See trips hub: Europe Road Ways

For themes of conflict, present in any country, see Studying War.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bremen - Roland, The Town Musicians. Town Hall Facade

Welcome to Bremen:
Reasons for Being 
for All Ages

Town Hall Square, with Statue of Roland, Bremen, Germany

 Bremen's town hall, the Rathaus, is a World Heritage Site. Built in the early 1400's, it was never destroyed.

Roland.  The statue in a prominent position in front of the Rathaus.  Some say he was the nephew of Charlemagne, was killed by Basques in a retreat from fighting the Moors, but the story changes depending on whether it is the long Song of Roland, or earlier oral traditions, or later legends.  He became the patron saint of market towns, signifying the bestowal of a charter on that town and fostering is economic success.  Freedom and market rights! Bestow on these, but not on those. See ://

Why his knees are dark we do not know.  But clearly soiled they are.

Now:  The Bremen Town Musicians. Who? You think you know?

The donkey, with a dog atop, with a cat atop, with a rooster atop.  Why? What were they doing?  And why did they have to? 

Find the real tale by the Brothers Grimm at ://

But, like so many stories that begin with real substance, after a time they get watered down.  

The later versions edit out the guts to fit the agenda of the teller du jour. See, e.g., ://  Children's books now often leave out the most important parts, the parts where life is tough, matters are not always fair, and people are not always gentle and kind. So deal with it.  The Flash story at least obliquely refers.  Others do not at all.

In this tale, remember that there are animals who band together and frighten robbers out of a house on the way to Bremen (they never get there), and the reason for their being on the loose anyway is seldom mentioned.  Check it out.  In the original story, each had to leave because profits take over loyalty for service.  Is that so?  Each heard the owner, the farmer or the housewife or whoever, say that the individual animal was no longer worth its keep -- too old, not catching mice any more, weak, sleeping in the sun -- just plain OLD. Good for nothing. Waste of money keeping that one going. Next stop:  the glue factory, drowning in the lake, the stew pot, etc. So one by one they slink away. 

Choose between Euthanasia and ongoing life as you may be able to cobble it together, and they - these fine and still-able in many ways, but over-the-hill as to profits beasties-like-us, choose life over the profits of those they served in prior years.  Sound familiar?

See how the tale continues to morph depending on the agenda of the teller. Double dare. Go!

Try this version for today:  At "Lessons from the Sassafras,"  The Bremen Town Discards. Euthanasia in folk tales. Leave it in.  It is a live issue in many cultures, and always has been.

Dumbing down folk tales. See it again at Bremen Town Musicians, Euthanasia or No?  This is at "Migratory Patterns of Cultural Tales."  How we move.  But usually backwards.  Lean Forward? Away from profits as the sole measure of worth? Can we learn? 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hamburg: Johannes Widingh - State Archives. German Roots for Surnames -

Home research leads to silly places. I found a random reference to another spelling of my husband's Swedish name, Widing; and this new one had an "H" at the end.  Widingh.  So I looked up people with that spelling, and found one Johannes Widingh of Hamburg.  We took this with us:

So, fast forward to now, and what if the Widings like us, today, obviously direct descendants, now own all the waterfront in Hamburg.  Go see.

We went over there, to the Archives, like Miss Marple looking for clues. You will need a GPS to get there, but in the rain, why not.

Here is what came of it:

Here is the bottom half of a photocopied Will of the Great Johannes Widingh from 1376, and, yes, bombs and wars and all, they have the Archives.

So  -- what did Johannes have?  Part Deux of the Great Will of somebody we obviously have no connection to: The point is, Germany keeps its records. Very carefully.

I found the name Widingh with the H, with a silly search because we found it somewhere that way, perhaps in "Images" on Google.  Go look. I found an "h" some Scandinavian - German people who add or retain the H at the end of the name Widing, that has its own ins and outs as a Swedish thing.  Some say, in Germany, that the H means "hof" or farm, or even a court connection. We are not "Court".  Not us, we are yokels in heart and mind.

I have lost where the scan went. Where is the top half?

Try again:

No, I keep getting the large version of the list of documents.

Is that the same half?  Who can read this Olde Germanica!

In 1376, this Johannes Widingh with the H (we say, at our dinner table, Widing-HHHHHH. Like blowing out a candle.  That is not Widing HUNNHHH. That asks a question.

No.  Widing-HHHHHH. Flicker the match.

So, here we are in 1376,  and here is the portion of the computer page we came up with: Scroll down for Our Boy -- are you tempted to go look up your own non-relatives with linguistic similarties?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hamburg - Churches, Ruins, Memorials. And the Bubble

Images Juxtaposed

There are offsets to the reminders of the past -- bombing, and Holocaust; and also to the modern focus on redevelopment, show and economic success. Secular elements probably have supplanted the traditional in Hamburg, but see these persistent little signs like these near the Town Hall: pointers to pilgrimage sites. These include Hamburg.

Find distances to Rome, Santiago di Compostela, Trondheim and Vastena.  There are still pilgrimages along ancient routes attracting the devout. 

Find the religious history of Germany, and its main pilgrimage sites, at  ://

Brick gothic is the building material of choice in lower-lying areas like this, away from rocks of mountains.

Jacobkirche was largely destroyed by the bombing, but has been rebuilt.  The stained glass windows were irreplaceable, and here the replacements have been kept plain.  The altarpiece, however, was saved -- the tryptych format meant it could be removed, folded, and taken to a shelter.

