VilNews

THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

29 March 2017
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EXPLORING EUROPE (5 of 10)

Authentic Austria – generous Germany

Tour guide, writer and photographer: Aage Myhre
aage.myhre@VilNews.com

 

VilNews is on its way around Europe!
Throughout May-June you are all invited on a
journey from north to south, from east to west.Some
articles will dwell with history.Some with Lithuanian contact
points in various countries. I have travelled across Europe with
camera and notepad for nearly 40 years and hope you will enjoy seeing
and reading about some of my experiences.Today's tour starts in Vienna,
and continues through North Austria to many German sites. Have a nice trip!


Our today’s trip starts in Vienna, home of Sigmund Freud and the Strauss family.
From here we go west, to Linz and Salzburg, then crossing into Bavaria in
Germany. We visit Munich, continue to Schwarzwald’s many small and
picturesque villages, before heading north to the Hanseatic lands.
We end up in towns of great importance for Lithuania...

 

 

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Authentic Austria

Austria is a landlocked country of roughly 8.47 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The territory of Austria covers 83,855 square kilometres (32,377 sq mi) and has a temperate and alpine climate. Austria's terrain is highly mountainous due to the presence of the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 metres (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 metres (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speak local Austro-Bavarian dialects of German as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other local official languages are Burgenland Croatian, Hungarian and Slovene.

The origins of modern-day Austria date back to the time of the Habsburg dynasty when the vast majority of the country was a part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Austria became one of the great powers of Europe and, in response to the coronation of Napoleon I as the Emperor of the French, the Austrian Empire was officially proclaimed in 1804. In 1867, the Austrian Empire was reformed into Austria-Hungary.

When the Habsburg (Austro-Hungarian) Empire collapsed in 1918 with the end of World War I, Austria used German Austria („Deutschösterreich”, later „Österreich”) as the state name in an attempt for union with Germany but was forbidden due to the Treaty of Saint Germain. The First Austrian Republic was established in 1919. In the 1938 Anschluss, Austria was occupied and annexed by Nazi Germany. This lasted until the end of World War II in 1945, after which Nazi Germany was occupied by the Allies and Austria's former democratic constitution was restored. In 1955, the Austrian State Treaty re-established Austria as a sovereign state, ending the occupation. In the same year, the Austrian Parliament created the Declaration of Neutrality which declared that the Second Austrian Republic would become permanently neutral.

Today, Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy comprising nine federal states. Austria is one of the richest countries in the world, with a nominal per capita GDP of $48,350 (2011 est.). The country has developed a high standard of living and in 2011 was ranked 19th in the world for its Human Development Index.

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Hallstatt, Austria.

 


Vienna - Roof top Sculpture at Hofburg Palace.
Photo: Aage Myhre.

 

Vienna – home of Sigmund Freud and the Strauss family

At the turn of the 20th century, Vienna, capital of the vast but ailing Austro-Hungarian Empire, reflected on its past with pride and its future with uncertainty. The empire had nurtured Beethoven, Brahms, and Strauss. The city was home to Sigmund Freud (whose father family came from Lithuania!), and considered a world leader in science, philosophy, and research. With 2 million inhabitants, Vienna was one of the most populous and multi-ethnic cities on earth, a melting pot of immigrants from across the empire.

But Vienna seethed with provincial nationalism, socialist ideals, and an odious wave of anti-Semitism. Vienna also nurtured the young Adolf Hitler, and, after his rise to power, played a significant part in supporting the Nazi reign of terror. Vienna is rife with reminders of those dark years.

Though its culture and science still predominate, modern Vienna is, of course, a very different place. In the old town section, the Innere Stadt, throngs of tourists fill the streets, lost in reveries over their fabulous surroundings.



Johann Strauss Sr. "Radetzky March", the last piece at the New Year's Concert
In Vienna 1987, with Austrian Herbert Von Karajan conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

 

Sigmund Freud was a “Lithuanian Jew”

Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) was an Austrian neurologist who became known as the founding father of psychoanalysis. Freud qualified as a Doctor of Medicine at the University of Vienna in 1881, and then carried out research into cerebral palsy, aphasia and microscopic neuroanatomy at the Vienna General Hospital. He was appointed a University lecturer in neuropathology in 1885 and became a Professor in 1902.

His father, Jacob Freud (1815–1896), was a Lithuanian Jew, from Vilnius. Of his father's family Freud wrote, "I believe they lived a long time in Rhenish territory (Cologne), that during the persecution of Jews in the fourteenth or fifteenth century they fled east, and in the nineteenth century returned from Lithuania, through Galicia, to a German-speaking country, Austria"

 

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Jews lived in Lithuania since the 14th century. They came at the invitation of the Grand Dukes Mindaugas, Augustus II and Augustus III, who had recognized the utility of the merchants, artisans, and traders as an integral component in the development of the nation. Jews also played important roles in diplomatic missions and defense.

Vilnius was the most important Jewish centre, a city that Napoleon in 1812 gave the nickname "Jerusalem of the North". Renowned scientists, teachers, writers, sculptors, and musicians made their homes here. Jewish secular and religious institutions flourished, including “Der Yiddisher Visenshaftlicher Institut” (The Yiddish Scientific Institute) in the 1920s and 1930s, which published countless scientific works. Vilnius was selected to be its headquarters. Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and Marc Chagall were honorary members of the board.

 

 

Vienna is packed with life and culture!


My kids dancing on the grass in front of the Belvedere Palace right in the heart of Vienna.
Photo: Aage Myhre.

Vienna, a city of full of life and history, has cultivated itself through many eras and embodies the very definition of culture: the tending of natural growth. Apart from Vienna’s rich history, the 20th Century alone offers enough ‘culture’ to fill an entire textbook with intricate descriptions. Starting with Freud’s Vienna, which was largely preoccupied with death and dark, unconscious drives, switching to Art Nouveau or the paintings of Gustav Klimt, going through the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein and logical positivism, and finally culminating in Nobel Prize-winning Viennese Elfriede Jelinek, the city offers an abundance of history and inspiration, which only justifies Terry Eagleton’s claim that culture is “one of the two or three most complex words in the English language.”Vienna, among other things, is a place to feel how slowly and gracefully life progresses. Literally overflowing with sidewalk cafes, shadowy landscaped parks, wine bars and pastry shops, it is an ideal place to stop and relax for a while, observe and, in the Viennese cynical fashion, make witty remarks. Here you can savour various samples of the city’s cultural buffet, be it classical music, art, literature or theatre performances. Vienna’s architecture, which is comprised of cutting-edge contemporary buildings, Art Deco, Neo-Classical, Baroque and Rococo pieces, is a significant part of the city’s splendour. Food and drink are also part of Vienna’s allure, with the city offering excellent dining options just around the corner from the most desirable and important sightseeing locations.

This cosmopolitan centre, which incorporates Eastern European, Oriental and Western modes of thinking, has been a melting pot for cultural identities throughout the centuries. Thus, the Viennese represent a peculiar blend of many nationalities and cultural belongings. Vienna started off as a Celtic settlement of the Danube, which was later occupied by the Romans, and eventually evolving into the powerful Austro-Hungarian Empire in more recent times. Being defined by the iron fist of the Habsburg dynasty, the city has always been a vital spot for European history. Vienna has been through wars, occupations, it has been the victor of many battles, and in more recent history, has switched from a monarchy to a republic. Vienna is the world’s most famous music centre. A lot of talented musicians lived and worked here: Mozart, Beethoven, Hayden, Schubert, Brahms and many others. It's also the city of the legendary Vienna Boys' Choir and various musical events, such as the New Year Concert or the Annual Ball in the Vienna Opera House.


Johann Strauss II. Statue in the Vienna City Park.
Photo: Aage Myhre


Hofburg Royal Palace, surrounded by Vienna’s typical horse carriages.
Photo: Aage Myhre.

