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  • Writer's pictureNigel

In the Sticks II : Borderline 田舎で Ⅱ. 国境

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

2023 年 8 月 25 日


All my customers seem to coming back from holiday now. Some come bearing gifts......

顧客は日本から贈り物を持ってきます

Especially 'cellists returning from Kyoto. This is good green tea from the area. But what did "Uji" mean on the package? I asked. "Ah, that's a town south of Kyoto....." I looked it up....and lo and behold, I had aready marked it on my Kyoto map years ago! I love finding out where things come from........😊

私は物事がどこから来たのかを知るのが好きです



 

🎬I mentioned Robert Oppenheimer last week. So, in need of an air-conditioned environment for a couple of hours, I went to see the film. From the first few bars of the music I knew I was being told what to feel. Music which was described by Guardian critique Wendy Ide as ".....masterful and mercurial....". I could not disagree more. There was hardly a moment when we were spared this unsubtle sound bombardment........https://www.theguardian.com/film/2023/jul/22/oppenheimer-review-christopher-nolan-volatile-biopic-is-a-towering-achievement-cillian-murphy?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

I knew at once that I would have no choice with this Hollywood movie. Billed as a "Biopic" of the physicist Robert Oppenheimer, this film had obviously intended to get good box office returns and provide entertainment. Film directors can be so arrogant. Never mind that Lise Meitner, the pioneering physicist from Berlin upon whose work Oppenheimer could not have achieved what he did, gets no mention. Never mind that the picturesque historical town of Göttingen, where Oppenheimer did his PhD, is replaced by a completely different town. Yes, of course the film has redeeming features: the meeting with Albert Einstein and President Roosevelt, the inner conflict Oppenheimer has, having created the "monster", the scenic shots of new Mexico etc etc. and the casual discussion around where to drop the bomb. Not Kyoto apparently. ...this is all no doubt based on fact......but to make entertaiment out of such a tragedy? You may enjoy it. But it is not for me. I came away feeling I had wasted 2 hours or more. But at least the cinema was air-conditioned.

オッペンハイマーという映画を観に行きました。 好きじゃなかった。でも、映画館にはエアコンがありました…。🤗


 

In the last post I left you in Königslutter, Lower Saxony, having stepped out of the cathedral in search of a cup of coffee. I found that coffee, and also a museum with this strange collection of automated musical instruments. A bewildering array of gramophones, self-playing pianos and many other curiosities.......

前回の投稿ではコーヒーを探していました。 奇妙な博物館を見つけました

For me, this is a very well-known symbol - the dog and his master......His Masters Voice....

But this is whacky, and just a little vulgar .....the "automated Japanese..." with cigarette and tea cup....I'd like to see an "automated German"......probably drinking beer and cheering on a football team........A cliché of course.

少し下品な 🤔..

....as is this.....although she does actually remind me of somebody....(!).....😊

彼女は私の友達のようです...

I'm not quite sure what happens when you crank the handle.....but......

Now here's a very dainty little piano - imagine moving house with this thing....I think the word is Pianola. とても重いピアノ

And this must be some kind of harmonium. "muted strings" could be a button on my digital Kawai........ハルモニウム

Enough of these musty old relics.

I returned to my car, following a footpath named after the Kaiser's wife.....(Hello Richenda, are you reading this?) https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richenza_von_Northeim

Königslutterで、私は車に戻ります

....threading my way past some camels (which were for some reason placed outside a nearby psychiatric hospital)....🫤.....weird.....

なぜここにラクダがいるのですか? わからない !


 

I primed the navigation system in the car. Beep, beep, beep....aaaah...here it is....my hotel in Magdeburg. I set off.

This is a very different part of Germany to the Frankfurt area. The car rolls along wide empty country roads. Farmland or woods as far as the eye can see. A lot of wind power being harnessed.....It is very peaceful. But there are surprises along the way. I came across this lonely tower, for example, which marked the fortified border around the nearby town of Helmstedt. We are still in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) here.....but just down the road we cross over into Sachsen-Anhalt........(Saxony Anhalt)....

私は今マクデブルクへ車で向かっています


I must find the A2 Autobahn. How do I get onto it?

All of a sudden I caught sight of a roadsign: "Denkmal" (monument).....I turned into the small road, emerged out of the trees and found myself.......... in a lorry park. And between the parked lorries glowered this grotesque sculpture......A fine example of Soviet Brutalism style if ever the was one...⚒️

ソ連時代の古い記念碑を見つけた.....

The fact that the info sign had been removed told a story. The message here was not wanted anymore...

今は誰もそのサインを望んでいない

I had inadvertently driven in via a back entrance to the (in)famous Helmstedt-Marienborn border crossing post. On one side of the Autobahn all the old buildings have been demolished, but the side I was on had been left as a sort of mute witness to the past. It was here that thousands of West Germans with relatives in the East queued up to go through the border checks...have their cars searched and forced to buy East German Marks, which were valueless elsewhere.....and then later to face even more rigorous checks leaving the DDR...the Deutsche Demokratische Republik.

