Christmas Genre: The Twelve Days of Christmas

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The last Christmas genre of this holiday season features a very popular song, whose melody will get a person’s ears ringing thanks to the singing earworm. The 12 Days of Christmas was first produced in 1780 in England as a set of lyrics only. The melody was produced as a folk song by Frederic Austin and with its various forms and tricks, has been the standard Christmas song.  Recently, in a book entitled Ideals Christmas, Rebecca Barlow Jordan traced the Twelve Days of Christmas to not only the 12 days of celebrating the birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ, but also to the twelve days journey by the three Wise Men, who traveled to see the baby Lord, carrying with them the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh- both of which were pinpointed to the time between Christmas Day (the 25th of December) and the Day of Epiphany (the 6th of January).

In either case, the lyrics remain the same, as in the graphic above, yet the many variations of the 12 Days of Christmas have existed and are growing. I have three versions that are worth watching as we wind down the holiday season and prepare for the next one- the first in the third decade of the third millennium.  The first one features a classic produced by John Denver and the Muppets from 40 years ago. The Muppets variation has changed five times since the origin from 1979, using five different sets of characters, still, they are fun to watch, nonetheless:

The next version is a rather wild and funnier version of the 12 Days of Christmas, with two actors imitating the gifts given on each of the 12 days- until they are pooped out. This was done by the Crossroads Bible Church Group:

And the last example was performed by the Angel City Chorale, where the song is interrupted by first, many Christmas carols and then by the song Africa, by the pop group Toto. It’s one worth the laughs:

The reason for presenting the 12 Days of Christmas on Epiphany?  To close out the holiday season for Epiphany represents the confirmation that the Lord hath Cometh. A perfect way to begin with the Year of the Lord and honor him for what he did for humanity.  Case closed!  🙂

Seasons eatings  FlFi10

 

 

 

Germany at 70: The Constitution

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May 23rd, 2019. On this day 70 years ago, the West German government, together with the western allies of the US, France and Great Britain ratified the German Consititution, a set of basic laws that are binding and foster equality, freedom of speech and Democracy. The basic laws were the basis for establishing a democratic state, the first since the Weimar Republic of 1919. And unlike the Republic, which was dissolved with the rise of Adolf Hitler, who ushered in the era of Naziism 14 years later, the German Constitution has become the solid rock, one of the examples of how Democracy works even to this day, despite going through the hardships in the sense of politics, society and the economy.  This was even adapted by the former East German government in 1990 as part of the plan to reunify the country.

While there are booklets in many languages that have the Basic Law of Germany, there are some questions that are still open as to how it works in comparison to those in other countries, the US included. This documentary, produced by a bunch of American scholars, gives you an in-depth coverage and discussion to the laws that exist. Albeit Long, one can skip to some of the laws discussed or just simply play it in ist entirety. For those wishing to live in Germany in the future, even temporary, this is rather useful.

Enjoy the documentary! 🙂

 

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From the Attic: Berlin 1959

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Brandenburg Gate- behind the gate stood the Berlin Wall until 9 November 1989

Berlin, 1959. Two years before the erection of the Wall and the closing of the border that would separate East and West Germany until 1989. The city was in the midst of a rebuild 14 years after the end of World War II . People were still able to pass despite the city being occupied in four areas by their respective allies who liberated them from the Nazis: The USA, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. Yet the passage is restricted. Inspite of the rebuilding efforts, there were some differences between what would become East and West Berlin. In this documentary produced by the BBC 60 years ago, the host of Panorama took a walk through Berlin and interviewed several Berliners, showing you the difference in terms of progression and regression. Enjoy the documentary! 🙂

Education Tip: 

Compare Berlin of 60 years ago with today. What has changed and what has remained the same? Do we still have a difference between the former East and West or has Berlin grown together?

You can choose another city in Germany if you wish- whether it is Munich, Hamburg, Erfurt, Dresden, Flensburg, Rostock- regardless of population and size. Do this comparison using this time with a time before 1989 or even before the Wall in 1961. Compare and present to your classmates. Many will be amazed at the difference and will provoke a conversation that will last an entire classroom session.