 

Austrian wining & dining


Photo: Cassandra Myhre.

If any European capital knows how to enjoy the good life, it’s Vienna. Compared to most modern urban centers, the pace of life here is slow. Locals linger over pastry and coffee at cafés. Concerts and classical music abound. And chatting with friends at a wine garden is not a special event but a way of life.

For many Viennese, the living room is down the street at the neighborhood coffeehouse, which offers light lunches, fresh pastries, a wide selection of newspapers, and “take all the time you want” charm (just beware of the famously grumpy waiters). Each coffeehouse comes with its own individual character. Café Sperl dates from 1880, and is still furnished identically to the day it opened—from the coat tree to the chairs. Café Hawelka has a dark, “brooding Trotsky” atmosphere, paintings by struggling artists (who couldn’t pay for coffee), smoked velvet couches, and a phone that rings for regulars. Mrs. Hawelka died a couple of weeks after Pope John Paul II. Locals suspect the pontiff wanted her much-loved “Buchteln“ (marmalade-filled doughnuts) in heaven.

Make it a point to stop by Demel, the ultimate Viennese chocolate shop, filled with Art Nouveau boxes of choco-dreams come true: “Kandierte Veilchen” (candied violet petals), “Katzenzungen” (cats’ tongues), and much more. An impressive cancan of cakes is displayed to tempt you into springing for the 10-euro cake-and-coffee deal (point to the cake you want). You’ll sure to see Sacher torte, the local specialty. Apart from its apricot filling, the recipe seems pretty simple...chocolate on chocolate. You can sit inside the shop, with a view of the cake-making, or outside, with the street action. Fancy shops like this boast on their sign: “K.u.K.” (meaning good enough for the “König und Kaiser” – king and emperor).

For another royally good experience, head to the wine gardens. Clustered around the edge of town, mostly in the legendary Vienna Woods, wine-garden restaurants feature cold-cut buffets paired with fine Austrian wines in an old-village atmosphere with strolling musicians. If you visit in fall, try Sturm, the semi-fermented new wine made from the season’s first grape harvest and only available in autumn. Many locals claim that it takes several years of practice to distinguish between Sturm wine and vinegar. The red version is so hearty and fruity that locals say “Eat up!” when toasting with it.


The Café-Restaurant Weimar is one of the classic coffee houses of Vienna's 9th District, the area where Sigmund Freud lived and conducted his psychological investigations. Nice, even in rain.
Photo: Aage Myhre.

 


Watching each other... Neptune statue at the Royal Palace Hofburg, Vienna.
Photo: Aage Myhre.

 

Linz – birthplace of Lithuanian Grand Duchesses

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Linz is the third-largest city of Austria and capital of the state of Upper Austria (German: Oberösterreich). It is located in the north centre of Austria, approximately 30 km (19 mi) south of the Czech border, on both sides of the river Danube. The population of the city is 189,367, and that of the Greater Linz conurbation is about 271,000.

 

 

The golden age of Austrian – Lithuanian relations

15th – 16th centuries

 

The Lithuanian “Jagiellonian Dynasty” and the Austrian “Habsburg Dynasty” ‘united’ in 1454 when Lithuanian Grand Duke Casimir married Austrian Elizabeth von Habsburg

The Jagiellonian dynasty was a royal dynasty originating from the Lithuanian House of Gediminas that reigned over the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Europe’s largest country in the 14th-16th centuries (present day Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, parts of Russia (including nowadays Kaliningrad oblast), Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia).

The Habsburg dynasty was another predominant force in Europe for several hundred years. This house ruled over the Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, Spain and many other realms in Europe. The Habsburgs were especially powerful and played an exceptional role in the history of Central and Eastern Europe.

This Jagiellonian dynasty started with Vladislaus Jagiello, Grand Duke of Lithuania (1377-1401), who later also became King of Poland, marrying Jadvyga,theonly daughter of the last King of Poland of the Andegawen dynasty(1386). In Lithuanian historiography this house is known as Gediminaiciaithat isthe descendants of Gediminas (c.1275-1341), grandfather of Jagiello and Grand Duke of Lithuania (1316-1341).

Over five hundredyears ago dynastic relations were a significant part of European politics. They were used to acquire new landsandcement political alliances. Therefore, dynastic contacts between the two most powerful houses in Central Europe were inevitable.

When Casimir IV Jagiello, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania married Elizabeth of Habsburg in 1454 that became the first Habsburg-Jagiellon marriage ever contracted. The copule was a “Dream Team” of the late Middle Ages. Their wedding in 1454 (she was 17, he was 27) trigged off a historical golden era for Poland and Lithuania, which lasted over 100 years and ended in 1572 with the death of their grand-son Sigismund II Augustus. Those were the glorious days of the Jagiellon dynasty

Elizabeth von Habsburg (Elzbieta Habsburgaite) was called „Mother of the Jagiellons”, as she gave birth to 12 children, whereof six sons, among them the later Polish-Lithuanian King and Grand Duke Sigismund the Old (1467-1548).

The Austro-Lithuanian couple seems to have been successful in practically all their undertakings, not least in politics and in warfare. King Casimir died in 1492, so the marriage lasted for 38 years, which is quite remarkable for those times. In their lifetime and after, Lithuania was the major power in eastern Europe. Historians point out that Casimir and Elizabeth were also renowned for their open-mindedness and tolerance. Cracow was then a rich and splendid royal residence, and its close contacts to Prague and Vienna certainly were of great mutual advantage. The Jagiellon courts were international meeting places of noblemen, intellectuals and artists.

 

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Grand Duke Casimir IV KG (1427 – 1492) of the House of Jagiellon was Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1440, and also King of Poland from 1447, until his death. He married to Elisabeth of Austria (1436 – 1505) in 1454. She became known as „Mother of the Jagiellons”.

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Europe in 1490, when Grand Duke Casimir’s reign was coming to its end and the
Grand Duchy of Lithuania was Europe’s largest country.

 

 

Two Austrian sisters married Lithuania’s Grand Duke Sigismund Augustus

 

The older sister is buried in Vilnius

Elisabeth of Austria (1526 – 1545) was the eldest child of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and his wife Anna of Bohemia and Hungary. Elisabeth was a member of the House of Habsburg.

From an early age Elisabeth was being prepared for her marriage to Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572), Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland, grandson of Grand Duke Casimir and Elizabeth of Austria.

Elisabeth's father had attempted to marry his daughter off to the Lithuanian Grand Duke when she was only one year old. In view of the fact that Elisabeth was the granddaughter of Vladislas II of Hungary, uncle of Sigismund, Pope Clement VII had to give a papal dispensation so the wedding could take place. So 16 year old Elisabeth married 22 year old Sigismund, they married on May 6, 1543 in Wawel, Krakow. Elisabeth's mother-in-law Bona Sforza did not want the wedding to take place because she hated the Habsburgs.

The marriage was not happy. Young, inexperienced and shy Elisabeth was not attracted to her husband. The situation deteriorated when Elisabeth was diagnosed with an incurable disease, epilepsy. Throughout the duration of marriage Sigismund betrayed his wife by taking a mistress, Barbora Radvilaitė. At the same time Bona openly showed dislike to Elisabeth. The only person showing sympathy to Elisabeth was her father-in-law Sigismund I the Old. In autumn 1544 the couple moved from Poland to Vilnius, where her husband was heavily involved in an affair with Barbora Radvilaitė.

In the spring 1545 Elisabeth's health deteriorated, tormented by her increasingly frequent seizures of epilepsy. At the beginning of June 1545 Sigismund went to Krakow to receive the dowry of Elisabeth, he left his wife alone in Vilnius. On June 15 the young queen died exhausted by many seizures of epilepsy, she was just 19 years old. She was buried on August 24, 1545 in Vilnius Cathedral next to her husband's uncle, a brother of her grandfather, Alexander the Jagiellonian. Her quarrel with Bona Sforza over the Parmesan cheese was commonly known in both Poland and Lithuania.

