I felt happy showing to my wife the Weimar that I know so well. Before we went it happened that in a small bookshop at Kirchzarten near Freiburg a week earlier Annette Seemann who had published a Weimar travel guide previously gave a presentation of her latest book: Weimar, eine Kulturgeschichte. Her reading was overbooked and I was lucky to find a seat. In a panel discussion the editor for culture of the Badische Zeitung tried to have the author cover the content of the whole book. That was a problem for the amount of information in the already thick book is the result of laborious work presenting many detailed facts but the text occasionally lacks a deeper going analysis. Nevertheless I learned quite a lot, e.g., about the Reformation and that Luther was in Weimar several times. Anette Seemann's tome will complete my collection of books on Weimar that I shall present in a future blog.
Red Baron then a young scientific hopeful in Munich still remembers his first visit to Weimar in 1959. In November 1958 Nikita Khrushchev issued the Berlin ultimatum that caused Hamburg's press baron Axel Springer in January 1959 to start a campaign in the Federal Republic with the slogan Macht das Tor auf (Open the Gate) selling* pins with the Brandenburg Gate. Later in 1987 President Reagan when visiting the Berlin wall and looking at the Gate modulated Springer's slogan imploring the right person: Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
* for 20 Pfennig a piece
In fall 1959 a left wing Gesellschaft für fortschrittliche Politik (Society for progressive politics) in Munich had posted an answer to Axel Springer: Wir machen das Tor auf (We open the Gate) offering a bus trip at a moderate price to Gera, a small industrial town in Thuringia, and as a lure a detour to Weimar. Together with a friend and a couple of other students we took this unique opportunity to visit Weimar the working place of Germany's quadruple star Goethe, Herder, Schiller and Wieland but before that our delegation had to suffer agitated political discussions in Gera.
|Political slogan in Gera's theater: Germany's fate will be decided between the forces of peace and the military adventurers in the west. This and the following scanned slides are more the 50 years old. In spite of image processing the quality is bad.|
The following day we were shipped to Weimar. It was in November. A pale sun illuminated the square in front of the Goethe-Haus that was closed on a Sunday morning. When we walked to the Goethe-Schiller monument the sun disappeared and the two geniuses of German literature stood gray against the gray front of the Nationaltheater that had been a symbol of hope in 1919 with the adoption of the democratic Constitution of Weimar.
We soon had to leave the magic places to visit Weimar's other heritage the concentration camp Buchenwald. Here during the introduction the East German propaganda machine went into high gear asserting: In West Germany new concentration camps are under construction. Luckily we had some law students in our group mastering their words much better than physicists. They branded the lies and the cheap propaganda resulting in a icy silence. Full of shame our group eventually visited the horror place in silence, unmolested.
|The classical suum cuique here perverted at the entrance to the concentration camp|
|Inside the camp. |
Note the GDR flag and the Russian soldiers in the back on the left.