blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Obscurantism and obfuscation in "La Disparition"

This month I'm borrowing a library book from Nicola V. (who will talk with 8 of us on Saturday about sponsoring a family hoping to find asylum from Syria in Canada). Two books, actually, as I'm also studying it in translation. In its original, this is La Disparition, publ. Gallimard. Its translator––who was obviously thinking: too bad that Brits, Canadians, Australians can't lap this up as I do!––calls it A Void. It's a thoroughly astonishing whodunnit, downright confusing, full of "mystification and rationalisation, obscurantism and obfuscation". (In fact, that's a quotation from G. Adair's translation, towards its conclusion).

How unusual it is! What fun! An amazingly long story, a concoction from a taboo, a constraint, as its author did not, could not, would not allow a particular unit of normal vocabulary (or syllabary, you might say) to go into its composition:
I ought to admit right away that its origin was totally haphazard, touch and go, a flip of a coin. It all got out of hand with a companion calling my bluff (I said I could do it, this companion said I could not); and I should admit, too, that [...] I had no inkling at all that, as an acorn contains an oak, anything solid would grow out of it [...] but I stuck to my guns.
His yarn and its translation––indubitably a fairly arduous pursuit!––has a highly significant omission. From start to finish, as in this, my dubious blogpost of today, you'll find not a solitary ...

Can you work out what it is?

Hint: La Disparition's protagonist is a M. Voyl (Mr. Vowl).

Friday, September 18, 2015

Pinguoyuan, and keep walking!

I went to a wonderful lecture last night, given to Canada-China Friendship Society members in Ottawa by a former diplomat, banker, financial expert and business consultant, Lars Ellström. He told us that on retirement in 2009, he decided to take one last good look at China, a country he'd loved since the age of 10 and where he'd lived in for most of his life, by going for a walk. He said, "I decided to get off at the last station at the western end of Line 1 on the Beijing subway––Pinguoyuan zhan––and start walking west. I had no definite plans as to where I was going." He finished his walk a couple of years later on the borders of Kyrgyzstan, in Kashgar.

I just love that kind of story, and Mr. Ellström told it very well, showing slides for illustration. The first few slides included two famous Chinese proverbs, 百闻不如一见 bǎiwén bùrú yījiànSeeing it once is better than hearing about it a hundred times! and 实事求是 shí shì qiú shì: Seek truth from facts. 

Beyond the edge of Beijing, with no particular lodgings in mind, Mr. Ellström wandered into the Xishan (西山, western hills), often following traces of the Great Wall, sleeping where he could, either in ¥10-¥15 guesthouses or under the stars, and so continued into Hebei, Shanxi and inner Mongolia, which was a "centre of contention". Here he came to Ordos where he met migrant workers building a new city that seemed as yet deserted. Since then Ordos has become inhabited. Three Mandarin-speaking sisters that he met told him they were direct descendants of Genghis Khan, of the 30th generation. Aristocratic ladies, he called them.

Most of his encounters, though, were with poor and often illiterate people. He showed us a photo of a kind, welcoming man, head of his household, who had been born in 1960 and who'd had no proper schooling because of the Cultural Revolution. Mr. Ellström's conversations with local people (speaking Mandarin with strong regional accents) were over and over again the same: Where do you come from? Ni na'r lai? Where are you going? Ni qu na'r? The people he met often had no concept of Sweden or even of Europe, only vaguely aware that it was somewhere far away to the west. They asked him about his rulers in Sweden. Were they corrupt? Here, they told him with bitterness, in a sort of refrain, all officials are corrupt. "Do Swedish farmers own their own land?" Mr. Ellström did his best to explain and was met with incomprehension. The frustration of the Uyghur peasants, nomads forced to be farmers under bureaucratic control, was expressed by a tearing down of public notices and a strewing of litter, including dead animals, all over the roadsides. Mr. Ellström saw this as a form of civil disobedience, subversion.

Thence into Gansu and along the He Xi Corridor (aka Silk Road ... although that is a western concept) that stretches between the Tibet Autonomous Region on one side and the Gobi desert on the other, to his destination, the province of Xinjiang––the Uyghur Autonomous Region, where the wooden gates in the towns are decorated with beautiful patterns. They had no cemeteries in these faraway places; their dead simply lay under mounds by the roadside, in "auspicious" spots.

