Saturday, November 26, 2022


As my loyal readers know, Red Baron went to secondary school in Hamburg. Even though I never attended an elementary school in the Hanseatic city, some school-related news electrified me. We used to rhyme irreverently, Nichts ist hehrer als ein Lehrer (Nothing is loftier than a teacher). Today, only 12.7 percent of the staff at Hamburg's elementary schools are men.

So over the years, the nation's Prügelknaben (male scapegoats) have become female (Prügelmädchen). Educators are beaten up morally and sometimes even physically by parents, students, authorities, and all those who, in their youth, were traumatized in primary schools, like Red Baron with his knuckles rapped.

Spanking the palm of a hand (©Die Welt)
I went to school where adults obviously having been harmed by their own spanking naïvely trivialized, "A spanking didn't hurt me."

Physical integrity is an inalienable and inviolable human right also for children. Chastisement in schools is nothing other than ritualized child abuse.

Back to Hamburg. Its school board wants to change the disparity. "We want this to be a gender balance," said the School Senator.

A student campus will be held up to twice a school year, providing information about "the varied and sometimes challenging daily work of an elementary school teacher."

Wilhelm Busch’s role model: Lehrer Lämpel
The attempt to bring men into the elementary school teaching profession is also about creating role models for young students "because the boys at school should also see and understand that education is not just something for women, but also for boys and men," the senator said.

Do I read correctly that education is something for boys and men? After years of more women than men studying, especially in teaching professions, do we need a male quota? Is this a gender gap backward?

By the way, my best teacher was a woman to whom I owe a good knowledge of English grammar and my love for history.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Der Untergang des römischen Reiches

The Fall of the Roman Empire is a lurid statement, and simply false, as some knowledgeable fellow travelers in our group pointed out on our way to the Trier exhibitions.

Synopsis of the decline and change of the western part of the Roman Empire
Click to enlarge.
In fact, as seen in the synoptic representation, several reasons contributed to the slow disintegration, decline, and change of the Roman Empire.

Red Baron will not describe the three Trier exhibitions separately but will give his overall view that may not coincide with some expert opinion.

At the end of the third century, it became clear to Emperor Diocletian that the vast Empire comprising the Mediterranean, extending from Britannia to the Persian border and crumbling at its edges, could no longer be governed from central Rome. The Empire needed a more efficient administrative structure and a clear succession plan. 

Residing on the Dalmatian coast in Spalatum (today Split), Diocletian elevated Maximian to co-emperor in 285, entrusting him with the administration of the western half of the Empire.

 The Roman Tetrarchy, a reign of four emperors, was born when in 293, Diocletian and Maximian, in their position as Augusti, appointed Constantius and Galerius as junior emperors (Caesares) and presumptive successors.

Here are the four of the first Roman tetrarchy. They are replicas of the porphyry statues from 1204, now in St. Mark's, Venice.

Augustus Diocletian embraces Caesar Galerius.
Augustus Maximian embraces Caesar Constantius.
The installation of the first Roman tetrarchy and the division of power was as follows:

A Diocletian (284-305) Orient
C Galerius (293-305) The Danubian provinces from Noricum to the mouth of the Danube

A Maximian (285-305) Occident with Italy, Spain, and Africa
C Constantius (293-305) Gaul and Britannia

Constantine's second Wife, Empress Fausta, with nimbus and precious jewelry.
A secco painting on plaster from the Constantine Basilica in Trier before 330. 
Constantius took up his seat of government in Augusta Treverorum (Trier). When he died as early as 306, the army in Britain acclaimed his son Constantine as emperor. 

Constantine's rise on the shield set a precedent for Maximian's son Maxentius only a few months later. During riots in Rome, his troops offered him the title of Caesar in Italy.

Constantine's mother, St. Helena, with the holy cross found in Jerusalem.
Sandstone with remains of setting around 1680.
Maxentius, however, was regarded as a usurper by his three fellow emperors. Constantine marched to Rome and, under "in this sign thou shalt conquer*," defeated Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge in 313. 
*In hoc signo vinces. The character of the cross appeared to him before the decisive battle.

Constantine's head in bronze from the 3rd century.
Replica with gilding.
So Constantine took it all in the west. Subsequently, he, with Augustus Licinius in the east, issued the Edict of Milan that everyone has the freedom to choose a deity according to his will and worship it. We have decreed this so that it may not appear that any cult or religion is being subjugated by us.

