Thursday, January 16, 2020

New Year Reception

This year Red Baron got an invitation to Freiburg's New Year reception. Given the importance of the city's 900th anniversary in 2020, there were 1600 invited guests and, in addition, 900 randomly selected citizens.

To comfort the nearly 3000 people, the city had rented the Sick Arena at the exhibition grounds. Instead of the traditional lord mayor's speech, Martin Horn went through Freiburg's past history, the presence, and the future of the city.

Lord Mayor Martin Horn, small on the left but big on the screen.
Horn welcoming dignitaries sitting in the first row.
Freiburg's past projected on the screen.
The projection and the lord mayor get color.
Freiburg of today
What will the future be? In spite of all real and imagined changes,
Freiburg's Minster Church will remain the center of the city
The dancers of the Dance Academy who had performed
behind the semi-transparent projection screen claim their more than rightly deserved applause.
Mayors Martin Horn and Ulrich von Kirchbach thank producers and stage directors
of Action Theater PAN.OPTIKUM, who had joined the crowd on stage.
Final curtain, together with the audience projected on the screen in the background.
 At the party following the impressive presentation, Red Baron met many friends and had some drinks with them.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Hamburg 1

Many of my friends know that I spent eight years of my secondary education in Hamburg. Therefore I long to visit the city whenever possible. In fact, my former class holds reunions annually, so I am in Hamburg at least once a year. Since remembering dates becomes hard with age, those who are still alive now always meet on the third weekend in September. Here is the link to picture galleries of those class reunions dating from 2002 to 2019.

In January 2017, I was in Hamburg to listen to a concert at the Elbphilharmonie (Elphi). This new landmark had been inaugurated just the week before. The resulting trilogy of blogs further described some Hamburg highlights and concentrated on the famous Miniatur Wunderland.

Last year I was in Hamburg for my class reunion in September, then in November, and later I celebrated the turn of the year on a boat on the Elbe River.

My visit in November had a double purpose.

The Fachverband für Strahlenschutz (FFS), the German-Swiss Radiation Protection Society, offered a two-day seminar on the new German Radiation Protection Act at DESY (Deutsches Elektronensynchrotron), the high-energy physics laboratory located within the city of Hamburg. Retired members of der Fachverband paid a well-reduced conference fee, including a guided tour of DESY. That made me curious to learn about new developments in my old trade.

The other reason for my trip was to find out whether the visitors' tour of DESY would be worth an excursion to Hamburg in 2020 in the framework of the "Museumsreisen." You may know that Red Baron is a member of Freiburg's oldest citizen society of 1807 called Museumsgesellschaft. Last year our society visited the city of Schwäbisch Hall and its surroundings. I published some of my stray observations during that trip in a blog as splinters.

On November 17, Red Baron took the ICE train from Freiburg to Hamburg. The ride took six and a half hours, but I like soft traveling, although I no longer enjoy Butterkuchen (with time ”the quality of the cake was strained”) but rather a pot of coffee served on the train with a slightly salty and crusty Laugen croissant bought at Freiburg's train station.

I stayed at the Hotel Harbor Hamburg located near the S-Bahn station Landungsbrücken (jetty facilities).

View of the Landungsbrücken at the waterfront. The display on the tower to the left shows the tide mark.
To the right, the dome of the entrance to the Elbtunnel.
I had a splendid view of the port and the Elbe river from my hotel.

On the waterfront at Landungsbrücken in the evening, I had one of the best Finkenwerder Speckscholle (a plaice baked in finely diced bacon) in my life crowned by a Hamburger Rote Grütt (red berry groats with vanilla ice cream instead of the original vanilla custard).

The hotel had a tower with a bar offering fantastic views over the city and harbor.

Looking upstream:
In the back in the middle the dark silhouette of the Elbphilharmonie
Looking downstream:
The dome of the Elbtunnel in the middle near the waterfront and
illuminated dry docks in the background


Having been out of business for nineteen years, what did I learn at the seminar on radiation protection? Since the annual dose limit to the body of persons exposed to ionizing radiation in exercising their profession had been lowered from 50 to 20 mSv twenty years ago, radiation protection had lost the notion of critical organs that had to be specially protected.