Useful for any language class, including English and Germany, as well as history, sociology, social studies and political science. For college level, that, plus architecture, engineering and planning. 🙂

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Notre Dame by Kerrie O’brien

Photo by: Madhurantakam [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D
Our hearts bleed and our tears go out to the people in Paris and the entire country of France as one of the seven wonders of the country went up in smoke on the evening of 15th April, 2019. Fire broke out on the roof of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris during evening mass. While the congregation got out as soon as the alarm went off, fire started to spread going up the spiral before it collapsed onto the roof of the building constructed in 1163. From there, fire took out the entire roof of the church before firemen stopped it from going to the twin towers where the church bells were at. It is very incomprehensible to look at the church before and after the blazing inferno, even as renovations had been ongoing prior to the fire. Thousands had put their heart and soul into building this magnificent architectural masterpiece. In the face of trying times, with protests against President Macron and a Europe that is divided over every issue possible, the fire at Notre Dame has brought together Europe, France and its people, unifying them now with one purpose: To rebuild the church, which is basically the same as rebuilding the nation.

As a tribute to the cathedral, which I visited as a college student in 1999, there is a poem that was written about Notre Dame by Irish poet Kerrie O’brien in 2016. Part of the poem series released as a book that year, this poem looks at the church as a symbol of light, love and unity, the three elements that were inseparable as the person paid homage to this historic icon and a visit to God at its alter.  You can find more poetry on Ms. O’brien by clicking here. For now, here’s to Notre Dame- you were a beauty before, you will be again…… ❤

Certain mornings
I would be the only one
To see the first streams of it –
Light
Tumbling through stained glass
Smattering everything
Red gold rose blue.
The beauty almost frightening.
Yves Klein would daub his women
Blue
And hurl them at the canvas.
Living brushes
Haphazard and outrageous –
Same effect.
Different every day
This glittering cave
Big beautiful lit up thing.
It knew and knew
Why I had come.
Blue gold rose red
Falling like water
My river walk,
My morning prayer.
I would step into it slow
Circling the altar
Gold cross flickering
In the centre
Anchored, rooted, still.
As above, so below
Eyes closed
Filling my heart
With the warmth of it
Until my body was
Sunlight and roses
And the fear
Fell away in petals
Would you believe it
If I told you
Nothing felt separate.

 

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2017 German Federal Elections: A Preview

Germans go to the polls on 24 September to elect their new Chancellor- A lot of questions still exists

After the US, Dutch and French elections, the German elections, which will take place on 24 September 2017, will be the decisive factor on how Germany will be governed for the next four years. Yet like the Presidential Elections that brought Donald Trump to power, this election will decide the fate of the European Union as well as the rest of the world, going forward, as there are several factors that will influence the voters’ decision on which party should rule the Bundestag in Berlin. Furthermore, given Germany’s economic, social and political leverage on Brussels as well as the United Nations, people are praying that whoever is elected Chancellor will be the one that will shape the country and take it into the direction that is the most desirable both nationally as well as globally.  Factors influencing the political decision among the voters include:

Germany’s role in terms of environmental policyamong other things, renewable energy, climate change and protecting flora and fauna

Germany’s role in terms of refugee policy, which includes integration of those qualified to live in the country and quick deportation of the unqualified and criminals

Germany’s role in international relations, especially within the EU and with the US. While President Trump would rather have Frauke Petry of the AfD (even though she is now on maternity leave) instead of the incumbent Angela Merkel of the CDU, Germany is trying to shore up relations with countries still loyal with the EU, while fighting fires caused by the far right governments of Poland, Turkey and Hungary, as well as Great Britain’s Teresa May.

Germany’s role in domestic policies and how it can close the ever continuing widening gap between the rich and the  poor, as well as improve on the country’s education system

Even more important are some thought provoking questions that are on the minds of all Germans, Americans living in Germany (including yours truly) and other foreigners living in Germany, for whoever rules the country for the next four years will have an impact on the lives of others, for each party has its own agenda that is different than that of the policies of Chancellor Merkel up until now. For some parties, this election could be make or break because of their struggle to win support. Here are some questions that are of concern as we bite our nails and worry about 24 September:

  1. Will Angela Merkel win her fourth term, thus be on the path to break the longest power streak of serving 16 years, set by the late Helmut Kohl (1982-1998; he died in June of this year)?
  2. Will the Martin Schulz Effect save the Social Democrats (SPD) or mark the beginning of the end of the centralist party?
  3. Will the Free Democratic Party return to the Bundestag after breaking the 5% barrier?
  4. Are too many windmills too much for the Greens?
  5. Will the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) continue its winning streak and roll into parliament? If so could it even overrun the CDU and even govern Berlin?
  6. Will the Leftist Party (Linke) serve as the counterpunch to the AfD or will it need help?
  7. Will this election mark the last for the Nationalist Party of Germany (NPD)?

