Saturday, April 29, 2017


Red Baron blogged about Brezeln (pretzels) before. Toddlers in strollers sucking lye pretzels are typical to Freiburg's streetscape. This is why today's article in the Badische Zeitung about a traditional Freiburg baker buying deep-frozen pretzels in Swabia and selling them crisped up on Baden territory stirred up the minds of Freiburgers. What should comfort the local population somewhat, is the form of the pretzel presented in the newspaper article. It clearly shows a Bavarian Brezn and not a Swabian Brezel.

Bavarian Brezn with "highly" attached arms (©Wikipedia)

Swabian Brezel with arms below and a belly showing a hernia
(©Guido Augustin)
Still, the local pretzel scene is uneasy. Reporters questioned local bakers, and all except one faithfully promised to bake their own pretzels. At the same time, discounters sell crisped up pretzels using cheap deep-frozen Teiglinge (pieces of dough) formed in Poland and even further away in Romania. Many people are fighting globalization should we fight Europeanization?

Let taste decide the pretzelgate although toddlers are no impartial judges. For them, it is the salt crust that counts (very bad), and this is often thicker on cheap pretzels.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

March for Science

The NYT claimed that more than 500 cities around the world will participate in today's March for Science. If this is so Freiburg is among 22 cities  in Germany and Red Baron participated in the march in spite of his painful legs.

When Red Baron arrived early at the meeting place, Platz der Weißen Rose on university campus, he met a few participants, read their slogans, and above all he got hold of a commemorative button.

The sexist biologists

A nice family in protest against homeopathy.
Globuli are compared to gummi bears.

Knowledge (science) provides future.
Not all what has been discovered has turned out to be beneficial.

Ulrich von Kirchbach and friend
Red Baron wearing sandals
from April 1, to October 15.

We are ready for the march
I regarded the Freiburg March as a supporting move to the Mother of all Marches for Science in Washington. The NYT wrote: You start seeing headlines that say environmentalists are the new Marxists, said Aaron M. McCright, a sociologist at Michigan State University, who has studied the politicalization of science. And he continued that the March for Science will most likely further the partisan divide over scientific issues, especially if there are no prominent conservative speakers, mostly because the media echo chambers that individuals follow will frame the event for them.

Soon some well known Americans arrived at the Platz der Weißen Rose. I told them that in Germany creationist movements and organizations denying man-made climatic change either do not exist or are looked upon with a certain smile. Later Red Baron learned and had to admit that right at Germany's front door "fakeless" science has a hard time in Hungary and Poland.

Here comes a photo gallery of our march from the university campus to Augustinerplatz:

Marching through Bertoldstraße with the streetcars on hold.
I talked to the man with the sign and told him in English that he was at the wrong rally.
It turned out that he was a German.

Blowing the above photo up:
There is a familiar face wearing a cap in the center.

Still on Bertoldstraße aproaching Bertoldsbrunnen ...

... and passing through St. Martin's Gate ...

... we finally arrived at Augustinerplatz.

There were an estimated 2500 participants.
Still behind me the guy with his sign.

The following speeches were introduced by guitar players.

There is a renaissance of dogmatic world views, University Rector Professor Hans-Jochen Schiewer warned, with contemporaries bending the world into their shape. Freiburg's university has joined the international program Scholars at Risk to help endangered scientists. Last week the university granted a scholarship to a doctoral student from Burundi.

Instead of a calling lies what they are scientists delivering facts are discredited, Mayor Ulrich von Kirchbach critized and stressed Freiburg's solidarity with scientists world wide.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


On April 19, 50 years ago Konrad Adenauer, first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, died. On this occasion Der Spiegel published an article Geheimakte Adenauer (Adenauer's secret files) revealing that amongst other deeds der Alte (the old fox) had used the secret services to spy on the opposition party (Social Democrats) and its leaders.

@Der Spiegel
They also mentioned again the arrest of Der Spiegel's editor in chief, Rudolf Augstein, in 1962 for publishing an article: Bedingt abwehrbereit (Limited Preparedness) claiming that the German Bundeswehr (defense force) was incapable of meeting an attack from the Eastern Block. Adenauer accused Augstein and his collaborators of high treason stating in the Bundestag (parliament): Ich schaue in einen Abgrund von Landesverrat (I am looking into an abyss of treason).

What the chancellor did not expect: The German people stood up and showed that democracy Adenauer had vaccinated them with worked. In the aftermath of the Spiegel Affair he had to fire several of his ministers and reshuffle the government and never regained his popularity.

At the beginning of his chancellorship* Adenauer's credo was based on three pillars: Integrating Germany into the western alliance in spite of deferring German reunification for ever and a day, reconciliation with France, and social market economy leading to the Wirtschaftswunder (Germany's economic miracle).
*Adenauer became chancellor at an age of 73 with a one vote majority (his own) in 1949 and stepped back in 1963 at an age of 87.

