Posts from the ‘Europe’ Category
I’m always happy to be back in the German university town of Heidelberg, a place where I lived and worked as a research astronomer for 2 years.
Arriving in Heidelberg thanks to my German Rail Pass, how was I to know the Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas markets had opened just the day before!
Once again, as in times I’ve been here before, I’m happily immersed under bright coloured lights; a mulled wine in hand, standing next to the giant Christmas tree at Marktplatz; swimming in the sea of smiling residents and visitors, young and old; munching on grilled steak, Bratwurst, and Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) with apple or garlic sauce; nibbling on Marzipan, Stollen, and Spekulatius; and washing all of it down with more mulled wine …
The photos show scenes at a number of markets along the Hauptstrasse (main street). From west to east, Heidelberg’s markets along the Hauptstrasse are at:
- Bismarckplatz (Bismarck Square, B)
- Anatomiegarten (Anatomy Garden, A)
- Universitätsplatz (University Square, U)
- Marktplatz (Market Square, M)
- Kornmarkt (Grain Market, K)
- Karlsplatz (Charles Square, C).
I made the photos above on 22 and 23 November 2012. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.
Along Friedrichstrasse in Berlin Mitte are department stores, shops, and boutiques which cater to more expensive and refined tastes. The central court in Quartier 206 opens the visitor to a sensory experience: geometric lines and patterns mixed into the smooth marble under a glass roof, the sounds of a piano at the base of the central staircase, and the smell of coffee brewing at the bar. I wanted to capture some essence of the building and interior without drilling a large hole in my wallet.
I made these photos on 18 March 2011 with a Canon EOS450D (XSi) camera fitted with a prime 50mm f/1.4 lens; the settings for both photos were 1/60-second, f/2.8, and ISO200. Quartier 206 is located between BVG U-Bahn stations Französische Strasse and Stadtmitte. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.
It happens every time without fail.
My spirit breaks a little more every time I see a memorial, another example of the depths to which our species have plumbed.
Does feeling this way make me weak? Or am I resembling a human being after all?
On 9-10 November 1938, Kristallnacht (“the night of broken glass”) was a well-organized “pogrom”, a series of violent attacks by Nazis against Jews and their property in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslavakia’s Sudetenland. The word “Kristallnacht” is literally “the night of crystal”, referring to broken glass as windows to synagogues, homes, and stores owned by Jews were shattered.
The numbers were appalling: at least 90 dead, 30000 arrested and detained in camps, over 200 synagogues burned, and over 7000 Jewish businesses damaged or destroyed. The outbreak of coordinated actions against Jews marked the beginning of state-sanctioned violence. With Kristallnacht, the state opened the door to undisguised escalation of savagery: a turning point leading to the Holocaust.
Heidelberg’s Old Synagogue
In the university town of Heidelberg, the earliest recorded presence of Jews dates back to the 13th-century. Jews gathered in what is now the Old Town and converted the building they were using into a synagogue in the early 18th-century; the community built a new synagogue at the same site in the late 19th-century.
The synagogue did not escape violence on Kristallnacht and was burned to the ground. Alter Synagogenplatz (Old Synagogue Square) is all that remains today with memorial plaques; the names of people arrested, deported, and killed; the outline of the synagogue’s walls in white marble; the entrance and windows marked in grey granite; and twelve sandstone cubes representing pews and the twelve tribes of Israel.
A memorial at the square is dedicated to the Jewish community who once thrived in Heidelberg’s Old Town. Information at the “Site of the Heidelberg synagogue, 1714-1938″ provided by the City of Heidelberg reads:
Jews have lived in Heidelberg since the 13th century, in spite of having been subject to oppression and persecution time and again. In 1714, the “Blue Lily” house situated on this site was converted to a synagogue. In 1878, the community built a new synagogue in contemporary style.
On the night of 9-10 November 1938, Nazi storm troopers set fire to the synagogue. In 1939, the Jewish community was ordered to pay for the demolition of its ruined synagogue.
On 22 October 1940, the Jews of Baden and the Palatinate were deported to Gurs camp in Southern France. Only few of them survived the Shoah. Between 1941 and 1945, more Jews from the area were deported straight to the death camps.
After the end of the war in April 1945, a Jewish community was re-established in Heidelberg. The present-day synagogue is situated in the Weststadt city district, at 10-12 Häusserstrasse. It was inaugruated in 1994.
During the renovation of this square in 2001, white marble cobbles were used to mark the outline of the synagogue. The memorial stone marks the location of the Ark.
A new Jewish community centre and synagogue were inaugurated in Heidelberg’s Weststadt in 1994. There are now brass “Stolpersteine” or “stumbling stones” with names acknowledging Jews who once lived in Heidelberg.
I made the photos above on 26 November 2006 with a Canon Powershot A510. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.
A number of German historians set up the website, 9nov38.de, to highlight events before, during, and after the pogroms of 9-10 November 1938; the website is in German.
Thanks to Enchanted Seashells for their post.
2013 marked the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, and BBC News posed the question of whether anti-Semitism was on the rise in Europe. Holocaust survivor Margot Friedlander recently returned to her hometown of Berlin, where she has her own “Stolperstein”; she spoke to NPR about remembering Kristallnacht.
I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m apoplectic with rage if a person answers “Oktoberfest” as their first and only thought when asked what they think about Germany.
