Friday, October 30, 2020

Breaking the Wave?

This morning the number of daily Corona infections in Germany reached the 20,000 mark. This means that intensive care units are approaching their limits, not for hospital beds or ventilators but for experienced medical personnel. 

During the last days, still an orange isle in a read sea.
Today Germany's Corona case incidence passed 100 cases
per week and 100,000 inhabitants, i.e., it became deep red, too (©ntv).

Last Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel video conferenced with the governors of the 16 states. “It is clear that we must act, and act now to prevent a national health crisis,” she said. The measures agreed upon rather rapidly aim to ease the country’s health system strain, where hospitals have seen the number of patients double in the past 10 days.

New restrictions in Germany will be valid throughout November. The primary goal is to reduce the number of contacts by a calculated 75%, thereby flattening the curve again. The temporary restrictions limit the number of people allowed to meet up in public areas to ten provided they belong to two families only. The measures are regarded as a breaker for the second Corona wave.

While hotels are off-limits for private stays (no holidays) and restaurants and bars are closed, supermarkets, stores, schools, and daycare centers will remain open. The German media labeled the restrictions, which are less comprehensive than those imposed in the spring, when schools and most businesses were forced to close too as “lockdown light.”

The virus's rapid spread should be brought to a halt before the coming Christmas holidays without bringing the economy to a complete standstill. Therefore, the government will compensate small- and mid-sized businesses affected by the monthlong closures with up to 75% of losses, i.e., the financial aid for affected businesses will be worth up to 10 billion taken out of a fund of 25 billion euros.

The Corona situation in southern Baden.
New infection on October 29 (red) and
seven-day incidence per 100,000 (yellow) (©BZ).
The restrictions also mean that we can no longer meet at our monthly Freiburg-Madison Stammtisch. Red Baron will miss the  Kieser Training in particular.

©The governement of Baden-Württemberg
In the meantime, the fourfold AHAL developed into a fivefold AHAAL. The additional "A" stands for "app," Germany's Corona tracing application.

20,3 million Corona apps working on mobile phones (iOS and Android) had been downloaded by October 23, representing 24,4% of the German population. According to a study at Oxford University, the "app" is already useful at a 15% penetration; at 60%, the pandemic could be stopped.

The cryptic green message on my iPhone possibly means that I had come near to a person that had been tested negative on Corona.

Tomorrow, I shall visit the Minster market and eat my last Bretzel and drink my ultimate small Weizenbier vom Fass (wheat beer on tap) to the health of all my readers before Toni‘s place will be closed on Monday.

P.S.: Promises made, promises kept. On Halloween morning at Toni's on Münsterplatz at 11h30. But when I had finished ...

... an old Frank Sinatra tune came to my mind, "The tables are empty, the floor is deserted ..." and taking the lyrics further, "It wasn't my first lesson in learning the blues."

Too sad ...

Thursday, October 22, 2020

We Shall Become a Jewish Nest

In my blog following a guided tour on “Jewish life in Freiburg" on March 11, I gave my readers an overview of the history of the local Jewish community up to the year 1424 when Emperor Sigismund confirmed the city council decree of 1411, Daz dekein Jude ze Friburg niemmerme sin sol (That no Jew should ever be in Freiburg again) with an Eternal Expulsion. 

The talk Red Baron listened to on the evening of October 20, 2020
The date of my second blog about Jewish life in Freiburg coincides with the date of the Wagner-Bürckel-Aktion on October 22, 1940, when the Jews in Baden were deported to Gurs.

The 19th Century

In 1807, thanks to Napoleon‘s rule, Jews in Baden were recognized as citizens, and their religion was tolerated. They “enjoyed” protected citizenship but were denied local rights. Besides, they were allowed to settle only in communities where Jews were already residents. Within Freiburg‘s city boundaries, only temporary daily stays were permitted.

With the advent of a constitutional monarchy in Baden in 1818, the state parliament's two chambers again discussed the Jews' emancipation. During the “Jewish debates” in the Second Chamber in 1821, resistance was stirring. Freiburg's Karl von Rotteck made himself the spokesman for the members of parliament who demanded of Jews to earn their civil rights through increased integration.

