Berlin, Magdeburg, Weimar
10.06.1981 - 13.03.2017 19 °C
I have memories of my stay in Germany in the "good old times". In 1981, when I was a student of the foreign languages college in Horlivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, I was selected to be a member of a Soviet group of students, who had a German language seminar in Magdeburg.
It was my first trip abroad in my life that made me happy, of course, for a long time. Magdeburg was a county center at that time. Now the city is the capital of Sachsen-Anhalt, one of the country's sixteen federal provinces. The city must have changed a lot! However, the main sites in the city center have remained as they were. I am sure they have been restored and renovated to make the city look still more beautiful.
We, the thirty members of the Soviet students' group, stayed in Magdeburg for about a month. We studied German at Erich Weinert Pedagogical College and stayed at a dormitory at its campus. It was in August and September, a fine season and a good opportunity to browse the city's central streets and to visit its architectural gems: the Cathedral, the Liebfrauenkirche (the Church of Our Dear Lady), the City Park called Rotehorn located on the opposite bank of the Elbe. I enjoyed browsing Marx Street, Otto von Guericke Street, Pieck Avenue and Friendship Promenade in the city. The city park attracts the visitors by its promenade, sculptures, City Hall and a good view of the cathedral and the church.
Of all the monuments of the city I was deeply impressed by is the Knight of Magdeburg, a bronze replica of the stone original that is kept in the city history museum. The monument belongs to the oldest knight images in Germany. It represents a splendid figure of a horseman with a lady on each of his sides. The idea of the monument remained obscure for a long time. One of the interpretations says the monument embodies the idea of spiritual and secular character of emperor's power.
I also visited the Botanical Gardens and was impressed by the collections.
Since I was an ardent cinemagoer, I also visited several city cinemas and could improve my listening comprehension skills by seeing several films in German, which was not possible at home at that time. Now I would have understood much more of their content I am sure!
As a matter of fact, I could travel around the city quite freely either on foot or by tram just using the city map and without having to ask the way! We also paid a visit to the Harz, a highland region to the south of Magdeburg and, of course, Dresden. Therefore, the hosts carefully planned our weekends and we could explore quite a lot during our stay there. Besides, everybody, even students who used to study Russian, spoke only German with us for us to practise it.
I still have a picture album with autographs of our teachers presented to the members of the Soviet group that was received in the best traditions of the inviolable Soviet-German friendship. So much time has passed! I wish I could visit this city again and I wonder if I will find my way there.
After that first trip to Germany, I went there again and again and have visited it ten times all in all, among them six times as an interpreter
Who could have thought! I was privileged to travel to Berlin in August 1981, when I was a college student. I was selected for a language development course by my college. We, a group of Soviet students, arrived to Berlin by a direct train from Moscow and stayed overnight in Berlin at "Unter den Linden" hotel - the central one in the capital. I was honored to study at the Pedagogical Institute in Magdeburg for a month. Our group consisted of more than forty college students who studied German. They were from all over the Soviet Union.
This is how I saw downtown Berlin for the first time. I was very impressed. It was the first "Western" capital I saw at that time! We were taken to the famous Alexander Square (Alexanderplatz) about which we had only read in our textbooks. When I was there, I merely stood in front of "Weltzeituhr" (the World Time Clock) pondering about the immense world we live in. Our visit to Treptower Park to the Soviet War Memorial was very impressive too.
It was a pleasure to see the clean streets, smiley people and splendid architecture. We, a group of students from the Soviet Union, were lucky enough to have a tour of "Alex" - the TV tower that is 365 m high and sit in the "Telecafe" there.
It was great to revisit Berlin again on my way home by train to Kiev in May 2002! I could see the Spree and the avenues and buildings, the famous Alex - the TV tower. We left for Kiev from Lichtenberg Station.
During my study trip to Germany, when I was a student, I had the privilege of visiting Weimar. Our group of students was taken there for a weekend trip during our stay in Magdeburg where we attended a month-long course of German at the local university.
A 19th century travel writer once described Weimar as one of the most walkable towns in Europe. Indeed, once you are in Weimar, you can visit the majority if its famous sites for they are all within a walking distance. If you stand in Market Square, it is a matter of minutes to get to the Goethehaus in Frauenplan, the Wittumspalais, the German National Theater, Herder Church with the altar by Cranach and finally the relaxing park on the banks of the River Ilm with Goethe's Garden House that is attractively located in the park.
There is also Liszt House, Schiller House, the Castle and lots of other attract ting places in the city. The city is famous because the greatest German writers Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his friend Friedrich Schiller used to live and to work here. There are museums dedicated to their creative activities and located in the houses where they used to live. Both writers were buried in this city. You can visit Goethe- und Schiller-Gruft, the place where they were buried.
Visiting Weimar, you can also see the National German Theater with the monument to Goethe and Schiller in front of it. The monument to Goethe and Schiller was created by Ernst Rietschel and dedicated in 1857. Goethe's summer cottage. The inscription on the plaque at the pedestal reads, “To the great poets' pair from the German people“.