There’s nothing wrong with the raging keggers and oom-pa-pa at Oktoberfest or the beautiful city that is München. But there’s a lot more to Germany than Oktoberfest. Besides, there’s always the months-long Karneval on the Rhein …
As I’m very fond of the country and its people, I can be defensive when it comes to my “alternate” home that is the Deutschland. Yes, the people can be a little ornery, but break past their gruff orderly fastidious exteriors, and they are a lovely warm and generous people.
Sounds a lot like you and me, doesn’t it?
To encourage a different (and hopefully favourable) set of views about other parts of the country, here are five favourites while I’m in the big D:
I’m in Berlin to catch sunset’s silhouettes on Strasse des 17. Juni.
In Berlin, a ride on the upper-deck of either the 100 or 200 city-bus from Zoologischer Bahnhof will take passengers through many of the sightseeing and talking points of the German capital. As far as the Tiergarten park is concerned, many visitors will visit the Zoo, Brandenburg Gate, and the Siegessäule (Victory Column). Some time to see the Gate and Column illuminated at night are also worthwhile, but I like my silhouettes, too.
I’m in Hamburg to check what’s on store in the Speicherstadt.
Sitting adjacent to the river Elbe, Hamburg is a port-city with historical links to the Hanseatic shipping league. The Speicherstadt (Warehouse District) consists of 19th- and 20th-century brick warehouses, like proud markers of an island oasis on the river. If you’re interested in spices, the Spice Museum is where you can learn about how spices arrived and were traded within Europe. Today, harbour activities take place across the river on the southern banks of the Elbe in the Hafenstadt.
I’m in Köln for my favourite Turkish food.
An important thing I’ve learned from friends in Köln is the quality and variety of Turkish food. I’ve always tried to visit neighbourhoods where resident German-Turks go for their favourites. Whether it’s Müheim, Hansaring, Zülpicher Platz, or Ehrenfeld, it might be hard to pin down the best places to eat within a given “Kölner Kiez” (Cologne neighbourhood). Placing in front of me a plate with Döner meat or grilled Lambspiess accompanied by rice and salad is always a good way to start; a serving of Künefe is always a great way to finish.
I’m on the North Sea coast to gaze out into the open sea.
It’s easy to forget Germany has access to open seas which are a part of the nation’s history and Hanseatic traditions. About an hour north by train from Bremen, you arrive at the coastal town of Cuxhaven, which is a good place to start exploring the Wadden Sea (Wattenmeer). The area includes coastal mud flats, vital for conservation efforts of local wildlife. The site’s importance has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I’m up top at Zugspitze for big mountains and big skies.
Although the tallest parts of the Alps are located in neighbouring countries, an altitude of 3000 metres (9700 feet) on the German side isn’t so bad. The ascent to Zugspitze is worth the trip on its own, whether it’s with the cogwheel railway from Partenkirchen or with the gondola up from Eibsee. At the summit, you can pass between Bavaria, Germany and Tirol, Austria with ease. If you squint your eyes on a clear day, you can see all the way to mountains at the Austria-Italy border …
I made all of the photos above in the D-land. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.
Often, art occurs whenever and wherever you find it.
Whenever I’m in Cologne, Germany, I stop at the Museum Ludwig for their selection of contemporary art, including their Pablo Picasso collection which is the third largest in the world.
I’ve seen some fine examples and works, and perhaps, they provide the necessary inspiration and ingredient to move forward or onto a different course.
Symmetry, form, line, contrast
After a look at their collection of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein in the basement, I headed back up to the ground floor. Looking up, I realized there was lots of geometry in the floors above. Fortunately, the security guard was “cooperative”, and the composition kept its symmetry with the added bonus of a convergence point.
I think the fellow was curious about what I was photographing …
I hung out in the upper corner of the museum, looking out the window and onto Heinrich-Böll-Platz, and I waited for the right opportunity. After some ten to fifteen minutes, I saw at the square two people, each walking along a different path but heading in the same direction. Each person wore contrasting colours: the woman in bright colours and a dark umbrella, the older gentleman in dark colours and a bright patch on his backpack.
Some have asked: how do you make these kinds of photographs? Here’s my basic list:
- Awareness : keep your eyes open to surroundings and possible situations.
- Composition : get things “right” in camera as much as possible.
- Minimal post : I don’t do a lot of post-processing, but I’ll make the necessary corrections for rotation, distortion, crop, and “dodge & burn” to adjust highlights and shadows, respectively.
- Experience, endurance : photograph as much as you can to recognize the kinds of shots which arise in a variety of surroundings and settings. Sometimes I have to wait until the right situation comes along.
It’s a simple “ACME” list, because each item is not difficult to undertake and does not require a specific or expensive camera. Go out and make photos with whatever camera you have.
Museum Ludwig and Heinrich-Böll-Platz are located between the Cathedral and the Central train station to the west and the Hohenzollern Bridge and koelnmesse Trade Fair Exhibition Centre to the east. Below Heinrich-Böll-Platz is the home of the Kölner Philharmonie; the square is closed to all foot traffic when a concert is held. Next to the square is the sculpture piece “Ma’alot” (Stufen or steps, 1980-1986) by Tel Aviv’s Dani Karavan.
More about Köln …
I made the two photos above with a Canon EOS450D (XSi) camera and 50mm-lens on 25 July 2013. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.