Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ein Deutscher Wochenende (A German Weekend)

On the way over to France I stopped off to see some friends in Germany. The town of Hildesheim where they live is near Hannover, i.e. in the northern part of central Germany. It's only a 2 1/2 hour drive to Berlin from there, I was surprised to find, or only 2 hours on the train. This is Europe, so that is a dependable two hours on a train that picks you up and drops you off on time. (I once went on a work trip in CA on Amtrak and the train was four hours late. I think there'd been a cow on the tracks... or something...)

A remarkable fact about Hildesheim is that the historic market square, pictured above and below, was completely leveled when the Allied air force ran the eighth and largest bombing mission on Hildesheim, a city of little military significance, on March 22, 1945, a little over six weeks before the Germans surrendered unconditionally to the Allies in Berlin.

According to Wikipedia, during the bombing "250 bombers dropped a total of 438.8 tons of high explosive and 624 tons of incendiary bombs. Almost 74% of the buildings in Hildesheim were destroyed or damaged during the attack, including nearly the entire historical city centre. About 1,500 civilians were killed in the attacks in March, of which about 500 could not be identified." It was a firestorm, is what my German friends have been told. (They didn't grow up in this area and were born after the war.) Like Dresden, only lesser known.

Between 1984-1990 the historic center was reconstructed using the old methods of construction as much as possible. I thought it was interesting that there are modern art and anti-war scenes cached on the undersides of the facade. (See picture above right).

A couple of small sections of the old town still exist and they give you a feel for what was lost. Hildesheim is one of the oldest cities in this part of Germany. It became the seat of the bishopric in 819 and was an important market town on the Hellweg, an ancient east-west trade route between the Rhine river and the mountains.

It's definitely Spring time in Germany. The Spargel, white asparagus, the German's aren't really interested in any other kind, is in the market, along with new potatoes and the first local strawberries. You know we had to try some of each, especially Spargel -- my friends have schooled me in the niceties of those fat white spears.

Spent some time at the Hannover Porsche dealership while K got the winter tires on his work car, a Cayenne (Porsche's version of the SUV), changed for the summer ones. It's a classy place with the expresso bar open and free for customers while they wait. I was liking the lines of the new Panamera Gran Turismo, which comes in high performance diesel, hybrid and regular gas models. But at twice the price of the Cayenne and a longer footprint, even K, a very Germanic flashy car type of guy, thought that would be a bit of a pig to drive. Even if I'd won the lottery for instance and had that kind of money that I would be willing to put on the street in the shape of a car. But a gal can fantasize, non?

Settling down into some concentrated writing time now that I'm in my little French village.
More soon, Küsschen for now.


Ms. Moon said...

And love and kisses to you. I like to think of you there, in your little French village.

N2 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
N2 said...

You are on the ball, M2! Here I am still polishin' this bitty post and you've already slipped in a comment. Love you, Gal. Hope this is a sunny day down Flahda way. x0 N2

Anonymous said...

Wonderful to hear about your detour, all its inhumane history and its very human urge to recovery. The art under the eaves especially moved me. Thinking of you here on a splendid spring day. I've had one jonquil bloom after two years' wait. Worth it.

rebecca said...

i am filled with happiness knowing you are back to your little french village and settling in to write.

Kathleen Scott said...

I'm way late in catching up.

What a beautiful little town. Glad your time with your friends was good.

How is the book coming?

Cindy said...

Hi Nancy,

I've had trouble leaving comments. Maybe your blog thinks I'm a robot. Your travels have been very interesting. I have a friend in Frankfurt and that city's old section has been restored as well.

Your Corn Tiger is adorable. Hope he's not a terrible two!

Where are you right now? I'll try e-mailing.


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