23, 1933

Eighty-four years ago today the German Reichstag passed the Ermächtigungsgesetz (enabling act) with the necessary two-thirds majority that gave unlimited power to the National Socialists and their Führer Adolf Hitler. Only the deputies of the social democrats voted against. The reasons were presented by Otto Wels, leader of the SPD:

©Wikipedia
Die Wahlen vom 5. März haben den Regierungsparteien die Mehrheit gebracht und damit die Möglichkeit gegeben, streng nach Wortlaut und Sinn der Verfassung zu regieren. Wo diese Möglichkeit besteht, besteht auch die Pflicht ...

Die Verfassung der Weimarer Republik ist keine sozialistische Verfassung. Aber wir stehen zu den Grundsätzen des Rechtsstaates und der Gleichberechtigung, des sozialen Rechtes. Wir deutschen Sozialdemokraten bekennen uns in dieser geschichtlichen Stunde feierlich zu den Grundsätzen der Menschlichkeit und der Gerechtigkeit, der Freiheit und des Sozialismus. Kein Ermächtigungsgesetz gibt Ihnen die Macht, Ideen, die ewig und unzerstörbar sind, zu vernichten ...

Das Sozialistengesetz hat die Sozialdemokratie nicht vernichtet. Auch aus neuen Verfolgungen kann die deutsche Sozialdemokratie neue Kraft schöpfen ...


(The elections of March 5, 1933, gave the governing parties the majority and hence the possibility to govern stringently according to our constitution. Where there is the possibility there is the obligation too ...

The constitution of the Weimar Republic is no socialist constitution but we are standing for the principles of the constitutional state and the equality of social rights. In this historic moment we German social democrats declare the fundamental principles of humanity and justice, of freedom and socialism. No enabling act will give you the power to destroy ideas that are eternal and indestructible ...

[Bismark's] Anti-Socialist Law did not destroy social democracy. The German social democracy will again draw strength from new persecutions).

And then still attached to nineteen century thinking Wels added: Freiheit und Leben kann man uns nehmen, die Ehre nicht! (You can take our freedom and lives, but you can't take our honor!)

Eventually the Reichstag passed the law with 444 against 94 votes of the social democrats giving dictatorial power to the Nazis. The separation of power was wiped out. Detention of social democrats started already the day after. Wels escaped to Prag. He was deprived of his German citizenship in August 1933. In 1938 when the Nazis threatened the Czech Republic he fled to Paris where he died in exile in September 1939.

Separation of power is the base of democracy. Today Red Baron read in the NYT about POTUS' ideas for Republicans not voting Trumpcare: Trump Warns House Republicans: Repeal Health Law or Lose Your Seats. Will POTUS start baking his own deputies?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Gröber And No End

The proposed renaming of streets in Freiburg caused a flood of letters to the editor of our local newspaper Badische Zeitung. A name frequently mentioned and commented on was that of Conrad Gröber archbishop of Freiburg during the Nazi era and continuing after the war. Red Baron had mentioned Gröber's name in the context of a renaming of streets already in 2012.

New documents found in a Paris archive became recently available and prove that Gröbner not only became a Fördermitglied (supporting member) of the SS in 1934 but had a Jewish mistress in the early 1930s called Irene Fuchs. In the beginning of the 1920s as a parish priest at Messkirch (The place where Martin Heidegger dwelt) he had known Irene as a 16 year old girl. Her father had asked Gröber who was member of the advisory board of the Fürsorgeorganisation (caring organization) for endangered women, girls, and children to look after his daughter.

Irene studied law in Freiburg and there they met again when apparently she became Gröber's mistress. Already in 1931 Gröber noted: Sie zerfiel mit mir (we fell apart) but in 1933 he let her down. The question is: Did he ditch her because she was a Jew or had he started another affair? Apparently in those years a couple of ladies thought to be Gröber's Auserwählte (chosen one), a situation that led to some tensions.

Suddenly the SS-supporting archbishop had a problem while the Gestapo (Secret State Police) saw a possibility to get rid of him. They interrogated Irene Fuchs twice trying to prove that she and Gröber committed Rassenschande (racial defilement). But Irene held her tongue.

The Nazis convened with the Catholic church that the archbishop was to be questioned by his auxiliary bishop. Confronted during the interview with the facts Gröber ought to have said: Was haben Wir da bloß wieder gemacht? (What simply did We do again?). Later Gröber noted: Es ist ein Gegenwartskuriosum, dass man die Jüdin als Kronzeugin gegen mich deutschstämmigen Mann … aufruft und vernimmt (It is an oddity in the present time that one calls on and interrogates the Jewish woman as a key witness against me, an ethnic German). Some historians think that it was Gröber himself who denunciated Irene to Gauleiter Robert Wagner.

Gröber did not leave the SS voluntarily. Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler himself struck the archbishop from the membership list in 1938. When in the 1940s the Nazis started to attack the Catholic Church Gröber became a fierce adversary of the regime and was hailed as such after the war.

