Thursday, February 25, 2016

That is not Faust

Red Baron had just finished his blog about the Fauststadt Staufen when the Badische Zeitung published an article titled: Das ist nicht Faust (That is not Faust). The French art historian Jean-Marie Clarke had made this statement about a painting in Staufen's council chamber showing - according to the image caption - Joannes Faustus. The local saving bank had bought the painting in 2010 and given it to Staufen's town council as a permanent loan.


According to Clark the painting rather shows Johannes Fust (1400 to 1466) an entrepreneur and lawyer from Mainz although when you look through Wikipedia articles about Faust in various languages quite a number including the French Wikipedia still identify the above painting of Joannes Faustus as that of Dr. Johann Georg Faust, the Schwarzkünstler (master of dark arts) who died in Staufen in 1440 or 1441.

It was Johannes Fust who supported his namesake Johannes Gutenberg in his printing efforts by lending money. The result was that in 1455 Gutenberg finally printed 180 copies of his famous 42-line Bible. One year later Fust wanted his 800 gilders back. Since Gutenberg could not pay he had to hand over to Fust his print shop and half of the finished Bibles. When Fust smelled that publishing Bibles was a lucrative business he simply pulled Gutenberg over the barrel. Subsequently in 1462 Fust printed his own bible, the Biblia Sacra Latina, he proudly presents in the above picture.

How did the confusion between Fust and Faust come about? Apparently one of Fust's grandchildren wrote a preface to a reprint of the Biblia Sacra Latina calling his grandfather Johan Fausten. The family liked Faust better than Fust and adopted the name. In addition there was a confusion when people used the label Schwarzkünstler not only for magicians but for printers too.

Was the local saving bank taken for a ride when they bought the picture? Not at all, Jean-Marie Clarke said, Staufen has acquired a painting of another historical person. I would like to add: the Staufeners should make a marketing gag out of their mistake. After all was is not Mephistopheles again who fooled them?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Trip to Staufen

- theThe little town of Staufen, 20 kilometers south of Freiburg, is well known to many American friends. The following photo dates back to June 2004 and shows a group in front of the town hall.

In the background, Staufen's town hall before its renovation.
Last Saturday, Red Baron took the train to join a guided tour to Staufen's secular places of interest organized by the local historical society. I was early with only a few visitors present, but when we left the train station starting the tour, our group comprised at least 60 persons despite the cold and rainy weather.

The first thing I learned was that the name Staufen has nothing to do with the famous Hohenstaufen nobility for their mountain and castle are located in the Swabian Jura.

The Hohenstaufen in Swabia (©Kreuzschnabel/Wikipedia)
Still, the form of the mountain top of the Hohenstaufen is similar to that of Staufen's castle hill. The two peaks look like a turned over stauf, an old German word for the goblet.

Staufen's Schlossberg as seen from the train station

The first place our group visited was the Fark'sche* Werkstatt of 1892 with some old machine tools dating back to the 19th century.
*Note the Deppenapostroph

Entrance to the Fark workshop
In Staufen, they take pride in this preserved workshop and keep lathes and drilling machines operational.

Manfred Kiefer is proud of "his" machines explaining them to a full house.
A picture of the original water wheel is shown in the back.
In 1892 one water wheel coupled to the main transmission by a sophisticated belt system with clutches drove all the machines.

A labyrinth of wheels and transmission belts
Standing drilling machine: a museum piece still working.

An old lathe in operation
An even older lathe
Later, a steam engine replaced the water power until, in the 1920s, one small electric motor took all the load.

The small electric motor

The next stop on our tour was in front of the Gasthaus Krone.

The painting on the wall shows a scene from the revolutionary year of 1948 when the landlord of the Crown Inn involved in the local uprising told soldiers fetching him under martial law: Ich dulde nicht, daß ich erschossen werde! (I will not tolerate being shot!). Red Baron learned the real story. The commanding general of the government troops, Friedrich Hoffmann, had not yet received a necessary written authorization for executions under martial law. And indeed, the landlord of the Crown Inn was spared while other freedom fighters, not knowing about the missing paper, had already been shot.

Note the little cannonball marked 1848 high on the left.
A passageway near the Gasthaus Krone carries the name of Gustav Struve, the leader of the revolutionaries. They had occupied Staufen but were rapidly defeated by government troops. Struve was arrested, brought to justice at Freiburg's Basler Hof, incarcerated in Fort Rastatt, and liberated by revolutionaries in 1849. Although having emigrated to America only in 1851, he is counted among the most influential Forty-Eighters in the States.

Concerning a well-preserved cannonball, Freiburg does better than Staufen. Our cannonball stuck in the wall of the Loretto Chapel is bigger and more than a hundred years older.

