Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Historic Hamburg

Okay, now that I'm back in the States, I finally have time and access to a computer so I can upload photos and give a brief (at least I'll TRY to keep it brief) overview of my time in Germany and Switzerland. Most of the photos and stories will come from my free time (Mondays and some mornings when I didn't have to go into the theatre until the afternoon).

So, let's start at the very beginning: the first city I went to was Hamburg, Germany (yes, this is where Hamburgers come from : ) ). I spent a lot of time during the three weeks I was here learning about the history of this city. It was an important port city during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and many people left Europe for the Americas and Australia from Hamburg. Occasionally, on our walks home from the theatre Mary and I would hear a blow horn from the harbor -- not something I was accustomed to after living in Denver and Abilene, but very cool.

Hamburg also had a BEAUTIFUL History Museum. I went there twice to see as much as I could. Here are some photos of things I saw there:

A model of the city in the Renaissance and Old Shoes

A corset! and a Pianoforte! It was all really beautiful and fascinating.
And last but not least, the German National Theatre was established in Hamburg in the 18th century. One of the founders, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing wrote this book:
"Hamburg Dramaturgy" (yes!), which became the most important book on theatre theory of the Enlightenment. Hamburg became (and still is) a hub of cultural and artistic activity. Many important performers had ties to Hamburg, like Adele Dore, who is represented here:

Germany, of course, was the center of the early days of the Reformation. Here is a photo of a statue of Martin Luther at a local Protestant Church:

There was a big fire in the 19th Century that destroyed much of the city and was again hit hard by Allied bombs during World War II. So the city has a very interesting mix of old buildings and brand new ones. The juxtaposition of the old and new, the pristine and ruined was not something I was prepared for, and rather arresting.

Here are some photos of the old and new of Hamburg side by side:

On one of my free mornings I went to a museum/memorial for WWII victims that was in the basement of a bombed-out church. There was a concentration camp in the outskirts of Hamburg and after it was heavily bombed and large portions of the civilian population lost homes, jobs or their very lives (those who made it to underground bomb shelters survived but the above ground shelters weren't even strong enough to save people from the heat from fires and bombs), the inmates at the camp were ordered to pick through the rubble to collect the dead for burial and make sure all bombs had actually exploded. It was humbling to stand in that city knowing its tragic and violent past.

Photo of Hamburgers quickly leaving their homes:

Nazi Propaganda: "Mother and Child"
All that is left of the church where the memorial now stands is the bell tower and about half of the outside walls. What used to be the church itself is now an outside courtyard with a few statues and memorials. Here are my two favorites:

This one is called "The Ordeal" and had a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer (who opposed Hitler) attached to it, "No man in the world can change the truth. One can only look for the truth, find it and serve it. The truth is in all places".

This statue is called "Angel on Earth". The statement under the title reads, "Take my hand and let me lead you back to yourself".

After I went thorough the museum, I noticed that my ticket also gave me access to the bell tower. I hadn't planned on going up (because I'm kind of afraid of heights) but because I had already paid for it, I thought, why not? Now, I know why not. Going up 75 yards of this:

all alone in a glass elevator is NOT fun. In fact, it is small panic-attack producing. Take my word for it.

But once I was up there, I was rewarded with this view of the sky...:

Of the city...:

Of my hotel (the tallest building)...:
Of this McDonald's sign (LAME)...:
and this Emergency Sign, which informed me that in the event of an emergency, I should not worry because I would be able to escape using this spiral staircase which went down the outside of the gigantic bell tower...:
Can you see the TERROR on my face?:

After the War, Hamburg continued to be a place that welcomed excellent artists, particularly musicians. And it wasn't long before the best band of the 20th century came to this humble city. The Beatles (before they were world famous) spent time living in Hamburg's seedy red-light district on the Reeperbahn street (where they used to make ropes for ships), where they played in the "Star Club". Here's a photo of the club. Check out my previous blog for a photo of ME on the street "Big Freedoms" (an excellent name for a street in the red light district...)

Some 40 years after The Beatles first set foot in Hamburg I followed suit and got to work with these lovely Hamburgers:

This is a photo of the German helpers who assisted us in Hamburg. They were WONDERFUL and I'm so glad to have met them!

Well, my friends, that's an overview of my time in Historic Hamburg.

Stay tuned for the article on Beautiful Baden Baden!


Dee and Lauren said...

Thanks for all your beautiful pictures! It sounds like a wonderful adventure, and we're very glad that you didn't have to descend the stairwell of doom ; )

Meredith said...

I'm so glad you had such an awesome time! Those statues are amazing- I love them! What are you up to now that you are back in the States?