A New Home For Refugees In 1947: The Eiermann Houses in Hettingen

Some years ago I visited an exhibition in the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin and only there I became aware that famous architect Egon Eiermann not only built part of a hotel in my hometown Buchen im Odenwald, but also several settlements for post-war refugees in 1947.
In 1946 Magnani, a priest from Hettingen, and Egon Eiermann made plans to build houses for the numerous refugees coming from the East to Baden. The settlers were strictly selected by ethical criteria (“no people caught with lies, theft or adultery”) – and had to build the houses mostly on their own.
Today it is possible to visit one of the simple houses which perfectly shows the different stadiums of occupancy – for example by not (always) recreating the original parts, but by leaving 40s, 60s and 80s taste of the residents shine through.

We’ve been lucky to have a guided tour by one of the former students of Eiermann. And I strongly recommend a visit for every friend of modern architecture.
Please look for opening hours and more history (German language) on the website.

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Other Eiermann houses in Hettingen and Buchen today

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Road Trip From Berlin: Happy Liberation From The Nazis Day!

The 8th of May, the day of the unconditional capitulation of the German Wehrmacht, is finally a holiday in Berlin. We decided to take a road trip towards the East to visit some relevant locations in the area. We went to the honorary cemetery of soviet soldiers in Müncheberg, to Seelower Höhen, where one of the last big battles of WW2 took place and to Küstrin, where the Red Army crossed Oder River to close the ring around Berlin and initiated the end of WW2.

And again: We still learned something new.
Some years ago, a friend asked me, if I could take someone his buddy with me in my car to Hamburg. I was delighted, because I don’t like to drive alone and so I had a very interesting trip with someone I didn’t know before. The guy told me, he grew up in Eastern Germany and graduated from High School when the wall came down and he went directly to the United States afterwards. Clash of cultures and everything. Not only because America but also because of small town Iowa Christian environment. An adventure.
When he was asked about the Nazis – because every German in a foreign country is asked about the Nazis – his first inner reaction was something like “Wait. That’s not us. That’s the other Germans.”, but he quickly noticed, that something was strange about his inner dialog.
In Eastern Germany, kids at school and citizens in general were taught, that the Nazis are the people on the other side of the wall. The wall between the two Germanys was called “Antifaschistischer Schutzwall”, protective wall against fascism. And of course, while my (western socialized) grandmother in the 1980th still had a fearful expression on her face when she saw anything Russian, resulting from cruel wartime experiences augmented by western propaganda during cold war – Russians, in the eyes of Eastern Germans, were seen as saviors from evil.

History and education made, that Eastern German people today write thank you letters to the Red Army which liberated Germany from the Nazis. Which is of course completely true. But it is also true that the concerned Nazis may have been the grandparents of the authors.

There is no clear line between good and evil. The more you learn and know, the more it becomes obvious. You can observe it in everyday news. Black and white in history and communication – nothing is as untrue as that.

 

Müncheberg

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On Our Way to Seelow
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Seelower Höhen
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The landscape on the picture above is the battlefield of the fight between the Red Army and the German Wehrmacht from 16th to 19th April 1945. It was the last big obstacle for the Russians on their way to Berlin. Many lives were lost in this battle and in those last days of war. 11 days later, Hitler killed himself in his bunker and 8 days later, war was over. DSC_6655DSC_6640DSC_6635DSC_6669DSC_6693

 

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Berlin Day Hike: Around Wukensee In The Sun

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Stasi-Führungsbunker in Biesenthal

Approximately 2 km North of Kleiner Wukensee we found an ancient GDR military area with ruined buildings and subterranean bunkers. When we had wifi again, we found out, that the big hill we saw, was the former “Stasi-Führungsbunker” (bunker of the leaders of the ministry of State Security).

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Hobrechtsfelde

On our way home we passed through Hobrechtsfelde and made a stop at the wonderful James Biergarten. Have a perfect vast view into the fields and a craft beer!

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Azores: A Guided Tour Through The Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição in Angra

We met the priest of the church just when we wanted to leave and he offered to explain his church to us. Unfortunately his English wasn’t as advanced as his enthusiasm was (and neither was our Portuguese). But we really enjoyed the tour where he told us about the saints exposed in the church, the Flemish style paintings in the classic Portuguese altar, the baptismal font out of “singing” stone and the 400 year old seats and cabinets of “iron wood” from the Brazilian colonies. He even tried to explain something about the Jews, the Portugueses, the Spanish and the British how they lived together at the time and how it should be possible today, we tried to understand and it appeared to be really interesting, but unfortunately we weren’t able to get it.

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Azores: Impressions Of The Colorful Town Of Angra Do Heroísmo

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The jewish cemetery of Angra

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A chapel with no stairs

(I found the solution on the next house)

 

Angra from above

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In the park of Angra

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Churches

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Our Hotel in the fortress Pousada de São Sebastião

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Angra by night and some restaurant recommendations

  • Cachalote Restaurant: Frank, the owner lives on Terceira since more than 30 years. He came here from Flores and named his Restaurant “Cachalote”, which means “whale” in Portugues, in respect for the beasts which he saw being hunted and slaughtered as a child.
    Best Steak (beef!) I ever had even compared to the 60$-Steak in a fancy restaurant in NY Meatpacking District in 2009. It comes on a very hot lava stone plate and you can cut it and grill the slices on the stone after your wishes. The steak is served with three homemade sauces and french fries.
  • Restaurant Tasca das Tias: Nice interior, somehow busy service, best grilled tuna we had on the Azores
  • Restaurant Verdemaça: Small Restaurant with friendly service and comfy, traditional interior

 

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