Freiburg put up fierce resistance against freedom of movement. For fear of competition, the merchants wanted to retain the prohibition on Jews, the ban that had existed since 1424, and the city council had once more confirmed in 1809. A petition addressed to the Baden parliament stated, “Wir werden zum Judennest (We shall become a Jewish nest.”) 

With such hospitality, it is not unsurprising that the first Jewish family settled in Freiburg as late as 1850, and in 1861 only 37 Jews were counted within the city boundaries. 

           35 Jewish families and a preliminary synagogue
Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums of September 6, 1864.
Jewish Communities)
Initially, the Jewish community had only a small prayer room on Münsterplatz that the Catholic Freiburgers regarded with suspicion.

Looking for a kosher butcher,
Ad in the journal Der Israelit on July 11, 1877.
Jewish Communities)
At the time of the formation of the Second Reich in 1871, 1.3% or 330 of Freiburg‘s citizens were Jews. This number increased to a maximum of 1399 or 1.6% in 1925. 

 On September 23, 1870, the new synagogue on Werthmannplatz was solemnly consecrated.

©Stadtarchiv Freiburg 
The Freiburger Zeitung of September 25, 1870, wrote, "The festive consecration of the new Israelite temple on the Rempart was celebrated last night. Like the small congregation, the beautiful Jewish house of worship, boldly rising in Moorish-Byzantine style, is a living example of how God is mighty even in miniature. Delayed many times by the disfavor of the time, the synagogue has lost nothing ... The colorfulness of the walls and ceiling is softened by the reflections of darkly painted windows ... Rabbi Reiß's sermon was dignified, and Cantor Sommer's beautiful and sonorous tenor filled the room of the small house of worship accordingly ... The auditorium, consisting of the members of the congregation, several guests of honor, including the heads of the authorities of the state, and the Protestant clergy, etc., followed the uplifting service with devotion ... ”

The Third Reich

With the advent of the Third Reich in January 1933, Jews started to leave the city so that in June, the census gave their number as 1138. In May 1940, at the beginning of the Second World War, only 600 Jews still resided in Freiburg. Following the Wagner-Bürckel Aktion in October 1940 (see below), their number dropped to 41; most of the remaining were living in mixed Jewish-Christian marriages.

Already in late March 1933, Freiburg’s Nazi newspaper Der Alemanne called for a national boycott of Jewish businesses, which was officially organized on a national scale for April 1. 

In the future, no German will buy from Jews! 
Remember well! Judah wanted to annihilate Germany!
The Freiburg Catholic St. Konradsblatt explained this measure as a reaction to the spread of atrocity reports about the massacre of thousands of Jews in the Anglo-American press, "As a punishment for these rumors from abroad, a movement has now formed in Germany with the aim of carrying out a general boycott of Jewish shops and at the same time limit the number of Jewish lawyers and doctors. This came into effect under the leadership of the NSDAP on Saturday, April 1, at 10:00 a.m. Reich Chancellor Hitler emphasized that this defense reaction had to be organized because otherwise, it would have come from and by the people and have taken undesirable forms! 

The Freiburgers only moderately followed the boycott of Jewish shops.

Other measures against Jewish citizens hurt more. On April 7, the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service came into force. The Arierparagraph stated: “Civil servants who are not of Aryan descent are to be retired.” The Nuremberg Race Laws of September 1935, i.e., the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, as well as the Reich Citizenship Law, followed the primitive logic of 1920 NSDAP's party program: ”Citizens can only be those who are Volksgenossen (comrades of the people). A Volksgenosse is of German blood, without regard to creed or denomination. No Jew can, therefore, be a Volkgenosse.”

The German Jews now fell under the Aliens Act. Thus all civil service was closed to them.

The persecution of Jews reached its spectacular climax on November 9, 1938, in the so-called Reich Pogrom Night, also known as Reichskristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass). 

SS-Standartenführer Walter Gunst was identified as the arsonist of the Freiburg synagogue. On the night of November 9-10, 1938, Gunst ordered gasoline, smashed the door of the building, and with his helpers, emptied the canisters in the synagogue, while at the same time the Gestapo searched the basement for documents. 