Now the lens of the eye rears its head again as a "critical organ" with a dose limit of 20 mSv annually. In fact, there may be radiation situations where special efforts have to be made to protect the lens of the eye from beta radiation.

This is not true for flying personnel for they are exposed to penetrating high-energy radiation during flights. Their individual doses are not measured but calculated and attributed according to the route flown. Nowadays, pilots and cabin crews are among the most exposed people.


In the introduction of and before the guided tour of DESY, I learned that the institute is now part of the Helmholtz Community of German research institutes.

In the interactions of high-energy electrons with high-energy protons,
the electrons explore the structure of protons by deep inelastic scattering.
The HERA tunnel and accelerator (in orange) run deep below the city of Hamburg and cross under the famous Volkspark soccer stadium, home of the frustrating HSV (Hamburger Sportverein).

Inside the HERA tunnel. Dismantling of the accelerator is too expensive.
Abandoned and partly cannibalized, it is shown as a highlight to visitors.
Starting at DESY and heading over a length of 3.4 kilometers
northwest into neighboring State Schleswig-Holstein.
DESY's newest tool is the European XFEL (X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility)
commissioned during 2017. The machine is constructed such that the electrons produce X-ray light in synchronization, resulting in high-intensity X-ray pulses with the properties of laser light and at intensities much brighter than those produced by conventional synchrotron light sources (Wikipedia).

Showing the basic building blocks of matter.
The Standard Model of particle physics is elegant, but physicists look further. Even at the highest energies at CERN, there is yet no sign of a New Physics. So frustration becomes more pronounced as the years pass by.

There are still many open questions in physics, in particular about dark matter and energy. And here is a wanted poster with fancy "names" as an illustration of what we still do not but would like to know.

DESY can no longer fly on the one wing of high-energy physics. In the coming years, the Federal Republic and the Hamburg Senate will transform the DESY complex into a multidisciplinary Science City hoping for synergetic effects.

The taste of Hamburg or Franzbrötchen are just delicious.

A unique outlet at Hamburg's Central Station.
Looking for food in Hamburg to be taken on the train is straightforward. The underdeveloped culture of Laugen croissant in Germany's north is quickly forgotten when you opt for Franzbrötchen, a small, sweet pastry, baked with butter and cinnamon.

franz & friends offer the standard variety but fancy new creations of Franzbrötchen too.

In 1812 the French Empire had gulped the Habsburg and the Protestant Netherlands
(Département des bouches du Rhin) as well as northern Germany (Département des bouches de l'Elbe)
 including the cities of Hamburg and Lübeck.
They say that Napoleon intended to build a canal on French territory
connecting the Seine River with the Baltic Sea
The name of the pastry dates back to the French occupation when in 1812, Hamburg belonged to France, to Napoleon's Grand Empire. Already at that time, the French occupiers ate better than the Germans. Instead of the petits pains, the former preferred the sugared version that the people from Hamburg reverently called französische Brötchen. Name and recipe stuck.

Friday, January 10, 2020

The 2019 US/German City-Partnership Award

of the Steuben-Schurz-Gesellschaft (SSG) goes to the Freiburg-Madison-Gesellschaft. We are greatly honored and will continue in our efforts to promote and strengthen the ties between Freiburg and our sister city Madison, WI.

In October 2019, the FMG received an invitation to participate in a competition for the most outstanding partnership of a German city with one in the States.

In December our President Toni Schlegel received a letter with the message that the FMG had not only been elected as being the award winner but that the vote was unanimous, too.

The objectives of the Steuben-Schurz-Society in Frankfurt are the promotion of German-American relations and international understanding. Its motto is "Providing stability and friendship in a challenging environment." Founded in 1930, dissolved in 1933 by the Nazis, the SSG was re-founded after the war on 1 August 1948.

The two Germans who lent their names to the SSG achieved high recognition in the United States. Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben fought on George Washington's side in the War of Independence. He was appointed Inspector General of the United States Army.

