Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

500th Anniversary Martin Luther’s Theses

Monday, February 27th, 2017

 

On 31 October 2017, Protestants throughout the world will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the day on which Martin Luther is said to have nailed 95 Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther was a German monk and professor of moral theology at the University of Wittenberg http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/a-man-called-martin-luther/ who became disillusioned with certain abuses practiced by the 16th century Roman Catholic Church. Martin Luther’s Theses eventually sparked the Protestant Reformation. Twelve years after he is said to have nailed the Theses to the church door, the word “Protestant” became a term that described those who protested against the Catholic Church.

Why Martin Luther’s Theses?

In 1510 Luther visited Rome and was disgusted by the practices of church officials, and in particular, by their sale of indulgences. Indulgences were certificates that could be purchased to reduce the punishment for sins committed by the purchasers or their loved ones in purgatory. Martin Luther argued the church practice lead people to think that they could forgo repentance by purchasing indulgences.

 

Martin Luther depicted as nailing his 95 Thesis to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Martin Luther depicted as nailing his 95 Thesis to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

 In 1515, Pope Leo X granted indulgences to finance the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. These certificates, in particular, could be purchased to reduce the punishment for almost any sin, including adultery and theft. With his 95 Theses Luther intended to express his disillusionment over this corruption. His Theses called for a reform of the Catholic Church and challenged other scholars to debate church policy. The indulgence controversy set off by the Martin Luther’s Theses was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, which set into motion lasting social and political change in Europe.

How did Word of the 95 Theses Spread?

On 31 October 1517, Luther sent a letter to Albert of Brandenburg, Archbishop of Mainz, because it was under the archbishop’s authority that indulgences were sold. Whether Luther also posted the Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church and on other churches in Wittenberg is not clear. In any case, Martin Luther’s Theses were quickly reprinted, translated, and distributed throughout Germany and Europe. Although Luther wrote the Theses to be argued in an academic disputation (a formalized method of debate), there is no evidence that such a debate ever took place. No copies of a Wittenberg printing of the 95 Theses have ever been discovered.

Is the nailing of Martin Luther’s Theses a myth?

Today, the majority of researchers agree that Luther mailed the Thesis to the archbishop on 31 October 1517, but they question that he nailed them to the door of All Saint’s. In the early 1960s, researchers began to doubt the latter because the first written account of the event comes from Philip Melanchthon, Luther’s colleague and close friend. Erwin Iserloh, a catholic Luther researcher, suggests that the nailing could not have taking place because Philip Melanchthon did not arrive in Wittenberg until 1518 and therefore could not have been an eyewitness to the event. Besides, Melanchthon never mentioned the nailing until after Luther’s death. Although announcements were routinely hung on the door of All Saints’, the nailing of the 95 theses prior to hearing back from the archbishop seems unlikely.

Walk in Martin Luther’s Footsteps

The German tourism industry has geared up to help visitors discover the history of Reformation. Visitors are encouraged to follow Luther’s footsteps on the 745-mile Luther Trail or to discover his life and legacy on numerous mini-tours across Germany. Tours by train, bus and foot are available to fit every budget. The most prominent Luther sites are Wittenberg, Eisleben and Eisenach. Other cities and towns associated with Martin Luther are Allstedt, Altenburg, Augsburg, Bad Frankenhausen, Bad Hersfeld, Bad Neustadt, Bretten, Coburg, Dresden, Eilenburg, Erfurt, Gotha, Grimma, Halle, Heidelberg, Jena, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Mansfeld, Marburg, Moehra, Muellhausen, Naumburg, Nuremberg, Oppenheim, Pirna, Schmalkalden, Sonneberg, Speyer, Torgau, Weimar, Worms and Zeitz. For more information, visit

http://www.visit-luther.com/explore-luthercountry/events/all-luthercountry-events/

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

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Allied High Commission governs Germany

Monday, October 17th, 2016

 

The Allied High Commission (Alliierte Hohe Kommission) was a form of Allied military rule following World War II. It was established on 21 September 1949 by the three Western Allies (The United States, Great Britain and France) and superseded the Allied Control Council http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/allied-control-council-governs-germany/.

Purpose of the Allied High Commission

The function of the Allied High Commission in Germany was to regulate and, if necessary, intervene in areas of military, economic, and foreign policy matters of the newly established Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).

