Friday, October 13, 2017

Peeing Like in the Wild West

was the title of an article in Freiburg‘s Official Journal. As an illustration the Amtsblatt printed the following photo:

©Amtsblatt/ A.J. Schmidt
I blogged about the prairie project at the Mundenhof animal park before. Here are some more details. Next year Freiburg's partnership with Madison, Wisconsin celebrates its 30 years of existence. On this behalf the two sister city committees intend to import some prairie feeling to the Mundenhof.

At present there are only 270 square meters (0.07 acres) of European prairie land growing on water-permeable gravel soil. European grasses and shrubs generally bloom in summer while American prairie species are the proud of the Indian summer. Short- and high-grass indigenous American plants will be seeded on an adjacent surface of an additional 700 square meters (0.17 acres).

In some sort of funny remark the article in the Amtsblatt referred to the bisons at the Mundenhof as country-specific fertilizers. Well, first of all the calf does not seem to appreciate his/her mother peeing in front of him/her. Secondly with the small surface of land involved overfertilization may already be a problem at present.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


When Red Baron read the above announcements he was all excited. Marillenknödel are not simply apricot dumplings. I had them once made in Geneva 25 years ago by an Austrian lady as a main course and still remember the taste of this juicy delight (Marcel Proust sends his regards). Already the name Marillenknödel sounds the k. and k. Monarchy (Austro-Hungarian Empire) for Marillen harvested in Austria are quite different from Aprikosen picked in Germany.

Afraid of being late with my inscription to the event I immediately choose October 1, as my date, but soon felt frustrated being informed that due to the lack of participants my date had to be advanced. When I went to the Augustinermuseum to buy my voucher I was told that in order to achieve a quorum of six participants they had finally moved me back to square one, i.e., October 1.

When at 5 p.m. the museum closed our group of only five started the scheduled guided tour of the exhibition Greiffenegg und Ramberg. Having already seen the exhibition twice I was the only person not having regrets when exactly at 5.15 p.m. all the lights went off in the exhibition hall. Following a long wait the lighting could only be partly reestablished. While you can admire the graphic highlights in my earlier blog our guide had to use the light of his smartphone illuminating for us the most interesting drawings.

Later we walked up to the Greiffenegg-Schlössle and read on a sign that the restaurant was closed. However, when we opened the door we were well received being the only guests of the evening.

Improvised Greiffenegg drink instead of Ramberg aperitif
As an aperitif the house offered the, on the occasion of the exhibition newly created, Ramberg drink with gin, tonic water, and peppermint leaves. However, our charming service lady soon came back and announced that tonic water was off.  Instead of Ramberg the chef had prepared a drink baptized Greiffenegg based on Gewürztraminer wine on the rocks plus peppermint leaves. Here again I had no regrets having tasted the Ramberg drink at another occasion. Both drinks need getting used to.

For the k. and k. three-course dinner I wanted to order an Austrian wine but in its absence I finally opted for a white Burgundy from the vineyards on Freiburg's Schlossberg we were looking at while dining.

Salad of chanterelles, walnuts, and pears
The first course was so excellent that we asked ourselves whether there would be any further escalation.

Fillet of beef Esterhàzy-style and potato galettes
And there was. Red Baron had the best fillet of beef since years and could have used the double quantity of an incredible sauce.

I was overwhelmed and thinking: Why are only so few of my countrymen/women embracing the idea of a combined cultural-gastronomical event? The Greiffenegg-Ramberg exhibition comes to a close today, but will be followed by one devoted to Rembrandt's graphics. Will the Augustinermuseum give the idea of an combined event another try?

Came in the Marillenknödel. I was in such a high mood that I forgot to take a photo of the dish. It was a nice dessert but did regrettably not revive my souvenir. At the end chef and service united at our table and we were all praise. What a memorable afternoon and evening!

Applause, applause

Friday, September 29, 2017

Lenin in Zürich

The Badische Zeitung in collaboration with the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung organized a day trip by bus to Zürich where Lenin lived from February 1916 to April 1917.

Leaving Freiburg we saw Lenin greeting from an election poster
 for the Marxist Leninist Party of Germany.
In the federal election of September 24, the party gained 0.1% of the votes.
Good morning, Zürich. We expected some rain.
Sexist segregation. For ladies only:
What is named Damenbad in Freiburg is called Frauenbad in Zürich
Another revolutionary:
Ulrich Zwingli who brought his Protestant religion to Zürich.
Our group visited the site of the house on Spiegelgasse where Lenin had rented an apartment and one of the three libraries, the Library of the Swiss Social Archive, where he spent most of his time reading and writing.