When the fire broke out between three and four in the morning, it came to a violent verbal exchange between the unsuspecting Gestapo men and the kindling SS men. In a perfidious impulse, the SS had Rabbi Siegfried Scheuermann, Cantor David Ziegler, and teacher Loeb David Maier got out of bed and forced them to watch the synagogue fire.

After the war, Wolf Middendorff, a student of law at the time, wrote about the arrival of the fire brigade accompanied by an agent because of the suspicion of arson, "At the scene of the fire, the accompanying detective recognized two high-ranking SS officers, who harshly rejected him, so he could not take up his work. A colleague who passed the scene between five and six observed that the fire brigade restricted itself to protecting the neighboring buildings. He is also chased away, but he announced the fire to the Freiburg public prosecutor's office. When the office, in turn, reported the obvious arson to the Attorney General in Karlsruhe, the latter said that the fire in the Freiburg synagogue is no news. Synagogues all over Germany are burning, and he added, ‘Leave the paragraphs at home, this is a political issue.’”

Middendorff reported as an eyewitness and took a photo too, "When I was on my way to the university on the morning of November 10, 1938, I saw the synagogue half-destroyed. Obviously, it had burned down. The partially blackened outer walls were still standing, the square around the synagogue was cordoned off by SS men who denied all access and took strict care that no one took photographs.”

Freiburg's Synagogue on November 10, 1938, around noon.
Parts of the collapsed ceiling are clearly visible in the large window.
A police officer guards the staircase but does not disturb the photograph. 
(©Stadtarchiv Freiburg). 
Under the command of the city building inspector, SS-Untersturmbannführer, and demolition expert Wilhelm Kunzmann, the synagogue was "laid down" the following day. During the next months, the foundations of the synagogue were razed to the ground. 

During the same night and the following day, the Freiburg authorities arrested 137 male Jews over 18 years of age who were taken by train to the Dachau concentration camp north of Munich.

Schüblinge in Baden-Baden (©C. Kreutzmüller). 
Note that the Jewish men were forced to march bareheaded.
In the 1930s, even for a Christian,
walking hatless in the street was socially unacceptable. 
Above all, these deportations* were intended to force the Jews to emigrate. In Dachau alone, 185 people died in the first weeks of internment. After a few months, these Schüblinge (shifted people) were released, but only 60 Freiburgers returned home, starved, sick, and with severe frostbites. 
*about 30,000 Jews throughout the Reich

Stolpersteine (stumbling blocks)
Among the returnees was prisoner number 23221, Professor (ret.) Sigmund Fleischmann from Sternwaldstraße. At his address, I have a stumbling block set to his memory. Sigmund died at Freiburg in 1939 as a result of his internment in Dachau. His wife Lina was deported to Theresienstadt on August 22, 1942, and murdered in Auschwitz in May 1944. 

Following November 15, 1938, Jews were no longer allowed to attend German schools and universities, and since January 1, 1939, they were prohibited from conducting businesses. 

Freiburg was well ahead of this, for as early as April 1, 1937, the K.G. Fritz Richter operated the department stores of the Kaufhausjude (department store Jew) Sally Knopf.

Memorial in the form of a road sign at the Square of the Old Synagogue
As already mentioned, in 1940, about 600 Jews were still living in Freiburg. On October 22, 1940, in the framework of the Wagner-Bürckel Aktion, they were deported, together with other Jews from Baden, the Palatinate, and Saarland, to the Camp de Gurs in the Pyrenees. 

The secret instruction leaflet of the Wagner-Bürckel-Aktion  
(©C. Kreutzmüller).
Gurs was located in the part of France unoccupied by the Germans and ruled from Vichy.

The Warner-Brückle Aktion at Lörrach  (©C. Kreutzmüller).
The order of deportation took the Jews of Freiburg by complete surprise and took place, perfidiously, on a high Jewish holiday, the merry Feast of Tabernacles. Within hours, those affected had to pack up a few belongings and transfer their remaining possessions by signature to the Reich. In the following months, household contents and real estates were auctioned or sold to the Freiburg population - usually clearly undervalue.