Archbishop Gröber in his sleeping and working room in 1946 (©Ezbischöfliches Archiv)
Irene Fuchs survived in her London exile, her father died before the war, and her mother was gassed in Auschwitz in 1944.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The End of a Bratwurst War

There is a German proverb: Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei (There is one end to everything only a sausage has two). Finally Freiburg's bratwurst war only had one and I may say a lucky end too.

Remember: initially there were eight places for vendors of grilled sausages on Münster market but their number had been reduced to five making room for a diversified offer with a veggie, a fish and a regional product stand. When the bids for the remaining five bratwurst stands came in two of the traditional vendors failed the conditions and had to leave.

In the following rumors and internal quarrels spoiled the appetite of many a wurst eater in such a way that the top contender bio (organic) butcher Hügle aggressed by his contenders eventually threw the towel. This created a slot for the initially disdained bratwurst vendor Uhl leaving the people at Hauber's Wurststand still weeping. Recently they had announced to go to court.

Suddenly yesterday the situation turned dramatically. Twice the city had asked for bids for a stand selling regional products but both vendors chosen eventually withdrew. In this situation the town hall toing and froing decreed that the open slot will be attributed to Hauber.

From April 1, on (what a foolish date) we shall have peace again on Münster market with six vendors offering the Lange Rote in a bun or in half a baguette plus other types of bratwurst at the Meier's, Hassler's, Hauber's, Uhl's, Licht's, and Schuler's stands. In addition and hopefully with a correct German orthography the already existing tofu stand as well as Faths and not Fath's fish-snacks will fill the remaining two slots.

Before
After (©BZ/Ingo Schneider)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Protest Dancing

Freiburg's new university library remains in the news. End of last year an entrance door to the cafeteria that wheelchair users could not pass was changed from architecturally inclined (following the glass surface of the building) to normal vertical causing an outcry of the architect.

A flooding due to an intentionally clogged toilet on a Sunday earlier this year caused considerable damage to ceilings and floors. Presently rumors are circulating.

The situation with respect to bicycle parking around the library has become dramatic. Although the area in front of the library is vast Red Baron has to find its way around bicycles blocking the footpath during daytime. When the new boulevard will be opened in 2018 the new "old" university campus will take shape too. Until then the bicycle parking situation has to be solved.

Just opposite to the library at the corner of Werthmannstraße/Rempartstraße there is a fountain that has not seen water for years. Some years ago due to financial reasons the city of Freiburg had reduced the number of fountains operated by the municipality. Following a public outcry a couple of firms and institutions took over the patronage of many of those abandoned fountains sponsoring water supply and maintenance. However, the one between the university library and the university canteen remained dry possibly due to the continuing building activity in the area.

In looking for an additional bicycle storage area the city is considering the surface of the waterless fountain that is however unofficially used by a self-organized dancing scene for it takes two to tango. In protest against the plans of the city the dancers organized an around-the-clock dancing last Saturday. The protest dancing is documented in the following photo.
University library and municipal theater are seen in the background (©Der Sonntag/Rothermel)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

An Evening Stroll

This is the third part of a series of blogs about my January 2017 visit to Hamburg. On my way I became nervous whether the train would be on time. Although our group was to meet at the hotel at 4 p.m. I was longing to eat a Finkenwerder Speckscholle for lunch. The plaice caught in the North Sea by fishermen located at Finkenwerder, a fishing village on the other side of the Elbe river) is served fried with bacon at a restaurant called Alter Hamburger Aalspeicher (Old Hamburg Eel Storage) located on Deichstraße (Dyke Street).

Note my trolley bag.
The train was on time and I took a taxi to Deichstraße. I arrived at twenty past one at the restaurant and took a seat. When the waitress arrived she told me that all tables were reserved. I started to cry telling her that my only desire had been to eat a Finkenwerder Speckscholle at her place. When she noticed my despair she told me to sit and calm down serving me the desired food twenty minutes later. She saved my day.

Served with Hamburger Kartoffelsalat (potato salad) but foreign beer: Jever Pils
The houses of Deichstraße are built on the dyke that is taming the waters of the Alster river flowing into the Elbe nearby.

A photo taken from the waterfront
It was here where on May 5, 1842, the great Hamburg fire started and destroyed most of the houses including the old town hall that was even blasted to stop the fire from spreading.

The entrace porch of the house was reused.
On May 8, the fire eventually came to a halt at a place that was afterwards named Brandsende (blaze's end), now a street near Hamburg's main train station.

The fire started at Deichstraße in the left lower corner
and spared the buildings in red, in particular Hamburg's newly built Stock Exchange.
Black spots are blasted buildings (©Schleiden/Wikipedia)
Slowly I walked to my hotel looking at Hamburg's old landmark, the steeple of Sankt Michaelis (Saint Michael)...


... and had a distant view of Hamburg's new landmark, the Elbphilharmonie.