Entrance to Spiegelgasse
with the the Cabaret Voltaire, birthplace of Dadaism.
Lenin's apartment at Spiegelgasse 14,
a nondescript new building.
More celebrities worthy of a blog lived in Zürich's Spiegelgasse.

A house built in 1740 and named Zum Waldris at Spiegelgasse 11:
Johann Caspar Lavater lived here from 1741 (in a new building!) to 1778.
Traveling in Switzerland, Goethe visited Lavater in 1775.
At Spiegelgasse 13 Georg Büchner, revolutionary, doctor of medicine,
and as an author a master of the German language
died on typhoid fever at the age of 24 on February 19, 1837.
Table decoration at the Turm restaurant: Advent wreath with candles and apples on September 19.
Red Baron loves Swiss wine and abhors Swiss beer made by large breweries.
The restaurant only offered Spanish wine. I overcame the dilemma by ordering a Spanish beer.
Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (Zurich-style veal stew) with Rösti (fried grated potatoes).
The meat was turkey instead of veal, the rösti was not crusty, but the melon was an extra.
All in all, it was a good three-course meal for a reasonable price.
Satisfied fellow travelers leaving the Turm restaurant
Before lunch we listened to lectures on Marxism-Leninism and after lunch on Lenin's influence on Swiss and European socialism while he stayed in Switzerland.

Professor Koller talked about the Swiss Social Archive and Lenin in Switzerland

Eventually Lenin moved from Bern to Zürich because the libraries were better
There is no Lenin without Marx, but in this blog I shall describe our trip and will explain in a future blog what I learned about Marxism-Leninism and write down what may be interesting to my American readers.

Lenin's April Theses
Before he traveled by train through Germany, Sweden, and Finland to Petrograd (later Leningrad, now St. Petersburg) to lead the Bolshevik Revolution, Lenin formulated his April Theses while still in Zürich: Peace, land, and bread. All power to the Soviets and to the working class.

Lenin's arrival in Petrograd by train from Finland
Lenin was successful with the Bolshevik Revolution for his Russians, having been slaughtered by thousands in the war, wanted peace above all.

Good bye, Zürich, good bye, Großmünster 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

National Anarchism

Yesterday‘s general elections saw support for the two big German parties dwindle and the rise of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a right-wing populist party.

In the meantime intelligent commentators have written intelligent articles about the outcome of the election and the consequences, but I will not dig into those. One guy wrote that the winner is national cynicism, while I would rather call it national anarchism.

Voter turnout was 75.9 percent, up from 71.5 percent in 2013, but a long way from the 90 percent turnout figures of the 1980s. Twelve years of Merkel rule have created both disenchantment with politics and rage against the establishment in Berlin that is apparently pouring billions of euros into refugees while millions of German citizens live at the poverty threshold or below. Nobody in the AfD has so far said: Germany first, but it shows through all their statements.

Savoring their election victory. The right-wing Glorious Four, from the left (?):
Jörg Meuthen, Alexander Gauland, Alice Weidel, and Frauke Petry.
Twenty-four hours later they were only three (©Der Spiegel).
While the populist wing of the AfD led by Frauke Petry is copying the current political trend in many democracies all over the world, its nationalist fraction, the majority guided by Alexander Gauland, is the dangerous part considering the past of my country. There are hopes that the two wings will fight each other. In fact, in all German state parliaments the AfD, unconditionally opposed to the established system and parties, has so far not done any useful work but has rather spent its energy on debates on points of order and on internal quarrels.

And they were up to no good when yesterday AfD spokeswoman Frauke Petry declared that she will not join the AfD parliamentary group but rather sit as an independent deputy in the newly elected Bundestag. Today she even announced her withdrawal from the AfD.

While Merkel‘s Christian Democrats remain the strongest party and will certainly form a coalition government, Germany’s Social Democrats experienced their lowest percentage of votes since 1949. Consequently they will go back to their roots and seek renewal in opposition to the future government. In fact, four more years as junior partner in a grand coalition with Merkel would have meant the end of Germany‘s grand old party that in 1933 alone stood up in the Reichstag (parliament) against the combination of Nazis and bourgeois parties by not voting for the Ermächtigungsgesetz (the infamous enabling act).

In the 2017 elections, Germany moved to the right. It is time that the Social Democrats fight back.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Wading Pool News

On several occasions Red Baron has reported about the new Square of the Old Synagogue. The alleged abuse of the commemorative water basin patterned on the ground plan of the destroyed synagogue still excites the mind of many a citizen. For them the water surface has degenerated into a Planschbecken (wading pool) not only for pre-school children but for dogs and adults as well.

