Deutschlandreise, and ich suche Hilfe!

You guys, I am coming to Germany and I need your help.

First off: Instead of my original idea, which was for a Grand Tour at the height of tourist season (blergh!), I have opted instead for a #GermanLitDeathAndMiseryTour. That is, I want to build my trip around visits to places where some of my favorite authors lived, wrote about, went crazy, died and are buried.

Here’s where I need your help:

First, I would love to crowd-source some more dead authors, philosophers and artists in the below vicinities (remember, I am an Austrianist, so my German expertise only goes so far!).

Second, if you live within 100 km of any of these locations on or around any of these dates (ALL ARE TENTATIVE!), and are amenable to being interviewed for a project I am doing–it’s a long-form writing project about German culture–please sag mir Bescheid, so we can set something up. I would especially love to be shown something off the Touristenweg, if you are into showing people things. I am also interested in meeting families, children, grandparents, etc.

18-21 Juni: Frankfurt & Gebiet

  • Adorno’s grave
  • Day trips to Wiesbaden a fave vaca spot of JWvG), Mainz (Gutenberg!), poss. Worms (Niebelungenlied!)

23-25 Juni: Tübingen & Gebiet (please convince me to stay in Stuttgart if you can muster up a reason; everyone from Stuttgart I know insists it’s boring)

  • Tower where Hölderlin went crazy
  • Various haunts of various old-skool lit types
  • Schwarzwald day trip if anyone lives around there and wants to show me around somewhere beautiful

25-27 Juni: München

27-29 Juni: Dresden

29 Juni-1 Juli: Leipzig

  • Auerbachskeller! (I realize that’s a tourist trap but I GOTTA go)

1 Juli-3 Juli: Weimar & Gebiet:

  • Numerous Goethe & Schiller stuff
  • Bauhaus stuff
  • Nietzsche death house (Jena)
  • University where Frege taught/lived (Jena)

3 Juli-12 Juli: Berlin

  • Brecht’s grave
  • ETA Hoffmann’s grave
  • Kleist’s grave
  • Gottfried Benn’s grave
  • All my friends who live in Germany

12-13 Juli: Back to Frankfurt on the ICE Sprinter with all the business guys

13 Juli: Return to Amurka.

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28 comments

  1. Some immediate suggestions–more will come later–for Berlin:
    1) Schloss Tegel, where the Humboldts grew up and, presumably, drank chocolate with Goethe on the terrace (was he ever in Berlin?). Remodelled by Schinkel in the neo-classical style–an absolute gem.
    2) Schlosspark Potsdam. If you want to see a side of the the Prussian kings that’s less well known. Four generations of them built an architectural ensemble, from the high baroque and rococo (Frederic the Great’s retreat Sanssouci where he entertained the likes of Bach and Voltaire) to the classicism of Schinkel and his disciples–that’s world-class throughout.
    3) and don’t forget the Einstein Tower (ca 1920) nearby, an observatory designed by Erich Mendelsohn that’s an icon of German expressionism in architecture.
    4) The Bauhaus Museum happens to be in Berlin, too.
    Stay tuned…

    1. I’ve been to all three–I’ve spent a lot of time in Berlin over the years! But I am planning to return to all of them, even Potsdam, which usually makes me feel weird.

  2. Just two quick proposals regarding Frankfurt:

    You could combine your visit to Adorno‘s grave with a visit to Arthur Schopenhauer‘s grave – both guys are resting in peace at the Frankfurter Hauptfriedhof (which is a beauty in itself and quite worth an extensive visit, like a huge green oasis in the middle of crazy PompousTown).

    In the west of Frankfurt (the borough of Bockenheim, site of the old university, where Adorno, Horkheimer et al. used to teach), there is a weird little memorial of Adorno‘s private workstation, built inside of a glass cubicle, allegedly with Adorno‘s authentic furnishings. The memorial ist located at Adorno-Platz (even most Frank’nFurters don’t know the adress, so it’s really something off the Touristenweg).

      1. Klasse. I have to wrangle myself a Flugticket that costs less than US 1500 and then I will finally have dates. Looking forward to all of Frankfurt’s pompous glory. It can’t be as bad as San Francisco…can it?

      2. Well, in terms of its devouring gentrification hype, Frankfurt could easily keep up with San Francisco. You know, right now there‘s a heavy conflict around the groovy old ‚Philosophicum‘, where Adorno has taught – object of desire for ever-hungry investors. We‘ll have plenty of fodder for conversation when we meet, I bet! :)

  3. Goethes Geburtshaus should probably be on the Frankfurt list if it isn’t already. And there are a couple of streets near the Hauptbahnhof in Frankfurt that are definitely not pompous.