These questions will be answered through my observations of the election, which will be after the tallies are counted and we know which parties will form a coalition and elect our next leader. We need to keep in mind that the German elections are different than the American ones as we elect two parties- one primary and one as second vote, and the new Chancellor is elected after a coalition is formed between two or more parties. Currently, we have the Grand Coalition, which features Merkel’s CDU and the SPD. Yet we have seen coalitions with other smaller parties. A party can have the absolute majority if more than 50% of the votes are in their favor.

To better understand the multi-party system, there are a pair of useful links you can click onto, which will provide you with an insight on the German election system. Both are useful for children, and both are in German, which makes it useful to learn the language.

Checker Tobi:  http://www.ardmediathek.de/tv/Die-Checker/Checker-Tobi-extra-Warum-w%C3%A4hlen-wichtig/Das-Erste/Video?bcastId=39903768&documentId=45989192

logo! on ZDF: https://www.zdf.de/kinder/logo/bundestagswahl-aktuell-100.html

Fellow American collegial column Leipzig Glocal produced an article on the multi-party election system and the number of parties that could run in the elections. Details on that can be found here:

http://leipglo.com/2017/09/19/federal-elections-2017-party-roll-call/

While I cannot vote on the count of my American citizenship (though ideas of switching sides have lingered since Trump’s elections) like other American expats, I can only stress the importance of going to the polls on the 24th. Your vote counts because we are at the crossroads. Can we do it, like Merkel said with taking on the refugees in 2015? Or can we afford to experiment and if so at what price? Only your vote will make a difference. So go out there and vote. And allow me to comment once there is a new Chancellor, be it another four years of Merkel (and the flirt with Kohl’s record) or with someone else……

Viel Glück und Glück auf! 🙂

2016 Christmas Market Tour Part I: Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein

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Photos taken in November 2016

Moin, Moin, Ihr Lieben! Our first Christmas market on a quite adventuresome tour of 2016 takes us far north to Schleswig-Holstein and the city of Kiel. Located along the Baltic Sea coast, the city of 245,000 inhabitants is the largest of the big three ports located on a fjorde, providing shipping from places in the north and east. The other two are Lübeck and Flensburg. Kiel is the state’s capital and has its state parliamentary building located on the western side of the coast. Apart from two universities, the city prides itself on its traditional handball team THW Kiel, whose stadium is directly in the city center. It also has the annual convention of sailboats, clipper ships and yachts in June- the Kieler Woche, where over 100 countries take part in competition and display their best ships.  And while parts of Kiel, especially in the city center, appear quite crowded, there are two bright spots that make the city quite convenient and attractive: everything is centralized- especially the city center, and there are some great natural spots along the Baltic Sea and the Grand Canal (Baltic-North Sea Canal (Ger.: Nord-Ostsee Kanal)), as well as along the Schwentine River, which empties into the fjord near the University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule).

Maybe that Kiel Defense as practiced in a game of chess inspired the architects and city planners to be creative with their city designs…… 😉

As for the Christmas market, it is a whole different story.  The Christmas market is located only 300 meters north of Kiel’s Railway Station, beginning at Holstenplatz, but the market is spread out into three different places, all connected with a main shopping corridor known as the Holstenstrasse. A map at the end of this article shows you where the places are, starting with the train station and working the way up north.

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The Market at St. Nicolas Church- the church is in the background

Looking at the markets themselves, we’ll start off with the one on the northernmost end at St. Nicolas Church at the corner of Schlossstrasse and Schumacherstrasse. If one does some ice skating at the Ostseekai ice skating rink near the cruise liner port, the opportunity for a good Glühwein and something warm can be found at this place, as the huts serve as a compliment to the eateries nearby. This includes soups, fried fish sandwiches and even a Glühbier (mulled beer) or punch. For churchgoers, it is a great place to talk Luther and his Reformation of the Church while keeping warm. Yet apart from the spectacular view of the church at night, as well as at the Schwedenkai with its light-candied yacht overlooking the man-made pond, it’s all eateries with typical German delicacies-

unless you love beer, like this writer does. 😉

If so, just west of the market, there is the Kieler Brewery and Restaurant, located at Dänischstrasse on the north side of the market. Founded in 1988, the brewery has been producing its beer products including pilsners and those using beachwood directly at its original location. One can only purchase the beer there, which serves as another incentive to visit Kiel (apart from Kieler Woche and the handball games with the Zebras). The restaurant, which serves only local and seasonal specialties, has an interior that resembles a restaurant during the age of Luther: walled with stone with cast iron chandeliers and benches made of wood, making it look like knights, monks, reformers and musicians with bagpipes entering the scene, playing music and enjoying a good brew. I tried one of the originals (beechwood aged) and am pleased to say, the product aced the test because of its taste and thickness of the body. A solid 1,0 (A+) 😀

