Saturday, February 22, 2014

Goslar and Bielefeld

Two small German towns lately made it into feature articles of the Badische Zeitung: Goslar and Bielefeld. When during a party the host asked one of his guests where he came from and the guest answered "Bielefeld" the host's reaction was: Bielefeld, das gibt's doch nicht. With this remark the host expressed his astonishment meaning: what a surprise, I don't believe it, it knocks me off my heels that you are from Bielefeld.

However, Bielefeld, das gibt's doch nicht literarily means the town of Bielefeld is a fake, it does not exist. Since 1994 this so-called Bielefeld Conspiracy is a running joke on the Internet and on German television. I was reminded last week when a feature article in the Badische Zeitung came back to it.

Red Baron never was in Bielefeld but I read the name for the first time on July 21, 1944, standing on a platform of the Paderborn station waiting for the train to ... Bielefeld. Why do I remember that particular date? While my family was waiting on the platform my father went to the entrance hall, bought a newspaper, came back, and told us: Yesterday an assassination attempt on Hitler failed. The train drawn by a steam locomotive eventually arrived and dropped us off at Hövelhof, a village with the only feature that a single track to the town of Gütersloh branches off from the double tracks to Bielefeld.

I am astonished looking at the picture of the Bahnhof in Hövelhof on ©Wikipedia.
It has not changed over the last seventy years.
Hövelhof was the place where I lived for two years and here is the place to write about my first encounter with the English language. Once the US Army had rolled over Westphalia in general and Hövelhof in particular around Easter 1945 we children curiously walked through the occupied village. I suddenly noticed a page on the ground with a drawing and among the many words I read and could not understand I spelled the word Look. Look? I only knew the word Lok short for Lokomotive in German.

Red Baron's Pacific Lok of 1940
Coming back to Bielefeld. This year Bielefeld celebrates its foundation in 1214. The slogan for the event is: 800 Jahre Bielefeld, das gibt's doch nicht! Don't say Germans have no sense of humor.

The other small town in Germany that made it into the Badische Zeitung is Goslar located at the foot of the Harz mountains. Red Baron was there twice so it definitely exists. Goslar is the site of a Kaiserpfalz (Medieval Imperial Palace) and its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Wilhelm der Große aka Wilhelm I, first Kaiser of the Second Reich,
in front of the Kaiserpfalz in Goslar.
The glassed windows are from the 20th century.
Goslar also served as a historical set for a recent George Clooney movie The Monuments Men. Last week when the movie was presented at the Berlinade, the Berlin Film Festival, the people from Goslar were deeply disappointed. Most of the nice pictures taken showing their beautiful town had been cut.

Bill Murray, Burkhard Rösner, and George Clooney at Steinberg-Alm (©ARD)
Goslar exists but you may ask: George Clooney had he really been there? He apparently took some shots at the Steinberg-Alm, where George had a Schnitzel for lunch and his team Almgröstl mit Spiegelei (Roasted potatoes mixed with meat and crowned with a fried egg) and Kaiserschmarrn (a shredded pancake). Since then owner and chef Burkhard Rösner venerates some photos and serves a Steak Clooney as a proof that handsome George was there.

1 comment:

  1. I've been told to see the movie, but haven't had a chance yet. I wonder if they will have more footage when it's released in Blu-ray?