This officially ended the persecution of Christians in the Occident.

Replica of the decoration of a sarcophagus from the 4th century with biblical motifs:
 Adam and Eve, the Good Shepherd, and the Three Youths in the Furnace of Fire.
Constantine's goal was to cement the disintegrating Empire with a unified religious worldview taking the Christians to the task. According to Constantine's conception, the state and Church should be one. So Church representatives soon took over state tasks, such as jurisdiction. In return, Constantine freed the priests from state burdens such as taxes. As expected, unscrupulous, power-hungry men soon forced their way into the ecclesiastical offices.

A panel made of ivory from the 5th to the 6th century with the representation
 of a procession of relics, i.e., showing the transfer of a relic to a new church building.
Later, the great teacher of the Church, Jerome (347-420), commented resignedly on the religious development, "The more the Church gains power, the more it loses Christian virtues." He consequently withdrew to the Holy Land and led a monastery in Bethlehem.

 The power in the hands of the princes of the Church did not agree with the smoldering disputes about faith, whereby the most crucial question: Is Jesus equal to God (homousios) or only similar to God (homoiusios), was fought out among patriarchs and bishops with hard sticks.

 For Emperor Constantine, these were just idle squabbles about inscrutable things. He was not interested in or understanding dogmatic and Christological problems, especially when they endangered imperial unity. Again and again, the emperor admonished that his goal was, above all, that a single faith, pure love, and piety be preserved among the happy people of the Catholic Church.

Baroque emperor Constantine.
Sandstone with remains of a frame around 1680.
Finally, in 325, the pagan emperor summoned a council to his summer residence in Nicaea. To avoid disputes in the run-up to the negotiations, the unbaptized Constantine presided over the assembly of 318 bishops (after the 318 servants of Abraham). At the council, the Roman chief shepherd Pope Silvester was represented by only two presbyters.

 The result of the negotiations is the sentence in the Creed, known to all of us, that the Son is true God from true God, begotten, not created, of one being with the Father.

 This decision was not further explained or justified because the pagan emperor forbade any theological discussion. With the acceptance of the formula of faith, for Constantine, the dispute was over because what pleased 318 bishops is nothing other than the will of God.

 The official declaration of the 318 bishops reads, "The holy apostolic and catholic church curses those who say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, that he was not before he was generated, that he was made or created from nothing or a substance or essence, that he was changeable and mutable."

With this statement, the ancient Church lost its innocence when it not only cursed the Arians but began their bloody persecution. Not a good sign of unity.

Tombstone from the 5th century with a Christ monogram for Batimodus,
who was taken in peace at 50
They gave wood shavings and snail purple into the grave.

In the 19th century, not only historians but the bourgeoisie situated the decline of the Empire in the decadency of Roman life. In 1883 John William Waterhouse painted Augustus Honorius occupying himself instead with the well-being of his guinea fowls than with ruling. Who does not think of Friedrich Dürrenmatt's hilarious play Romulus the Great, where hens lay eggs on stage?

         Wars (orange) and civil wars (black) in the Roman Empire between 346 and 476
Other reasons for the decline of the Roman Empire were defensive battles against infiltrating barbarians and civil wars.

Around 470: infiltration of the Roman Empire or immigration?
Finally, the Germanic migrations are said to have overrun the Empire.

A Frankish gravestone or the lost art of writing in the 7th century
In the following centuries, knowledge and technology (Roman baths) disappeared in Europe. Successive generations even forgot how to write.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Bye, Bye 1.5

Looking at global emissions.
Small steps are insufficient. A reduction by a factor of seven
in greenhouse gas emissions is required (©t-online)
At the recent Convention of Climatic Change 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, the governments of 200 countries said Goodbye to the Paris Agreement, i.e., limiting the worldwide temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.

According to various sources:
An unstopped rise in global temperature (©Wikipedia)
Looking at global emissions. Global warming and its consequences are, according to unanimous scientific opinion, the greatest challenge Homo sapiens has ever faced: years of droughts and water shortages here, rising sea levels and floods there, species extinction everywhere, storms, hurricanes, and tsunamis, things are getting worse around the globe. We are on the verge of destroying the basis of life for billions of people, animals, and plants.