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Kieler Weihnachtsdorf at Rathausplatz

Moving further south along Holstenstrasse, laden with shopping centers and some huts, one needs to turn right at Fleethörn and Hafenstrasse and walk past two streets to find the Kieler Weihnachtsdorf, located at Rathausplatz near the city hall.  Flanked by the city hall to the south and the Opera House to the west, the market is rather traditional of German Christmas markets with its backdrop and settings. Unlike the uniformity in colors and hut design as one sees at a Christmas market in Bavaria and parts of Saxony and Hesse, this one was quite colorful, both figuratively as well as literally. Huts and stands of various sizes and colors blanket the whole market, decorated with white-lit natural green garland. The lining of lighted natural Christmas trees and other pine needle branches outside the market, combined with a unique entrance to the village, resemble a natural palace, made of wood. Since Kiel has a palace north of the Ostseekai in the old town, the theme of the Christmas market fits perfectly to one of the city’s prized historic landmarks.

As far as products being served at this village is concerned, I was somewhat disappointed that the majority of the products came from the western part of Germany, in particular Bavaria. No matter where a person went in this village, one will see one Bavarian site for every four. There were no stands that represented the other regions in Germany, in particular, Saxony, where most of the wooden products, like Räuchermänner, Pyramids and villages originate. There were a couple stands for Thuringian bratwurst and a couple stands providing products from Schleswig-Holstein, including a couple local eateries, but overall, it seemed to be typically Bayrish- too much Bavarian.  From a personal point of view, if you want to have a Christas market in a community, you should try and vary your products from regions, including areas unknown to others, as well as and especially local places. If you focus more on the commercial aspect- streamling certain regions over others, it will be rather monocultural. Having monocultural markets and events loses the appeal from others who can see similar markets and other events in other cities. This was my impression after seeing too much Bavarian at this place. One needs to dig deeper to find diamonds in the rough in terms of local and unusual goods- a very important rule of thumb for visiting a typical Christmas market. If you don’t want to see a Nuremberg Christmas market in a community, look hard for the localities, as they are there. Follow that with unusual places you will never find in a Christmas market elsewhere.

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How to make Flammlachs: Frying them to the fire before the fish is “pulled” and shredded.

There were a few cool places swimming in a pool of Bavarian goods at the Weihnachtsdorf. They included a liquour stand from North Rhine-Westphalia, a tea shop selling exotic teas some cooked in an “oven,”  a lobster stand from the island of Sylt, and a couple stands selling goods handcrafted  in and around Kiel (one of which I will mention in a later article). But have you ever heard of Flammlachs?

You have probably heard of pulled pork, as the recipe comes from America but has become very common here in Europe. Flammlachs goes along the same recipe, except you place your salmon or other fish on an oak board, and after adding the ingredients mentioned in the link above, put it as close to the fire as possible without burning the meat to be eaten. Then strip the meat, just like with pulled pork, leaving the fish bones behind, put them in a bun with lettuce and a twist of lemon and serve. While there is  sweet mustard and other sauces available, I took the advice of a local and ate it without it. All I can say is “Yummy!” 😀  Your trip to the Baltic Sea coast is not complete without trying a Flammlachs with a good local beer. Enough said!

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How to make Flammlachs: Sandwich with lettuce- best served without any sauce, according to locals

But as I made my trip to my last stop on the Kiel Christmas market tour, namely Holstenplatz, I found a few other local delicacies from Kiel and Schleswig-Holstein that are not only highly recommended, but in one case, very addicting.  The market at Holstenplatz is the longest market I had visited up until now, but also the most diverse of Kiel’s Christmas markets. A mixture of local products combined with handcrafted and international products from Estonia, Turkey and France can be found along three rows of huts that feature a various form of brown wood colors from mahogany to oak to even a light brown. The huts are far different in color patterns than the colorful display at the Weihnachtsdorf and the striped huts at St. Nick’s church, which makes them completely different, but attractive to the visitors. The market here is also decorated nicely with natural garland that is also lighted. Despite not having a Christmas tree, the trees lining along Holstenplatz are also lit at night, thus making the market not only colorful, but somewhat homey. 🙂