 

 

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Tomb of Elisabeth of Austria in
the Vilnius Cathedral.

The younger sister is buried in Linz

After Elisabeth's death Sigismund remarried to Radvilaitė and after her death he married Elisabeth's younger sister Catherine of Austria (1533 – 1572.. On June 23, 1553, she became the third wife of Sigismund II Augustus. Sigismund had no legitimate children from his three wives

Catherine became pregnant and miscarried in October 1554. After the miscarriage, the Grand Duke decided that his marriage was cursed because Catherine was sister of his first wife. He vainly attempted to have the marriage annulled, and in the autumn of 1566, Catherine left Lithuania and lived until her death in 1572 in Linz.

 

 

Abbey of St. Florian
Catherine of Austria was buried in 1614,
in the Sankt Florian monastery
near Linz in Austria.

 

     

 

 

Salzburg – birthplace ofthe world's most prominent composer of all time

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View of Salzburg City Centre.

Salzburg is the fourth-largest city in Austria and the capital city of the federal state of Salzburg. The "Old Town" (Altstadt) has internationally renowned baroque architecture and one of the best-preserved city centres north of the Alps. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The city is noted for its Alpine setting.

Salzburg was the birthplace of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In the mid-20th century, the city was the setting for parts of the American musical and film The Sound of Music.

The city has three universities. It has a large population of students who add liveliness and energy to the area, and the universities provide culture to the community.

 

How to recognise, understand and appreciate genius?

A ‘must see’ collage from the film 'Amadeus'.
Salieri, Austria's court composer by then, discusses the time he first met Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood in Salzburg. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, he was engaged as a court musician in Salzburg, but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position, always composing abundantly. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of Mozart's death. The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons.

Mozart learned voraciously from others, and developed a brilliance and maturity of style that encompassed the light and graceful along with the dark and passionate. His influence on subsequent Western art music is profound.

Beethoven wrote his own early compositions in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote that "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years. Now more than 250 years have passed since Mozart was born...


 

Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg – the intellectual Cold War meeting point...

 

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In 1965 the film The Sound of Music, directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews, was produced in Salzburg with the grounds adjacent to those of Schloss Leopoldskron as one of the main locations.

Earlyin the 1980s, I satin a‘bierstub’inSalzburg.Ifell into conversation withan elderlygentleman and asked whathewas workingwith. He then pulled outa 1000-shillingnote fromhis wallet,pointing tothe picture ofa castle, and said thatwas whereheworked, ascastlemanager.The castle,he said, wasnamed afterCount LeopoldAntonEleutherius vonFirmian(1679-1744).

Schloss Leopoldskron is a rococo palace and a national historic monument in a southern district of the city of Salzburg. The palace is located on the lake Leopoldskroner Weiher. Leopoldskron-Moos, an affluent residential area, reaches to the foot of the 1853m high Untersberg and features a number of still working farms as well as a peat-bog. The palace has been home to the Salzburg Global Seminar since 1947.

The Salzburg Global Seminar is an American non-profit organization that holds seminars on economics, politics, and other issues for future political, economic, and business leaders from around the world. Its purpose is to "challenge current and future leaders to develop creative ideas for solving global problems." and to "lead the conversation for global change" through seminars held at the Schloss Leopoldskron.

The organization was founded in 1947 by three men at Harvard University--Clemens Heller, a graduate student originally from Austria, a college senior named Richard Campbell and a young English instructor named Scott Elledge. "We hope to create at least one small centre in which young Europeans from all countries, and of all political convictions, could meet for a month in concrete work under favourable living conditions," Campbell said of their intentions in January 1947, "and to lay the foundation for a possible permanent centre of intellectual discussion in Europe." The Salzburg Seminar, as it came to be called, was created to be a venue to encourage intellectual exchange among Europeans and Americans and to ameliorate rifts created by World War II.

 

 



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Generous Germany

 

 

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No big developed country seems to come out of the global recession looking stronger than Germany. Exports are booming and unemployment has fallen to levels last seen in the early 1990s. The government is a stable, though sometimes fractious, coalition of three mainstream parties. Amid the truculence and turmoil around it, Germany appears an oasis of tranquillity.

A recent essay published by Bruegel, a Brussels think-tank, explains “why Germany fell out of love with Europe”. Another, from the European Council on Foreign Relations, alleges that Germany is “going global alone”. Jürgen Habermas, Germany’s most distinguished living philosopher, accuses his country of pursuing an “inward-looking national policy”. “How can you not ask Germany questions about its vision of the future of Europe?” wonders Jacques Delors, who was president of the European Commission when the Berlin Wall fell.

Even a pacific and prosperous Germany causes international angst...

The German question never dies. Instead, like a flu virus, it mutates. On the eve of unification some European leaders worried that it would resume killer form. “We’ve beaten the Germans twice and now they’re back,” said Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s prime minister. Such fears now look comical. But even today’s mild strain causes

aches and pains, which afflict different regions in different ways. America’s symptoms are mild. Central Europe seems to have acquired immunity. After unification 85% of Poles looked upon Germany as a threat, recalls Eugeniusz Smolar of the Centre for International Relations in Warsaw. Now just a fifth do. It is among Germany’s long-standing west and south European partners that the German question feels debilitating, and where a dangerous flare-up still seems a possibility. Germany’s answer to the question matters not only to them. It will shape Europe, and therefore the world.

Germans have not forgotten that their country was the author of the horrors of the 1930s and 1940s but, says Renate Kocher of Allensbach, a polling firm, they want to “draw a line under the past”. That does not mean ignoring its lessons or neglecting to teach them to the next generation. A new exhibition on “Hitler and the Germans” at the German Historical Museum in Berlin is drawing blockbuster crowds. But Germans are no longer so ready to be put on the moral defensive or to view the Nazi era as the defining episode of their past. Even non-Germans seem willing to move on. Recent books like “Germania” and “The German Genius” suggest that English-language publishing may be entering a post-swastika phase. Germany still atones but now also preaches, usually on the evils of debt, the importance of nurturing industry and the superiority of long-term thinking in enterprise. Others are disposed to listen. “Everyone orients himself towards Germany,” says John Kornblum, a former American ambassador.

Germany is a federal parliamentary republic. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2. With 81.8 million inhabitants, it is the most populous member state and the largest economy in the European Union. It is one of the major political powers of the European continent and a technological leader in many fields.

A region named Germania, inhabited by several Germanic peoples, was documented before AD 100. During the Migration Age, the Germanic tribes expanded southward, and established successor kingdoms throughout much of Europe. Beginning in the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation while southern and western parts remained dominated by Roman Catholic denominations, with the two factions clashing in the Thirty Years' War, marking the beginning of the Catholic–Protestant divide that has characterized German society ever since. Occupied during the Napoleonic Wars, the rise of Pan-Germanism inside the German Confederation resulted in the unification of most of the German states into the German Empire in 1871 which was Prussian dominated. After the German Revolution of 1918–1919 and the subsequent military surrender in World War I, the Empire was replaced by the Weimar Republic in 1918, and partitioned in the Versailles Treaty. Amidst the Great Depression, the Third Reich was proclaimed in 1933. The latter period was marked by Fascism and the Second World War. After 1945, Germany was divided by allied occupation, and evolved into two states, East Germany and West Germany. In 1990 Germany was reunified.

Germany was a founding member of the European Community in 1957, which became the EU in 1993. It has the world's fourth largest economy by nominal GDP and the fifth largest by purchasing power parity. It is the second largest exporter and third largest importer of goods. The country has developed a very high standard of living and a comprehensive system of social security.