Carl Schurz, on the other hand, fought with Abraham Lincoln against slavery. As Secretary of the Interior in the administration of President Hayes, he directed the fight against corruption and fought for the rights of Native Americans. Margaret Schurz, the wife of Carl Schurz, founded America's first kindergarten in the state of Wisconsin, which is now the partner state of Hesse.

Read more about SSG's history on its website. Strangely enough, the SSG does not have a Wikipedia entry.

The award ceremony is scheduled at Frankfurt's Hotel Maritim on January 28, in the framework of the New Year's reception of the SSG. Red Baron will report.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Freiburg 2020

Last Friday’s Badische Zeitung had the obituary of a good friend. R.I.P. He was two years younger than me. This made me very sad, although his death reminded me that I am still living in this world. How lucky I am.

The mayor's letterhead according to former Mayor Otto Winterer's Maxime,
"A village has roofs, but a town sports steeples."
Then I received a letter from Freiburg's mayor. Here is the first paragraph translated:

Dear Dr. Höfert,

Gingerbread, cookies, fir branches, and the colorful hustle and bustle everywhere - Christmas is approaching with great strides. This is an appropriate occasion, too, to say thank you.

Many thanks for the good and trusting cooperation. Together, we have again achieved a great deal in a wide variety of areas in 2019. I am incredibly grateful for this and would be delighted if, after the well-deserved Christmas break, we could pick up in the New Year with great enthusiasm where we left off.

Well, well, Mr. Martin Horn I understood your broad hint and, health permitting, you can count on me for those small achievements throughout the jubilee year.

Freiburg 2020 is ante portas, and I am looking forward particularly to the Partnerschaftsmarkt during the festival week on July 10 and 11. From our sister city, Madison, we are expecting a strong delegation with whom we would like to celebrate the city's 900th anniversary. My help is guaranteed.

Enjoy the Christmas tree. I took the photo on November 21, when I was in Paris visiting the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci in the Louvre. Stay tuned for the blog to come.

I wish all my friends and readers a Merry Christmas and a Healthy* New Year.
*At my age, I have no apologies for this obvious Germanism

Thursday, December 19, 2019

A Mystery Nearly Solved

In a previous blog, I presented the following mysterious poster:

Near the end of my deliberations, I wrote: Unfortunately, the poster does not show a historical event. Nevertheless, it makes me dream about some Freiburgers who - following the occupation of their city on July 7, 1849, by Prussian troops - fled and eventually embarked for the States on a ship of the Federal Navy flying the Federal Insignia and Freiburg's flag with St. George's Cross too.

What I wrote was fake news for, fortunately, the poster shows a historical moment of German-American history.

The poster was printed in 1983, the year when both countries celebrated the 300th anniversary of the German Mayflower.

The galleon you see on the poster was the Concord that set sail in Rotterdam on July 6, 1683, under the command of Captain William Jeffries and arrived at Philadelphia happily on October 6. Onboard there were 13 families from Krefeld on the Lower Rhine of Quaker and Mennonite faiths. Initially, the families probably moved to Dutch-controlled Krefeld due to religious persecution in Germany. They continued from there to America, where this first significant group of German settlers founded Germantown.

In 1983 President Reagan proclaimed October 6, as "German-American Day."

Here is an additional text from Wikipedia describing what happened in Germantown a few years later: In 1688, five years after its founding, Germantown became the birthplace of the anti-slavery movement in America. Pastorius, Gerret Hendericks, Derick Updegraeff, and Abraham Updengraef gathered at Thones Kunders's house and wrote a two-page condemnation of slavery and sent it to the governing bodies of their Quaker church, the Society of Friends. The petition was mainly based upon the Bible's Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Though the Quaker establishment took no immediate action, the 1688 Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery was a clear and forceful argument against slavery and initiated the process of banning slavery in the Society of Friends (1776) and Pennsylvania (1780).

Francis Daniel Pastorius is also the author of the poem printed on the poster.

In 1983 the American and the German postal services jointly issued commemorative stamps showing the Concord on the high seas. As on the poster, the ship has two flags: St.George's Cross indicates that Concord was an English ship. As far as the German flag is concerned, the anachronism is obvious.

Original German navy flag around 1850
seen at Dresden's German Army Museum
The flag flown is that of the German navy of 1848, showing black-red-gold and the imperial eagle. Already in 1853, the German navy was dissolved due to financial problems. There was a lack of interest by the mostly inner-German states.

In the meantime, I found an original poster on American eBay and ordered it. This does, however, not solve the problem of the copyright that we need when the Freiburg-Madison-Gesellschaft would like to use it for its contribution "Auswandererlieder" to the Freiburg 2020 jubilee. Can anyone of my readers locate the author of the poster,  F. Dornstaedter?

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Are Schools Too Dumb for Our Kids?

This was the provocative title of a lecture at Freiburg's university in the series Education Today. The speaker was Jürgen Kaube, co-editor of Germany’s renowned newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine.

Everybody knows and talks about education because we all went to school, have our personal experience, ideas, proposals, and criticism.

Indeed, people were always dissatisfied with education like Professor Higgins when judging on Eliza Doolittle's quality of speech,

”This is what the British population,
Calls an elementary education.”

Before the musical ”My Fair Lady” was even conceived, Red Baron learned about British education. We kids were simply amused when our English teacher told us about the importance of the three ”Rs” in the UK, ”Reading, ’riting, ’rithmatic.” We thought the alliterated ”Rs” were just funny.

Much earlier Wilhelm Busch wrote in his cartoon Max und Moritz:

Also lautet ein Beschluss:
Daß der Mensch was lernen muss.
Nicht allein das Abc
Bringt den Menschen in die Höh';
Nicht allein in Schreiben, Lesen
Übt sich ein vernünftig Wesen;
Nicht allein in Rechnungssachen
Soll der Mensch sich Mühe machen;
Sondern auch der Weisheit Lehren
Muß man mit Vergnügen hören.
An old saw runs somewhat so:
Man must learn while here below.
Not alone the A, B, C,
Raises man in dignity;
Not alone in reading, writing,
Reason finds a work inviting;
Not alone to solve the double
Rule of Three shall man take trouble;
But must hear with pleasure Sages
Teach the wisdom of the ages.

Daß dies mit Verstand geschah,
War Herr Lehrer Lämpel da.
Of this wisdom an example
To the world was Master Lämpel.

Dr. Kaube started his lecture with a laconic remark, „Most people forget most of it,” referring to knowledge acquired in school.

He continued insisting that nothing has changed concerning priorities. Primary education should concentrate on Kulturtechniken (cultural techniques), i.e., nothing else than the three fundamental ”Rs.”

He warned: Do not try to treat kids as adults conveying sciences to them but rather strengthen their abilities. What is the use of asking children to write about the African elephant when they don't even know how to spell elephant? Don’t teach ”early English” in the third grade when children do not master their German mother tongue.

The second aim of schooling is to make children think. On which one of my teachers used to say when a classmate started his answer with, ”I think*...”, ”You should not think. Leave the thinking to the horses. They have bigger brains than you. Reflect!”
*Frequently understood in German and deliberately interpreted here in the sense of, ”I think I’ll have another beer.”

Although the art of reflection requires some knowledge, it needs above all basic understanding, e.g., that of cause and effect.

There is a dilemma. While today's parents propose a whole catalog of skills schools should convey to their children, the latter instead demand that schooling must not disturb.

Two weeks before in his lecture,” What is good education today?” the president of the German Teachers Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, showed the above slide, "What one still should and could teach in school."

 I spare you the translation into English because you may have your own wish list. I only ask the question,” What is the role of the Elternhaus (parental care) in all this?”

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Freiburg Archaeology

Next year’s anniversary is already casting its shadow. On November 23, the exhibition 900 Years of Life in the City opened in Freiburg’s Augustinermuseum.

Red Baron participated in a special guided tour by one of the curators of the exhibition, Dr. Bertram Jenisch, the man who dug out quite a bit of the exposed objects.

Medieval Freiburg, as seen from the duke's castle on Schlossberg.
The river Dreisam on the left is in the south and
the still existing industrial channel runs near to the city wall.
Here is more than an artist’s view of Freiburg around 1150. With Freiburg being the city that is best archeologically explored in Baden-Württemberg, the picture is based on actual findings. In the middle of the fortified place is the parish church in Romanesque style.

