Friday, June 24, 2016

New Perspectives

Due to family reasons, Red Baron had to shorten his long-awaited trip to Lutherland, i.e., the region in East Germany where Martin Luther initiated the Reformation and started spreading the new religion 500 years ago. So instead of joining my Group at Karlsruhe at 7 a.m. on June 14, I took the train two days later to meet my fellow travelers at Erfurt.

Going by train in Germany generally is a smooth affair except when you have to change trains. This time, however, my trouble started earlier. When I asked the waiter for my traditional pot of coffee and Butterkuchen, he could only serve me a coffee. As some sort of compensation and new experience: this time, I did not miss my connecting train in Fulda. As it was already late and not having eaten anything worth mentioning during the day, I went directly to the dining car and ordered a schnitzel with salad.

Schweineschnitzel with some sort of ratatouille and mixed salad with balsamic dressing  
I terminated my dinner with my favorite Butterkuchen and an espresso rather than a pot of coffee.

Butterkuchen in the light of the setting sun. Note the iPad mini that I use when traveling.

This will be the first blog in a series describing my visit to Lutherland.

The following morning I met my Group for breakfast. The bus took us to Weimar. In the past, I  blogged about essential aspects of Goethe's town several times, so during the present visit, I was instead looking for new perspectives, although Weimar's reception was something to get used to.

Somewhat perturbed, we passed the Nationaltheater with the famous statue celebrating the curious friendship between Goethe and Schiller.

The place became famous after the First World War when a German national assembly met at the theater deliberating and eventually passing the so-called Weimar Constitution.

The Bauhaus made the design for the memorial plate
seen on the left on the photo of the Nationaltheater.
The next stop on our walking tour was the Bauhaus University, where in the 1920s, among others, Henry van de Velde, Lyonel Feininger, and Walter Gropius had worked and taught.

The main building. Note the studio windows facing north for a "neutral" illumination.

Read those famous names teaching Formenlehre at the Bauhaus.

Students in the Bauhaus hallway

The park at the river Ilm is always worth a walk.

The river Ilm

Visual axis pointing to Weimar's castle tower

Weimar castle and castle bridge
In 1775 the widowed Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Anna Amalia invited young Goethe (26) to help with the education of her son Carl August (18). When Carl August became Grand Duke in 1815, he made Goethe his chief adviser. Looking at the duke's statue from 1875, you may recognize Goethe's facial profile plus showing the educator's tummy.

Carl August showing Goethe's facial profile and more
In April 2012, architect Walter Gropius and femme fatale, Alma Mahler-Gropius-Werfel, decorated the Führer's balcony at the new Elephant Hotel. In October 2012, Henry van de Velde greeted the visitor. This time Martin Luther, who else?, stood there declaring: Trinken ohne Durst, studieren ohne Lust, beten ohne Innigkeit sind verlorene Arbeit (Drinking without thirst, studying without passion, praying without ardency are labors lost).

During our extended lunch break, I had the absolute best charcoaled Thüringer Bratwurst in Thuringia at Bianka's. Her secret is: Adding lots of thyme to the stuffing. Later I downed the sausage with a small beer at the Altweimarische Bierstube reading at the entrance the famous citation from Goethe's Faust: Hier bin ich Mensch, hier darf ich's sein! When looking for a translation, Red Baron found the following:

Here I am human, here I am entitled to be!
Here am I human, here I am allowed to be so!
Here I am Man, here dare it to be!
Here I am of humankind, here I am free to be human!
Here I am human, here I may be so!
Here I am human, here I can be it, unhampered!

Make your favorite choice.

In sipping my beer, I enjoyed the view of the Goethehaus.

The beginning of the afternoon I spent at the Bauhaus-Museum just opposite of the Nationaltheater. On my way, I passed the Eckermannhaus with Schiller looking out of the window. During Goethe's last years, Johann Peter Eckermann served him as secretary.

The exhibition at the Bauhaus-Museum shows lots of graphics by Lyonel Feininger. I shall present a typical one in my future blog about Halle. Here are some untypical houses Feininger created while working at the Bauhaus in Weimar.

When leaving the Bauhaus-Museum, I noticed a group of students. Most of them I had seen at the exhibition before sitting on the floor and playing with their mobile devices. They continued doing so while standing with their teacher (gray sweater and blue jeans) in front of the building: O tempora, o mores!

During my last visit to Weimar, the so-called Herder Church was a building site. Now instead of a copy on canvas, the famous allegoric painting describing the new faith was up again in the chancel in time for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation next year. Lucas Cranach, the Elder, started the painting, but it was finished by his son Lucas Cranach the Younger.

Outside the church, carriage horses keep Weimar tidy but not their tails.

On our way to Leipzig, our Group passed Naumburg in the afternoon, where we spent two hours at the cathedral. To the layperson, the Naumburger Dom is better known for its Stifterfiguren (founder figures, i.e., the sponsors).

Smiling Reglindis greets the visitors.

The two Gothic steeples
The church is dear to all Lutherans, for it was here wherein the presence of Martin Luther and the Elector of Saxony, John Frederick, the first Lutheran bishop Nikolaus von Amsdorf was consecrated in 1542.

Carvings at the pulpit. Newly installed von Amsdorf in the eerie red of a co-traveler's focusing light while Luther points as usual to the Word. The Bible is all that counts.

Entrance to the choir with the founder figures

Everybody knows Uta and some her husband Ekkehard
Hermann von Meißen and his wife Reglindis.
She was only 23 years when she died.

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