 

 

München mag Dich - Munich likes you

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We have left Austria behind. We approach Munich, the capital city of Bavaria, Germany. It is located on the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps. Munich is the third largest city in Germany, behind Berlin and Hamburg. About 1.35 million people live within the city limits. Munich hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics.

The city's motto is "München mag Dich" (Munich likes you). Its native name, München, is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat of arms. Black and gold—the colours of the Holy Roman Empire—have been the city's official colours since the time of Ludwig the Bavarian.

Modern Munich is a financial and publishing hub, and a frequently top-ranked destination for migration and expatriate location in livability rankings. Munich achieved 7th place in frequently quoted Mercer livability rankings in 2010. For economic and social innovation, the city was ranked 15th globally out of 289 cities in 2010, and 5th in Germany by the 2thinknow Innovation Cities Index based on analysis of 162 indicators. In 2010, Monocle ranked Munich as the world's most livable city.

 

Romantische Strasse and Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Don’t miss The Romantic Road (Romantische Straße) when you are in Bavaria! This a theme route coined by travel agents in the 1950s to describe the 350 kilometres (220 mi) road in southern Germany. In medieval times it used to be a trade route, connecting the centre of Germany with the South. Today this region is thought by many international travellers to possess "quintessentially" German scenery and culture, specifically in towns and cities such as Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The route is also known for passing a lot of castles, such as Burg Harburg and the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. The Romantic Road is marked with brown signs along the road.

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Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a town at the Romantische Strasse, well known for its
well-preserved medieval old town, a destination for tourists from around the world.

 

Nuremberg – the romantic city that became venue for the post-war Nazi Trial

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Nuremberg is a beautiful city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about 170 kilometres (110 mi) north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 500,000. The "European Metropolitan Area Nuremberg" has 3.5 million inhabitants. Nuremberg is often referred to as having been the 'unofficial capital' of the Holy Roman Empire.

But what a contrast isn’t it, knowing that it was right here the trial against the Nazi leaders took place during the immediate years after World War II...

 

Nuremberg: Nazis on trial

By Professor Richard Overy

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The October 1, 1946Süddeutsche Zeitungannounces "The Verdict in Nuremberg." Depicted are (left, from top): Göring, Hess, Ribbentrop, Keitel, Kaltenbrunner, Rosenberg, Frank, Frick; (second column) Funk, Streicher, Schacht; (third column) Dönitz, Raeder, Schirach; (right, from top) Sauckel, Jodl, Papen, Seyss-Inquart, Speer, Neurath, Fritzsche, Bormann. Image from Topography of Terror Museum, Berlin.

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Nuremberg Trials. Defendants in the dock. The main target of the prosecution wasHermann Göring(at the left edge on the first row of benches), considered to be the most important surviving official in theThirdReichafterHitler's death.

 

In the aftermath of World War Two the Allies sought to bring the aggressors to justice. How did the surviving Nazi leaders give account for their actions?

In November 1945, in the German city of Nuremberg, the victors of the World War Two began the first international war crimes trial. The choice of the city was significant for it was here that the National Socialist Party held its annual rallies.

Adolf Hitler intended it to be rebuilt as the 'party city'. Now many of the leaders of the party were on trial for their lives, only a short distance from the grand arena where they had been fêted by the German people.

The 21 defendants came from very different backgrounds. Some, like Hitler's chosen successor Hermann Goering, were senior politicians - their responsibility clear.

Others were there because senior party leaders Heinrich Himmler, head of the feared SS, and Joseph Goebbels, head of propaganda - had killed themselves rather than face capture and trial. Their deputies or juniors stood on trial instead of them. But most of them were regarded by the western public, rightly or wrongly, as key playmakers in a system that had brought war to Europe and cost the lives of 50 million people.

This catalogue of sin was difficult for many of the defendants to come to terms with.

The charges laid at their door were extraordinary. They were collectively accused of conspiring to wage war, and committing crimes against peace, crimes against humanity (including the newly defined crime of genocide) and war crimes in the ordinary sense (abuse and murder of prisoners, killing of civilians and so on). This catalogue of sin was difficult for many of the defendants to come to terms with.

One of them, Robert Ley, best known for his role as head of the 'Strength through Joy' movement, which masterminded the Volkswagen car, hanged himself in his cell a few weeks before the trial started, so shamed was he by the accusations of crime. Ley's suicide was the most extreme example of the many ways the defendants responded to the trial.

The reaction of the others covered a very wide spectrum, from confident defiance to full admission of responsibility. In the case of Rudolf Hess, Hitler's former deputy, the reality was almost complete memory loss.

Two prisoners in particular came to represent opposite poles in their reaction to the trials and the accusation of massive crimes. Hermann Goering, the man Hitler chose as his successor in the 1930s and the most flamboyant and ambitious of the party hierarchy, prepared to defend Hitler and the Reich's war policy rather than admit that what had been done was criminal.

On the other hand Albert Speer, the youthful architect who rose to run Germany's armaments effort during the war, accepted from the start the collective responsibility of the defendants for the crimes of which they were accused and tried to distance himself from Hitler's ghostly presence at the tribunal.

 

Hermann Goering: 'Prisoner Number One'

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Defendant Hermann Goering consults with his lawyer, Dr. Otto Stahmer, in the
Nuremberg prison at the International Military Tribunal trial of war criminals.

Goering was captured shortly after the end of the war with large quantities of his looted artworks. He thought he could negotiate with the Allies as Germany's most senior politician, but he found himself under arrest, stripped of everything, and held in an improvised prison camp before his transfer to Nuremberg to stand trial.

He was a big personality in every sense. The guards nicknamed him 'Fat Stuff' and bantered with him. He was charming, aloof and confident, and from the start was determined to dominate the other prisoners and make them follow his line of defence.

Goering insisted that everything that they had done was the result of their German patriotism. To defy the court was to protect Germany's reputation and to maintain their loyalty to their dead leader.

From the start Goering was determined to dominate the other prisoners and make them follow his line of defence.

With the start of the trial, Goering assumed at once the informal role as leader and spokesman for the whole cohort of prisoners. He was given the most prominent position in the dock.

When it came to his cross-examination he prepared carefully and in the opening exchanges with the American chief prosecutor Robert Jackson he emerged an easy winner.

So frustrated did Jackson become with Goering's clever, mocking but evasive responses that at the end of the session he threw down the headphones he had been wearing to hear the translated answers and refused to continue.

'If you all handle yourselves half as well as I did,' Goering boasted to the other prisoners, 'you will do all right.' Only after his cross-examination by the more experienced British barrister, Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, was Goering at last cut down to size.

For the prosecution teams, Goering's domineering role among the prisoner body posed a problem. In mid-February 1946, on the recommendation of the psychologist who monitored prisoner behaviour, Goering was forced to exercise and take his meals on his own.

His isolation allowed the other prisoners to talk freely to each other and in the courtroom. The united front that Goering wanted soon collapsed.

During the long summer months, when he had to listen to the catalogue of crimes and atrocities laid at the door of the system he had served, he became less confident. But he maintained his loyalty to Hitler until the very end, when he finally confessed to the prison psychologist his realisation that in the eyes of the German people Hitler had 'condemned himself'.

Goering was found guilty on all the charges laid against him and condemned to death. He regarded the whole trial as simply a case of victors' justice and had not expected to escape with his life. At the very end he cheated his captors. On 14 October 1946, the night before he was to be executed, he committed suicide with a phial of cyanide either hidden in his cell or smuggled in by a sympathetic guard.

Read the complete BBC article at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/nuremberg_article_01.shtml

 

Würzburg – capital of the Franconian white wines

We have arrived in Würzburg, capital of the Franconian wines. Founded in the 10th century, Würzburg served as the home of powerful prince-bishops for many centuries. It is renowned for the Residence, regarded as one of the finest palaces in Europe and a high point of Baroque art. Würzburg is also home to one of the oldest churches in Germany, built in the 8th century on top of a former pagan shrine. One of its most famous structures, Festung Marienberg, is a fortress which now surrounds the church. Würzburg was the centre of the kingdom known as Franconia. In the 19th century, Napoleon merged Franconia with Bavaria, by which the city is ruled to this day.