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Holstenplatz

Despite its very close proximity to the shopping areas and the main highway- Sophienblatt and Andreas Gayk Strasse- the market appears to be rather spacious, thus allowing for space to walk around and find a place to enjoy the specialties offered. The problem with space was one of the problems I’ve seen with many Christmas markets I’ve visited since starting the series in 2011, as many markets try to reduce “excessive” space by adding more stands and booths than necessary and in some cases, herding the people in and out of the markets like a person is in rush-hour traffic in a big city. This makes visiting a Christmas market more of a torture than fun. With the markets Kiel, space doesn’t seem to be the issue as there is enough. Given the proximity of the markets, this means that there is not so much crowding, especially on weeknights and weekends, which given the few people at the market, it was really comfortable to have a conversation with locals about goods worth tasting……

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A highly recommended local delicacy to try: Fliederbeersuppe with Griesklöße

……including this entrée, the Fliederbeersuppe (freely translated as currant soup). 🙂  Consisting of currant juice (highly concentrated), apple slices and Grießklöße (semolina dumpling), this soup is typical of Schleswig-Holstein and one that a person must try. I was skeptical when I first saw it and the response of the person selling this was a classic: “Are you diabetic?” My response was: “I’ve never tried it before, which is why I wanted to know more about it.” I later told her I was a columnist for the Files and talked about the series on German Christmas markets. I tried the soup in exchange for money and the address of this site. 😉 And there was no regret that it tasted really good. So good that it is sometimes addicting. A lady stopping at the stand as I was eating it with a hot cup of Lumumba (hot cocoa with rum) testified its addiction as she was going for her seventh bowl! Seven bowls is a bit over the top, but it shows that one really needs to taste it to believe it. 🙂

Before I got addicted, I left to check out the other goods, which included Kochwurst (cooked sausage) from a local butcher, and local pastry featuring filled donuts and Muzen, a boiling pastry with powdered sugar and also typical of the region. Unlike the donuts, which had apple, marzipan, advocaat, cherry and other fruit filling, this one is not filled and are small. Furthermore they taste best when they are hot- not necessarily from the deep fryer, but sometimes reheating them in the oven at 175°C for about 10 minutes should one decide to take them home to have the family try them, like I did (it was my last stop before moving on).  Given the fact that there was another stand serving Flammlachs, the market at Holstenplatz is your best place to try everything that is local and typical of Schleswig-Holstein, for the Weihnachtsdorf have predominantly Bavarian goods and the stands at St. Nick’s are mostly eateries and beverages- a hub for chatting monks and cheery families after having ice skated with Katarina Witt. 😉

Summing up the trip to Kiel, the Christmas market, featuring three different markets connected by the corridor Holsten Strasse is spacious and diverse. It’s an alternative to shopping at the shopping malls, for the huts and other shops provide some goods, eateries and beverages that are both typical of the region but also from other places in Germany and places in Europe. Given its closeness in the city center, they are easily accessible from the train station and the shipping ports, yet surprisingly, the number of people visiting the market is less than others. Given the fact that it was a weekday that I visited, comparing it to other Christmas markets, it is rather comfortable entertaining strangers and friends over a good local specialty. I bet it applies to weekend visits as well. Despite being surrounded by concrete, the market is easy to find because of the close proximity to the places in the city center, thus making it accessible by all means of transportation. In other words, even if the Christmas market is a diamond in the rough, it is easy to find.

And if found, that diamond is a lifetime’s worth; especially if you are a stranger in a strange land. 😉

More photos of the Christmas Market in Kiel:

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Tips on other Christmas markets the author has visited and written about can be found here. There, you will have some ideas on which places are highly recommended to visit.

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Year of the Beer Day 27: Ur-Krostitzer Pils

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This beer tasting run, going on day 27, starts off with a good quote: “Great People make Great Beer and Great Beers make Great People.” Fame is achieved when making the best beer for the people to enjoy whereas some of the great beers people drink or brew make them the greatest.  And this is how the figure on the Ur-krostitzer beer products came about.

In 1632, during the 30-years war which Prussia, Sweden and France collided with metal hardware, horses as well as blood and sweat, King Gustaf Adolph II of Sweden with his men, made their way to the village of Krostitz enroute to Leipzig, bringing with them the know-how of making beer and a trunk full of goods left behind for the villagers. Thanks to their peace offering and for making a good beer, the king was given the Braumeister crown in a form of a gold ring provided by the villagers. 🙂 ❤  Whether his peace offering contributed to the end of the war in 1648 remains open, but it was since then the king has become a legend in the town near the present border of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt between Leipzig and Bitterfeld, and the he has become the face for the beer.

Although I have drunk the Ur-krostitzer pilsener on occasion since coming to Germany in 1999, some of the readers recommended evaluating this beer because of its taste. Henceforth, I decided to give it a try and see how this beer ranks up there with the rest of the German beers I’ve tasted since starting this marathon. 🙂

Upon appearance, the beer has a gold color with a great clarity and head. The carbonation is lively and the beer has a full body upon drinking it. So far, so good and so typical of a German pilsener. Yet the flavor of the beer and the taste far trumps the aroma as the last one was rather faint with bread malt and earth hops, this leaving it neutral. However, the flavor of the beer has a strong intensity but a neutral balance leaning towards the bitter side, as the beer has a taste of grain and bread malt as well as a herbal hops and a citrus flavor to it. That combined with a warming, mouthcoating taste makes the beer taste really nice, with a long finish and a real freshness to it. In other words, the beer is herbal but hearty, and the impression is the beer was brewed with care to provide an excellent taste to it. There is a reason why this beer is recommended to drink by the readers, as I’m hardly in a position to disagree.

Grade: 1,7/ A-: Ur-Krostitzer beer has an excellent image as far as beer is concerned. Thanks to the Swedish King, the beer stands out as one of the most highly recommended to try while in Germany. The brewery has four kinds of beer available, but one should try the pilsener first as it has a great taste and gets one’s fill in a hurry. This great beer goes together with its prestige regarding social responsibility. Every year since 2004 (in light of the 470th anniversary of its founding), the Ur-krostitzer Ring is awarded to a person(s) who has done research on the history of Mitteldeutschland (namely Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt). The brewery itself has a long tradition of inventing and innovating the products. Aside from the know-how given by the Swedes, the brewery is known for its Braunbier (pure barley beer), Doppelbier (stark beer) and Kovent (light (tap) beer. Add the dark beer and pilsener to the list and the brewery has reaped in fame and recognition for its high quality and great taste. This one to be included as well.  So Prost! 😀

 

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Guessing Quiz Answers: (New) Ulm

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After reading about the history of New Ulm in Minnesota and comparing the city to the German counterparts, let is take a look at the answers to the Guessing Quiz looking at the two cities and comparing what they have:

  1. What characteristics do the two cities have? Determine which of these belong to which town, by marking NU-G (Ulm/Neu Ulm), NU-US (New Ulm, Minnesota) or both.

          a. Cathedral:  NU-G- the Ulm Minster is located in Ulm and has the world’s highest steeple

b. Fort:  NU-G: The Kienlesbergbastion is a fortress located on the north end of Ulm. It was                part of the walled city until the early 20th Century

c. University:  Both. Each city has one university: New Ulm has a private college named                           Martin Luther, Neu Ulm has the University of Applied Sciences and Ulm has the University.

 d. Railway station: NU-G: The metropolitan area has two stations: Ulm Central (where                          all ICE and international trains stop) and Neu-Ulm Regional (where regional and                                 Inter City trains stop)

 e. German-Bohemian Monument: NU-US: Located on German Street, the monument                               was built in 1991 and is dedicated to the Bohemian immigrants who came to New Ulm                       by boat. They spoke Bohemian German and were mostly Catholics and farmers

 f. Hermann the German Monument: NU-US: Overlooking the Minnesota River, the                                  monument was dedicated to the Sons of Hermann fraternity organization, whose                                majority of the members had settled in New Ulm in 1885

g. Professional Soccer Team: NU-G: The SSV Ulm Soccer Team can be found here. Once one of              the darlings in the Bundesliga, the team currently plays in the South Division of the                              Regionaliga.

h. Brewery: Both. Schell’s beer is found in New Ulm, whereas Golden Ox Brewery is found  in                 Ulm. Both breweries craft various kinds of beers and ales

i. American Street-Style Pattern: NU-US

j. Streets named after American celebrities: Both. While New Ulm has streets named after George       Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Payne, Neu-Ulm has a wide           selection of streets named after other American celebrities, such as Thomas Edison, Martin               Luther King, Benny Goodman and Glen Miller. All are in the Wiley district. 

k. Oktoberfest: Both. 

l. Christmas Market: Both. New Ulm has the Christkindlmarkt, which is held on the                                 weekend after Thanksgiving. The Christmas markets in Ulm and Neu Ulm are month- long             events lasting from mid November to 22 December, while the one in Neu Ulm is a  Medieval             Christmas market.

m. Canals: NU-G: Ulm has a series of canals that go through the Fisherman’s district and city                 center from the Danube River. 

n. Fachwerkhäuser: NU-G: Ulm is loaded with trussed houses dating back to the 1700s, many of          which are restored and inhabitable. The most unique is the Leaning House (Schieferhaus), the        only one of its kind in the world. It is along the Blue Canal and is a bed and breakfast.