The TV set im my room reminded that I was sleeping in a Weltkulturerbe (world heritage). The Amron Hotel is built into one of the old Schuppen (storage buildings) with the breakfast room located on the other side of the Fleet (canal) and accessible via a passageway.

Hotel at the left, breakfast at the right.
When our guide arrived in the late afternoon she invited us to an evening stroll in Hamburg's city. The first place to visit was the "new" town hall.


On our way we passed a memorial for Heinrich Heine, one of the great German poets but badly treated  in the past because he was a leftist baptized German Jew. Banned from his fatherland he died of a broken heart in Paris in 1856 and was buried there. Here is some information in German about the fate of Heine's Hamburg memorial.

Heine memorial on Rathausmarkt

I never attached a great importance to my fame as a poet and
I did not care less whether the people praised or critizised my lieder
but you shall place a sword on my coffin
for I was a brave soldier in the liberation war of mankind.
When entering the lobby of the Rathaus I noticed for the first time that the columns were decorated by the portaits of famous persons born in Hamburg. One example is Bertold Hinrich Brockes, a poet of Enlightment.


Another example is Heinrich Hertz, the physicist, commemorated by the SI-unit for frequencies, i.e., kilohertz. In the Nazi era the Jew Hertz was persona not grata and so in Germany they were talking about kilohelmholtz in honor of Herman von Helmholtz. another great German but Arian physicist. They even went so far to destroy Hertz's relief in Hamburg's town hall. It was replaced in a different style after the war.


Passing the outflow of the Alster lake into the Alsterfleet I noticed that the high waters of the Alster were evacuated.


All excursion boats are waiting for their next day while the lights of the hotel Vier Jahreszeiten (Four Seasons) are reflected in the Binnenalster (Inner Alster lake).


Before our group went for dinner we visited Michaeliskirche (Saint Michel) with Martin Luther guarding the entrance.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Gender Starlet

Last November Germany's Green Party introduced a Gender-Sternchen as politically correct. So you would no longer address your dear citizens: Liebe Bürgerinnen und Bürger but rather combine female and male form into Liebe Bürger*innen.

@Bündnis 90/Die Grünen
Wait a moment, Didn't we already use the Binnen-I (a capital "I" within a word to mark a break between male and female gender) in writing BürgerInnen comprising female and male form? And what about the gender gap written Bürger_innen?

The satirical television show extra 3 found out why there is a preference for the starlet. It was the Greens who found the breakthrough in Germany's refugee policy. Refugees are now politically correctly called Migrant*innen.

@NDR
Subsequently the Berlin Senate (Berlin's government) decided that from March on all official documents submitted must be gender-neutral preferring the Gender-Sternchen. They already started correcting some traffic signs but when will they finish the Willy-Brandt-Airport?

@dpa

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Miniatur Wunderland

It is Hamburg's train wonderland located near the Elbphilharmonie. On the Kehrwieder (come back) island the largest model railway of the world is built on 1490 square meter in a disaffected Schuppen (storage building). The idea started in 2001 and the exhibition has grown since then into Germany's top tourist attraction. In 2016 more than 1.3 million people visited the show. More than 900 trains, the longest one measures 14 meters, run on tracks of a total length of 13 kilometers.

Forty-six computers control 1270 signals and 3050 switches. The train tracks are decorated by 8850 cars, 228,000 trees, 215,000 toy figures, and 3670 houses and bridges. Every 15 minutes the main light goes off simulating night scenes illuminated by 335,000 lamps.

Already months ago Red Baron had reserved a time slot for the conveted exhibition which turned out not to be necessary for I arrived at lunch time. However, when I left around 4 p.m. the place was extremely crowded.

Here are some impressions starting with Rome:

St. Peters's Church with the pope greeting a small crowd

Night views are always impressive. You recognize the Colosseum at a distance.

The Spanish steps

A street scene near the main station Roma Termini

The Forum Romanum

Where are the trains? Here are two Italien long-distance trains.

Night at a small town in Lower Saxony

The Pacific steam engine ist still waiting

Here the train eventually is on its way into the Harz Mountains

Helmut Schmidt Airport in Hamburg

A real landing at night

The usual situation at airports: Waiting in line for take-off.

More of Hamburg: Simulated Dammtor Station where all crowned or non-crowned
 heads of states arrive by train and are officially received.

The Elbphilharmonie opened up. Note the simulation of water on both sides.

Scandinavian off-shore oil platform. Ships are floating on real water.

A too narrow Grand Canyon

Ernst Udet, ace of World War I, flying
the Grand Canyon in the 1920ies.

Las Vegas by night

End of January the people of Miniatur Wunderland built a wall around Las Vegas well ahead of President Trump ... (©Calgary Sun)

.. while in another part of the Wunderland the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is celebrated.
Quite a number of Trabi cars try to pass the narrow opening into the west (©Miniatur Wonderland).

Do not worry: The people at Wunderland promised to tear down their wall by the end of February (©afp).

As the French say: Ça vaut un voyage (It is worth the trip).