Würzburg experienced heavy demolition during a 20-minute bombing raid in 1945 which destroyed some 80% of its city buildings. Much of the city has since been rebuilt, though not as painstakingly true to its original architecture as some other historic german communities. Anyone eager to visit this town to study its historic architectural structures should be prepared to see its restored buildings placed next to several post-war modernistic houses. Today Würzburg is a beautiful, historic, and lively city that is often overlooked by foreign visitors.

 

 

Schwarzwald – Germany’s beautiful black forest...

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We drive south-west after Würzburg, to Germany’s Black Forest, a truly attractive, romantic area with mountains, hills and endless forests. I love all the small curved roads, the picturesque villages, the cows, the feeling of warm friendliness...

The Black Forest (Schwarzwald) is a wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg. It is bordered by the Rhine valley to the west and south. The highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 metres (4,898 ft). The region is almost rectangular with a length of 200 km (120 mi) and breadth of 60 km (37 mi). Hence it has an area of approximately 12,000 km2 (4,600 sq mi). The name Schwarzwald, i.e. Black Forest, goes back to the Romans who referred to the thickly forested mountains there as Silva Nigra, i.e. "Black Forest," because the dense growth of conifers in the forest blocked out most of the light inside the forest.

 

 

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Freiburg – most sunny in Germany

Down to the river Rhine after the mountainous Balck Forest, to Freiburg im Breisgau, a sunny city in Baden-Württemberg in the extreme south-west of the country. It straddles the Dreisam river, at the foot of the Schlossberg. Historically, the city has acted as the hub of the Breisgau region on the western edge of the Black Forest in the Upper Rhine Plain. One of the famous old German university towns, and archiepiscopal seat, Freiburg was incorporated in the early 12th century and developed into a major commercial, intellectual, and ecclesiastical centre of the upper Rhine region. The city is known for its ancient university and its medieval minster, as well as for its high standard of living and advanced environmental practices. The city is situated in the heart of a major wine-growing region and serves as the primary tourist entry point to the scenic beauty of the Black Forest, supposed to be the sunniest and warmest in Germany.

 

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Baden Baden – the spa town loved by Romans

The German word, 'Baden,' translates as 'baths.' The springs of Baden-Baden were known to the Romans, and the foundation of the town refers to the emperor, Hadrian, with an inscription of somewhat doubtful authenticity. The bath-conscious Roman emperor, Caracalla, once came here to ease his arthritic aches. Baden was also known as Aurelia Aquensis, in honour of Aurelius Severus, during whose reign Baden would seem to have been well known. Fragments of its ancient sculptures are still to be seen, and, in 1847, the well preserved remains of Roman vapour baths were discovered just below the New Castle.

 

 

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Heidelberg – my lively favourite

Heidelberg is a lively city, clearly one of my favourites in Germany. The fifth-largest city in the State of Baden-Württemberg after Stuttgart, Mannheim, Karlsruhe and Freiburg im Breisgau, Heidelberg is part of the densely-populated Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region. In 2009, over 145,000 people lived in the city. Heidelberg lies on the River Neckar in a steep valley in the Odenwald. A former residence of the Electoral Palatinate, Heidelberg is the location of the University of Heidelberg, well-known far beyond its and Germany's borders. Heidelberg is a popular tourist destination due to its romantic and picturesque cityscape, including Heidelberg Castle and the baroque style Old Town. Amazing place!

 

 

 

The Lithuanian school in the Rennhof Manor, Lampertheim-Hüttenfeld

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The Lithuanian High School is the only full-time, state-accredited Lithuanian educational institution in Western Europe. Students from all over the world come to this unique place to learn Lithuanian or to refresh and improve their Lithuanian language skills. Here they can acquaint themselves with Lithuanian history and culture in the context of European history and culture and meet others who share their interest in Lithuania’s heritage. In addition, students study the German language and culture and enjoy the opportunity to learn and live in the heart of Western Europe.

The Lithuanian High School in Germany—known in German as thePrivates Litauisches Gymnasiumand in Lithuanian asVasario 16-osios gimnazija. In Lithuanian the name refers to the founding of the Lithuanian Republic on February 16(vasario 16-oji), 1918.

 

 

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For decades the Lithuanian High School was the only full-time high school outside the Eastern Bloc offering courses in Lithuanian history, language, and culture. It is renowned for its rich history, including, especially, the critical role it played as a symbol of freedom for Lithuania during the Soviet occupation.

During World War II, thousands of Lithuanians left their homeland fleeing Soviet occupation. By the close of the war, most of them had ended up in Germany. As war refugees they were housed in “displaced persons camps.” Conditions were harsh and their future uncertain. Yet they did not allow that to discourage them and went to work establishing Lithuanian educational institutions for themselves and their children. By 1947 there were 26 Lithuanian high schools, five Lithuanian technical colleges, and 112 Lithuanian primary schools in Germany.

By that time, however, it was becoming apparent that Lithuania was likely to remain occupied for the foreseeable future. Lithuanian refugees began to leave war-ravaged Germany. Most emigrated to distant countries—foremost among them the United States, Canada, and Australia. In the wake of their departure, most of these schools were shuttered. But approximately 8,000 Lithuanians chose to remain in Germany.

In 1950, Germany’s Lithuanian Community established a single high school for Lithuanian students. The high school was founded in Diepholz—the site of a displaced persons camp where many Lithuanians had lived since the end of the war. In 1954, the Lithuanian Community acquired Rennhof Manor House with its twelve-acre park in the town of Lampertheim-Hüttenfeld. The school was relocated there.

Throughout Lithuania’s 50-year struggle for independence from Soviet rule, the Lithuanian High School promoted engagement with Lithuania as well as support for dissidents fighting for freedom and human rights behind the Iron Curtain.

With the advent of the reform movement Sąjūdis in the mid-1980s, the Lithuanian High School became an increasingly important conduit for ideas and support for reforms that led to Lithuanian independence in 1990.

Following the reestablishment of independence, the school continued to serve as a cultural center for Lithuanians in Western Europe and a bridge between Lithuania and the West, providing an opportunity for the children of Lithuanian expatriates to integrate without losing their Lithuanian identity.

Receiving full state accreditation in 1999, the Lithuanian High School remains the only full-time Lithuanian educational institution in Western Europe.

The Rennhof Manor in Lampertheim-Hüttenfeld has a unique position for Lithuanians, harbouring numerous Lithuanian organizations, which has figured as the centre of Lithuanian émigré community life in Western Europe since 1953.

Go to the school’s website to learn more about the school: http://gimnazija.de

To learn about other Lithuanian youth activities in Germany, go to: http://www.pljs.org/category/english

 

 

Frankfurt am Main – where EU’s financial decisions are made...

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The European Central Bank is the institution of the European Union (EU) that administers the monetary policy of the 17 EU Eurozone member states. It is thus one of the world's most important central banks. The bank was established by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1998, and is headquartered here in Frankfurt.

Frankfurt am Main, commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of almost 700,000. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010. The city is at the centre of the larger Frankfurt Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region which has a population of 5,600,000 and is Germany's second-largest metropolitan region.

Frankfurt is the financial and transportation centre of Germany and the largest financial centre in continental Europe. It is seat of the European Central Bank, the German Federal Bank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Trade Fair, as well as several large commercial banks, e.g. Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and DZ Bank. Frankfurt Airport is one of the world's busiest international airports, Frankfurt Central Station is one of the largest terminal stations in Europe, and the Frankfurter Kreuz is one of the most heavily used Autobahn interchanges in Europe. Frankfurt lies in the former American Occupation Zone of Germany, and it was formerly the headquarters city of the U.S. Army in Germany.