A memorial plaque set up on the initiative of my friend Andreas Meckel at the Annakirchlein (St. Anna Church) in my part of town, the Wiehre.
 Jewish citizens who had to assemble here and
to wait for their transport to Freiburg's train station.
Citizens of the Jewish faith and those who were declared Jews according to the inhuman racial ideology were deported from Baden, the Palatinate, and Saarland on October 22, 1949, under the Nazi rule of terror.
From this place in the Wiehre, the deportation of the women, men, and children began in full view of everyone to Gurs concentration camp in southern France.
Most of the deportees succumbed at Gurs to the inhuman camp conditions or were later murdered.;

A Freiburg eyewitness writes, “Throughout October 22, Jewish citizens were driven out of their apartments. They had to wait at assembly points such as the Hebel School's courtyard in the Stühlinger quarter for hours and sometimes the whole night before they were eventually put on trains to Gurs. Seven trains brought 6538 women, men, and children from all over Baden and the Palatinate to the camp in southern France. Could such an event go unnoticed in Freiburg? Probably only by those who did not want to see. The Freiburg platforms were black with people ... “ 

To protect the “Catholic” Jews, Freiburg’s Archbishop Conrad Gröber asked the papal nuncio in Berlin for the pope's intervention. In vain, since in the Third Reich, being a Jew was not a question of religion but of race. 

Numbers of deportees furnished by Dr. Heinrich Schwendemann,
 the known expert in the field (©BZ)
Already on October 23, 1940, Gauleiter (governor) Robert Wagner proudly announced to his Führer: “The Upper Rhine is the first region of the Reich being free of Jews,” while the Freiburg journalist Karl Willy Straub applied his knowledge of history: "Freiburg is once again free of Jews”(read above).

The cruel transport by train through occupied and Vichy France to Gurs (©BZ)
Many people did not survive the stress of the three days and four nights of rail transport to Gurs. Those who managed were transported to the Auschwitz and Majdanek extermination camps in 1942.

Here are the links to two articles in German about the shameful anniversary published in the Badische Zeitung on October 21, "Territoriale Endlösung" and 22, "Ort des Schreckens."

The Post War Period

After the end of the Second World War, just ten Jews married "in mixed marriages" had survived in the city, and only five Jews born in Freiburg returned home. 

In September 1945, a Jewish service was held in Freiburg for the first time after the war. At the end of the same year, a new Jewish congregation was constituted, which was initially called the "Israelitische Landesgemeinde Südbaden" (Israelite community in the state of South-Baden). In the early 1950s, the Freiburg congregation had about 60 members who used a prayer room at Holbeinstraße

Due to the immigration of Russian Jews, the community's structure changed considerably. In 2007, more than 700 people belonged to the religious community.  

In November 1987, a new community center with a synagogue was inaugurated on the corner of Nussmann-/Engelstraße close to the cathedral. In the building, designed by Karlsruhe architects, the two oak wings from the synagogue's main portal, which was destroyed in 1938, were inserted. The community center comprises a community hall with 120 seats, a ritual bath, an exhibition room, the synagogue itself with 150 seats, rooms for the young people, and a kosher kitchen.

Red Baron participated in some of the activities of Freiburg’s Jewish community as there were the commemoration of the burning of the Synagogue and the Kippa Day.

Square of the Old Synagogue

So far, so good. But trouble started in 2016 when Freiburg shaped its new center creating the Square of the Old Synagogue. Red Baron blogged about the remains of the Old Synagogue and what happened to its memorial.

P.S. For this blog, I borrowed some information from the website „On the History of Jewish Communities in the German Language Area.“ 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Four Gs

Freiburg has passed the critical mark of an averaged 50 Covid-19 infections per 100,000 inhabitants and week even though since last Saturday, stricter rules had been in force in Freiburg, for example, an obligation to wear a Mund-Nasen-Bedeckung (mouth-nose-cover) at the Münstermarkt (the market around the cathedral) and all other markets. The official figure published by the State Health Office from Tuesday evening was 58 averaged Covid-19 infections.

This morning Freiburg's Lord Mayor Martin Horn held a public video conference jointly with the University's Medical Faculty director Professor Frederik Wenz calming down the population and stressing that the city is better prepared for this second wave of Covid-19 than it was in the spring.

Since Baden-Württemberg is approaching the magic mark of 50 fast, Horn is waiting for the state to implement more and stricter Corona rules that Freiburg will implement consequently.