  4. For the most bang for your cemetery buck in Berlin, go to the Dorotheenstädtische Friedhof (http://www.stadtentwicklung.berlin.de/umwelt/stadtgruen/friedhoefe_begraebnisstaetten/de/friedhoefe/dorotheen_fw_fr_friedhof/) Hegel Brecht, Weigel, Seghers, Heinrich Mann, and more!

    The Jüdischer Friedhof Weissensee is also lovely, although lacking in literary highlights (http://www.stadtentwicklung.berlin.de/umwelt/stadtgruen/friedhoefe_begraebnisstaetten/de/friedhoefe/weissensee/index.shtml)

    And the tours offered by the Berliner Unterwelten are quite amazing: http://berliner-unterwelten.de/

    If you like ETA Hoffmann, you should stop by the Gendarmenmarkt (you probably know that he once drew a sketch showing many of his famous characters there) and have a glass of wine at Lutter and Wegener, which was his favorite place to drink and is now located in his former home.

      1. Ah, I just realized you had already listed Brecht’s grave. But be sure not to miss the others! Also, how could I have forgotten the memorial to the book burning on Bebelplatz? Sort of like a cemetery for actual books.

  5. For your theme, what could beat a side-trip to Kaliningrad? Roger Scruton: “By that time, Königsberg had ceased to be a center of learning, had been absorbed, following its brutal destruction by the Red Army, into the Soviet Union, and had been renamed in honor of one of Stalin’s few henchmen to die of natural causes. A bronze tablet remains fixed to the wall of the castle, overlooking the dead and wasted city, bearing these words from the concluding section of the Critique of Practical Reason…” I mean, really. Beat that.

    But–death and misery, closer to hand. Let me recommend the Sowietisches Ehrenmal in Treptower Park, the Völkerschlachtdenkmal in Leipzig (a love letter to state brutality). I’m sure the Mad King Ludwig stuff goes without saying. In Cologne, all that is required is to look up pictures of the bombing from the war as you sip your beer around the cathedral.

    Stuttgart is just a place. It’s nice enough. But Baden-Baden is RIGHT THERE, and you’ve got the whole Mark Twain thing to make it literary.

    1. I didn’t know that my hometown, Cologne, was in play. Its most recent claim to literary fame was Heinrich Böll–whatever you think of him, he DID win the Nobel Prize. I walked by his modest house in Köln-Müngersdorf every morning and evening on my way to/from the architect’s office where I was working for a year in the ’60s.

      1. I am pushing the trip to September now, which means it will be much cheaper and I can stay longer, and thus may indeed make it back to Köln, which is the first German city I ever visited! 1995!

      2. Here are other Kölner that made it to international fame: Albertus Magnus; Jacques Offenbach (who later emigrated to Paris)–there’s a fountain commemorating him in Cologne; Max Ernst, who caused an early scandal when he exhibited in the ’20s, as part of the Cologne Dada group, his painting “The Mother of God spanks the Baby Jesus” (Die Gottesmutter züchtigt das Jesuskind), now one of the prized exhibits of the Museum Ludwig near the cathedral; Konrad Adenauer, who went to the same Gymnasium I went to; and Hans Schäfer, member of the German side that won the world cup in soccer in 1954.

  6. I’m also in Frankfurt. Mrs. Mop gave great suggestions. I would add the Ernst May Haus if you like Bauhaus and end up doing a “Siedlungen” tour with the Stuttgart stop. Keep your eye out for if the Schauspiel is doing the play “Je t’Adorno” (haven’t seen it, but if I was into Adorno I would probably want to).
    You might want to check out these walking tours: http://walkingwiesbaden.blogspot.de/ (I have never taken one, but the organizer is into cultural history.) Also her “Hidden Frankfurt” tour looks right up your alley (http://secretfrankfurt.blogspot.de/). In any case, don’t miss riding on the paternosters at the I.G. Farben building!
    Mainz: Gutenberg museum!!!!!
    In Dresden, go to the Buchmuseum and Schatzkammer at the SLUB–it’s free and amazing, you just have to ask at the circ desk to be let in.
    Since you mentioned being here in September, consider going up to the Ruhrgebiet, where concerts of the Ruhr Triennale take place in the old industrial spaces, and in general the transformation of machines and industry there to art and culture is fascinating.

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