The World Climate Conference in Egypt has once again shown that we are not even taking decisive action to change course when the mene mene tekel upharsin is already written on the wall: the 1.5-degree target is no longer achievable, and our planet will heat up much more, with brutal consequences.

Because of the energy shortage conjured up by the Ukraine war, Germany, France, Italy, and the rest of the hypocritical western states are relying on fossil energies.

They are dredging more coal again, building liquefied natural gas terminals, developing new gas fields off Africa's coast, and are missing their climate targets. They are not making long-term decisions but only short-term ones to keep the destructive affluent society alive and happy.

One reason for the failure of the climate conference is the old, not necessarily white, men at the helm of states because they consider climate change only as one among many problems, take other things more important, or don't want to put themselves and their countrymen through too many hardships.

In Freiburg too.
Climate activists block federal highway B31 near Kronenbrücke (©BZ/Ingo Schneider)
In despair and anger, young climate activists of the Last Generation spill paint or soup in museums or glue themselves on streets.

Glued to the highway. That hurts! (©BZ/Ingo Schneider)
All current heads of government will not live to see the worst consequences of the man-made climate crisis. When years of droughts, famines, floods, constant extreme weather, and mass migration will make life a daily struggle not only in East Africa and Pakistan but in large parts of the world, they will have long since passed on. That is why they do so little about today's climate crisis: they do not perceive it as a problem threatening their existence. They are not personally affected.

Red Baron is neither, and his efforts are limited: Economize energy, recycle rather than produce waste, walk or use public transport, and above all, stop using resources when dead.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Karl Marx House

Red Baron frequently blogged about Karl Marx. Do you remember when needy Karl fictitiously met wealthy Charles and Marx Stood Quietly in Darwin's Garden

In 2015 I invited my listeners to rethink Marx, and finally, I rediscussed his theories in 2018.

In the meantime, Karl Marx had his 200th birthday when he was honored with a statue, a modification of traffic lights, a zero-euro bill, and a revitalizing of the exhibition in his birthplace, now a museum. 

I last visited the Karl-Marx-Haus on August 8, 2007. During his recent visit to Trier, Red Baron again looked for Karl Marx's birthplace.
Brückenstraße 10
In fact, the façade and the entrance had not changed, but the interior of the exhibition was totally redesigned with larger wall drawings and fewer small objects.

Karl Marx as a world citizen
The entrance room is dominated by a wall drawing representing a synopsis of Karl Marx's life.

The exhibits are located in the back of the building, which can be entered through a veranda decorated with flowers.

This photo is from my 2007 visit.
The Communist Manifesto, in its original version, is undoubtedly the exhibition's highlight. It starts with "A specter is haunting Europe - the specter of Communism," and the text ends with ...

... Leonid Vasilievich Kozlov's closing appeal, "Proletarians of the world, unite!"

Marx's opus magnum Capital: A Critique of Political Economy is unreadable. Darwin allegedly had a copy but gave up the reading. Even for a German speaker, Marx's twisted style frequently is incomprehensible. Still, Marx's ideas have influenced the world economy decisively.

Buddies Marx and Engels. Note Marx's open hand in asking for financial support. Friedrich Engels was the first son of the successful cotton spinning mill owner Friedrich Engels in the industrial region of Barmen and supported Marx financially throughout his life. 

Father Friedrich also owned part of the Ermen & Engels cotton mill in Manchester. In November 1842, son Friedrich passed on his way to Manchester - where he was to complete his commercial training at the Ermen & Engels cotton mill - by Cologne. There he first met Karl Marx in person during an editorial visit to the Rheinische Zeitung, where Karl was editor-in-chief. The two became friends and kindred spirits. 

In England, which was much more developed industrially than Germany, Engels learned according to own observations and authentic sources about the impact of Manchester liberalism on the situation of the working class.

Out of Marxism, many more "isms" followed. We had Titoism on the Balkan, and in the Americas, Guevarism apparently existed. 

Red Baron is still struggling with Austromarxism while the Democratic Socialism we once had within our own borders.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Trier Splinters

Already in 2007, 15 years ago, Red Baron visited Trier with the Museumsgesellschaft. The occasion was an exhibition about Constantine, the Roman emperor who gave Christianity the breakthrough in the Empire.