 

MYSTERY BUILDING QUESTION:  Name this building

ANSWER:  Wiley Water Tower. From 1945 until 1991, the US Army was stationed in the now Wiley District in Neu Ulm with the purpose of protecting West Germany from a Communist attack and rebuilding the city that had been in shambles since the firebombings of 1944. After the military left post, the baracks were rebuilt to accomodate housing. This included the establishment of the University of Applied Sciences in 1994. The future of the water tower, found at Washingtonallee, is in question for even though it is considered a landmark for the Wiley district, plans are in the making to expand the university, and many city officials consider the tower a piece of rust that is an eyesore and needs to be torn down. The debate still lingers but there is hope that with the expansion of the campus the tower will remain as is. An article on the debate can be found here.

 

 

ANSWER: The Glockenspiel Tower in New Ulm. Located at the north entrance to the city center along Minnesota Street, the tower is considered a standing carillon clock tower, one of only a handful left in the world, with a height of 45 feet. The clock plays Westminster chimes every hour and a concert every three hours during the day. It is unknown who built it and when but it is located in Schonau Park and is one of the city’s key wonders.

 

QUESTION: Both New Ulm and Neu Ulm/Ulm had their share of conflicts that affected their way of lives. Minus the two World Wars, what wars were the people involved in?

New Ulm- Dakota War of 1862. In August 1862, a band of Dakota Sioux Indians attacked several villages mainly along the Minnesota River in the nearly two month affair. This included two attacks on New Ulm on the 18th and 23rd. 60 settlers were killed and 190 were injured. There were unknown numbers of casualties among the Indians. The town was evacuated after the second attack with settlers living in Fort Ridgely until the war ended. 38 Indians were lynched in 1863 and the remaining tribes were forced to leave Minnesota for the Dakota territory shortly afterwards.

Ulm/Neu Ulm- Napoleon’s Conquest. While the town was beset by French and Bavarian invasions in the 1700s, the biggest war prior to 1900 was Napoleon’s conquest of Ulm in 1805, where Austrian General Mack was surrounded by his troops before he surrendered. After the French were eventually beaten back, Ulm was split into two in 1810, with the Danube being the divisional point. Ulm became part of the Kingdom of Baden-Wurttemberg while Neu-Ulm became part of the Bavarian kingdom. This two-city solution remained as is, even when Germany was created in 1871

Celebrities: Click here and here to find out which celebrities lived in the two cities. There are many of them, some of which were mentioned in earlier articles.

AND NOW THAT WE ARE FINISHED WITH THE GUESSING QUIZ ON ULM-NEU ULM/ NEW ULM, ENJOY THE LAST OF THE GALLERY OF PHOTOS TAKEN BY THE AUTHOR DURING HIS VISIT TO ULM/NEU ULM IN 2015. 🙂

 

Gallery of Photos of the German Counterparts, Ulm and Neu-Ulm:

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Weimar Rendezvous 2015

Engelsberg Bookstore in Weimar's city center, one of the main events for the Rendezvous. Here is where the podium discussions and lectures took place. Photos taken in November 2015
Eckermann Bookstore in Weimar’s city center, one of the main events for the Rendezvous. Here is where the podium discussions and lectures took place. Photos taken in November 2015

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WEIMAR- In your opinion, do you think we are living in a society that is utopian? Does democracy and utopia co-exist, or is it dystopian or even an illusion? How does our environment affect our society and the way it is run? How many forms of topia exist or were invented? These were the questions that were addressed at this year’s Weimar Rendezvous. Every year since 2009, an average of over 1000 people, including students, intellects and interested people have attended the four-day event, consisting of presentations, podium discussions, films, exhibits and music festivals with a focus on a theme that is politically and historically relevant to today’s society.  This year’s event looks at the topic on “Utopia,” where presenters (consisting of historians, professors, politicians and members of civil society organizations) took a look at this topic, how it was developed and how it plays a role in our current society. This year’s event was overshadowed by the terrorist attacks in Paris (see the article in the Files by clicking here), but it did not stop visitors from listening to the topics and integrating the events in France into the theme of the weekend.

The Weimar Rendezvous was established in 2009, based on a similar event that has been taking place annually since 1998 in the French town of Blois. As Weimar is not only the place of multiculture and various forms of architecture (including Bauhaus), but it is the platform where democracy and literature came into frutition and blossomed. Goethe and Schiller met in the city and some of the works were based on their stay in Weimar. The Weimar Republic (1919-1933) was conceived in Weimar. Many greats of fine arts stayed in Weimar and used their experience as a platform for their careers. And with the Rendezvous, Weimar has been the platform for history and politics, as many current topics, laden with theory, science, architecture and especially history, have attracted many intellects, teachers, professors and students, in addition to others interested in history. Weimar is part of the Weimarer Dreiecks, where most of the themes are focused on the three European countries: Germany, Poland and France.