Cannonball from the French siege of Freiburg in 1744
stuck in the wall of the chapel on Lorettoberg

On our way to the town hall along Hauptstraße (Main Street), our guide showed us the spot from where to take the best shot of Staufen even when the weather is terrible.

Bächle (narrow water channels) in Staufen's Main Street
Next, we stopped at the Gasthaus zum Löwen (Lion's Inn), the place where Dr. Faustus had lived for four years before he died a violent death in 1540 or 1541. The legend goes that Mephistopheles broke Faust's neck during one night after their twenty-four-year-contract had expired. Having heard a big bang, worried citizens entered the Lion's Inn. When their noses were irritated by a sulfurous smell, they were convinced that the devil had killed the learned Doctor whose body was in a grässlich deformiertem Zustand (horridly deformed state).

Note the red sticker glued over cracks plastered in a makeshift way:
Staufen darf nicht zerbrechen (Staufen must not break)
The real story about Faust's death is less magical. The count of Staufen was bankrupt. Looking for money, he came to Freiburg in 1535, where he met Erasmus of Rotterdam, who was indignant sitting on his suit- and book-cases waiting for his move to Basel. To get rid of his visitor, the great savant told the count that Doctor Faustus was on the brink of making gold. So the count invited Faust to Staufen, paying food and bed for him at the Lion's Inn for five long years. When he once met the Doctor in the street, the count set a deadline: I shall give you another three days to make gold. After that, you will go with a bang. Desperately Faust started new experiments, but apparently, in the following night, he used too much sulfur. The resulting big bang killed him.

Staufen's redecorated town hall showing many cracks.
One is pasted over by the red sticker (©joergens.mi/Wikipedia)
Eventually, our group moved to the Rathaus. At the old council chamber located on the first floor of the town hall, we were entertained with Apfelschorle (apple spritzer) and Nusszopf (plaited nut loaf).

Rathaus square-facing Renaissance window with Staufen's coat of arms
showing three golden staufen (goblets). To the right the Austrian colors
and the double-headed eagle stand for 437 years of  Habsburg rule.
The upper floors of the Rathaus serve as a museum full of memories of the 1848 Revolution. Here, taken during an earlier visit, is a photo of a rifle bullet that passed through the window, wounded the town clerk and then got stuck in a book. Luckily Albert Gysler survived the shooting and died in 1904 at the age of 81 peacefully in his bed.

Bullet in a book
We were then informed about the disaster that actually is striking Staufen. In 2006 - the town councilors had just beautifully redecorated their Rathaus - they decided on a drilling operation to be conducted in the spring of 2007, providing geothermal heating to the town hall. We read in Wikipedia: The drilling perforated an anhydrite layer and caused high-pressure groundwater to come into contact with the anhydrite, which then began to expand. The geochemical process called anhydrite swelling has been confirmed as the cause of these uplifts, i.e., the transformation of the mineral anhydrite (anhydrous calcium sulfate) into gypsum (hydrous calcium sulfate). A pre-condition for this transformation is that the anhydrite is in contact with water, stored in its crystalline structure. In July 2013, no end to the rising process was in sight. By 2010, some sections of the town had risen by 30 cm, causing cracks in the buildings of the old town center. In the meantime, relief drillings have reduced the water pressure and subsequently, monthly uplifts from 11 to 2 mm.

Vestigia Mephistopheles
At the end of the visit, everybody wanted to see Mephistopheles's footprint in the staircase on the third floor of the town hall. Was the lousy drilling in 2007 the devil's late curse upon Staufen?

Friday, February 19, 2016


The word Babelsberg leaves a strange aftertaste in the mouths of many Germans. Eighty years ago Babelsberg was known as Germany's Hollywood with the UFA studios dominating the German film production. When the Nazis came to power in 1933 Propagandaminister Joseph Goebbels became the boss. Although handicapped with a clubfoot Joseph was a womanizer, and no starlet became a star without his blessing. His "mountings" soon earned him an alliterated name: Der Bock von Babelsberg (The Babelsberg's ram).

18 February, 1943: 14,000 people in Berlin's Sportpalst
listen to Joseph Goebbels asking: Wollt ihr den totalen Krieg?
(Do you want all-out war?) ©Bundesarchiv
Last year on my way back from Potsdam to Berlin on the S-Bahn I suddenly read:

and got off the train. My intention was not to visit the film studios but rather to explore old Babelsberg. Note that the studios are still operating where recently the Cold War movie Bridge of Spies was produced.

Babelberg's town hall
Walking down Karl-Liebknecht-Straße I took a picture of the town hall. I went in, bought a small brochure about Babelsbergs historische Mitte (Babelsberg's historical center), and felt hungry. Continuing my walk I passed a restaurant called Domus. Although they announced Babelsberger Küche (Babelsberg cooking) their first dish on the menu was Mexikanischer Feuertopf (Mexican fire pot).

