Fotoeins Fotografie

location bifurcation, place & home

Posts tagged ‘Heldenstadt’

ICE 791 south to Leipzig, Deutsche Bahn, InterCity Express,

Leipzig: impressions of the Heldenstadt, Messestadt, & Musikstadt

I’m on express train ICE 791 southbound from the German capital. When my nose isn’t stuck against the window, I’m stationed at the exit doors, swinging back and forth with the train, gazing out to familiar scenes in the German countryside: hills, farmlands, little towns, and rows of towering wind turbines.

I’m on my way to Leipzig.

From the moment I was introduced to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Leipzig has never strayed far from the imagination. As my train races to Leipzig, I’m looking for help with the following questions. Why is Leipzig being compared to Berlin? How do Leipzig’s historical experiences shape the city today? There are no promises for any answers, but there are plenty of places to begin.

As Leipzig celebrates a milestone millennium, the city has quietly left its mark on Germany and Europe with religion, trade, books, music, and the 1989 “peaceful revolution”. Recent attention on the art scene in Leipzig has drawn comparisons with Berlin. Some disagree and bristle with labels such as “Hypezig” or “the new Berlin.” But the people of Leipzig carry on, unfazed and perhaps bemused by the attention. Fact is Leipzig can be described in at least three ways: a city of heroes, a city of trade fairs, and a city of music.

Stepping off the train upon arrival, I stroll into a mammoth concourse in one of the largest train stations on the European continent. I’m completely in my element here in the station’s spacious hall, setting me in a proper frame of mind to kick off my time here in Leipzig.

City of Heroes (Heldenstadt)

Leipzig: St. Nicholas Church, by Schmidt, Leipziger Tourismus und Marketing GmbH

St. Nicholas Church: photo by Schmidt for Leipziger Tourismus und Marketing GmbH

With origins dating to the 12th-century, St. Nicholas Church is better known today for its connection and origins to demonstrations against communist rule in 1989. Because unapproved public assembly was against the law, churches were safe places to gather, although all who entered were photographed and monitored. Weekly Monday prayers began in the early-1980s, which began developing into public assemblies. They grew and spilled out onto streets as peaceful marches and the Monday demonstrations. October 9 became a “Day of Decision” as East German authorities countered with massive police and security presence. An estimated 70 thousand people appeared and the demonstration proceeded peacefully with security forces staying back. The size, scale, and importance of these protests became apparent to everyone after video footage took a circuitous route out to the West. 120 thousand people appeared in a demonstration the following Monday, and 300 thousand were in attendance on 23 October.

Demonstrations began in other cities in East Germany, and by 4 November, an estimated half million attended demonstrations in East Berlin. The Wall dividing East and West fell on 9 November. What’s remarkable is that the internal revolution remained largely peaceful, especially with people and authorities very aware of the massacre months earlier in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Runde Ecke, Friedriche Revolution, Peaceful Revolution, Leipzig, Saxony, Sachsen, Germany, Deutschland,

Runde Ecke (Round Corner) – 4 Dec 2014.

The photo above is at the Museum Runde Ecke, which housed the Leipzig District Administration of the Ministry for State Security (Bezirkverwaltung für Staatssicherheit, Stasi) from 1950 to 1989. Even with the fall of the Wall and the collapse of one-party rule, weekly Monday street demonstrations continued with people demanding open access to their security files. About 150 thousand marched on 4 December 1989 towards the local Stasi administrative offices. People crashed through the doors, pushed their way inside, and occupied the building, protecting countless Stasi files from destruction.

While most think of Berlin as primary staging for the fall of the Wall, Leipzig is where peaceful demonstrations driving the push to end communist rule began.

City of Trade Fairs (Messestadt)

In the Middle Ages, Leipzig was at the crossroads of two major trade routes in the Holy Roman Empire: the east-west “Via Regia” (Royal Way) and the north-south “Via Imperii” (Imperial Way). Throughout the centuries, Leipzig welcomed goods, people, and traditions from throughout Europe. Leipzig was granted market rights by Otto the Rich (Magrave of Meissen) in the middle of the 12th-century, and the city was granted imperial fair privileges by Emperor Maximilian I in 1497.