The best way to navigate in Hamburg - and many European cities - is by steeplechasing.  Look up and out, and match the steeple to something in the guidebook, or just aim there and then see what the streets are.  The canals and bridges keep going the wrong way.

St. Michael's Church, Michaeliskirche Hamburg, Germany

St. Nicholas' Church also was destroyed, but this has been kept as a ruin as a memorial. It includes specific focus on the Holocaust. There is one steeple remaining, some parts of walls.

It is right in the middle of modern buildings.  Take up a glass elevator and see the views of the city, best when not raining.

The size must have been huge.

There goes the elevator.  Outside the church ruin is an ongoing effort to keep trees and plantings thriving.

The exposed interior is stark.  This memorial on the side appears to be rising from ashes.

Holocaust memorial.

It can be difficult, however, in Germany, to determine the memorials to grief and destruction; and those specifically for the Holocaust. Some are specified. Others are ambiguous, as though we are to look away from a painful personal moment. 

But Hamburg returns quickly to the modern era. Offsets begone.  Here, the bubble outside a museum -- inside there is a hammock and palm trees.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hamburg - Confiscation Issues, Third Reich, Statsarchiv, Archives

Housing markets, buy, sell, be sure to get clear title, or at least, title insurance.

What happens to title when a State -- later found unlawfully -- confiscates, or forces fale, of property in order to force ethnic groups or individuals to leave. Think World War II. The Jews. Excluding Jews from economic life, and how to do that. Jews in Hamburg.

Clearing title:  Our initial thought is that matters of public record, such as real estate transfers, remain open to claims for reparations until the legislature involved sets an outside date for claims; and after that, adverse possession begins. That gives a further period already in the law books.

If an early claimant does not file before the expiration of the adverse possession, the property goes to the holder.  Why not?  But it takes the legislature setting the outside date for beginning adverse possession. That process alone should cause publication, motivations to get going, etc. Some folks may just say after all these years, skip it. We understand reparations claims take years anyway, and have produced so little. Is there any appeal to the amounts offered? Tangle.

Are these examples? Does anyone care any more?

Find here two lovely homes in a fine old Edwardian district, still lovely. They belonged to Jewish families, in the 1930's they were forced to sell or the property was confiscated, and given to Aryans.  Are later purchasers, or even the original recipients considered bona fide purchasers for value, so their title is protected? Or are they on notice ever after because of illegal confiscations, that a prior owner's line can ask for reparations, etc.

Later purchasers in the line of succession:  what is your title, so your investment as you buy, improve, enjoy, is protected.  How far back can prior owners go, for compensation, even reinstatement. Is there a kind of adverse possession that takes over. Delay and lose out. These are global issues: Palestine, Israel, cowboys and the US Cavalry vs. Native Americans and the Trail of Tears. Use and possession over time, vs. original usurpation.

How to find out your rights.  To any property matter.

You can find out your rights. Go to the town hall. We were pursuing something frivolous, so follow along.

The land records and documents people will send you to the Archives.  Here we are, still in Hamburg but some distance away (need GPS).
Leave off your backpack, go meet with fine people, and learn that this kind of research is done by contracting with the paper-elves who do it, with offices right there in the building.

Put in your order, explain what you are looking for, see what comes up. Do some research:  on looting Jewish art, see Robbing the Jews: The Confiscation of Jewish Property in the Holocaust 1933-1945, at ://

Then see Aryanisation in Hamburg, the Economic Exclusion of Jews and the Confiscation of their Property in Nazi Germany, at://

Why were we there?

We went to the Statsarchiv for a clearly frivolous matter unrelated to confiscation of property and title:  we had found reference to a will in 1267 AD or so, by on deceased Johann Widingh, and ordered that from the archives.

We got our copy of the old will (called a "testament") about a month later, a single page -- so it seems clear that we do not own the waterfront  in Hamburg, that our Johannes Widingh was an ordinary householder.  We were disasppointed in the quality of the photocopy (adjust the thing for legibility, please!), but it may be enough for an Old-German speaker to decipher when we find one.

Do you know Old German?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hamburg - Canals, bridges, tunnels and traffic jams

What to do when all you want to do is leave, but the GPS sends you out on the docks, with the rest of the lost, then into impossible traffic jams at tunnels and bridges.  10 feet=45 minutes. Meet the Wallfahrt Tunnell - part of a ring around Hamburg and leading, if traffic moves, to exits and out.  Speed here:  25 minutes for 50 feet.  keep camera ready.

So, get through the tunnel, hit more traffic and just park (use the pay-0-mat).  Standstill.  Get out. Go up the little stairs to the waterfront. Order a sausage on a bun, relax, wait an hour, and enjoy.

Get philosophical. Get back on the road, and see what lessons can be learned from looking out the window. Meet a fellow jammee skimming up the center line with this great jacket that says, aptly, "Mr. Magic on Tour". There is a chance this was Denmark?

There he goes. Ands, ifs, and butt.

Walking in Hamburg is difficult enough, with all the canals.

The city is a mega-Venice for water, without the charm of the old (too much bombing inWWII), but clear signs of prosperity.  At least Venice keeps cars out, mostly, in the oldest parts.

A water city. Understanding the problem of getting all the vehicles moved in Hamburg, where bridges and tunnels are all you can use.  Update or carry new technology.  An old-map GPS is useless in Hamburg; too much construction and sudden dead ends, people spinning around, heading back toward the Wallfahrt.  Skip the GPS entirely, just somewhere out, and recalibrate on the other side.