He was fascinated by the place names on the way, often having something to do with the Wall or a defeat of The Others. He showed us how the village names were written in large Chinese characters (hanzi) with their original names above, in smaller, Arabic font. He saw many women wearing burqas, as a sign of defiance, he thought, clinging to their Muslim culture. There's a growing sense of defiance among these people, although the minority languages are diminishing in use. The Han Chinese have traditionally seen outsiders such as the Uyghurs as barbarians. Now, their homes have touristic value. He mentioned a place not so far west, where (migrant) construction workers were tearing down ancient, Ming dynasty houses and building replicas of them in their place, so as to create a tourist resort. "Like it or not" (quoting another Chinese phrase) their owners had had to leave. In another location, an unhappy family was being evicted into the desert so that their home and land could be flooded and a new reservoir built.

His conclusions? Modern China is agro-industrial, despotic, expansive, militant. It is a "Realm of Walls" and at the same time, when he thinks of the individuals who welcomed and fed him along the road, "a Realm of Human Warmth." His final conclusion is that it is a Realm of Contradictions!

Friday, September 11, 2015

How to bring Syrian refugees to Canada

This week I went to a refugee support meeting in a church hall. There were over 20 people at the meeting, including the vicar of the church and a few observers like Nicola V. and me––a few Quakers, an elderly gentleman from a seniors' care home, and a Muslim gentleman from the Cordova Centre in Ottawa––all of us wondering what it would entail to create our own refugee sponsorship groups. A lady at the meeting representing the Coalition In Ottawa for Refugees could supply a list of Syrian families who want to come to Canada to escape from the war.

The meeting began with a summary of what would be required (as detailed in today's Globe and Mail) to sponsor one of these families.
  • Financial resources––about $28000 must be raised to support a family of four.
  • Technical resources and experienced help––there have to be two levels of application: (1) to the SAH, (2) to Immigration Canada. The paperwork invariably takes more than a month to complete and, at present, it takes a good 8 months of waiting “before anything happens.”
A Syrian-Canadian gentleman at the meeting told us harrowing stories of his relatives from Aleppo, some of whom had been killed or badly injured in the war. He mentioned several brothers and cousins and their wives and children so that I got confused as to who was who; anyhow, the family this church wishes to sponsor are his relations and he is willing to put them up at his house if they can be brought to Canada. There are two children, boys of Grade 3 and Grade 1 school age. Their mother is an experienced hairdresser who would have no difficulty finding work in Canada. The father is (was) a businessman. Typically, Syrians do not keep their savings in investments or savings accounts but in a safe; they also invest in property, or a business venture. Because of the war, this man has therefore lost a fortune and has, with his family, been living with relatives in Lebanon. On the Canadian application form, like all Permanent Residence applicants, they have to recount their story with no gaps in the narrative. Everyone applying has to have a valid Syrian passport.

Copies of relevant pages from the Refugee Sponsorship Handbook (2014) were handed out as well as other informative documents. Sometimes the sponsorship money is required up front, sometimes not. An international organisation (UNHCR, I assume) arranges the refugees’ flights to Canada. They are given an interest free loan for their airfares which must eventually be paid back to the Canadian government. It is actually an advantage for them to be in debt when they come to Canada; this credit rating will help with their purchase of a car, etc. On arrival the refugees must have immediate access to clothing, food, transport, access to healthcare, schools, etc. Sponsorship teams assist with all these things, but because refugees arrive in Ontario as Permanent Residents, they do get immediate OHIP protection, regardless of whether or not they have registered with OHIP yet––claims can be retrospective. Finding affordable accommodation for the family is the greatest challenge. The lease of rented accommodation must be signed ahead of their arrival and their rent payments guaranteed, or they can stay in “emergency accommodation” (someone’s house) for a few weeks first. Some financial help from the government is available in the form of allowances for clothing, food staples and basic household furniture and kitchen / cleaning equipment. But in addition, until they find paid employment, each member of the family will probably need about $60 a week in “start-up money” from their sponsors.

It is a good idea to set up a donations website for a family being sponsored, so that outsiders can contribute. When fundraising, it helps to be specific about how the money will be used (e.g. for children’s winter clothing) and, once the family is in town, their presence at a fundraiser helps enormously.

The government and the Diocese (or other SAH) requires the names of those who will help the sponsored family in specific ways: who will meet them at the airport, who will be their emergency contact at night, etc. These details have to be written on the application forms because our commitment and follow-through must be guaranteed. If we offer the family “emergency accommodation” in our homes, it is important to ensure that every member of our household understands and accepts a situation which can become challenging at times.

Concurrently with this meeting I went to, representatives of the local SAHs were meeting with the Mayor of Ottawa, who is being admirably sympathetic, hoping to set up a new kind of sponsorship project. The application process need changing, because the volume of requests is likely to be much greater in the near future. Let's hope the immigration rules change soon; the call for change is growing day by day and not just from people like me, but from prestigious Canadians such as General Rick Hillier, Former Chief of the Defence Staff for Canadian Forces, as well.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

To Burlington and back, on impulse

Not a very clear view of the St. Lawrence at the border
Chris wanted a day out during the long weekend, so we got up early and flew to Burlington in Vermont. Because of the hot, humid, high pressure weather, we were in a very hazy sky; Chris, flying IFR to cross the border, needed all his instrument skills to get us there because we could hardly see the ground at all. We crossed the St. Lawrence near Massena and then the Adirondack mountains, Lyon Mountain being the nearest to our route, then Lake Champlain. We've done all this several times before but not recently. The last time we went to Burlington was eleven years ago.

Two Cessnas on the ramp at Burlington
The customs officer was a friendly young man who gave us a courteous welcome. We remembered the previous customs office as not much more than a shed at the side of the airport; it's a smart facility now and, my goodness, so is the adjoining "Heritage" FBO! I can't help but recommend it: such a wealth of amenities, that we wouldn't have minded staying there all day. The ramp attendant lovingly tied down our plane, put chocks in and so on, offering to carry our luggage (although we'd only brought my handbag and two hats) across the apron for us. We could help ourselves to free hot and cold drinks, free apples, a choice of broadsheet newspapers and magazines, an integral "Café", gym and the use of a "movie theater" upstairs in case we felt bored. There was a sort of board room for pilots' flight planning conferences, the ladies' washroom reminded me of the poshest of posh hotels and the pilot's lounge was also luxurious. We were handed the key to the crew car, actually a 7-seater minivan, to use in town for the duration of our visit and at the end of the day, the receptionist gave us complimentary miniature bottles of maple syrup to take home.

Chris (with Tilley hat) on Church Street, Burlington
After having parked the van on the side of Main Street, leading down the hill into town from the university area (lithe girls in short shorts with long legs running up and down it) we turned right into Burlington's long pedestrian street, Church Street, apparently inspired by a young town-planner's visit to Copenhagen around 1980. He came back to Vermont and copied what he'd seen over there. Good for him! It is a most attractive place to shop and eat and watch the world go by. Indeed, the people there on this long, holiday weekend were a good representation of the world: all ages, all origins, all sorts, including some strutting transvestites in tights and sequins, practising their twirls for an upcoming Pride festival, and another young man trying to play a Bach sonata on a banjo. Church Street got more and more crowded as the afternoon went by. We returned to it after a walk, no, two walks down to the lakeside, via a Nepalese restaurant where we indulged in a delicious buffet lunch. Climbing back up the hill on the northern side of the downtown area, I feared I was coming down with sunstroke, so had to spend a little while in the air conditioned shopping mall sipping at a frozen yoghurt and visiting the Burlington branch of LL Bean.

Water's edge at Burlington, the coastguard station

On the hilltop in Burlington, with a view of L. Champlain

Flying back to Canada over Lyon Mountain
Our ride home was straight into the dazzling sun, once again in hazy conditions, therefore tiring for Chris at the controls, but we had no need to fear the growing thunderstorms as we approached the Ottawa valley; they were off to the northeast at our 2 o'clock. We followed the planned route over the designated 5-letter IFR waypoints again, one of these being named BUGSY because the nearest town was Malone, and crossed the border at the St. Lawrence just west of Cornwall, to fly to Gatineau for customs clearance before taking off again for a 10 minute hop, and homing in to Rockcliffe.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Canada should do more

This time Chris and I were on the streets –– by the Human Rights Monument –– in order to show that some Canadians do care about the plight of refugees. This was an impromptu and therefore somewhat amateurish demonstration, only organised since yesterday. According to the relevant Facebook page, also created only yesterday, nearly 800 supporters intended to come. Fewer than that turned up, but it was a good try in the circumstances, especially on a public holiday weekend with a heat warning from Environment Canada currently in effect.

The speakers, the first one of whom was the Secretary General of Amnesty International Ottawa, reiterated that we need to give immediate assistance to people applying for refuge in Canada (not just vague promises prompted by the upcoming election), followed by a sustained commitment to keep these families in a safe environment and together. Recently, Canada's contribution to relief action for refugees has been shrinking year by year.

"Shame!" responded the crowd. Someone at the front was holding a placard saying "Canada should do more!"

What we're seeing in Europe this summer is "the biggest refugee crisis since the end of the 2nd World War." An expert on refugee law from the University of Ottawa said (I'm paraphrasing because I was inadequately taking notes with one hand and holding my camera in the other) it is an important moment in history that has the potential to bring a change in attitude from our government, because there has never been so much public interest in the subject as there is now. Canadian citizens like you, she said, must continue to demand a change in the law. ––Applause from the crowd.

A Syrian journalist and immigrant took the microphone. He assured us that no one would put their children into a boat unless the sea felt safer than the land for them.

Another young and articulate professor from the University of Ottawa, Nadia Abu-Zahra (in the photo below), put it to us that everybody in Canada does appear to care about the refugees; at least it seems so, at present. So there should be no more excuses from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She reminded us that we had a Governor General who was once a refugee. The speaker herself, as the mother of a two-year-old, could never say no when another mother is begging for help. "They" (the bureaucrats) say no, but they do not represent us, she added.

Cheers from the crowd. And then Ms. Abu-Zahra got us to repeat in chorus: This is my country. This is your country. Refugees, welcome!

Karlsruhe and Mainz

I was in both cities for a short time; both pleased me. I spent Wednesday August 26th on my own in Karlsruhe, and last Friday Chris and I spent a night in Mainz and explored that city together on Saturday, on our way home to Canada.

Schloß at Karlsruhe, now housing the Landesmuseum
Karlsruhe is full of cyclists, young and old, and Mainz caters really well for pedestrians –– German cities have so much to teach us about urban planning in the modern world. I like to hope that North American travellers with influence at home are taking note! It's a city that's 300 years old this year and celebrations were in preparation in the Schloßgarten: I walked past a big tent, where actors were rehearsing the parts of Großherzog Karl Friedrich I of Baden and his acquaintances. The name of the city means Karl's Repose. It was planned and created as a sort of grandiose hunting lodge with community attached, the Schloß at the centre of a semicircle of streets and formal gardens. Because of its layout, it's sometimes nicknamed Fan City.

Original plan for "Carls Ruhe"
Fasanengarten, Karlsruhe
Inside the Schloß is a wide-ranging museum, of which I saw as much as possible before I got exhausted. It struck me, while I was in the medieval section, how many different faces the Madonna carvings had, some more beautiful than others, all of them presumably inspired by the faces of girls personally known by the artists. There was a large collection of plunder from Ancient Greece, Egypt and the Roman Empire downstairs, and on the top floor artifacts from more recent, local history including many clocks, since this part of Germany, like Switzerland, was / is the home of precision engineering. Behind the Schloß spread the gardens, with the Fasanengarten to the east and the botanical gardens to the west, where Karl used to join in with his gardeners. Apparently he was hoeing between his tulips when he died of a stroke. Nowadays a mini train runs through the grounds, for tourists, who can also cycle (of course) along the avenues. The commercial / administrative part of Karlsruhe is easy to wander through as well, with pleasant squares, although this summer some of the main thoroughfares are out of bounds, due to substantial construction work. One of Chris' colleagues told me they're building an U-Bahn network here. Motor traffic has already
been diverted underground, outdoor cafés with parasols above the tunnels, rows of linden trees by the wide paths, and arcades against the buildings.

A corner of central Karlsruhe: not a car in sight!
Parkland is the first thing you see when you arrive by train and cross the Bahnhofsplatz at Karlsruhe because the Zoologischer Stadtgarten is immediately opposite. I bought an entrance ticket for the zoo on my way back to the station in the afternoon, rather than walk round it, rightly thinking it would be cooler in there. As a bonus, I saw some of the animals and saw the flowers and lakes at close quarters too. At its southern gate, I found I still had nearly an hour to wait for my train to Ittersbach, so I sat for a drink and slice of Apfelkuchen on the sunny patio of the Hotel am Tiergarten, watching children splash around in the adjacent ornamental pond.


Mainz was just as attractive, with the added interest of the international water traffic on the Rhine, a large cathedral and a more substantial history, Gutenberg being its most famous citizen. On Friday evening we found a restaurant in central Gutenbergplatz, where there's a statue of Gutenberg (sheer fantasy, as to what he really looked like, but still). As we drank beer and ate fancy burgers at an outdoor table there –– indoors the restaurant, Hans im Glück, looked like a grove of birch trees –– hundreds of people, most of them young, accompanied by smiling policemen, started marching into the square to cluster around the statue. The demonstration was one of the many across Germany in support of the people from the Middle East and Africa currently surging through Europe in search of refuge from the wars and impossible conditions in their homelands. "Refugees welcome!" the banners said, "Willkommen in Mainz!" There have been neo-nazi arson attacks and such at refugee shelters in eastern Germany recently, so some of the demonstrators also carried anti-racist banners. I was so heartened to see this I had half a mind to put my supper aside and join in; actually I'm joining in with a similar demonstration today, a week later, in Ottawa.

In Mainz you're better off without a car because the parking spots are limited, small and tight, much more so than in Canada. On foot, by following the patterns on the cobblestones, you can wander all over the Altstadt (old town) without getting too lost. The little shops and department stores all have entrances in the pedestrian zone and all the Eiscafés, restaurants or Bäckereien have patio tables. There's time to cross from one side of a street to the other or to stop and take photos or pause for a conversation midway, without any fear of being run over.

At the heart of the city is the Mainzer Dom with a market place around it. Here too is the modern Gutenberg museum, in which we spent an interesting hour for €3 apiece. Chris was thrilled to find a very old book, one of the first printed, a translation into 15th century German, of Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy. Upstairs was, among other things, an exhibition about the history of newspapers. We saw some manually written ancient Bibles, and, of course, the exhibits relating to Gutenberg and his followers. In a side gallery, empty of visitors except for me, I found a lot of information about Chinese, Korean and Japanese printing inventions. It's not often realised in the west that the Chinese had been printing words on paper 400 years before the Europeans! Bi Sheng was the first inventor of the printing press, not Gutenberg.

Demonstration of Gutenberg's equipment

We zigzagged about Mainz, retracing our steps a good deal, which didn't matter, and from time to time, like the local people, went to sit by the Rhine. On the Friday evening we had a full moon that shone on the barges sailing downstream to Rotterdam or upstream to Basel, if they didn't turn left into the nearby mouth of the Main. We slept at the Hotel Hammer, exactly opposite the Hauptbahnhof, which turned out to be a surprisingly quiet location, even with our window open. On arrival, Chris was told to spin a home made Glücksrad (wheel of fortune) which he did so well that we got 30% knocked off the price of our room.

Bridge across the Rhine at Mainz

Cyclists am Rhein

Adenauer Ufer

Mainz Hauptbahnhof, as seen from our hotel, Saturday morning

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bad Wildbad and Maulbronn

Palais Thermal, Bad Wildbad
I blogged about spa towns before, last year, when we had spent a few days in Bad Pyrmont. There's a large number of them in Germany, Baden-Baden, Wiesbaden, Marienbad being famous examples. The word Bad means "Bath". Names ending in "...bronn", such as Heilbronn, also signify a source of water, (Brunnen is the modern German word for a spring).

I notice that many Germans order alcohol-free drinks these days, presumably because they want to be safe drivers. In Pforzheim last week we kept being served bottles of Teinacher mineral water. One has to pay for drinking water at German eateries, so it might as well be of good quality. Teinacher was a sponser of this year's wine festival, the Oechslefest.

On Monday afternoon, August 25th, I went to visit a lovely little spa town in the hills of the Black Forest, Bad Wildbad, ein Wellnessparadies, as it says in the current publicity. As soon as I stepped out of the S6 tram at the Kurpark stop I was in the gardens, a café with outdoor tables right beside me, and because it was lunchtime, I immediately sat down at one of them to order a Goulaschsuppe. Then I went for a blissful walk, enjoying the shade of the trees and restful sound of running water on this hot day. In 1699, Duke Eberhard Ludwig of Wurttemberg planted an avenue of hornbeams here; since then the park has spread on either side of the River Enz to include around 15 kilometers of trails. The main trails follow the bank of the upper Enz on either side, leading to a meadow in the forested hills, sometimes used as a landing strip for hanggliders. Flower beds enhance it:

The park, enjoyed by all generations, is beautifully decorated by features like an old water wheel and an Archimedean screw. The lucky children of Bad Wildbad have access to marvellous adventure playgrounds. Pictures of the plants, animals and birds to be discovered here are posted at regular intervals; there's a "Swan Lake" (duck pond, actually) and the inevitable Matschbad (mud bath) for feet. Rocky cliffs, running streams, lawns and forest form a most satisfying landscape.