Kaffeehaus Riquet, Leipzig, Saxony, Sachsen, Germany, Deutschland,

Kaffeehaus Riquet – 2 Dec 2014.

The Riquet family emigrated as Huguenots from France to Germany and in 1745 they established in Leipzig a company trading in tea, coffee, and spices in the Far East. Built at the present location in 1909, the Riquet coffee house is a unique example of Jugendstil or Art Nouveau architecture in the city.

Specks Hof, Leipzig, Saxony, Sachsen, Germany, Deutschland,

Specks Hof – 2 Dec 2014.

Specks Hof is an example of one of the oldest shopping complexes dating back to the middle of the 15th-century where a building with living space and brewery once stood.
The merchant and art collector Maximilian Speck purchased the corner building in 1815, naming the building Specks Hof (Speck’s Courtyard). In the early 20th-century, the architect Hansel redesigned the building as an exhibition house for the Leipziger Messe trade-fair. Post-war reconstruction took place in 1947 with additional renovation in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, Specks Hof is a prize-winning example of the city’s architecture.

City of Music (Musikstadt)

Like many fond of classical music, one dreams of walking in the footsteps of famous composers, musicians, and artists. I’ve followed them along the Leipzig Music Trail (Leipziger Notenspur). To stand in the same places where Bach and Mendelssohn once played and led their respective choirs in song is a big thrill.

Johann Sebastian Bach, Thomaskirche, St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, Deutschland,

Grave for Johann Sebastian Bach, St. Thomas Church – 3 Dec 2014.

From 1723 until his death in 1750, Johann Sebastian Bach was choir director of St. Thomas Church (Thomaskantor, Thomaskirche). His responsibilities included arranging music for a number of churches in the city and teaching Latin. Bach led the church’s choir, the Thomanerchor, in existence since the early 13th-century. Bach’s remains were moved in 1950 to the present resting place in the nave of St. Thomas church.

Leipzig: Gewandhaus concert hall, evening, by Schmidt, Leipziger Tourismus und Marketing GmbH

Gewandhaus concert hall, from Leipziger Tourismus und Marketing GmbH.

Gewandhaus, Leipzig, Saxony, Sachsen, Germany, Deutschland,

Gewandhaus at night – 2 Dec 2014.

The building on the south side of Augustusplatz is the city’s Gewandhaus, home to the Gewandhausorchester. They’re the world’s oldest civic symphony orchestra, having been founded as a society in 1743, and playing in the Gewandhaus for the first time in 1781. The original Gewandhaus was a “garment house” or a trading house for textile merchants. Between 1835 and 1847 (except for one year), Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was Music Director (Gewandhauskapellmeister). Other notables including Mozart, Beethoven, Wieck, Liszt, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Strauss performed at the Gewandhaus. The present-day Gewandhaus was completed and inaugurated in 1981, the only dedicated concert hall ever built in former East Germany. Visibly illuminated through the glass facade and hanging above the front entrance is the giant mural “Gesang vom Leben” (Song of Life) by Sighard Gille. Appearing at the Gewandhaus since 1781, a quote attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca summarizes the city’s music history:

“Res severa verum gaudium.”
(“True pleasure is serious business”.)

… and a city of arts (Kunststadt)

Spinnerei, Leipzig, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany,

Spinnerei arts & cultural centre – 3 Dec 2014.

Since 2005, the Leipzig Spinnerei arts and cultural space is hosted inside a former cotton mill in the western industrial suburb of Plagwitz.

Leipzig millennium, 1015 to 2015 AD/CE

Leipzig is first mentioned in 1015 as a trading settlement, “urbs Libzi”, in the chronicles of Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg. Along with year-long celebrations in 2015 marking Leipzig’s millennium, the city will also celebrate the 850th anniversary of the Leipzig Trade Fair and the 850th anniversary of St. Nicholas Church.