Creation of the Allied High Commission

On 9 May 1945, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the four allies: The United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. The four allies assumed responsibility for the government of Germany via the Allied Control Council. Each power occupied a specific zone of Germany. Berlin, located entirely within the Soviet Zone, was to be governed by an Allied Kommandatura http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/allied-kommandatura-governs-berlin/

The four Allies attempted to formulate a common administrative policy for Germany, but the divergent interests among the occupying powers made their efforts futile. In 1946, British forces agreed to an American proposal to merge their two zones to create a bizone for economic reasons. The bizone was established on 1 January 1947, and in June, a plan to include the French Zone was agreed upon. The Soviets blockaded West Berlin. In return, the Western powers counter-blockaded the Soviet zone and organized an airlift http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlin-airlift-an-unprecedented-feat/ to keep West Berlin supplied. The Soviet Union finally lifted the blockade in May 1949, but Berlin remained divided into three Western and one Eastern sectors until the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Meanwhile, a German government was set up in the Western zones. In April 1949 the United States, Great Britain and France published a new occupation statute of Germany governing their respective zones. It guaranteed self-government to the new West German State, with certain restrictions. West Germany’s constitution went into effect in May 1949. In September, the Occupation Statute went into effect, and the Allied High Commission replaced the Allied Control Council in September 1949. https://www.bl.uk/britishlibrary/~/media/subjects images/government publications/pdfs/germany-allied-control-zone-government-publications.pdf

The High Commission took its seat at the Hotel Petersberg http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/hotel-petersberg-germanys-camp-david/and became active as of 21 September 1949. It ceased to function under the terms of the Treaties of Paris on 5 May 1955.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com

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Poesie Album – Facebook Predecessor?

Monday, January 4th, 2016

When I was a schoolgirl in Berlin, Germany, it was popular to own a poesie album. In a way, that little book was a forerunner of today’s Facebook account. Both connect family and friends. While poesie album holders got in touch with only one person at a time, Facebook users can connect with many in just one click. Yesteryear’s poesie album connections were slow and deliberate; today’s Facebook users can continuously stay in touch as long as they have access to the Internet.

History of the Poesie Album

Towards the end of the 16th century it became customary to write a motto into the family register of friends. By the 18th century these aphorisms often also included drawings. Eventually, poesie albums (also known as keepsake books, poetry books or friendship books) replaced family registers and became the depositories of verses and artistic contributions in which members of literary circles “immortalized” each other. Originally, only adults kept a poesie album. In the 20th century, the custom became popular with children – mostly girls – and rare with adults. For a brief period in the early 1980s, it was even fashionable among boys to keep a poesie album.

History of Facebook

Facebook is an online social networking website that was created by Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard College roommates and fellow students. It made its debut in 2004. Once registered and at least 13 years of age, Facebook users can not only exchange information but also post photos and videos and share links, along with several other applications. Facebook users can even express their appreciation provided by clicking a “Like” button.

My Poesie Album

I was almost ten when my mother gave me a poesie album. It was deep red and measured approximately 6.5 by 5.5 inches. Every girl in my class owned one. It was an honor to be asked to write into someone else’s album. We used our finest handwriting and wrote classic, sentimental or whimsical rhymes and verses into each other’s books. While the right side of an open album bore the quotation, the left side remained reserved for illustrations or photographs.

My Poesie Album, Photo © J. Elke Ertle 2015

My Poesie Album, Photo © J. Elke Ertle 2015

In 1955, my mother made the first entry in my poesie album. Not wanting to miss a teaching moment she wrote, “Honor a mother’s heart as long as it beats. When it is broken, it is too late.” My father passed along a less guilt-producing morsel of wisdom when he penned, “Talk is silver; silence is golden.” A couple of years later, my best friend, a boy by the name of Juergen Bertram, shared his twelve-year-old take on the world. Over a period of five years, most of my girlfriends, teachers, aunts and cousins contributed aphorisms to my album. The verses often mirrored their personalities.

Poesie Album entry, Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

Poesie Album entry,
Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

In a way, I think it is sad that the poesie album has all but disappeared. Now it is a small window to the past. Can we call it a Facebook’s predecessor? The poesie-album-process was definitely slower, dreamier, quieter and more time-consuming than Facebook. Was it maybe also more selective and permanent? What are your thoughts?

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

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Berlin’s Kammergericht – Appellate Court

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Most tourists visiting Berlin for the first time head for the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Radio Tower and a few other historic sites. A much less known gem is the 100-year-old Kammergericht (appellate court) in Berlin’s District of Schoeneberg. By the way, only Berlin’s Court of Appeals is known as the Kammergericht. All other German appellate courts are called Oberlandesgericht (High Court of Appeals).

Berlin's Kammergericht in the Heinrich-von-Kleist Park, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

Berlin’s Kammergericht in the Heinrich-von-Kleist Park, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

History of the Kammergericht

Berlin’s Kammergericht is the oldest German court and the highest court of Berlin. It was established by the Electors of Brandenburg and first mentioned in 1468. Originally, it functioned as an arm of the royal court, but in 1735 it became an independent institution. At that time the Kammergericht moved into the Kollegienhaus in central Berlin, now the Jewish Museum. (also read www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/fallen-leaves-in-berlins-jewish-museum/) In the early 1900s, the court’s space requirements increased dramatically, and the Kammergericht moved into its own building in the Heinrich-von-Kleist Park in the district of Schoeneberg. It first opened its doors in 1913.

All About Berlin’s Kammergericht – Appellate Court

As a result of the division of Berlin following World War II, the city ended up with two appellate courts. While East Berlin’s Kammergericht remained in the Heinrich-von-Kleist Park, West Berlin’s appellate court moved to the district of Charlottenburg in 1949. In 1961, East Berlin abolished its Court of Appeals altogether. Following German reunification, the Kammergericht returned to the site in the Heinrich-von-Kleist Park in 1992 and, once again, serves the entire city.