ここは西ドイツと東ドイツの古い国境です

........note the mirrors hanging from the roof.....the barriers long since tucked away to the side.......

It was very hot. And silent. That is, apart from the roar of traffic on the Autobahn. The contrast made it all the more eerier. As I entered one of the nondescript little buildings I was brought up short by that peculiar smell. I have never smelt it anywhere else on this planet except for in the former DDR.

I'm not imagining it - even though the buildings are over 30 years old: it's a sort of musty mixture of old formica and disinfectant (?). You got it in the trains, in public buildings, and even in some private houses. I remember it quite distinctly from a visit I made with a choir to Görlitz just after the wall was down.....in 1990

a passport - checking room....

So mundane. So drab. So beige...

とても平凡です。 とても単調だ。 とてもベージュ

........everything in the DDR seemed to be brown or beige. But fates were sealed here by little officials in uniforms. What do you do with a place like this now? Do you erase it from the face of the earth, to forget about it forever? It has been rendered pointless since November 1989. But a significant number of people do not want it demolished.

Here cars were checked.......

On the wall was a guide to searching a car....."Prevention of people smuggling..."

The East German government was always trying to recruit people to do these border checking jobs. Romantically produced posters had a young man or woman looking up couragously with the backdrop of a ship, plane or car, doing their service to the Fatherland. These employees had to work like machines. Any decision made "on a hunch" would be their undoing....here the boss spied on his subordinates......

Here you got your worthless East German Marks.......note to wallpaper.....tasteful isn't it? I don't know why the national flag wasn't beige.

This is an empty sad place.

ここは空虚で悲しい場所だ。

There was hardly anyone there. But I overheard a group of older people talking about their experiences. It was here that crude rules keeping one set of people apart from another set of people....propaganda, lies, mistrust, bureaucracy.......

プロパガンダ、嘘、不信感、官僚主義。

I didn't do A Level history at school, and I distinctly remember, at the age of 17, being confused about this "cold war" business. Why was it cold? was it in the Arctic? And this "iron curtain" - was it actually made of iron?

Determined to get some facts straight I sought out a dictionary of politics on my father's bookshelf.

So: If half of Germany was called the German Democratic Republic (the DDR), then that must be Western Germany surely, as it was democratic. As for the German Federal Republic (the BRD), well that sounded a bit suspicious. That must be the communist bit.

Wrong! Go and stand in the corner Nigel. If the DDR says it is democratic then it is. The Party says so. You want to argue? Do you value your job, your family, your health........?


I don't know what GM means on a manhole cover, but usually GM meant "Geheime Mitarbeiter"....literally "Secret Employee".....you want to spy on your neighbour? become a GM......

just imagine if the Stasi had had the internet......

The back entrance......

The border officers' canteen and living quarters....

...and a modern space, complete with a book of condolences, to remember those who did not make it......

It is a difficult history. And it is good to talk to young Germans about it. They do not have the border in their heads and minds like their parents do. And as I do in fact. Recently one young woman told me that her mother grew up near Dresden, and actually found life ok there. People wrote letters; there was always a place for your child in kindergarten; there was solidarity. People lived their lives. But as soon as the border was open she moved West.

難しい歴史ですね。 そして、それについて若いドイツ人に話すのは良いことです。 彼らには、親のように頭や心の中に境界線がありません。 そして実際に私がそうしているように。 最近、ある若い女性が私に、彼女の母親はドレスデン近郊で育ち、実際にドレスデンでの生活は大丈夫だと感じたと語った。 人々は手紙を書きました。 幼稚園にはあなたの子供のための場所が常にありました。 団結力があった。 人々は自分の人生を生きました。 しかし国境が開くとすぐに彼女は西へ移動した。


 

About 30 years ago, Birgid showed me around Magdeburg. She had grown up in Görlitz, literally on the Polish border, and we had met when our choir from Wiesbaden had sung a concert there. She was terribly, terribly eager to meet any foreigners. With a sweep of her hand she was showing me the sight of the cathedral, towering up over the river Elbe. All I could see was a menacing dark edifice surrounded by grey, dreary streets. Zinc rubbish bins perched on cobbled street corners, wedged between indentical little parked cars. And that smell......exhaust, coal dust...

Now I was curious to see what had happened to this city in the last 30 years.

........

Here is investment, where the old houses have been renovated......

ここが「新しい」マクデブルクです - 改装されました



There are lots of interesting little corners....

And some cheerful colour.....

But here and there time has stood still, and you are back to that drab old grey/beige.......The graffiti is of course a western import.......

worse is still to come around the local train station.......

Every day streams of commuters walk through this building to go to work. The trains themselves are, however, sleek, modern and clean.....

毎日、通勤客がこの建物を通ります。 しかし、電車は近代的で清潔です。

I don't have any more photos of Magdeburg worth sharing, as I only stayed one night there - and it rained most of the time. However, I had a very nice Vietnamese meal in town, sitting on a pavement terrace with a bottle of beer. Contactless payment. Friendly staff.