Lipz Schorle, Lipz, Leipzig, Saxony, Sachsen, Germany, Deutschland,

“Lipz Schorle” locally produced rhubarb-flavoured soda – 4 Dec 2014.

“Lipz” or “Lipsk” are early names for the city of Leipzig from the Sorbian (Slavic) word “Lipsk”, meaning “place of linden (lime) trees.” The Czech name for Leipzig is “Lipsko”. This bottle of Lipz Schorle is a non-alcoholic fizzy drink made and bottled in Leipzig.

It’s easy to be carried away by the stories. The sense of knowing civic pride mixed with quiet humility. That there’s much less historical baggage and less attention than the sharp focus on the capital city.

I’ve barely scratched the surface over the short time here. I must come back to meander along the “Karli” (Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse), to explore the Musikviertel and Mediaviertel, the former Industriegebiet, and the green belt; to sit among the linden trees next to the pit-lakes; to absorb the day-to-day in the “Lipsk”.

I leave Leipzig recognizing her people aren’t very concerned by the “Hypezig” label or declarations as “the new Berlin”. Leipzig is a place whose people have always recognized change, always been a city about publishing, of coal, of food and drink, where trade and commerce intermingle freely with open culture.

To paraphrase my new friends about the ongoing history of Leipzig:

“Wie Phönix aus der Asche, ist die Stadt immer über den neuen Leipzig gewesen. Man tu’, was man will; man mach, was man kann.”

(Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the city has always been about the new Leipzig. Anybody can do whatever they what; they’ll create whatever they can.)

Hourly trains with Deutsche Bahn’s InterCity Express service go between Berlin and Leipzig in 70 to 80 minutes. Frequent rail service from Dresden to Leipzig take anywhere from 70 minutes (IC, ICE trains) to 100 minutes (RE trains).

I made seven images above during my 2-4 December 2014 visit, graciously hosted by Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH (LTM). Thanks to Christine Horchheimer, Michael Luderwig, and Simone Feldmeier for their tours, and to Jane Langforth and Steffi Gretschel at LTM for their help. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as

Friedriche Revolution, Peaceful Revolution, Leipzig, Saxony, Sachsen, Germany, Deutschland,

Leipzig’s Stasi Corner: Die Runde Ecke

Above/featured: Leipzig’s 1989 Peaceful Revolution. Photo on 4 Dec 2014.

Before arriving at the Runde Ecke, I didn’t know I’d be visiting on the very day, 25 years to the day the building was occupied by peaceful protestors. Then again, the atrium seemed to contain lingering echoes and shouts from those very same protestors: “Wir sind das Volk! Krumme Ecke, Schreckenshaus, wann wird ein Museum daraus?” (We are the people! Crooked corner, horror house, when will this become a museum?)

Walking through the ground floor museum, there’s a stale dank smell, known as the “East German” smell. The secret cameras, the recording devices. This is where Stasi employees worked, where people were kept in Stasi prisons below. No expense was spared to monitor and collect the sights, sounds, and scents of the East German people: what they said; what, how, and where they went about their daily lives.

Blood, sweat and tears, for very different reasons.

In Leipzig, Germany, the building that’s known as the Round Corner sounds innocuous. For many, the “Runde Ecke” is synonymous with the secret police or Stasi, short for “Staatssicherheit,” representing East Germany’s Ministry of State Security.

In the early 20th-century, the building housed the headquarters to the Alten Leipziger Feuerversicherung fire-insurance company. The building was rumoured to have housed Nazi Gestapo during the Second World War, before American occupation forces moved in for a short time in 1945. The Soviet military moved in shortly thereafter, followed by the Soviet NKVD secret service and K5, predecessor to the Stasi. With the establishment of the East German State Security in 1950, the building housed the local district Stasi headquarters until 1989.

