Tuesday, June 22, 2010


During this year's excursion with the Museumsgesellschaft visiting some cultural highlights on the north bank of Lake Konstanz I saw two thermometers scaled in Celsius and Réaumur.

I remember that in my school years we learned about degrees Celsius, Fahrenheit and Réaumur. Later in my studies degrees Kelvin became important because Kelvin is the fundamental temperature scale in physics whilst Fahrenheit you still need in the States in order to choose the right clothing before leaving the house.

Degrees Réaumur are easily scaled into centigrades in mutiplying them by 1.25. Are degrees Réaumur still used? Wikipedia tells you that cooks and pâtissiers still measure temperatures in Réaumur when preparing a sugar solution.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Erected by his children: Andlaw's tombstone at Hugstetten's church wall
Yesterday I participated in an excursion to Hugstetten organized by Freiburg's Geschichtsverein Schau-ins-Land. What is so exciting about Hugstetten, a village North-West of Freiburg? It is the English Garden that Konrad von Andlaw had planted around his castle in Hugstetten starting in 1827.

Deshalb ließ er die angrenzenden Bauernhäuser abreißen, um genügend Platz zu schaffen. Dabei musste auch das Gasthaus "Rössle" weichen. Als Ersatz ließ Andlaw ein Stück weiter ein neues Wirtshaus bauen, das - in Anlehnung an das Andlawsche Wappen- den Namen "Zum roten Kreuz" erhielt. Andlaw ließ einen künstlichen See und einen Kanal anlegen. Westlich dieses Kanals, am Mühlenberg, wurde ein naturnaher Landschaftsgarten angelegt - der "Englische Garten". Dabei folgte der Freiherr dem Vorbild des Parks im schweizerischen Arlesheim, dem vorherigen Sitz der Andlaw-Birsecks.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tea Party Patriots on the March

A tea party
Kathleen Canning, professor of modern era German history at the University of Ann Arbour, presently visiting professor at Freiburg’s University introduced the topic Political Polarization in the US at the Stammtisch of the Freiburg Madison Gesellschaft. Here is what I wrote down about the evening:

In a political environment where many things went out of control – the wars that America fights, the derailing of the international financial system, the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico – a government has to adjust facing old and new challenges. But how much government is needed? Enter the Tea Party Patriots fighting the Obama administration on all fronts.

Professor Kathleen Canning informed an amazed audience about the right-wing movement in the States questioning whether the President is an American (Barack the Magic Negro), moving the public health insurance close to the Nazi euthanasia program, and calling adversaries socialists or even threatening them with physical attacks. Whilst Kathleen was somewhat afraid about this political polarization in the US, we Europeans still regard the States as a bulwark of democracy. The discussion that followed was one of the most lively ones we ever had at our Stammtisch.

Here follow some personal thoughts: During her talk Kathleen occasionally referred to the Weimar Republic in Germany from 1919 to 1933. The fact is that the Germans not only had lost the First World War but also their dignity when the victors charged them with the full responsibility for the disaster that had afflicted Europe. No wonder that in the Weimar Republic a song became popular: Wir wollen unsern alten Kaiser Wilhelm wieder haben, aber ohne Bart (We want back our old Kaiser Wilhelm but without his beard). Mind you nobody meant Wilhelm II but his father Wilhelm I. Under his reign and as a result of its unification in 1871 Germany developed during the Gründerjahre into a country with a prosperous bourgeois society and the working class not completely decoupled. Old fox Bismarck curtailed the socialist movement introducing an old age and health insurance system run by the State.

After the lost war the ideals of the bourgeoisie were in shambles, the working class unemployed. This caused a political cleavage in Germany with the formation of radical political parties at the right and the left of the party spectrum. Political murder and putsches were frequent. As the economic situation deteriorated with the Black Thursday in 1929 and unemployment rising, the gains of Communists and Nazis in democratic elections surged preventing the formation of stable governments. The disaster that followed you all know.

Would Joe the Plumber* yearning for the traditional American values hum a similar tune today as the middle class German in the Weimar Republic? I don’t know, but taking into account what I wrote above about the situation in the US cannot be compared to the Weimar Republic. In the States contrary to Europe right and left wing parties although they exist do not play any role. The fight between right and left takes place within the two traditional parties. Will, in particular, the Republicans split as the moderate intellectuals may no longer tolerate the primitive propaganda of their extreme right.
*not to be confused with Piotr Adamski the plombier Polonais in France who has a different profile

Middle class America is greatly disturbed feeling that many traditional values do no longer hold while new challenges are facing the US. Can one really go back to the good old times with church and sheriff where on Sundays the minister told the congregation the right way and sheriff Mad Dillon's six shooter assured that no killers or spoilers disturbed the hard working and country loving people?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I’m going to fight mit Sigel

During the preparation of a presentation at the Freiburg-Madison Gesellschaft about the 48ers, i.e., those revolutionaries who fled to the States in the years 1848/49 following their total defeat in Germany, I came across the lyrics of a one time popular song.

German volunteers sang the song who were fighting in the American Civil War with the Yankees against the Federate States under the command of a former officer from Baden (Germany) Franz Sigel:

I’m going to fight mit Sigel
Written by John F. Poole

I’ve come shust now to tells you how
I goes mit regimentals;
To schlauch dem voes of liberty
Like dem old Continentals,
Vot fight mit England long ago
To save the Yankee Eagle,
Un now I gets mine sojer clothes
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.

Yaw! Das id drue, I shpeakes mit you,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.

Ven I comes from de Deutsche countree,
I vorks somedimes at baking.
Den I keeps a lager bier saloon,
Un den I goes shoemaking;
But now I vas a sojer been
To save the Yankee Eagle,
To schlauch dem tam Secession volks,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.

Yaw! Das id drue, I shpeakes mit you,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel..

I gets ein tam big rifle guns,
Un puts him on mine shoulder,
Den march so bold, like a big jack horse,
Un may been someding bolder;
I goes off mit de volunteers,
To save de Yankee Eagle,
To give dem rebel vellers fits,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.

Yaw! Das id drue, I shpeakes mit you,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel..

Dem Deutschen men’s mit Sigel’s band,
At fighting have no rival,
Un ven Cheff Davis’ mens ve meet
Ve schlauch ‘em like de duyvil:
Dere’s only one ting vot I fear,
Ven pattling for de Eagle
I vont get not no lager beer,
Ven I goes to fight mit Sigel.

Yaw! Das id drue, I shpeakes mit you,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.

For rations, dey gives salty pork,
I dinks dat was a great sell,
I better likes de sour krout;
De switzer kase un pretzel.
If “Liddle Mac” vill give us dem,
Ve’ll save the Yankee Eagle:
Un I’ll put mine vrou in breechalons,
To go un fight mit Sigel.

Yaw! Das id drue, I shpeakes mit you,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.

Quite amusing, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lennet Kann

For years I have watched the Verleihung des Ordens wider den tierischen Ernst on German television. Each year this popular award decorates a person who has shown in his political life, as a business man or as an actor a certain amount of humor, a quality we Germans are thought to be lacking.

The award ceremony takes place during the carnival season in Aachen's Kaisersaal the same place where equally the more serious Karlspreis (International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen) is awarded annually.

Internationally known knights of the Medal for Combating Deadly Seriousnes were in the past:

1959 Konrad Adenauer: Founding Chancellor of the Federal Republic
1961 Bruno Kreisky: Austrian Chancellor
1972 Helmut Schmidt: the former, still popular, German Chancellor
1974 Walter Scheel: German President
1978 Ephraim Kishon: Israelian satiric writer
1979 Hans-Dietrich Genscher: aka Genschman, German Foreign Minister
1985 Norbert Blüm: aka Nobbi, popular Social Minister
1986 Johannes Rau: German President
1989 Franz Josef Strauß: the sometimes unpopular Federal Minister
1992 Jack Lang: French Minister for Culture
1999 John Kornblum: US Ambassador in Germany
2001 Guido Westerwelle: confessing gay Foreign Minister
2003 Wendelin Wiedeking: aka WW, CEO of Porsche
2005 Karl Kardinal Lehmann: Archbishop of Mainz
2008 Gloria, Princess of Thurn und Taxis
2009 Mario Adorf: popular German-Italien actor

On Sundays and public holidays the öcher Original
(Aachen character) Lennet Kann often strolled
 to the two pubs in the nearby woods
 Waldschlösschen and Waldschenke  (©Stadt Aachen)

Every year when watching the show I impatiently wait for one of the highlights: It is an old tune from Aachen with lyrics in local dialect about a city tramp. I initially thought that his name was Nellen and the title of the song: Das ist der Nellen. Only recently I learned that the man in question is called Lennet and the refrain of the song is: Dat es der Lennet

With this information I eventually got hold of the full text. Now I am looking forward to next year's award ceremony in February when I shall sing along:

Was zog einst durch Aachen für eine Gestalt,
Mit Orden geschmückt, mit Ehrenzeichen.
Die Hosenpfeifen gemahnen sobald
An Spazierstöckchen oder dergleichen.
De Arme, se baumeln an den Seiten herab,
Als hingen sie los wie in Scharnieren,
So ist er geschravelt bergauf und bergab,
Die Domgrafen aber jubilieren:
Dat es der Lennet, dat es der Lennet Kann.
Dat es der Lennet, va Oche der schönnste Mann.

Und ging man des sonntags in den Wald man hinein,
Die Waldschenk hinauf nach Siebenwegen,
So kam einem dort von einem Stein
Ein seltsamer Ritter entgegen.
Als ob jedes Bein nur ein Streichhölzchen wär,
So kam er geriffelt und geschravelt.
Man gab ihm ’nen Groschen, das machte ihm Pläsier,
Und schon ist er weiter getrappelt.
Dat es der Lennet, dat es der Lennet Kann.
Dat es der Lennet, va Oche der schönnste Mann.

Der Nandes, de Latts än der Spiene Jupp
Sind alle schon längst verblichen,
Der Jokeb met et Feißje und de Frau Zupp
Se sind längst zum Himmel geschlichen.
Sie lurten herapper und als kam die Zeit,
Als Lennets liebe Seele wollt’ entfliehen,
Da standen sie alle am Himmeltor bereit
Und fingen mit de Engelscher an ze singen:
Da kütt der Lennet, da kütt der Lennet Kann.
Da kütt der Lennet, va Oche der schönnste Mann