The reaction promptly came in the evening:

According to state regulations, the public health department issued a decree for the city of Freiburg from October 22 onwards:
- an obligation to cover the mouth and nose in the entire old town of Freiburg

- no sale of alcoholic beverages publicly from 7 p.m.

- city-wide closing time for gastronomy businesses at 11 p.m.  

In the meantime, the total number of new infections in Germany has passed 10,000 per day but is likely to increase during the coming months. 

Everybody talks about 5G that the normal Internet user does not need, but no new mobile phone comes without. Red Baron would already be happy to meet a 4G coverage throughout my trips in Germany. 

Now the head of the Robert-Koch-Institute, Professor Lothar Wieler, told his listeners to avoid four Gs that however have nothing to do with the transmisson of data, i.e., Geschlossene Räume, Gruppen und Gedränge sowie Gespräche in lebhafter Atmosphäre und engem Kontakt. 

So during the coming autumn and winter months, people should not only apply AHAL. For my English-speaking friends, it will likewise be important in the translation to avoid the five Cs: "Closed rooms, groups, and crowds as well as conversations in a lively atmosphere and in close contact." 

The project of the Freiburg-Madison-Gesellschaft "Auswandererlieder or The Sound of Freedom" scheduled for today was already canceled ten days ago. Is there no hope?

This morning Red Baron passed a poster. I scanned the code and got the following message:

Eco-logics. The new spheres of the world

An art and event project in the context of Freiburg's city anniversary from October 9 to November 29, 2020. Here is the strange text translated:

In the age of the "Anthropocene," it becomes more and more obvious that we are robbing ourselves and other living beings of the basis of existence. Whether plants, animals, or minerals - man/woman is not the "measure of all things." 

Complex relationships and dynamics determine the structure of human existence in the biosphere. This integration into worldwide climatic and microbiological processes becomes more and more noticeable from year to year.

Should I visit the new spheres of the world or reduce my contacts to zero during the coming weeks giving Corona no chance? 

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Mother of All Nonsense

On the train and on my way to Oberstdorf
This is what a deputy of the Liberal Party in Baden-Württemberg’s state parliament called the heatedly debated Beherbergungsverbot. Many of Germany’s big cities now exceed the official alert threshold of 50 daily Corona infections over a period of seven days per 100,000 people, so other less affected regions and states introduced an accommodation ban for those coming from hot spot areas supposedly protecting their own people. 

A father from Recklinghausen, a city in the Ruhr district, having booked a hotel for his family in Ravensburg at Lake Constance for the fall holidays suddenly was no longer allowed to travel south. He went to court in Baden-Württemberg and the judges overturned the administrative order that in turn led to the debate in the state parliament about the Beherbergungsverbot.

In fact, this accommodation ban hurts the right of free movement of people, a fundamental right that can only be restricted in the case of an emergency. The judges argued less fundamentally, namely that a family coming from a hot spot cannot per se be placed under general suspicion of being infected. In addition, the hotel business has so far shown good compliance with the sanitary rules – no Corona hot spots up to now - and should not be punished. The ban is disproportionate.

Where do we go from here? Chancellor Angela Merkel emerged from a meeting with governors this week greatly frustrated by the joint measures to fight the ongoing second wave of Covid-19 infections. The measures agreed upon were a lowest common denominator compromise. They will not stop the exponential increase of cases observed in Germany. It does not help to keep fingers crossed and the measures surely will have to be sharpened at the follow-up meeting in ten days.

The mother of all Corona infections is contact. The best way to reduce the spread of Covid-19 is to avoid contacts with other people. The AHAL-rules (distance, hygiene, wearing masks, and aeration of frequented rooms) help but no contact with your family members, friends, and fellow citizens is better.

Who can tolerate this when in Genesis 2:18 Jehovah God saith, 'Not good for the man to be alone?

Saturday, October 10, 2020


In Ulm, um Ulm, und um Ulm herum is a German tongue-twister. On my way back from Augsburg to Freiburg, I visited the city known for the highest steeple in the world and for being Albert Einstein's birthplace. I stayed at the Intercity Hotel near Central Station.

My pedestrian visit followed the tongue-twister walking in Ulm, about Ulm, and around Ulm.