There are lots of flowers at the foot of the monument. I enjoyed visiting this theater! My friends and I were very impressed by both its exterior and the interior. No doubt that visiting this theatre is a must for any visitor of Weimar.
There is the world famous Weimar Art Collection, one of the largest picture galleries in Germany, that contains an extensive collection of the works of Lucas Cranach.
I think there is still a lot to see in this city and hope to make another trip there. The city has a lot to offer to those who are fond of architecture: visits to the Ilm Park, to different castles: the Green Castle, the Red Castle, and the Yellow Castle. The City Museum in "Bertuchhaus", a classicism building, is also an attracting destination. The former Prince's House is the home of Franz Liszt College of Music now.
Elephant Hotel is a medieval hotel located in the very center. It is famous for its old traditions and is proud of its world-famous guests who used to stay there: Lucas Cranach, Johann Senastian Bach, Franz Liszt, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Mann and others. The hotel has all modern conveniences and is itself a piece of the city history. It was a privilege for our students' group to stay overnight there. The hotel has a unique historical atmosphere, "Elephantenkeller" Restaurant. I liked the proximity to all the main sites of the city. This hotel has been famous for centuries as the central city. Thomas Mann made this hotel famous in his novel "Lotte in Weimar".
Elephantenkeller ("Elephant's Cellar") Restaurant is a very comfortable place amidst the old town in Weimar. It has a big variety of dishes and German wines. We, a group of Soviet students, were taken to this restaurant for breakfast, which was a great privilege indeed. Not everybody realized it at that time, though... I remember visiting some great places in Weimar:
- Kirms Krackow House : this building located at 10 Jakobsstrasse was built at the beginning of the 16th century. It was dedicated as a city museum in 1917. The house and its inner yard give us an idea of the city life in the 17th and 18th centuries. You can visit Johann Herder Museum on the first floor.
- Wittumspalais: this palace called Widow Palace in English, one of the city’s splendid palaces, dates back to the end of the 18th century.
It was built in baroque style and is considered to be a typical example of the dwelling architecture of the second half of the 18th century.
- Gartenhaus am Stern : This cottage is located at Corona-Schrötter-Strasse in Ilm Park at the right bank of the Riover Ilm on the outskirts of the city.
This house was a gift of Duke Carl August to Goethe. This is where Johann Wolfgang Goethe moved in April 1776 and lived for six years. This is where he created his masterpieces such as “Wilhelm Meister”, “Iphigenie”, “Tasso”, “Wanderers Nachtlied”, “An den Mond”.
- Am Frauenplan : This is where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lived for about fifteen years (1782-1789, 1792-1832).
This house was another gift of Duke Carl August to Johann Goethe. The tour includes a visit of fourteen rooms that are preserved to look like in Goethe times. You can see the huge library containing about 6,500 volumes, the poet’s large geological and arts collection, the bedrooms and the drawing room.
- Shiller’s House: The house is located downtown at 12 Schillerstrasse.
As we learnt from the museum guide, Friedrich Schiller bought this house for 4,200 Taler, which was a huge sum of money that he could only collect borrowing the money from his friends. He moved into this house on April 29, 1802 and lived there with his wife Charlotte and his four kids until his death on May 9, 1805. Take a look at the drawing room in his house where Friedrich Schiller received his guests.
- Goethe- und Schiller Gruft (the tomb of Goethe and Schiller) : Historic Cemetery where Goether and Schiller are buried.
A linden alley leads you to the central point of the cemetery: a domed building in classical style where the two great poets – Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Friedrich Schiller rest in peace. Their oak coffins do not have any dates, simply their names written on them: Goethe and Schiller.
- Buchenwald Memorial: This memorial is located outside the city, about 10 km to the north-west in Ettersberg.
This monument was dedicated in 1958 to honor the thousands of people who were the prisoners of this concentration camp. There were 250,000 prisoners in Buchenwald during the war, among them 56,000 were murdered here. There is also Ernst Thälmann Museum there. Ernst Thälmann was the workers' leader (not the Reich Councellor, regrettably) and he was very much revered by the German Communist government and by the Soviet Communists. There was and still is a street called after Ernst Thälmann almost in each Ukrainian and Russian city.
We, a group of Soviet students, who studied German in this province for a month and had a weekend tour, followed the program of stay. Of course, for the sake of our Communist upbringing, we were taken to the place of the former Buchenwald concentration camp that was a museum then. I took a picture when our group was approaching the memorial.
There is an inscription at the entrance to the museum. It reads, “Eternal glory to the great son of the German people, the leader of the German working class, Ernst Thälmann, who was murdered at this place by fascists on August 18, 1944”.
You can see the famous gate with the inscription that the Nazis took as their motto, To each his own.
It was very impressive to feel all the tragedy that took place here during the war. You feel very sad how people all over the world could have allowed such atrocities and inhumane policies...
You can see sculptural composition depicting the dying prisoners of the concentration camp. The Roman figures MCMXLV (1945) are on the upper part of the tower. The sculpture was made by F.Cremer. The expressions of the prisoners' faces are different, but the idea is expressed in the old Soviet after-war slogan, “Nobody is forgotten, nothing is forgotten!” Its another version reads, “We won't forget, we won't forgive!”