Friday, April 6, 2012

Weimar's Elephant Hotel

The Elephant Hotel on April 1, 2012.
The rose building in the back is the famous Anna-Amalia-Bibliothek
While attending the opening concerts of Thuringia’s Bachwochen 2012 my group stayed in Weimar in the Hotel Elephant, a truly historical place.

Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxony issued a concession to Christian Andreas Barrtig

In 1696 the duke's cupbearer Christian Andreas Barrtig got a concession for an inn bordering Weimar's market square that he named The Elephant. Later it became a stagecoach station and was enlarged to house all the merchants and visitors. When in those days somebody asked at the city gate for Wieland, Herder or Goethe he was directed to the Elephant because people were sure that they were to be found there. In 1938 Thomas Mann made the hotel famous when it played a central role in his novel Lotte in Weimar. Charlotte Buff had been one of young Goethe's sweethearts but she had married another guy. Deceived and in a dark mood Goethe wrote his bestseller The Sorrows of Young Werther -- a (still) famous/infamous book, which brought early renown to Goethe. Mann takes Lotte's visit to Weimar and her stay in the Elephant in 1816 where she also met the aging Goethe as the starting point for his novel.

An early photo of the Elephant around 1860.
On the right Weimar's oldest inn: Zum schwarzen Bären from 1540.
In the 1920s the Elephant became the headquarter of the local Nazi party that as early as 1926 had two ministers in Thuringia's state government. In the same year the NSDAP held its first national party convention in Weimar when Hitler spoke from a window to the crowd gathered in front of the hotel.

Peeping through a window of the Haus Elephant the NSDAP boss is greeting the crowd on the market place
During the coming years the hotel looked somewhat rundown. With the pressure of the Nazis who had governed the state of Thuringia since 1932 and had taken power in the Reich in 1933 the old unattractive building was torn down and replaced in 1938 by the present construction.

The newly built Haus Elephant as a national-socialist shrine
The most important addition to the new building was a balcony meant for der Führer from where he could address the people in the market place. In the following years self-proclaimed Nazi dignitaries used to use it more than him.

New Year's eve dinner 1943 at the Elephant.
Note that the courses have rather low rounded prices but required those precious food ration card coupons.
Today's interior still breathes the Nazi architecture, a strange mixture of neo-realism and cold splendor like door frames made from marble and metallic luminous elements.

Entrance to a set of rooms
Following the Wende (the end of German division) new splendor with illustrious guests and their interpreter
Nowadays the balcony is crowned by Goethe's dictum: Here I am Man, here I may live up to it, the final line of the poem Osterspaziergang (Easter walk) taken from his drama Faust. The Führer's balcony now serves as a place for cultural displays. During my last visit Thomas Mann stood up there, this year star architect Walter Gropius and femme fatale Alma Mahler-Gropius-Werfel decorate the place.

1 comment:

  1. The beauty of the hotel is amazing and decorated with paintings and comfortable beds. The reviews of the hotel are also quite impressive and everyone likes to go for vacation.
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