Adenauer, a man educated in the Kaiserreich of the19th century and at the end plagued by senil stubbornness, understood democracy as being something useful for his Christian Democratic Party. His opinion about the German voter: Der dumme Bürger, meine Herren - und der Bürger in Deutschland, ich weiß nicht wie er anderswo ist, ist strohdumm! -, glaubt das. (The dumb citizen, gentlemen - and the citizen of Germany, I don't know how he is elsewhere, is empty-headed! -, believe that).

Nevertheless in Adenauer's case we should not apply Shakespeare's dictum: The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones. 

Requiescas in pace, Konrad, Du hast Dich um Dein Land verdient gemacht! (May you rest in peace, Konrad, you served your country well!)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

LEDs on Freiburg's Münster Church

Just in time for Easter Freiburg's Münster church is presented in a proper light. Landmarks around Germany are generally illuminated during night hours but the Münster had been treated as a stepchild in the past. A couple of years ago spotlights at neighboring buildings using light bulbs did the job until is was acknowledged that their energy consumption was unacceptable for a green city.

It happened that seven years ago Germany's federal government promoting LED illumination for public buildings asked cities to submit proposals. Freiburg was selected among all those who had sent their suggestions to Berlin. For the illumination of the Münster alone the city received 750,000 euros.

The new lighting comprised 55 spots imbedded in the ground and 64 distributed around the church. From the beginning people complained that the new illumination was too dim, an experience Red Baron had made when changing his light spots at home to LEDs; always select a more intense light source than recommended, i.e., choose LEDs of higher watts.

Soon the lighting around the Münster became even dimmer as many of the 55 spots imbedded in the ground became wet and conked out.

Following debates and new expertise the city council invested another 330,000 euros in new LEDs but keeping the infrastructure. This time the result is spectacular.

The scaffolding around the steeple should disappear by the end of the year (©BZ/Thomas Kunz)
The total electrical power used is only 1.3 kilowatts and the new light sources should last at least 20 years, too long for Red Baron to check.

Lagniappe: Americans always wonder why Germans are crazy about white asparagus. Here is what Elisabeth and I had today on Easter Sunday.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Circle of Friends Day

Today on Palm Sunday the Tag der Freundeskreise took place at the premesis of the Volkshochschule Freiburg (VHS).

At its stand the Freiburg-Madison-Gesellschaft informed visitors about its yearly program, its contacts to the citizens of Madsison, WI., its commitment to the Academic Year in Freiburg (AYF), and its close collaboration with the Carl-Schurz-Haus. We showed films about Madison and distributed flyers.

Special attention was given to the Prairie Project at Freiburg's Mundenhof.

We had some special guests from Madison, here together with FMG's President Toni Schlegel.

In the meantime Red Baron gave his talk about: Von badischen Revolutionären zu Forty-Eighters. For those of you who read German; here is the link to a pdf-file. You may as well look at the pictures.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

No Bach Without Luther

Last Sunday Red Baron listened to a concert at the nearby Christuskirche. This Lutheran church was built in the years 1889 to 1891 giving non-Catholics living in the Wiehre a home. The city of Freiburg donated the plot for the church under the condition that there shall be a tall steeple. This condition fulfilled Mayor Otto Winterer's maxim: A village has roofs, a town sports steeples.

Christ church and it's steeple
Following the interior the surroundings of the church were completely redecorated for the celebration of 500 years of Reformation.

Red Baron arrived early for the concert and participated in - as all the other listeners already present - rehearsing the chorals we were asked to sing together with the choir in concert.

The Bach cantata we listened to are called choral cantata. They are complex consisting of music pieces sung by a choir, arias performed by soloists, recitatives, and chorals. He wrote 224 of them, 200 with religious themes. Bach's most-know secular cantata is the Kaffeekantate (Coffee Cantata) BWV 211.

Once again I experienced that instruments are more transparent at a life performance then at any recording. I was mostly impressed by the temperamentvoll abwärtspolternden Läufe in der Bass-Arie „Stürze to Boden, schwülstige Stolze!" (the lively crashing flow of the bass aria "Hurl to the ground the pompous proud!"). As I read on the Internet: The aria is dramatic, especially in the restless continuo. John Eliot Gardiner quotes William G. Whittaker: Bach’s "righteous indignation at the enemies of his faith was never expressed more fiercely than in this aria".The Bach scholar Alfred Dürr describes the movement as an "aria of genuinely baroque dramatic force", expressing "Old Testament zeal".