Frankfurt is considered an alpha world city as listed by the Loughborough University group's 2010 inventory, was ranked 20th among global cities by Foreign Policy's 2010 Global Cities Index and was ranked 6th among global cities for economic and social innovation by the 2thinknow Innovation Cities Index in 2010.

Frankfurt is an international centre for commerce, finance, culture, transport, education, and tourism. According to the Mercer cost of living survey, Frankfurt is Germany’s second most expensive city, and the 48th most expensive in the world. Frankfurt also ranks among the 10 most livable cities in the world according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

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Bonn – the post-war capital of West Germany

Bonn was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999. Starting in 1998, many national government institutions were moved from Bonn to Berlin. Roughly half of all government jobs were retained as many government departments remained in Bonn and numerous sub-ministerial level government agencies relocated to the former capital from Berlin and other parts of Germany. Bonn has developed into a hub of international cooperation in particular in the area of environment and sustainable development. Bonn The Poppelsdorfer Schloss (picture), in which there is the “Mineralogisch-Petrologische Museum” today.

 

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Cologne – not only perfume

Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city, and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants. Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is the city's most famous monument and the Cologne residents' most respected landmark. It is a Gothic church, started in 1248, and completed in 1880.

Eau de Cologne, “Water of Cologne”, is a toiletry, a perfume in a style that originated from Cologne. As of today cologne is a blend of extracts, alcohol, and water. Colognes are used by men and women but are generally marketed to men as an alternative to perfume.

 

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Bremen – go sailing or fishing!

Bremen is a Hanseatic city in north-western Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area (2.4 million people). Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany. With Bremerhaven right on the mouth the two comprise the state of Bremen. The Bremen Ports are among the most important universal harbours of Europe. The air of a seafaring port bursts from every corner of the busy but young seaport, which offers a range of attractions along miles of waterfront promenades, in generous areas of parkland and on the scenic River Geeste.

 

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Hamburg – the cosmopolitan Hansa town

Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany and the seventh-largest city in the European Union. The city is home to over 1.8 million people, while the Hamburg Metropolitan Region has more than 4.3 million inhabitants. Situated on the river Elbe, the port of Hamburg is the third-largest port in Europe and it is among the twenty largest in the world.

Hamburg's official name is the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. It reflects Hamburg's history as a member of the medieval Hanseatic League, as a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire, and also the fact that Hamburg is a city-state and one of the sixteen States of Germany.

Hamburg is a major transport hub in Northern Germany and is one of the most affluent cities in Europe.

Wehave arrived at Hamburg, the world's leading Hanseaticcity.This is aremarkable, powerful metropolis that alsoclearly display sits traditional past in contact with the North Sea and Baltic Sea. This is also the place to go for tasty North-European seafood...

 

Quedlinburg – where the name Lithuania was first mentioned

We leave Hamburg, drive south-east, to Quendlinburg, a small town of about 23,000 inhabitants, near the Harz Mountains in Germany’s western Saxon-Anhalt, virtually the heart of Germany. This town is a treasure which is rapidly evolving into a prime tourist attraction, particularly for non-Germans. And Lithuanians are first in the queue!

A rare combination of ancient, medieval and modern historical and artistic treasures are making it a "must" for visitors, much as Rothenburg, Trier, Lübeck and other German historical gems.

Unlike the others, such as Aachen, where Charlemagne (Karl der Grosse) held sway over the Franks,Quedlinburg

is the birthplace of a Nation. For it was here in 919 A.D. that a Diet of noble ducal peers elected a German King, the Saxon Duke Heinrich, monarch of Germany-everything--, rather than merely a ruler of a local domain such as Bavarian or Rhenish or Hessian lands.

And this first hegemony extended for more than three centuries until Germany dissolved into almost 300 tiny city-states, provinces and squabbling communities, only to be reunited in 1871.

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The first written occurrence of the name LITHUANIA has been

traced to the Annals from Quedlinburg Abbey, dated to 9 March year 1009

"Sanctus Bruno, qui cognominatur Bonifacius, archiepiscopus et monachus, XI suae conversionis anno in confinio Ruscia et Litua a paganis capite plexus, cum suis XVIII, VII. Id. Martii petiit coelos."

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Quedlinburg Abbey.

The Annals of Quedlinburg were written between 1008 and 1030 in the convent of Quedlinburg Abbey. In recent years a consensus has emerged that the annalist was a woman. The annals are mostly dedicated to the history of the Holy Roman Empire; they also contain the first written mention of the name of Lithuania ("Litua"), dated to 1009. The original document has disappeared, surviving only as a 16th-century copy held in Dresden, but its contents endure as a scholarly resource.

The city of Quedlinburg, Germany, was first mentioned in writing in a document dated to 922. Saint Mathilda founded a religious community for women at its abbey, serving as abbess from 966 to 999. The abbey became a premier educational institution for the female nobles of Saxony, and maintained its mission for nearly 900 years. The city served as an imperial palatinate of the Saxon emperors, where Henry the Fowler, the founder of the Ottonian dynasty, was buried. Quedlinburg was situated not far from Magdeburg, the Royal Assembly of the empire, and its annalists could therefore rely on genuine information from the royal house and obtain eyewitness accounts.The city lost some stature under the rule of Henry II, who broke with the tradition of celebrating Easter there; the Annals portray him unfavorably, and demonstrate the extent to which a royal monastery was entitled to criticize its monarch.

The Annals open with a chronicle of world history from the time of Adam to the Third Council of Constantinople in 680-681, based on chronicles by Jerome, Isidore, and Bede. The narrative is largely borrowed from multiple older sources until the year 1002, although original reports from as early as 852 are present. Beginning in 993, the narrative begins including events which represent the annalist's own eyewitness testimony concerning events at and around Quedlinburg. The amount of detail increases significantly from 1008 onwards, leading some analysts to conclude that 1008 was the actual date that the Annals were first compiled, although Robert Holzman argues for a start date of 1000. It has been suggested that the annalist temporarily abandoned the project between 1016 and 1021. The exact reasons for this suspension of the work are unknown. Work on the project continued between 1021 and 1030, when its authors were able to report a military victory against Mieszko II.

The primary task of the annalists was to record the heritage of the Ottonian dynasty and of Quedlinburg itself. The Annals incorporate the stories of a number of historic and legendary figures such as Attila the Hun, King Dietrich of the Goths, and others. The historian Felice Lifshitz has suggested that amount of saga material integrated into its narrative is without parallel.

The Annals of Quedlinburg became an important research source; during the 12th century they were used at least by five contemporary historians. Felice Lifshitz asserts that the Annals of Quedlinburg played a key role in shaping the ways in which influential Germans of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw their medieval past. They continue to be analyzed in other contexts: by scholars of Beowulf discussing its use of the term Hugones to mean Franks, by climatologists, and in a book discussing fear of the millennium.

The first written occurrence of Lithuania's name has been traced to the Quedlinburg Annals and dated to 9 March 1009.The passage reads:

"Sanctus Bruno, qui cognominatur Bonifacius, archiepiscopus et monachus, XI suae conversionis anno in confinio Ruscia et Litua a paganis capite plexus, cum suis XVIII, VII. Id. Martii petiit coelos."

"[In 1009] St. Bruno, an archbishop and monk, who was called Boniface, was struck in the head by Pagans during the 11th year of this conversion at the Rus and Lithuanian border, and along with 18 of his followers, entered heaven on March 9th."

From other sources that describe Bruno of Querfurt, it is clear that this missionary attempted to Christianize the pagan king Netimer and his subjects. However, Netimer's brother, refusing to accept Christianity, killed Bruno and his followers. The historian Alfredas Bumblauskas has suggested that the story records the first baptismal attempt in the history of Lithuania.