1989 is significant for the building’s historical importance to both Leipzig and Germany, and key to the story of that year’s “peaceful revolution”. The “day of decision” and non-violent demonstrations on 9 October 1989 led to the downfall of the local government. Weeks of Monday demonstrations made the building a focal point for anger and outrage. Much still needed addressing after the fall of the Wall on 9 November 1989. On 4 December 1989, protestors outside the Stasi headquarters demanded access to their files, eventually storming and taking over the building, and saving countless files from destruction.

The Runde Ecke is now home to a museum to preserve knowledge about the activities of the Stasi, and is also home to a branch office of the Federal Commissioner for Stasi Files (BStU) to ensure files are properly archived and available for research, and to ensure files remain accessible for inspection to anyone who inquires.

Runde Ecke, Friedriche Revolution, Peaceful Revolution, Leipzig, Saxony, Sachsen, Germany, Deutschland,

This building housed the district administration offices of the Ministry for State Security between 1950 and 1989. During the Monday Demonstrations, protestors arrived and subsequently occupied the building on 4 December 1989. Photo on 4 Dec 2014.

Runde Ecke, Leipzig,

The building’s rounded corner: “on the path of the Peaceful Revolution”

Runde Ecke, Leipzig,

Bundesbeauftragte für die Stasiunterlagen | Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Files

Runde Ecke, Leipzig,

“Wir sind das Volk!” (We are the people!) | Berlin Wall fragment

Runde Ecke, Leipzig,

Museum in the Round Corner, with permanent exhibition “Stasi: Power and Banality”

Runde Ecke, Leipzig,

Building atirum: “This building is secured by the People’s Police on behalf of the government and citizen committees!” To the left is the Stasi Museum; to the right is the Stasi-Aktienbehörde, the public authority responsible for Stasi files.

Runde Ecke, Leipzig,

Leipzig – city of the peaceful revolution

“As a successful public uprising, The Peaceful Revolution is notable as an important event in Germany’s history. Over time, 9 October 1989 has established itself as a key date in the public eye as “a day of decision” when events of that very day could have turned bloody or remained peaceful. Twenty years later on the evening of 9 October 2009, about 150 thousand people gathered to mark the occasion on the Leipziger Ring for the Lights Festival. Yearly events on and around 9 October have taken shape as reminders about the steps and sacrifices people undertook for a more open present-day government.”

Open daily between 10am and 6pm, there is no charge to enter the Stasi museum in the Runde Ecke; most of the exhibition descriptions are in German. Photography is not allowed within the museum.

I made the photos above on 4 December 2014, the 25th anniversary of the peaceful takeover of Runde Ecke. Thanks to Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH (LTM) and InterCityHotel Leipzig for their support and hospitality. Access to public transport was kindly provided by LTM and the MDV Mitteldeutscher Verkehrsverbund regional transport authority. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografies at fotoeins DOT com at

Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig, Germany,

Fotoeins Friday: fine art in Leipzig’s glass cube

In 2014, Leipzig’s Museum of Fine Arts (Museum der bildenden Künste) celebrated their 10th anniversary at its present location of Katharinenstrasse and Brühl. The photo above shows how much outside light enters the enclosed glass cube and seating area for the museum café run by Michaelis.

Leipzig Tourism describes the museum as:

The Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts was founded around 1858. The 36-metre-high cube designed by Berlin architects Hufnagel/Pütz/Rafaelian towers above the surrounding buildings and is extensively covered with 4.5-metre-tall narrow vertical cast glass panels. The principle of the interior is based on alternating open and enclosed cubes of space in various layers. The courtyards and terraces which open the museum to the city can be seen from the outside, and reflect the idea of Leipzig’s passageways.

I made the photo on 2 December 2014 with the Canon 6D, 24-105 zoom-lens, and the following settings: 1/60s, f/8, ISO3200, 24mm focal length. Thanks to Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH (LTM) and InterCityHotel Leipzig for their hospitality during my visit (2-4 December 2014). Access to public transport was kindly provided by LTM and the MDV transport authority. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at as

%d bloggers like this: