Thursday, March 30, 2006

76er-Denkmal am Dammtor

Turns out I took this picture March 12, 2006 -- just three days before the 70th anniversary of the 76er-Denkmal am Dammtor.

This is a very large, very militaristic sculpture near the Dammtor train station. It was unveiled on the 15th of March, 1936 with much nationalistic fanfare. Remember, about this time, the Nazis were building up their military in a big way -- and this was the perfect symbol to rally around.

I believe the artist, Richard Kuöhl, had some real issues -- here is a collage showing some of his other works in and around Hamburg.

Since the war, there has been much controversy about what to do with the sculpture. Destroy it? Remove the nationalistic poem chiseled in relief on its surface? One step that was agreed upon was to erect a "counter-sculpture" just a few feet away. It shows, in very modern abstract style, the horrors of war. This sculpture is by Alfred Hrdlicka.

One hardly notices Mr. Hrdlicka's piece, as it is very much overshadowed by this impressive, disturbing relic from the 1930s....


["Hello, Herr Schlender? This is the Office of Tourism. Is that snow in your picture of the monument...?"]

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

False Impression

I realized my first post might make this city seem dark, cold and eternally snow-covered. This is simply not true.

Hamburg is a beautiful city. One of its most appealing features is the waterfront. The Elbe allows Hamburg to be 120 kilometers (about 75 miles) inland and still be Germany's largest port. In the photo you see the Michel, officially known as Sankt Michaelis, as well as the bright green of the Rickmer Rickmers, the museum ship, built in 1896 in Bremerhaven.

Anyone who visits Hamburg should take one of the many available tours of the harbor and see the city from a different point of view.


["Ouch! OK, I wrote the upbeat blog entry just like you asked! Now take the thumbscrews off, get out of my apartment and take the U-Bahn back to the Office of Tourism. And, yes, I promise not to post any more pictures of Hamburg in the snow, rain, or with ice anywhere in the foreground!"]

Monday, March 27, 2006

Winter to Spring

This was Hamburg, two weeks ago. Yes, it was rare (they say) for Hamburg to have so much snow from one storm. And rare (they also say) for Hamburg to have such a rough winter in general. But, this being my first winter in Hamburg, I have nothing to judge the Hamburg weather against except fading memories of Chicago winters as a kid (more snow, colder) and very recent memories of San Diego (where there's not usually much weather to speak of at all.)

The one thing I can say is -- spring has now sprung here. It's said you can tell it's spring in Hamburg because the snow changes to rain.... Which is exactly what happened. We had a brief few hours of warmth and sunshine Sunday evening, but now it's Monday and it's raining. I'm hoping for some signs of spring that will be a bit more pleasant than the downpour we had this evening! Someone said they saw crocus buds this weekend. I looked and saw mud.

I know this isn't the most informative first posting I could have written. And, you won't learn much about me from my spartan profile here. But, if you decide to check back in now and then, I promise to tell more about myself, my travels, my friends, my interests -- and I'll probably rant now and then about things that piss me off.

I'll try to keep it "fair and balanced" -- how about a ratio of one rant to one pretty crocus picture?