It took me some time to find a recording that approximates more or less the life interpretation:

Stürze zu Boden, schwülstige Stolze!
Mache zunichte, was sie erdacht!
Laß sie den Abgrund plötzlich verschlingen,
Wehre dem Toben feindlicher Macht,
Laß ihr Verlangen nimmer gelingen!
Hurl to the ground the pompous proud!
Bring to nothing, what they intended!
Let the abyss suddenly swallow them up,
curb the raging of the enemy's power
May what they long for never come to pass!

The well-known Cantata BWV 80: Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A mighty fortress is our God) somehow the national anthem of the Lutheran church closed the concert. The choir introduces the cantata so the congregation has no chance of singing.

The chorus comes at the end with the words of the third verse:

Das Wort sie sollen lassen stahn
Und kein' Dank dazu haben.
Er ist bei uns wohl auf dem Plan
Mit seinem Geist und Gaben.
Nehmen sie uns den Leib,
Gut, Ehr, Kind und Weib,
Laß fahren dahin,
Sie habens kein' Gewinn;
Das Reich muß uns doch bleiben.

The Word they shall allow to stand,
and no thanks they'll get for it.
He's on the field out where we stand!
with all his gifts and Spirit.
Take they from us this life,
goods, name, child, and wife,
Let all these be gone,
they still have nothing won:
the Kingdom shall stay with us.!
It was a mighty sound with congregation and choir singing together:

Sunday, April 2, 2017


Should I congratulate myself? Today I am publishing my 500th blog. Red Baron likes keeping a diary that at the same time will serve entertaining his American friends.

One detail however spoils my joy; a bot this time located somewhere in the States and in France? is hacking my blog resulting in a fake visitor's statistics.

Today's blogging will be light presenting you with a couple of spring photos I took at the Wiehre quarter where I live. Here is what I see from my kitchen window for breakfast:

Here is what I look at when walking down Maria-Theresia-Straße:

Did you know that at the Wiehre along Urachstraße we have a Kunstmeile (Mile of Art, Artist's Mile, Art Mile)?

Badisches Saugkalb (Baden Sucking Calf) by Astrid Hohorst (2009) 

Frecher Fratz (Naughty Mug) by Thaddaeus Hüppi (2005)
Spring not only brings new blossoms but new flags too for Freiburg's sister cities on Kaiserbrücke. So we are well prepared for the Partnerschaftsmarkt, the 9th International Meeting of Freiburg's Sister Cities, on June 23 and 24.

Madison's flag renewed

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Super 2017

Red Baron is always fascinated by America's Super Tuesdays. Here in Germany we are presently living through a Super Year with three state elections in spring and our federal election coming up on September 24.

Last Sunday people of Germany's smallest state, the Saarland, started Super 2017. They were called to the polls to elect a new state parliament. Here are the results that are by no means representative for the upcoming federal election but nevertheless are showing some general trends.

The CDU, Chancellor Merkel's party, gained an additional 5.5 % of the votes thanks to the excellent work of incumbent Ministerpräsident (Governor) Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. An analysis showed that older people afraid of a Red-Red coalition between the Social Democrats and the Linke (Left) showed up at the polls in high numbers voting Christian Democrat. At the same time they were boosting voter turnout from 61.6 last time to 69.7 %.

The grand coalition partner SPD lost 1 % and some commentators concluded that the Martin Schulz effect did not work. That is fake news for before Schulz had been nominated chairman of the Social Democrats the party had trailed only at a meager 24 %.

The results were disastrous for the Greens with a mere 4 %. They will no longer be represented in the state parliament*. The ecological party has somewhat lost its reason of existence. Nowadays all German parties have a green touch more or less. In Germany a man made climate change is generally accepted and measures to limit the emission of CO2 are agreed upon although sometimes reluctantly. In addition, the recycling of materials is an absolute must for a country with only lignite as its major natural resource.
*In Germany there exists the so-called 5 % hurdle, i.e., a party must have gained at least 5 % of the votes cast to be represented in parliament.

The Free Democrats generally gain votes of discontented CDU voters but since there were not any failed their entry into the Saarländischer Landtag. Forget the Pirates who had their best time with protest voters around 2012. The fell out of the state parliament.

Nowadays protesters vote AfD (Alternative for Germany) but the mere 6.2% are a bitter disappointment when party officials had rather reckoned with a two digit result.

While fake news are à la mode the AfD produced a fake photo of Martin Schulz presenting him as a liar. Admittedly Martin is no beauty. Alienating his face and facebooking the photo is perfidious, a SPD colleague said, this shall deliver two messages: The hooked nose is the classical hallmark of the eternal Jew as used in the anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda, the puckered lips stand for naïvety. Martin's fake photo heavily backfired in the social media so the AfD withdrew the picture in the meantime.

Did you know that @POTUS congratulated Chancellor Merkel on her?? election victory at the Saar? Ouch! Who told him that fake news?