There are now smart new buildings, a modern tram system, bicycle lanes and even a Hundertwasser house, and of course the cathedral. Which is impressive. I was intrigued by this plaque set in the pavement nearby......Editha, East Franken Queen. Born in England 910, buried in Magdeburg Cathedral. 946. A short life. Who was she?

東フランケンの女王エディタ。 910年にイギリスに生まれ、マクデブルク大聖堂に埋葬された。 946. 短い人生。 彼女は誰でしたか?


 

My leisurely journey (motoring would be the right phrase) would soon bring me into the Federal State of Brandenburg. But I am avoiding Berlin and Potsdam. I am on the country roads around the river Elbe.

次の日も旅を続けます....

I drove through many a village which looked very quaint, but where was I to buy some lunch?

どの村もきれいでしたが、食べ物はどこで買えますか?

nice details though.....

I never thought I would be so pleased to see a Netto supermarket, but at some point I came across one in the middle of nowhere. Modern, brash, but with a welcome bakery. Whilst munching my Brötchen something caught my eye across the road. Was it a mineshaft? a medieval rocket launchpad? I had to investigate.........

これは何ですか?

It was so quiet I had the impression that the neighbours were all watching me from behind net curtains. The abandoned vehicles on the site did not give many clues....

Incidentally, in this picture you see some one-story houses. These are very common in this part of the world. More anon.....

The construction seemed to suggest some kind of transportation of heavy items.....

It was all so Heath Robinson-ish.....https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Heath_Robinson

Maybe it was some defunct sawmill? Iron gates blocked my way. I could not investigate further.

もしかしたら製材所だったのかもしれない .........



 

🎼...Joshua fit (fought) the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho......

Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumblin' down... Yes, it is a famous African-American spiritual.

And the name Jericho seems to pop up in the oddest locations. There is a university town north west of London with a neighbourhood of this name, and there is also a small village in Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony- Anhalt) on the banks of the river Elbe: Jerichow.


But no, this is a distraction: This name Jerichow has nothing to do with the Bible. It comes from the old Slavic word meaning "riverside settlement of the dominant one". In this tiny place in 1144 a monastery was founded. In fact an enormous brick-built collegiate church.

It was on my route. I had to see it.


Warning: The following images may be disturbing for you, because they deal with the author's predilection for routing out obscure sites of architectural interest. You can skip this bit if you want.


My teacher at University, Prof. Rosemary Cramp, (who stocked the best sherry south of the Tyne) said that you should always walk around the outside of a building before going in..... This applied to all of the places we visited - Jarrow, Monkwearmouth, Escomb, Lindisfarne (all in easy distance of Durham)....

So I remembered the good lady's advice here. Except that I couldn't find the entrance......

ザクセン州アンハルト州ジェリヒョウ

Eventually, though, I found the way in......and what an extraordinary place. All built of bricks and still in good condition.....this is the refectory.....

And this is the nave......bricks....twelfth century bricks....

そしてこちらが身廊……レンガ……12世紀のレンガ……。

...and here again we see the fantastic skill of 12thc. stonemasons......

peacocks? ピーコック?

grapes? ブドウ?

Looking east......

The only decoration is the stone bit on the pillars.....The capitals .

And on this door we see a serpent biting its tail.......if you go and see the Book of Kells in Dublin, Ireland, you will meet him again......Once, when I was working as a student-slave on an archaeological dig in Wales, I unearthed a Roman brooch clasp. The head clasp bit had a head just like the one in this picture. It was obviously a style that lasted hundred of years.

そしてこの扉には、尻尾を噛んでいる蛇が見えます。

Once outside I walked around the monastery garden.......庭

Jerichow is on the east bank of the river Elbe. This means that Napoloen's forces could not reach it in 1806 when they captured Magdeburg. However, during the 30 years war the Imperial and Swedish armies devastated the place. Luckly though, it remained under the patronage of the Kingdom of Prussia until 1918, when it became German. If you want more detail 👉 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerichow There is a good restaurant nearby........and it is on the Elbe cycle route, which looks fantastic! 🚵‍♀️.................................


 

In the next post I eventually reach Schloß Rheinsburg, 100km north of Berlin. Here I will have the pleasure of hearing a group of young singers, accompanied by a baroque orchestra from Switzerland, performing Henry Purcell's The Fairie Queen......Both singers and instrumentalists chosen after a selection procedure by the Bundesakademie für Junges Musiktheater.

次の投稿では、最終的にベルリンの北 100 km にあるラインスブルク城に到着します。


❗ Thank you for reading "..Borderline.."

"....... 国境......"を読んでくれてありがとう



❗ Feel free to share the blog with friends.

よろしければ、リンクを友達と共有してください



❗And it would be nice to hear from you...!

そしてコメントしてください...




THE END

終わり





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