Hand-written information in German and English.
Note the boy standing on the submerged commemorative plate (©BZ/Michael Bamberger)
There is a consensus that the commemorative plate submersed in the water is barely visible and that its text is rather general. Passers-by will need concise information about the history and the significance of the site.

Freiburg’s Social Democrats have already rushed forward, proposing a giant banner partly covering the front of Collegiate Building II that will undergo renovation during the next two years. In the meantime the municipal council has decided to set up a working group including the Jewish community to work out a common explanatory text.

Coming back to the abuse of the water basin. Many citizens including moderate Jews regard splashing children as a way to fill the square with new life. With the consent of the parents a friend of mine took the following photo.

Two splashing children yes, but naked? Is this a new dimension?

The scene reminds me of a song made popular by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder:

Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don't we?

Yes, why don’t we?

Thursday, September 21, 2017


For black bread, a German specialty, I and many of my compatriots will walk the additional kilometer to get it. Some Germans living abroad even have it flown in in large quantities.

Sliced Vollkornbrot by Lieken called Kraftklotz (power log)
without preservatives, juicy and extra grainy.
While France is the land of cheese we are the land of bread. Among those many kinds of bread the black variety is of a special significance but must not to be confused with Pumpernickel*. German Schwarzbrot is a bread made from whole grain rye and is sometimes also called Vollkornbrot although wholemeal bread may also be made from wheat or spelt.
*I shall come back to Pumpernickel bread in a future blog.

Elisabeth likes wholemeal toast bread and so do many others. Of the three kinds of toast bread sold at the local grocery store the wholemeal variant is frequently sold out.

On the other hand, Red Baron prefers thinly sliced whole grain rye bread already for breakfast. There are many kinds of Schwarzbrot, some available only regionally although others like Lieken are produced by bakery chains and are offered throughout Germany. Support local bakers! So for a change I often buy a loaf of whole grain rye bread at a local bakery cutting my thin slices by hand.

My favorite packed bread in Freiburg is the Kraftklotz but whenever in the past I was in Cologne I bought at least two packages of Rheinisches Vollkornbrot produced by the local bakery Merzenich. Their bread was very dark and tasty due to the addition of sugar beet syrup. Recently they changed their baking recipe. Now Merzenich’s bread tastes like any everyday Rhenish whole grain rye bread. So when during my recent visit to Cologne I wept in the presence of my sister-in-law, she being an insider recommended Zimmermann‘s Rheinisches Vollkornbrot, donating me two packages.

Zimmermann's bakery founded in 1875 produces a Rheinisches Vollkornbrot
without preservatives and without the addition of syrup.
On the left a thin slice of Kraftklotz,
on the right an even thinner slice of Zimmermann's Rhenish whole grain rye bread.
Recently the Kraftklotz too changed its baking recipe offering 20% more bread per package. I taste the difference. The new kind is somewhat tastier than the previous version.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Hitler in Freiburg

We are in the midst of our federal election campaign but Red Baron has never experienced a more boring one. Angela Merkel (Christian Democrat with a projected 38% of the vote) is hovering as the mother of Western democracy over the lowlands of German party politics whereas Martin Schulz (Social Democrat at a meager 24%) is struggling like the famous frog in liquid cream hoping that part of it may eventually transform into butter to give him at least some ground.

In light of such boredom the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung (lpd, State central for political education) scheduled a panel discussion at the university's Audimax (main auditorium).

General elections 1932 and 2017: Hitler in Freiburg 85 years ago
At campaign rallies in the Weimar Republic people had to pay an entrance fee.
Visitors came from Switzerland and neighboring Alsace to listen to Hitler.
Red Baron was early at the Audimax and got a seat near the stage but only in row four, the other seats in front being reserved for dignitaries including members of the local soccer teams Sportclub Freiburg (SCF) and the Freiburger Fußballclub (FFC). At the entrance I got a free ticket issued for counting purposes since seating of more than 800 persons at the Audimax is illegal. Nevertheless, as the starting time approached the auditorium became overcrowded.

During the filling and waiting phase we were entertained by video material. A documentary about Hitler's arrival and stay at Freiburg on July 29, 1932, was the "top seller". Here are some frames.

Most impressive. In July 1932, Hitler campaigned using an airplane
allowing him to give four speeches at four distant cities
 in one day. At Freiburg he arrived late.

Removing his earplugs after arrival at Freiburg (Cabins were not pressurized in 1932).

Saluting children and flowers as usual.

Hitler liked powerful and fast cars.
Rumors have it that the autobahn between Prussia and Bavaria was built
with priority so that he could quickly move between Berlin, the German capital,
and the Hauptstadt der Bewegung (Capital of the Movement), Munich.