Old man and his Dachshund, walking in the Kurpark

Rocks and flowers in the Kurpark
By the River Enz at Bad Wildbad

Englische Kirche in
Bad Wildbad Kurpark
Rathaus, Bad Wildbad
An interesting feature is the Englische Kirche, built in the style of a medieval country church for the benefit of British guests in the 19th century; sometimes they would stay here for many weeks, taking the cure. Anglican services were held here regularly until the start of the 1st World War. Around the church (and in front of the railway station too), giant trees have been grown from seeds sent from California.

Bad Wildbad itself features fountains, foot bridges and a pedestrianised shopping streets with colourful awnings: Wilhelmstraße. It has some posh hotels, and the façade of its Rathaus is covered with geraniums. The rocky Enz flows right through the centre of town.


Fountain at Maulbronn
In the monastery complex, preserved as in the 16th century
A couple of days later, I took the bus to Maulbronn to visit the Kloster (12th century monastery) complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the walls the buildings are still as they would have appeared in the 16th century. In the monastery are fragments of catholic wall paintings that had been whitewashed over during the Reformation, and within the abbey's cloisters is a beautiful fountain.

Grapes, Maulbronn
I climbed some very steep steps to the path round the outer wall of the monastery complex, leading to the "deep lake" that used to supply the monastery with its water. Dozens of lizards were sunbathing up there. They scuttled away and hid under stones when they noticed me. The Tiefer See is being enjoyed these days as a Naturbad for outdoor swims. I just wished I'd brought my swimsuit with me. On the other side of the wall were extensive vineyards, with grapes almost ready to be harvested. The monks used to cultivate them, and the vines are still there.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The resurrection of Pforzheim

Monument in honour of the victims of war, Pforzheim
Schloßkirche, 1945
As mentioned in my last but one blogpost, Pforzheim was bombed because it was a centre for armaments manufacture in the war. "There will never be a town in this place again," said the American commander who visited the ruins of the city after the bombing attack of February 1945 that destroyed so much of it and took more than 17,000 lives. Terrible indeed, but he was wrong. Ten years later, Pforzheim was in business again, transformed into a modern town and reviving its old industries of jewelry- and watch-making, and viniculture. Nowadays it's the home of electro-technical industries and Amazon has a big Logistikzentrum here. We saw adverts recruiting young Amazon personnel, with the slogan "Das ist mein Ding!" The annual grape-harvest festival was in full swing near our hotel in the market square, called the Oechslefest in honour of the metrologist, a local man, who invented the Oechsle scale for wine making, although I doubt if many of the patrons were very interested in that fact. The girls were in dirndls and people of all ages were dancing to the live music.

Present day Pforzheim

In the Schloßkirche, Pforzheim
I went into the Schloßkirche of St. Michael on the hill near the railway station, a 12th century church that was reduced to ruins and rubble during the bombing attack. There are colourful patterns of light on the floor when the sun shines through the stained glass windows.

Angel, Bad Wildbad
Some 20km upstream from Pforzheim, in the church at Bad Wildbad on the River Enz, is a 1950s fresco depicting an angel announcing Jesus' resurrection. It must have seemed very meaningful in those days.

I was still thinking about this when I visited Pforzheim's Stadtmuseum (free entrance) two days later. A special exhibition is on at present, entitled "Sie Bauten Eine Neue Stadt" –– they built a new town. The permanent exhibition shows how the town developed from prehistoric times until 1945. The 1940s bombing raids weren't the only calamity Pforzheim had suffered during its history. In previous centuries, it had been burned by three major fires and its citizens had had to deal with outbreaks of the Plague.

Model of the city as it looked in the 19th century
I signed the visitors' book and wrote in probably faulty German to say, as a British-Canadian, how moved I was by this museum.

Wedding guests in Pforzheim
August 2015
Chairs and tables by the River, Pforzheim