Beautifully situated in the Taubertal is the Monastery of Bronnbach a former Cistercian Abbey founded in the 12th century. The surroundings are great for hiking, the Nibelungensteig and one of the German Saint James Ways lead right past the forest just next to the Monastery. It’s a wonderful complex of buildings, above all if it’s the first days of spring.
Today, eight years ago, my Dad died. Since some years, my Mum and I take the day off and do something nice and meaningful together. We decided, to visit the village where my Mum grew up and where I spend a lot of weekends and holidays of my childhood.
My Great Great Grandpa once build a fabulous house there in the Badgasse in Berolzheim, Baden Württemberg. Nothing huge and pompous, but three floors made of red sandstone, hard work, laughter and love. It stood there for two World Wars and was always full of children and adults. My Grandpa died in 1986 and since then my Grandma was the last person living there. In 2008 – she was already 90 years old – she still heated her rooms with a wooden stove in the kitchen. But the house risked to collapse and so my Grandma moved to an assisted living home. All the daughters already lived somewhere else and so the house was sold to a neighbor who demolished the dilapidated building and put up a garage instead. My Grandma died in 2014 at 95.
Those are some pictures from the 50s to the 80s showing members of the family on the steps in front of the house.
I haven’t been to Berolzheim since more than 12 years because I didn’t feel I could bear the sight of the non existing house – the place of some of my dearest childhood memories – being replaced by a garage. But today I felt, I go seeing it. I frequently feel, that my attachment to “things” is quite tight compared to others and when I talk to my Mom, I know, that she feels just the same. It is – like if the things are gone – the memories are gone, too. I don’t want to attach myself to things. I wanted to feel, that those memories won’t be lost, just because the house has gone. And they aren’t. Just yesterday I read the following: “Jeder Mensch sucht nach Halt. Dabei liegt der einzige Halt im Loslassen.” (Hape Kerkeling). I would translate it like that:
“Everyone is looking for something to hold on to. But the only possibility to find something to hold on to, is to let go.“
And in those times of change, there are things that will go and others that will come. And some old things have to go to make space for new things. And all of that is normal and good and maybe will even become much better than before. Who knows? Maybe it was a possibility for a good change in the life of someone?
I’m sad to see it gone. But is is still engraved in the corner of happy memories in my heart.
The place where the house once was and the village:
From Montalto Ligure, a short steep hike uphill, through the aromatic woods and the bees you’ll find this marvelous place: Madonna di Aquasanta – Madonna of the holy water. It is told that in the 15th century the Madonna appeared to an old lame man an told d him to take a bath in a nearby fountain. He was immediately healed from his handicap. Today the people from the surrounding villages come to pray, to take water from the fountain and to ask the Madonna for favors. Their offerings, mostly rosaries in all colors and forms, transform the hill next to the chapel with the tiny, white statue of the Madonna in a magical place where it is good to stay, think about the world and listen to the sounds of nature.
Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitlers photographer, once said “Der Fotograf bildet ab, sonst nichts.” (The photographer depicts, nothing else.) This was his argument for turning a 10 year prison conviction to only 4 years. Albert Speer, Hitlers architect and later Reich Minister for Armaments and Ammunition, was convicted to only 20 years of prison while other leading Nazis of his rank and with very similar collections of crimes against humanity were sentenced to death. Leni Riefenstahl, Hitlers infamous director, wrote: „[…] wo liegt denn meine Schuld? Sagen Sie mir doch das. Ich habe keine Atombomben geworfen, ich habe niemanden verleugnet. Wo liegt denn meine Schuld? (Where is my fault? Tell me that. I didn’t throw any atom bombs, I didn’t deny anyone. Where is my fault?
Together with Göbbels as Reich Minister of Propaganda and many others creatives, they created the myth around Hitler and the Nazis. Their grandeur and elevation. They depicted the führer as a Messias and the SS as saviors from evil. But their professions deal with visual aspects and they have been and still are underestimated in their effects. Is design able to create a monster? As you can see in this very distinct examples, it sure is.
A never finished building to host more than 50.000 people. With a planned height of 70 meters and a diameter of 170 meters the biggest still existing of the Nazi buildings.
from where the Reichsparteitag happened and Hitler held his infamous speeches.
We made a stop in Langenlonsheim near Mainz to visit a friend of my Mum. We stayed for a night and had a very good time there. In the morning I had a long walk with Pavlov to the near Hermitage cut into rocks in the middle ages. The last hermit lived there until 1827. He died after 52 years of service.
A walk with an old and dear friend trough the marvelous village of Hirschhorn over Neckar river. It’s so good to see people grow and change and that every change has the chance to be a powerful boost of live. At the same time walking through historic environments and knowing her since our distant school days reminds me that there is a solid foundation that can last over centuries.
Is anybody in Berlin taking care of of urban planning at all? And if yes, why all this ugliness? And why does something cool happen every time there is abandoned building? And if yes: Why not build abandoned buildings?
Short glimpses into the history of Buchenwald Concentration Camp: Making money with slavery, the history of the gate, kids with weapons, the double life of the nazis, the uptight research for a prove of the jewish race, Buchenwald memorial today
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.
Other Eiermann houses in Hettingen and Buchen today