A closer look at the original parish church surrounded by the municipal graveyard in winter. When the construction of the Minster church started around 1200, the old building was removed in stages with the new construction progressing so that worship was always assured.

The building of the city wall was a Herculean task. In August 2018, Dr. Jenisch gave a talk at the Museumsgesellschaft.

Coming back to the long shot, the still existing Salzstraße is seen on the left starting at the Schwabentor, the gate to Swabia, from where salt, one of the most important trading goods of the Middle Ages, was imported passing along Salt Street.

Starting at St. Martin’s gate, the Große Gass running south to north and west of the parish church crosses Salzstraße at the Fischbrunnen - today Bertoldsbrunnen. Broad Street was Freiburg’s market place, so the fish basin at the fountain where live fish were kept for sale came in handy. In the Middle Ages, markets were the most important outlets for food and other goods like clothing and tools.

Double drinking cup made of rock crystal, gold-plated silver,
and enamel produced in Freiburg or Basel 1487
Already early, the water of the fast-flowing Dreisam not only was used to feed Freiburg’s Bächle (brooklets, see below) but channeled for the operation of mills and gem cutting and polishing facilities located between the city wall and the river.

Rosary (15th to 17th century) made in Freiburg.
The beads consist of cut and polished Bohnerzjaspis, i.e.,
silicified beechwood mined, e.g., at Auggen near Freiburg

The picture illustrates some activities extra muros along the industrial channel. In the background, the city wall and the church of the Augustinian Monastery.

This brings us to the mystery and controversy about a re-leveling of Freiburg that is still not solved.

Note the double-window of the third house from the right on the second floor.
Here is a picture of Salzstraße around 1150. Two-story buildings partly timber-framed and with nearly flat shingle roofs border the south side of the street. These houses had basements dug into a layer of gravel.

Embrasure of narrow group windows.
They were beveled towards the outside
to improve the incidence of daylight.
Already Freiburg’s precursor, an initial settlement of merchants and craftsmen below the Schlossberg, was built on a cone of gravel running downhill into the plain. The natural gradient of the deposits made the construction of artificial courses of water that were taken upstream from the Dreisam river easy. The talus of gravel on which the city stands actually has a thickness of up to 18 meters.

Around the year 1170, some street levels in the city were filled with layers of gravel and raised by up to three meters. Some experts assume that this elaborate construction project was aimed to raise the level of the system of Bächle as a whole, creating a sufficient gradient so that the emerging western suburbs could be supplied with surface water too. This assumption is bitterly contested by other experts, although without providing an alternative explanation.

On Salzstraße around 1200, houses show saddle roofs.
Building one and two from the right have merged
while the double-window of the third building is now on the ground floor.
Note the Bächle running in the street.
Houses from the first half of the 12th century aligned to a low street level on Salzstrasse suddenly had their entrance doors on the second floor for the benefit of two superimposed basements.

New buildings after 1175 were aligned to the higher street level. In fact, the number of new buildings at that time exceeds the number expected due to the natural growth of the city, presumably also because the elevation was used to replace wooden with stone buildings showing saddle roofs.

The interior of the Augustiner church is now a part of Freiburg's Augustinermuseum.
The Bächle is still running in the street.
In 1278 Count Egino II allocated a narrow plot of land between the salt road and the city wall to the ordo Sancti Augustini, the Augustinian hermits. For their monastery and church, at least eight houses and courtyards were demolished, the foundations of which were uncovered during the renovation of the Augustinermuseum in 2004. This is the basis of the above picture.

Magnificent fountain column with lion chapter of the von Andlau family 
Because in Freiburg, the groundwater level is about 18 meters deep, and the water of the Bächle is not suitable for human consumption, the drinking water supply was channeled from the nearby mountains using wooden pipes. Drinking water was available at public wells, although wealthy people had outlets of their own.

Archaeology in Freiburg is not limited to the Middle Ages. The air raid on November 27, 1944, destroying most of the old city left a heap of ruins behind.

The content of a basement was dug up when a new building was constructed at the site of a destroyed house.