Actually, there were three exhibitions, one in the Museum am Dom, a second in the Stadtmuseum Simeonstift, and a third in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum. I gave a talk and wrote a report about the trip, which I had placed on the Internet. 

From the 10th to the 12th of November, the Museumsgesellschaft traveled again to Trier for an exhibition, this time about the fall of the Roman Empire again in three museums.

The Museum am Dom presented Im Zeichen des Kreuzes (In the Sign of the Cross), the role of Christianity. The Stadtmuseum showed Das Erbe Roms (The Legacy of Rome), highlighting the Empire's impact on art and history, while the Landesmuseum gave a global overview on Der Untergang des Römischen Reiches (The Fall* of the Roman Empire), i.e., of the disintegration of the Roman Empire in the first centuries AD.
*Fall is an exaggerated, misleading term

Before I report on the visit, I summarize some small items in splinters, as usual.

Trier was an important city when it became one of four imperial residences in the late Roman time. Later, in the Holy Roman Empire, it was the seat of the Archbishop of Trier, one of seven members of the electoral college choosing the German emperor.

Trier during the centuries. From the Porta Nigra to Karl Marx

The most famous ancient building of Trier is the Porta Nigra built in the year 170.

Karl Marx is the most famous man born in Trier, but it was not until his 200th birthday that a monument was erected for the son of the city. It was a gift of China the city accepted apparently half-heartedly. The statue stands secluded near Porta Nigra and away from the pedestrian flow of the city center.

The 11th in the 11th at 11 o'clock 11

Only a few people were in costumes.
On my way from Karl Marx's birthplace to the Constantine Basilica, I passed the Kornmarkt (grain market) at 11:05.

The Elferrat (11 councilors) on stage
or eleven costumed fools count down the time
So I was just in time to assist at the opening of the carnival season 2022/23, which according to an old tradition, starts on November 11 at 11:11.

The Constantine Basilica

The vast interior captivates every visitor.
The origins of this "basilica" date back to 305 to 311, after Trier was elevated to an imperial residence in 286.

The Roman Aula
The great hall is not a basilica by design. It is more aptly called an Aula (auditorium) and was used as a Thronsaal (throne room).

The "Basilica" in the Middle Ages
Church services were not held there either because a three-aisled basilica was already built next door between 310 and 320 (see below).

The Palastaula (palace auditorium) suffered heavy damage during the last world war.

After the war, the imposing building was rebuilt in a simple style. Again it serves as a place of worship for the Protestant congregation, 

Our bus did not return to Freiburg until noon on Saturday, 12. So Red Baron used the morning to explore the building complex of the Trier Cathedral.


On my way there, I passed a booth where students from Ausonius Elementary School were selling cakes. Who is this Ausonius?

This time it was not a saint but a Roman scholar who originated from Bordeaux. Emperor Valentinian ordered him to Trier in 364 to teach his son, the future emperor Gratian.

The story is somewhat reminiscent of Goethe, whom Princess Amalia summoned to the court of Weimar to educate her son.

The Trier Cathedral

Christmas market installations blocked
the view of the Romanesque facade

The three-nave basilica's facade still presents itself in its original form.

The interior of the church has changed over the centuries.

The cloister is impressive just because of its sheer size.

Illustrated explanations hang there about the cathedral's history, including the description of the Heiliger Rock (Seamless robe of Jesus).

During Red Baron's first visit to Trier, this garment was displayed at the cathedral's high altar.

Church of Our Lady

Next door to the cathedral is the impressive Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady).

At the entrance, the usual juxtapositions of Adam and Eve, Peter with his fishing net and John the Evangelist with a snake in the chalice, the triumphant Church, and the blindfolded Synagogue, i.e., Jews don't "see" Christ as the Messiah.

A Pieta in the entrance hall.

BMW Isetta

On my way back to the hotel, I saw a BMW Isetta. In the vernacular, this vehicle was called elephant foot. BMW produced the Isetta in the fifties of the last century.


The words Burger and Bürger become interchangeable in German. Remember the delicious Freiburgers offered downtown Freiburg. In Trier,  Red Baron came across a fast-food restaurant named Burgeramt. In Freiburg, the administrative office for citizens is called Bürgeramt.