Quedlinburg Abbey was a house of secular canonesses in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It was founded in 936 on the initiative of Saint Mathilda, the widow of Henry the Fowler, as his memorial. For many centuries it enjoyed great prestige and influence.

Quedlinburg Abbey was founded on the castle hill of Quedlinburg in the present Saxony-Anhalt in 936 by Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, at the request of his mother Queen Matilda, later canonised as Saint Matilda, in honour of her late husband, Otto's father, King Henry the Fowler, and as his memorial. Henry was buried here, as was Matilda herself.

The "Kaiserlich freie weltliche Reichsstift Quedlinburg" ("Free secular Imperial abbey of Quedlinburg"), as its full style was until its dissolution in 1802, consisted of a proprietary church of the Imperial family to which was attached a college of secular canonesses (Stiftsdamen), a community of the unmarried daughters of the greater nobility and royalty leading a godly life.

Thanks to its Imperial connections the new foundation attracted rich endowments and was soon a wealthy and thriving community. Ecclesiastically, the abbess was exempt from the jurisdiction of her diocesan, the Bishop of Halberstadt, and subject to no superior except the Pope. The bishops of Halberstadt were constantly engaged in dispute with the abbesses, as they claimed to have spiritual jurisdiction over the abbey in virtue of subjection of women to men. In her political relations, the abbess was a princess of the Holy Roman Empire, entitled to seat in the College of Princes and a vote at the Diets.

During the Reformation the abbey became Protestant, under Abbess Anna II (Countess of Stolberg).

After the German Mediatisation of 1803 the abbey was taken over by the Kingdom of Prussia as the Principality of Quedlinburg.

 

 

Magdeburg – the city that set rules for Lithuanian towns

There is more Lithuanian related history traces here in this area of Germany. We go to Magdeburg, the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.

Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe.

Emperor Otto I, the first Holy Roman Emperor, lived for most of his reign in the town and was buried in the cathedral after his death. Magdeburg's version of German town law, known as Magdeburg rights, spread throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The city is also well known for the 1631 Sack of Magdeburg, which hardened Protestant resistance during the Thirty Years' War.

Nowadays Magdeburg is a traffic junction as well as an industrial and trading centre, with a population more than 230 000. The production of chemical products, steel, paper and textiles are of particular economic significance, along with Mechanical engineering and plant engineering, Ecotechnology and life-cycle management, Health management and Logistics. Along with ten other cities in Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony and Thuringia, Magdeburg is a member of the Central German Metropolitan Region.

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The town's main symbol –the Cathedral of Magdeburg.
Photo: Prinz Wilbert

 

 

Vilnius was granted Magdeburg rights on the 22nd of March 1387

 

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Jogaila, (1362 – 1434), was Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland. He ruled in Lithuania from 1377, at first with his uncle, Kęstutis. In 1386, he converted to Christianity.
In 1387 he granted Vilnius Magdeburg rights.

Magdeburg Rights or Magdeburg Law were a set of German town laws regulating the degree of internal autonomy within cities and villages granted by a local ruler.

Modelled and named after the laws of the German city of Magdeburg and developed during many centuries of the Holy Roman Empire, it was possibly the most important set of Germanic mediæval city laws. Adopted by numerous monarchs in Central and Eastern Europe, the law was a milestone in urbanization of the region and prompted the development of thousands of villages and cities.

In February 1387Lithuania’s Grand Duke Jogaila began to institute reforms in Lithuania, which were required by the conditions for the union with Poland. On February 17th, he established the Vilnius Bishopric. On February 20th, he declared the first of the privileges to the Lithuanian nobility, who had accepted Christianity. The privileges were the granting of rights equal to those held by the Polish nobility.

On February 22nd, he ordered all Lithuanians to accept the Catholic faith. Soon thereafter, he also established the first 7 parishes. The christening of Lithuania proved to be a tremendous social upheaval, even though Lithuania with her Pagan faith already exhibited the most important elements of civilisation, including brick architecture and writing. The Pagan Dukes were as advanced, as to go on military manoeuvres bringing a personal office with them. For example, the travelling bag of Skirgaila, which fell into the hands of the Crusaders in 1385, was found to contain "Ruthenian privileges sealed in lead."

On the 22nd of March 1387, Jogaila granted Magdeburg Rights to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. Kaunas was granted Magdeburg Rights by Grand Duke Vytautas the Great in 1408, Trakai in 1409.

 

Leipzig

Leipzig is, along with Dresden, one of the two largest cities in the federal state of Saxony, Germany. Both have a population of about 525,000. Leipzig is situated about a hundred miles south of Berlin at the confluence of the Weisse Elster, Pleisse and Parthe rivers at the southerly end of the North German Plain.

Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing. After World War II, Leipzig became a major urban centre within the Communist German Democratic Republic but its cultural and economic importance declined.

Leipzig later played a significant role in instigating the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, through events which took place in and around St. Nicholas Church. Since the reunification of Germany, Leipzig has undergone significant change with the restoration of some historical buildings, the demolition of others, and the development of a modern transport infrastructure. Leipzig has many institutions and opportunities for culture and recreation including a football stadium which has hosted some international matches, an opera house and a zoo.

In 2010 Leipzig was included in the top 10 of cities to visit by the New York Times.

Leipzig, old town hall
The Old Townhall of Leipzig is one of the most important Renaissance buildings in Germany.
It was constructed in just nine month in 1556/57 under the direction of the Leipzig architect
Hieronymus Lotter.

 

 

Lithuania’s national painter and composer, Mikolajus K. Čiurlionis,

studied here in Leipzig 1901-1902

 

Čiurlionis studied composition under Professor Carl Reinecke and counterpoint under Salomon Jadassohn at the Leipzig Conservatoire in 1901-1902. As an external student he attended lectures in aesthetics, history and psychology. He listened to his favourite compositions by Handel, Tchaikovsky, Wagner and Liszt at the Gewandhaus and Leipzig Theatre. He studied independently orchestration of Berlioz and R. Strauss compositions at the library of C.F. Peters’ publishing house.

During his Leipzig period, he composed the symphonic overtureKęstutis, a string quartet in four movements, canons and fugues including Sanctus and Kyrie for mixed choir. During his vacations he did some drawing.

 

 

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Dresden

Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area.

Dresden has a long history as the capital and royal residence for the Electors and Kings of Saxony, who for centuries furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendour. The city was known as the Jewel Box, because of its baroque and rococo city centre. A controversial Allied aerial bombing towards the end of World War II killed thousands of civilians and destroyed the entire city. The impact of the bombing and 40 years of urban development during the East German communist era have considerably changed the face of the city. Some restoration work has helped to reconstruct parts of the historic inner city, including the Katholische Hofkirche, the Semper Oper and the Dresdner Frauenkirche. Since the German reunification in 1990, Dresden has regained importance as one of the cultural, educational, political and economic centres of Germany, with a population of more than half a million.

Dresden in the 20th century was a leading European centre of art, classical music, culture and science until its complete destruction on 13 February 1945. Being the capital of the German state of Saxony, Dresden had not only garrisons but a whole military borough, the Albertstadt. This military complex, named after Saxon King Albert, was never targeted in the bombing of Dresden.

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During the final months of World War II, Dresden became a safe haven to some 600,000 refugees, including women, children, and wounded soldiers, with a total population of 1.2 million. Dresden was attacked seven times between 1944 and 1945, and was occupied by the Red Army after German capitulation.

The bombing of Dresden by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Force between 13 February and 15 February 1945 remains one of the more controversial Allied actions of the Western European theatre of war.

The inner city of Dresden was largely destroyed by 722 RAF and 527 USAAF bombers that dropped 2431.0 tons of high explosive bombs, and 1475.9 tons of incendiaries.The high explosive bombs damaged buildings and exposed their wooden structure, while the incendiaries ignited it. The bombing raid destroyed the 500 year-old Cathedral, along with almost all of the ancient centre of the city. The German Dresden Historians' Commission, in an official 2010 report published after five years of research, concluded there were up to 25,000 civilian casualties, while right-wing groups claim that up to 500,000 people died.