As Hitler passed, young female voters were screaming
 like today's teenage girls idolizing Justin Bieber.

Looking determined and surrounded by his Brownshirts
he is marching to the FFC's Mösle stadium.

Hitler is giving his third and same speech during the day.

Already in 1932 there was fake news about the number of attendees:
30,000 according to the Freiburger Sport Club,
50,000 as estimated by the Freiburg newspapers,
70,000 as claimed by Nazi propaganda.

Hitler with flying cap ready to head for Radolfzell on Lake Constance
to attend his fourth and last rally of the day.

Können diese Augen lügen? (Would I lie to you?). Yes, you did.

Super election year 1932. Rektor Schiewer during his introduction
in front of a poster of the presidential election of April 10.
The evening was opened by the host, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans-Jochen Schiewer, Rektor (head) of Freiburg's university. The purport of his introductory talk was: Although there have been dark times in the past, the motto of Freiburg's university is equality and freedom of speech and research.

In front of a historical photo
 showing Nazi Mayor Franz Kerber and Gauleiter (governor) Robert Wagner
here are the panel members from left to right:
Dr. Thomas Schnabel, Leiter Haus der Geschichte Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart
Dr. Dieter Salomon, Oberbürgermeister der Stadt Freiburg
Dr. Michael Wehner, Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Baden-Württemberg,
Außenstelle Freiburg leading the discussion
Christian Streich, Trainer, Sport-Club Freiburg
Dr. Heinrich Schwendemann, Historisches Seminar
der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
The panel discussion proper started with two noteworthy statements by Freiburg's mayor, Dr. Dieter Salomon: Jeder Mensch hat seinen Wert (Every human being is valuable) and Populismus ist geschichtsvergessen (Populism ignores history).

According to Dr. Thomas Schnabel, director the the House of History in Stuttgart, a comparison between 1932 and 2017 is nearly ridiculous. In 1932 Germany suffered from the world economic depression and a resulting high unemployment rate of 18% (today 5,7%). This meant more welfare recipients and increased social spending that was compensated by a reduction of salaries in the public sector. Streets were dominated by politically motivated brawls and murder. This was an excellent climate for populism. Most important, however, was that more than 50% of the voters, be it right or left, rejected the Weimar Republic while today more than 85% fully support the democratic system of our Federal Republic.

Hitler and the National Socialists had their breakthrough in 1930 with 18.3% of the votes, reached their maximum with 37.3% in the July 1932 poll, and declined to 33.1% in the November 1932 elections due to a noticeable improvement in Germany's economic situation. Schnabel insisted that Hitler's January 31, 1933, rise to power was not imperative. The elites helped him to power and not the working class.

Schnabel is right, for the chancellor-makers and members of Hitler's initial government were industry (Alfred Hugenberg), military (Werner von Blomberg), and aristocracy (Franz von Papen) where the latter commented: In zwei Monaten haben wir Hitler in die Ecke gedrückt, dass er quietscht (Within two month we shall have pushed Hitler into a corner so he will squeak). All underestimated Hitler's will to power. Within only eight months the Nazi chancellor had brought Germany into line.

Why were two of Freiburg's soccer teams invited and was Christian Streich, coach of the SCF, sitting on the panel? As Dr. Heinrich Schwendemann, Historical Seminar of the university, explained: In the beginning of the 20th century soccer was an integrating factor when Catholics, Protestants, and Jews placed the team spirit above religious and ideological differences. The Mösle Stadium, home of the FFC, was sponsored by Jews. So it is one of history's ironies that Hitler gave his speech in a "Jewish" stadium.

The integrating power of soccer today involves Muslim and native African rather than Jewish players. This multicultural mix sometimes leads to racist outbursts during matches of the Bundesliga (Federal soccer league). Christian Streich, contrary to other coaches, has frequently spoken out against racist remarks and hate speech and in particular has taken on the populistic AfD (Alternative for Germany) recently. To great applause he explained that he had agreed to sit on the panel because here I am surrounded by educated people who are occupied the whole day with history and politics whereas I constantly reflect on how to prevent goals against my team.

Later in the discussion Dr. Salomon made the distinction between a political movement and a political party. The Greens started out in 1980 as a movement with Joschka Fischer being their charismatic leader. Now, together with the Free Democrats and the Linke (left socialists), the Greens belong to the spectrum of the smaller established parties in Germany, each with the prospect of around 10% of the vote. The populistic AfD is still in the stage of a movement but missing a one and only charismatic leader. They will possibly get 12% of the votes in the upcoming general election.