Division of Berlin into four sectors (1945 to 1990)

Division of Berlin into four sectors (1945 to 1990)

Features of Berlin’s Kammergericht building

Constructed from sandstone and basalt, the Kammergericht is a 5-story building with over 500 rooms. Its entrance faces the Heinrich-von-Kleist Park. Two stately colonnades frame the edifice. The imposing entrance hall extends through all floors. The building’s interior is richly decorated, each floor in a different color. Sculptures decorate the stairwells.

Interim Uses of the Kammergericht building

–During the Nazi period, the Volksgerichtshof (Peoples’ Court) was housed in this building, and it became the site of the show trials against the conspirators in the failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler on 20 July 1944.

–Between 1945 and 1948, the building served as the headquarters of the Allied Control Council (Allierter Kontrollrat). The four Allied powers met in this building to discuss issues concerning the four German Occupation Zones. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/allied-control-council-governs-germany/ After the Soviets stomped out of the Control Council in 1948, the Allies no longer met.

–In September of 1971, ambassadors of the four Allies signed the Four Power Agreement on Berlin (Viermaechte-Abkommen ueber Berlin) in the building’s chambers.

–Until 1990, the Allied Air Safety Center (Allierte Luftsicherheitszentrale) was housed in this building.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Potsdamer Platz – Part 1

Monday, October 28th, 2013

The Potsdamer Platz (Potsdam Square) is a well-known public square in the heart of Berlin, Germany. It is located about 1 km south of the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag (German Parliament building). The square grew from a five-cornered traffic knot along a 19th century trading route to one of the liveliest traffic intersections and public squares in Europe. World War II bombs laid waste to 80% of its buildings. During the Cold War that followed, the Berlin Wall ran through the middle of the square, turning it into a no man’s land. But since German reunification in 1990, the Potsdamer Platz has been the site of avant-garde redevelopment projects and is busier than ever.

Potsdamer Platz in the Beginning

Starting in the mid-19th century, Berlin was growing at a tremendous rate. After the city constructed the Potsdam rail station in 1838 and became the capital of the new German Empire in 1871, this five-cornered intersection turned into an important plaza. With a population of 4.4 million, Berlin had become the third largest city in the world, right after London and New York.

Potsdamer Platz in the 1920s and 1930s

By the 1920s and 1930s, the Potsdamer Platz was the busiest traffic center in all of Europe. Five of Berlin’s most hectic streets met here in a star-shaped intersection. Huge hotels and department stores, theatres, dance halls and clubs, cafes, restaurants and bars, beer and wine houses, and hundreds of small shops had sprung up all around the square. Some had acquired an international reputation.

Potsdamer Platz in the mid 1920s

Potsdamer Platz in the mid 1920s

Potsdamer Platz during WWII

As was true of most of the buildings located in the center of Berlin, air raids devastated most of the structures that were built around the Potsdamer Platz. The three most destructive raids occurred during the final years of World War II – in November 1943 and in February 1945.

Watch for the second article in this sequence which talks about the Potsdamer Platz following World War II.

Visit http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/potsdamer-platz-part-2/ to read about the Potsdamer Platz following World War II.

 

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

 

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Tropical Islands Resort in Krausnick

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Since 2004 Germans can extend their traditionally short summers by checking into the Tropical Islands Resort in Krausnick. Located in a former airship hanger for zeppelins, the tropical theme park is located just 37 miles from Berlin’s city center. It stands on the site of the former Airfield Brand-Briesen. In 1938, the Nazis began development of the airfield. The Soviet Army occupied it after World War II. In 1992, following German reunification, the site was returned to the German Federal government.

Tropical Islands Resort in Krausnick

Former airship hanger turned into a Tropical Islands Resort

Turned into a theme park at a cost of cost approximately 78 million euros, the hanger is the biggest freestanding hall in the world. Its inside air temperature is held at 80°F, humidity at 64%. Tropical Islands Resort is open around the clock every day of the year and allows overnight stays. Visitors may choose a variety of admission options, which include lodges and guest rooms along with tent rentals and simply crashing on the beach with a mat and blanket. The maximum number of visitors the park can accommodate per day is 6,000.

Tropical Islands Resort in Krausnick

Tropical Islands Resort lodge with waterfall

The Tropical Islands Resort in Krausnick is home to the biggest indoor rainforest in the world with 50,000 plants and many birds. The park’s tropical sea is designed to look like the waters of a coral island and includes 660 feet of sandy beach. An indoor landscaped water park the size of four football fields contains pools, lagoons, water slides, waterfalls, whirlpools, and saunas. Visitors can enjoy replicas of buildings from Thailand, Borneo, Samoa and Bali, a number of bars, restaurants, and evening and day shows. A 43,000 square foot children’s play area is also available.

For more information, contact tropical-islands.de.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

 

 

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