 

Lithuanian war refugees in Germany after World War II

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In the summer and autumn of 1944 thousands of Lithuanian refugees left their homeland ahead of the advancing Soviet Army and headed West. The overwhelming majority chose to flee not because they had collaborated with the Germans, and thus feared retribution, but because they had directly experienced the horrors of the first Soviet occupation (1940-41) and did not anticipate that the second occupation would be better. They fled, however, with every hope and intention of returning home after the defeat of Nazi Germany, but by 1951 the majority had emigrated to the Anglo-Saxon countries or to Latin America.

At the end of World War II there were approximately 60,000 Lithuanians in Western Europe. From this number nearly 50,000 were refugees who fled in 1944. The remaining 10,000 consisted of individuals who had been liberated from Nazi concentration camps, those who had repatriated to Germany at the beginning of the war, single young men and women who were forcibly taken to Germany for work, and prisoners of war (most were forcibly conscripted into the German Army). Obviously a considerably larger number of Lithuanians left Lithuania in the second half of 1944 than the number mentioned. Many were trapped by the rapidly advancing Red Army in Poland and East Germany. Their actual number and their fate remain unknown.

The end of hostilities brought a sense of relief to most of the Europeans, but not to the Lithuanian and other Baltic refugees. Because of the incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union, their political status was not clear, and many Baits feared and suspected that they were in danger of being forcibly repatriated to the Soviet Union. This sense of uncertainty was evident in the Lithuanian refugee publications, as in the following: "The Lithuanians who had suffered so much do not have a free country to return to. Nor is their present position in any way secure, nor is there a guarantee that the Americans and the English will not betray them to a new slavery." Such fears were not unfounded.

Read more at http://www.lituanus.org/1983_2/83_2_03.htm

Here some VilNews stories about Lithuanian refugees in post-war Germany:

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Vanda Sliupas

http://vilnews.com/?p=13181

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DP Camp brochure

http://vilnews.com/?p=12074

Rimgaudas Vidziunas
Rimgaudas Vidziunas

http://vilnews.com/?p=13633

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Regina Narusiene

http://vilnews.com/?p=762

 

 

Berlin

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Berlin’s famous Brandenburg Gate.

Berlin is the capital city of Germany and one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union. Located in north-eastern Germany, it is the centre of the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, which has 4.4 million residents from over 190 nations. Located in the European Plains, Berlin is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. Around one third of the city's area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes.

First documented in the 13th century, Berlin was the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918), the German Empire (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) and the Third Reich (1933–1945). Berlin in the 1920s was the third largest municipality in the world. After World War II, the city became divided into East Berlin—the capital of East Germany—and West Berlin, a West German exclave surrounded by the Berlin Wall (1961–1989). Following German reunification in 1990, the city regained its status as the capital of Germany, hosting 147 foreign embassies.

Berlin is a world city of culture, politics, media, and science. Its economy is primarily based on the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, media corporations, and convention venues. Berlin also serves as a continental hub for air and rail transport, and is a popular tourist destination. Significant industries include IT, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, biotechnology, electronics, traffic engineering, and renewable energy.

Berlin is home to renowned universities, research institutes, orchestras, museums, and celebrities, as well as host of many sporting events. Its urban settings and historical legacy have made it a popular location for international film productions. The city is well known for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts, public transportation networks and a high quality of living.

 

Most famous attractions of Berlin

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Alexanderplatz
Layer upon layer of Berlin’s urban history is located in Alexanderplatz, interweaving centuries of social, political, and architectural history and repeatedly the subject of public debate and urban design competitions.more»

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Berliner Dom
The Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral), completed in 1905, is Berlin’s largest and most important Protestant church as well as the sepulchre of the Prussian Hohenzollern dynasty.more»

Friedrichstadt-Palast(Externer Link)
FriedrichstadtPalast
Experience Berlin's biggest Show in Europe's largest Show Palace, "Yma - too beautiful to be true". Can you fall in love with a show? Yes, with this one, you can.more»(Externer Link)

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Brandenburger Tor
The Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s most important monuments – a landmark and symbol all in one with over two hundred years of history.more»

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Checkpoint CharlieCheckpoint Charlie, along with Glienicker Brücke (Glienicker Bridge) was the best known border-crossing of Cold War days.more»

 

 

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989

 

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Berlin had been politically divided since the end of World War II, with the eastern portion of the city serving as the capitol of German Democratic Republic. The two parts of the city were physically divided in 1961 with the construction of the Berlin Wall, the most visible expression of the Cold War. When the Berlin Wall was opened on November 9, 1989 it marked for many the symbolic end of that war.

To find the cause of the fall of the Berlin Wall, one must look, not in Germany, but in the Soviet Union. The change began when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union in 1985. He tried to make changes in the state bureaucracy and in the Communist party by restructuring the economy’s production and distribution system, a plan now known as perestroika. In addition, Gorbachev also allowed for the policy of glasnost, or public criticism of the communist party. Gorbachev’s reform contributed to the breakup of the centralized structure of the USSR. During this time some states such as Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania declared their independence. In 1989, Gorbachev shifted his policies toward the satellite states of the communist block in Eastern Europe, including Germany.

In effect, the politics in Germany also began to lead toward the destruction of the wall. In the fall of 1989, there was an antigovernment demonstration in East Germany. In mid-October 1989, the Politburo forced the resignation of Erich Honecker, the leader of the GDR (German Democratic Republic). In this way, Erich Honecker was ousted from office, and others soon followed. By the first week of November, the entire Politburo and all of the members of the East German cabinet resigned.The new Prime minister, Hans Modrow, announced plans to decentralize the economy and an easing of travel restrictions. This allowed the East Germans, from the communist sector, to cross the border into the west, the Allied sector.

At this point, East Germany began to reform. Then on November 9, 1989, the leader of the East Berlin communist party, Gunter Schabowski, announced that the border with West Berlin would be opened for "private trips abroad." Masses of people started to use hammers and chisels to knock out pieces of the wall. Shortly thereafter, on November 10, 1989 and later on December 22, 1989 checkpoints were opened at Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenberg Gate. On March 18, 1990, free elections in East Germany took place for the first time in 58 years.By July 1, 1990, the wall tumbled down and Germany was completely united. As a result, a massive emigration from East to West began, which has left economic and emotional scars that can only be healed by the hard work and understanding of generations to come. But on the day that the wall fell will stand out in all of history, as a day when friends and family and an entire nation were reunited, while tears of joy were being shed by all.

 

The wall came down in 1989

 

 

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Brothers and Sisters torn apart
Longed for each other with pain in the heart
Mothers in tears held their arms toward the sky
"Where are my children, who took them and why"
A wall stood between them and gave them no rest
The wall in Berlin, between East and West.
Thousands tried passing, were caught and would fall
She claimed her victims, the cursed wall
But their longing and pain was stronger than fear
As they tried to come home year after year.
Their country divided, that's why they tried
And their hope for reunion never died.
East Germans, West Germans all felt the same
Through tunnels and over the Wall they came.
Many were captured, suffered torture and shame
Still they fought that wall again and again.
At Last their pain gave birth to a cry
"Free us! Unite us! before we all die"
Against their oppressors their outrage they hurledAnd their plea found an echo all over the world,
Then they marched, like in battle, with tools in their hand,
And attacked the concrete that divided their land.
Each chip that fell, fell toward victories crown
And they never stopped till the wall was down
Through blood and through tears, through sorrow and strife
East Germany kept her dream alive
And today, 1990, October three
There's no East, there's no West, they are one, they are "Free!"

by Ruth Carlson

Category : Blog archive



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