Hallo meine Damen und Herren!
I have just spent the past weekend in Weimar – one of the top (in my opinion) culture cities of Europe. To begin, let me just pull out the mega ultra large German studies major geek of myself and tell y’all about the best part for me: Geothe.
I got the chance to go to Goethe’s house and Goethe’s garden house. For those of you who do not know, Goethe is kinda sorta maybe just a little a lot of big deal here in German culture and literature. He wrote a ground breaking historical Bildungsroman, Wilhelm Meister. (Bildungsroman = story about a person who must go through a rite of passage, in this case, an apprenticeship). His romantic style of writing took Europe by storm. It is even said that Napoleon had a copy of Wilhelm Meister on his person at all times! Whoa, people, whoa!
Let us not forget the Erlkönig. For me this is especially amazing, for it was my first encounter with Goethe’s writings. I had to read and memorize it thanks to my high school German teacher, Frau Panther. The Erlkönig is a poem of a boy being carried by his father on horseback through the forest. The child is dying and feels the Erlkönig’s presence taking him over, seducing him towards death until at the very end, the Father’s reassurance could not save the child. I saw the original handwritten copy of the Erlkönig in his garden house. I stared it down for at least five minutes. It was even written before German rules were set and so “bei” is written as “bey”! AMAZING!
I wanted a picture of it so bad that I tried to convince my friend to create a ruckus to distract the attention of the exhibitor so that I could snap one. Alas, to no avail did it work, that is, my friend did not comply with my request. Boo.
Next, Buchenwald. It was well needed by this group. Buchenwald is a concentration camp. As our tour guide said it perfectly, “Alles war perfekt geplannt.” (Everything was planned perfectly). The location was picked to keep it out of sight of Weimar so that the citizens would not know what was happening. The view seen from the camp was gorgeous, but actually picked to remind the prisoners what they would never again get to have – freedom. The buildings were created to kill the “prisoners” in such a way that no one would know what was happening. Experiments were carried out mostly on homosexuals and the Jewish. They were also the ones beaten and killed the most.
Scary tidbit… families of the soldiers lived on the camp. This means that kids were always in the vicinity. They put a zoo right by the camp to make it seem peaceful. I mean, who would dare question that the place where young children go to see fun and loving fluffy animals was the same place where thousands of people were being killed? Also, a neat tidbit… the clock on the tower at Buchenwald remains always at 3:15 p.m. because that is when the camp was finally liberated.
Just like at the Dachau concentration camp, the gate has something written in it… this one said “JEDEM DAS SEINEM.” (To each his own). These words were lies. (Dachau’s says ARBEIT MACHT FREI [work will gain freedom])
I did not take pictures of Buchenwald for personal reasons, but it is something that feel everyone should experience for themselves. This can never again happen and it is everyone’s job to ensure as such.
Weimar itself however was gorgeous. We stumbled across a show late at night on complete accident in the center square of the city. It was a huge art show – and a sensory overload – with lights, costumes, alphorns, dancers, musicians, poetry, choirs, clowns, and so on! I have many a video! If you ever see me around, corner me and have me show you! You have to see it to believe it.
Last. Thüringer Wurst. Heaven. I. Love. This. Meat. It is a giant wurst on a tiny little bun, and is nicely covered in mustard to the taste of the eater. Y’all really gotta go there just to try this stuff. So worth it.
Now, however, we are home. I have moved into my homestay family’s house and life has settled down. To be perfectly honest, it is a little depressing to not have the other 12 Wittenbergers dabei, but this will be a great experience I’m sure. The only thing interesting I have to say thus far is that we watched a movie, Hostel 2, about these kids who travel to Europe and get slaughtered. How welcoming.
Many a story to follow.