Here stood the house where Albert Einstein was born on November 18, 1879.
When walking through the pedestrian zone in the direction of the Minster, I suddenly saw a memorial of Einstein's birthplace in the form of a geometrical structure. During the last war, the houses in the Bahnhofsviertel (quarter around the train station) were leveled to the ground but never rebuilt.

I could not miss Ulm's Minster Church from a distance.

The steeple is so high that the photo required more editing to give my readers the right feeling.

Like the Freiburg Minster, the one in Ulm is never free of scaffolding.

The front entrance was locked, so tourists occupied the steps.

I entered the church through a side door and suddenly found myself among people attending the midday devotion listening to organ and sermon.

When leaving the Minster by the side aisle, Covid-19 showed its ugly barrier tapes.

The famous Ulmer Rathaus was on my way to the Danube River.

Looking for lunch, I passed by Ulm's new synagogue ...

... and by a panel reminding that General Wallenstein stayed in Ulm at the von Schad Haus on May 29/30, 1630, during the Thirty Years War.

Red Baron sat outside for lunch, at the Erstes Ulmer Pfannkuchenhaus/Allgäuer Hof located near the river in the Fisher Quarter.

I had to wait for my bacon pancake for some time. In the meantime, the level of my local Gold Ochsen Kellerbier Dunkel (Golden Ox dark cellar beer) had dramatically dropped.

On my way to the Danube River, I passed a monument for a farmer and his pig trader ...

... and Our Father Lane.

Walking along the Danube River, you can take the Uferpromenade (the low way) but I took the high way on top of the old city wall and had a good look into the Bavarian town of Neu Ulm (New Ulm) on the other side of the river bank.

As I moved on, the old city wall came to an end, and I had to change to the low way.  The guys and girls of Fridays For Future had chalked many of their slogans on the ground.  This one literally translates into "Vegans don't party; they set the sow free, i.e., don't eat meat". But the phrase is a pun in German. Die Sau rauslassen means partying without any limit or, as the dictionary teaches me, "let it all hang out."

Eventually, I turned inland to visit the official Einstein monument passing the old Gänsturm (goose tower)

Strangely enough, the Einstein fountain faces the entrance to Ulm's courthouse. Its lower part is a rocket stump presenting the start into a new area with Einstein's discoveries. The large snail shell growing out of the rocket stands for the skepticism towards technology. Albert Einstein's head peeps out of the shell showing him with his famous tongue stuck out. 

In the meantime, I had reached the landside city wall passing through a redecorated gate of the renovated Zeughaus (arsenal).

I continued walking along the inner side of the wall.

On my way, I had another astonishing look at Ulm's Minster Church.

On the other end of the city, I eventually reached my final goal the Museum Brot und Kunst (Museum Bread and Art). Baking is possibly the oldest craft when men settled, changing from hunters to farmers while women baked the bread. With the process of baking being well known, I rather show you some artwork related to bread sparing out temporary paintings for copyright reasons.

I did not know Saint Onuphrius. As a hermit in the Egyptian desert, he apparently lived on altar bread alone brought to him every second day by an angel. He is one of the Desert Fathers. 

Hinterm Pflug im Industrieland
(Behind the Plough in an Industrial Landscape), 1918

Brot und Eisen (Bread and Iron) 1920
These two naturalistic paintings by Fritz Gärtner found all my attention as possible precursors of the art in Nazi Germany that was no longer characterized by Bread and Soil but by Blut und Boden (Blood and Soil).

Unser täglich Brot (Our Daily Bread)  1933/36
"Here we are, the date is right," I thought when looking at the painting by Joseph Multrus. A Germanic family assembled around a table, the father saying grace, the mother cutting a slice of bread from a loaf while the hungry children eat already. 

Well, I was mistaken. Joseph Multrus (1898-1957) was a Czech artist. He studied at the School of Applied Arts, and then at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, where he became a member of the Union of Fine Artists in 1924.

In the Czech Wikipedia, I found the following information: He created mostly large-format works regarding the social aspects of the workers' environment. He preferred dark colors with a variety of gray tones. ... His love of J. S. Bach's music manifested itself in the dark and often depressing mood of his paintings ... His paintings of the working class were often used as gifts for embassies and on state visits.

Rather the art of the working class?