As a teacher of English, social studies and history, the Weimar Rendezvous is an excellent place to gather information on and deepen the topics of interest, thus providing some ideas for the next class session. Especially for the topic on utopia versus dystopia, for the latter was completed in 9th grade social studies class, where the group watched the film “In Time,” which depicts dystopia in the future tense. Here we compared dystopia with utopia in a theoretical sense, then compared them with how they were used in reality, using the examples of democracy and dictatorships that existed in history, and garnering some ideas to create the main idea of the meaning of democracy vs. dictatorship. Little do we realize is that utopia and its various forms have their roots dating back to the 1500s. Over the next 300 years, the concept branched out in several directions like a tree, each one shaping the way society is running in both a positive as well as a negative sense. Traces of the -topia can be seen today, as they have played a role in shaping our country and how their relationship with other countries. This includes the role of religion and the environment, two hot topics discussed during the Sunday sessions, as well as the African-American movement and its history and development in the United States from 1865 to the present.

Some highlights of the event from the author’s perspective include the following:

  1. According to the podium discussion on the history of Utopia, we found that Thomas Morus produced a book bearing the title in 1516. With his envision of utopia, which was a perfectionistic society with equality and uniformity, this was the seed that was planted which later bloomed into a tree with various forms of (u)topia.
  2. In another podium discussion on religion and utopia, the word apocalypse and its argumentive definitions, was used by the founders of the Churches to describe the replacement of a corrupt society in biblical proportions in favor of a utopian society. It was stressed more so by Martin Luther when he introduced his demands for reforms in the 1500s and later by his followers.
  3. During a podium discussion on the environment, there came a consensus by the speakers, when asked about the role of the media in influencing society’s thinking, which was as long as the public believes that the United States has less sunlight than Germany, as stated by Fox News, a staunch opponent of solar energy, no change will happen until it is too late.
  4. In a podium discussion on Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, never seen before photos of Rosa Park’s arrest and jail custody for sitting in the white zone of a transit bus, King’s speech and many Nazi propaganda posters against Barack Obama were displayed with a clear-cut message: America is (and will never be) ready for a non-Caucasian President, especially in light of the racial profiling and violence dominating the American landscape.
  5. In an evening podium discussion on architecture and utopia, the concept of modern architecture and futurama originated from the 1930s but was advanced further in the 1950s in Europe.

 

A book with a summary of the speeches from this year’s event will be published in the near future. However, highlights and photos of the events can be found in the Weimar Rendezvous website, which you can click here for more information on the event. A facebook page with photos of the event, courtesy of Juliane Fox Schwabenbauer, can be found here. The Files also has photos of the events the author attended, which you will find here.

A separate article on how to teach dystopia in the classroom is in the making and will be posted in the Files’ WordPress internet site.

Silhouette of the Statue of Goethe and Schiller in front of the Weimar National Theater. Photo taken by the author in Nov. 2015
Silhouette of the Statue of Goethe and Schiller in front of the Weimar National Theater. Photo taken by the author in Nov. 2015

 

The statues and the National Theater with flowers on memory of the victims of the terror attacks in Paris.
The statues and the National Theater with flowers on memory of the victims of the terror attacks in Paris.

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We Stand United in Peace

A while back, while visiting friends in Potsdam, I came across a piece of artwork near the city center which caught my attention. It was a sculpture featuring a circle of three friends, a girl and two boys, dancing together in the grass. The artwork dates back to the days of East Germany, but the theme holds true today: we stand united as friends, through thick and thin, through good and bad, and through rain and sun. A member of an American expatriate group in Germany asked if there was a picture that would be better than the Statue of Liberty, which can be found both in America as well as in France.  My answer: perhaps not, but in light of what happened in Paris and Beirut, this sculpture and its symbol is as strong as liberty, and freedom and justice , as shown by Lady Liberty. I don’t think anything can top that.

To show solidarity and love for our family and friends, and stand united in the face of our enemies who committed these atrocious crimes in a war that is unwinnable on both sides, here’s the picture worth mulling over. What would you title it as? And why? Think about it long and hard, and ask yourselves, who are you thankful for and who would you like to reunite, or if you harmed someone in the past, reconcile?

We stand in unity

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