Dr. Salomon said: With respect to Germany's past, present generations are not guilty but we have the duty to watch that such an inhuman period will never reoccur. With respect to our uneasy relationship with our nationality Dr. Schnabel added: Nationalism yes, but never against others either inside or outside Germany.

Except for some interesting historical details and a few bon mots the panel discussion did not knock my socks off. Contrary to his habit Red Baron - this time being afraid of lengthy comments by people from the auditorium and verbose answers by the panel members - left the Audimax together with the majority of the audience before the general discussion started.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Donkeys' Corner

Some of my readers will remember Freiburg's Wagenburgler Story. Over the last years it has become quiet around the groups who like to live in caravans. They were roaming Freiburg in the years 2011 to 2014 for a site to park their vehicles in the shadow (Schattenparker is the name of one "tribe"). Another group calls itself Sand im Getriebe (sand in the transmission) and  indeed the quarrel with the city went "vicious" until most Wagenburgler had found their rest at a site near Freiburg's airport called Eselswinkel.

Wagenburglers behind the bushes in the background (©BZ/Rita Eggstein)
During this summer the quiet idyll was suddenly disturbed by noise. People were sleepless in Mooswald, a district of Freiburg on the other side of the airport. On August 5, techno music originating from the donkeys' corner continued into the following morning hours so that a lady at Mooswald stated: Ich stand senkrecht im Bett (I stood in my bed vertically).

The office for public order told the Wagenburglers to keep a curfew between 10 a.m. to 6 a.m. but they opposed the order and announced more techno parties. A spokeswoman said, "There are no longer any sites at Freiburg where one can party somewhat louder beyond midnight. We would like to make such parties possible for young people. Therefore we invite youth groups who are interested in our culture and way of life". Na dann prost Mahlzeit! (Well, that's just great!)

They are planning their yearly Diesel’n’Dust-Fest for September 15 into September 16. Mind you, #Dieselskandal is not such a dragging name presently.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Walking the Bundschuh Trail

Bundschuh, shoe with boot straps

worn by common people in the Middle Ages
Last Wednesday Red Baron walked the Bundschuhpfad (Bundschuh trail). This treat was offered by the Christian Democrats (CDU) as all parties are presently offering vote-catching goodies to Freiburgers since the general federal election of the Bundestag (House of Representatives) is scheduled for September 24.
Four years ago I blogged about the Bundschuh movement, a peasants' revolt in the village of Lehen, now a district of Freiburg. I also participated in the festivities on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the aborted uprising. Now I have walked the commemorative Bundschuh trail that had been created since then. For a complete story of the farmers' revolt in 1513 my German readers may like to consult this link.

The Bundschuh trail is conceived like a pilgrimage path with 14 stations. It starts at the Bundschuhhalle (1), a place where the Leheners hold their festivities and special events which however has nothing to do with the peasants' revolt in 1513. Since this historical event and Lehen's Bergle (hill) are the village's only important attributes they are marketed in combination. So you walk on the trail up and down the Bergle (11) with its vineyards and apple orchards.

In September 1513 the conspirers first met at the Hartmatte (2), a meadow outside the village, to take the Bundschuh vow. Today the famous Hartmatte is buried beneath a motorway and the tracks of Freiburg's streetcar.
Our guide at Jos-Fritz-Straße
Many of Lehen's streets are named after participants in the revolt. Naturally there is Jos Fritz (3), the leader, his wife Els Schmidin* (6), and Pastor Johannes Schwartz (4) who spiritually supported the movement calling the Bundschuh ein göttlich Ding (a divine thing).

*In the Middle Ages women kept their family name just adding the suffix "in" when married
Information panel (10)

At the village church St. Cyriak (10) an information panel tells about the history of the building. Johannes Schwartz was parish priest at Lehen from 1497 to 1513 when following the betrayal of the conspiracy he fled to Alsace.

A 20th-century Longinus- und Armakreuz in the churchyard was worth a detour. These crosses are named after the Roman legionnaire Longinus who pierced Jesus in his side with a lance. In addition it shows the arms, the arma Christi, the weapons of Christ. The cross was created by Friedbert Andernach in 1987.

The last station of the trail is the Bundschuh oak (14), a work of art by Thomas Rees commemorating the peasants' uprising, carved out of an upside-down oak trunk, and presenting the signs of the times 500 years ago. The head of the crucified Christ is bent by the weight of two oppressors. To the right sits a clergyman pointing with one hand to heaven and opening the other hand for a euro. To the left sits a drinking nobleman squeezing out a peasant.
It was an afternoon well spent.