Suddenly my eye caught a café named EXNER fifty meters further down Karl-Liebknecht-Straße. I entered and ordered a Leonardo Light and a raspberry tart. Light means here the opposite to dark. In fact the coffee pot I ordered was not light at all being topped with whipped cream and strangely enough decorated as the Leonardo Dark coffee.

While enjoying coffee and cake I opened the brochure. The first thing I learned was that there is no old Babelsberg for until 1938 the place had been called Nowawes being a corruption of Czech Nová Ves meaning new village. The Nazis did not like the name because of its Slavic origin and ordered that an existing villa district called Neubabelsberg was combined with old Nowawes to form the town of Babelsberg. How come?

Again, it was Frederick the Great, not caring about what his subjects believed, who in 1750 gave Czech Hussite refugees being spinners and weavers a new home in Prussia near his residence in Potsdam. When asked how the center of the new colony should look the king took off his famous tricorne hat and threw it on the table saying: Like this!

Ordnance map of 1835 showing Nowawes (in German Neuendorf)
and the new railway line Berlin-Potsdam passing the small town
without a station. Nowawes's triangular square is surrounded
by many one-story houses (©Gläser/Wikipedia)
In the beginning Frederick's new Czech subjects processed imported cotton but later the king had 5800 mulberry trees planted even around the triangle square to feed silkworms for the production of the luxury fabric that so far had to be imported into Prussia too. Small houses where the inhabitants worked on their weaving looms surrounded the square. In its center the Friedrichskirche (sic!) was consecrated as early as 1753 offering services both in Czech and German.

Having finished cake and coffee I walked further up Karl-Liebknecht-Straße turning right into Lutherstraße and suddenly He was there "in statue" standing in front of the old vicarage holding His Bible out to the otherwise Hussite population.

Old vicarage on Lutherstraße
When I arrived at the triangular Weberplatz (Weaver Square) gusty winds and rain showers tarnished my visit.

A Weberhaus reconstructed in its original style
More weaver houses used as restaurant and wine shop.
Note the mulberry tree in the foreground

There is a sculpture of Ioannes Amos Comenius in front of the church. Comenius wrote about himself: By birth I am a Moravian, my language is Bohemian, and my profession is theologian. Living through the period of the Thirty Years' War he, being a Protestant, had to flee Moravia taking exile first in Poland later in Hungary. Comenius is one of the fathers of modern education demanding basic schooling for boys and girls including poor and retarded children. Education should be peaceful, friendly, and true to life leading to independence, and to individual reasoning. In short: Comenius was an idealist.

This blog is the last in the series describing my November 2015 trip to Berlin and its surroundings.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Deppen Leer Zeichen

In an earlier blog Red Baron compared the English grocer's apostrophe with the German Deppenapostroph (goof's apostrophe). Last week I read about another disfigurement of my language: the Deppenleerzeichen (goof's blank space) or as those goofs would rather write Deppen Leer Zeichen. What happened?

Even Der Spiegel titles Windmühlen Wahn instead of
 Windnühlenwahn (windmill mania) (©Der Spiegel)
As you know German words can be long. Some German words are so long that they have a perspective as Mark Twain, the special friend of the German language, once wrote. However, what many foreigners regard as an ordeal turns out to be a fantastic tool for creating new words. I already mentioned Martin Luther who had - when translating the Bible into German - invented new German words by combining two existing words, e.g., Schandfleck (spot of shame) for blemish, Gewissensbiss (biting of the conscience) for remorse, Lockvogel (luring bird) for bait, and Landpfleger (caretaker of the country) for governor.

Modern authors invent new words too. Sascha Lobo once proposedAffärmann is the male part in an affair playing on the resemblance with Fährmann (ferryman). Unterlastung is the contrary of Überlastung (overload or overstrain). The neologism verversprechen is playing on the German double meaning of versprechen signifying either to promise or to suffer from a slip of the tongue. Therefore the new word means that a politician's promise before an election was just a slip of the tongue.

What recently happened in my country makes me go up the walls. More and more existing word combinations are separated by Deppenleerzeichen. So in a DIY store you no longer find Gartenhandschuhe (gardening gloves) but rather Garten Handschuhe although admittedly Garten Hand Schuhe have still to be seen. Looking around further I read Gieß Kanne instead of Gießkanne (watering can, more literally pouring jug) and Grab Erde for Graberde (plant nutrient soil to spill on a grave) where Grab Erde rather is an imperative: Dig the soil! Other examples are Curry Wurst instead of correctly Currywurst, Hotel Ausfahrt for Hotelausfahrt (hotel exit), and Kissen Schlachten for Kissenschlachten (pillow fights). In the last example a misunderstanding is likely for when Kissenschlachten is written with a Deppenleerzeichen you may interpret the combination as killing pillows.

