Pile them high

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One of the locations I looked at today was very close to one of Leipzig’s most famous landmarks, the Völkerschlachtdenkmal, the Monument to the Battle of the Nations.

It commemorates the soldiers who lost their lives in the battle of Leipzig in 1813, the Battle of the Nations, which was the the biggest bloodshed in history before the World Wars. More than half a million were on the battlefield, 92,000 were killed or injured. This battle was the decisive one in defeating Napoelon. Even though parts (or most?) of the Leipzigers were fighting on the French side, they built a monument. It made me think that maybe the whole thing is more about honoring the losses than who won. But that’s just me speculating, I didn’t have time to go inside.

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The pond in front of the monument is called, “Pond of Tears for the Fallen Soldiers”

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Around the monument, there are other little monuments for different anniversaries. This one says, hard to translate, “The voice of your brother’s blood screams to me from the earth”.

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
                                          I am the grass; I cover all.
And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
                                          What place is this?
                                          Where are we now?
                                          I am the grass.
                                          Let me work.

War Alert and Orientation

No war plane, I found a paper clip plane, yay!

No war plane, I found a paper clip plane, yay!

This morning, the internet died at work. On one hand, you would think you really need internet to work but on the other hand, I realized how much more effective I felt not attending to any emails or as if hypnotized observe the registrations coming in for our big event. Two weeks after the invitation went out, it is almost sold out which is wonderful but at the same time horrifying because I soon will have to tell important people, “Sorry, we’re fully booked”. Life punishes those who come too late, basically, the famous words that Gorbatshov uttered almost three decades years ago. Today is an important day for the history-nerd that I am because it was today 26 years ago that the West German Foreign Minister Genscher stepped onto the balcony of the West German ambassy in Prague where thousands of East Germans had sought refuge and camped for weeks, hoping to be allowed to travel to the West. On the 30th of September almost every year, the radio plays the snippet where says, “My dear fellow Germans, we have come here today to tell you that you are free to leave…” – then his voice fades away in the massive enthusiastic cries from the people. I am touched every year again. But enough of the history nerd stuff!

Yesterday, I noticed that my knowledge of Dizzel and my orientation has indeed gotten better. I had an appointment at Duisburger Straße and my phone died. My phone is my guide, I stare at the blue dot, hoping I am moving in the right direction. And then it died! I was left to my own brain and I managed at the first try to find the street, I was rather impressed with myself. I also met two people I know while strolling on Duisburger Straße – a clear sign of integration, right?

Also this morning, while I was pre-typing emails I would be able to send later, an unknown, alarming sound echoed outside our windows. My co-workers just said matter-of-factly, “That’s the war alert.” Eh, okay, the war alert? In Sweden, they have test war alerts at 3 pm every first Monday of a quarter and they call that “the hoarse Fredrik”. In Germany, I cannot remember ever having heard a war alert before. I am as lucky as that.