I love killing pillows (©Doppelleerzeichen)

Even combinations of Deppenapostroph and Deppenleerzeichen become possible when the delicious Martinsgans (St. Martin's goose) is fragmented into:

Below there is another more serious example where it should read: Qualitätstierprodukte (quality products for animals) and (shop for dog leashs):

My English grammar of 1948

Some people argue that the Deppenapostroph was invented for graphical reasons or just to catch the eye of a potential customer. Others say that we imported the separation of words from the States where they struggle with combinations like shoe store, grocery store, candy store, but bookstore and drugstore. There is battleship and battle cruiser, post office and postcard, and backache and stomach ache. Seventy years ago my English teacher told me that there is a tendency in English to write word combinations in one word (is the trend still observed?) whereas in Germany the opposite becomes reality.

In German the basic rule is simple: Write all composed words in one word. Only since 2006 the possibility exists in German to use a hyphen in words like Biogemüse (organic vegetables). Writing Bio-Gemüse makes the combination easily readable. The same is true for Kaffee-Ersatz instead of Kaffeeersatz (coffee substitute) and even more so for Rohrohrzucker. In fact, this word could be misread as a meaningless "tube ear sugar" while "raw cane sugar" is meant. So a hyphen is essential: Roh-Rohrzucker. For those long German words where even native speakers frequently stumble hyphens now are common. The word Telefonhöreranschlusskabel (telephone receiver connecting cable) is easier read as Telefonhörer-Anschlusskabel but nobody taught us to separate long words by Deppenleerzeichen.

Once having a coffee at a Steh Café one of Germany's linguistic mentors, Bastian Sick, became so frustrated that he proposed to allow "do what you like" spellings for what is correctlly spelled Stehcafé* (standing café) in the next edition of Der Duden, Germany's Webster.
*Red Baron likes to savor his coffee seated and takes a coffee in an upright position only at an Italian coffee bar for an espresso - although not spelled expresso - must be consumed hot, very hot and therefore fast.

There is another mistake on the photo. It should read:
Tasse Kaffee (cup of coffee) instead of Tassekaffee.
Did they remove the blank there to reuse it in Steh Café? (©Bastian Sick)

Friday, February 12, 2016


When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali ... (Matthew 4:12-13)
Sea of Galilee
In the New Testament the Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias, is the water around which Jesus spent most of his time preaching and recruiting his disciples. In Hebrew the lake is named Sea of Kinneret serving as Israel's most important drinking water reservoir. As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him ... (Matthew 4:18-20)
Eating St. Peter's fish at the pilgrim's house at Tabgha
In Capernaum Jesus stayed in Petrus's house.
On stilts: St. Peter's Church was built like a dome above the ruins of  Peter's house
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home (to Peter's house). They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:1-5)
Jesus healing the paralyzed man is one of the biblical scenes in Galilee and illustrated in the Capernaum church
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. (Matthew 4:23-25)
The ruins of the Capernaum synagogue from the third century
Later Jesus made Peter his successor: Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church. (Matthew 16:18)
Statue of St. Peter:Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram  Aedificabo Ecclesiam meam, Et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus eam.
The bible stories of Jesus and the Sea of Galilee are the most impressive and so a trip on a boat was an absolute must. On the photo the water level of the lake is at -211.77 meters carefully controlled by Israeli authorities. The lake presents one quarter of the Israeli drinking water reserve.
For Americans and Italians that left on the King David before our group the captain had hoisted their national flags.
When our group boarded the ship there were gusty winds. The ladies had problems with their long hair and some even felt a shiver.
While watching the growing waves one of the Lake Gennesaret stories came to my mind:
Then Jesus got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:23-26) Luckily our waves did not sweep overboard. Another biblical site above the Sea of Galilee is the place where Jesus held his Sermon on the Mount. The Church of the Beatitudes located near Tabgha commemorates the event.
Church of the Beatitudes
Jesus preaching the beatitudes
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-12)
You can sing it in Latin
"Milestones" in the vast gardens around the church
On our way back down the hill we had spectacular views on the Sea of Galilee.
Suddenly we stopped at a landmark but only at home when carefully looking at the photo I understood: It was the place where Jesus had sent out his disciples. The stone was marked: Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes baptizantes eos in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti (Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit). (Matthew 28:19)
Her comes another Gennesaret story: Jesus withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13)

And here I turn around to the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish and the pomegranate-juice vendor I had met near the Church of the Multiplication. It was the blog with which I started the series about my trip to Israel last November. Note that I am not finished yet because I still would like to report about the Jewish Jerusalem, a visit to Yad Vashem, excursions to Massada and the Golan Heights, and, during the Passion Week, about the Via Dolorosa. So stay tuned.