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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tolerance and intolerance in the history of Ingolstadt


A day for learning. I reached the Stadtmuseum shortly after 12 --- no doubt about the time of day because I was standing right beside the cathedral when the noon bell began to chime --- then walked a short distance auf der Schanze, the other side of the Kreuztor, along what used to be the outside of the city wall. I meant to stay in that museum for half an hour at most, because it was time for lunch, but it proved to be so interesting that almost an hour and a half had gone by before I left.

From my notes on the History of Ingolstadt: This place wasn’t always located on the banks of the Danube. Before human intervention (canals, etc.), the great river meandered south of here with many swamps and oxbow lakes through what is now Manching. The first inhabitants to leave any traces (at burial sites) were the Bronze Age people of 2000 B.C.or thereabouts. A mysterious necklace from that era, the Bernstein-Collier was on display at the museum, made of 2700 stone beads, an extraordinary find! No one knows where it had been made, or why.

Then came the Romans, who began to straighten things out. In the 2nd century A.D. they built watermills, straight roads and irrigation systems in this borderland; the most important thing they built, to their way of thinking, was a Great Wall just north of the Danube, the Rätische Mauer, 550 km long, with a moat and many watchtowers, to keep the marauding natives out. Does that remind you of anything?

Like everything else in history, the Roman Empire eventually died away, although its influence remained. In the 7th century, a couple of children were entombed near here. I saw their skeletons, dug up and lying side by side, the little boy’s skeleton surrounded by his toys such as a miniature, Romanic sword; the little girl had been buried with her necklaces and a favourite comb. I wasn’t convinced that these remains ought to be kept in a museum. I felt sad for them and their long ago parents.

By the time Ingolstadt had reached the 16th century, the Innenstadt looked much as it does today. Charlemagne’s documents mentioned it in the 9th century and it was officially designated a city in the mid 13th. In 1392 Ingolstadt became the capital city of the local Duchy (Herzogtum). Its university, founded in 1472, was known for its tolerance, humanism and cutting edge science under the influence of Erasmus and the Reformation, but that revolution “ fehlgeschlagen” --- i.e. failed --- because of an anti-semitic, 16th century rector, Dr. Johannes Eck, whose name was shortened to Dreck (= dirt!) by Luther, because they didn’t see eye to eye. Dr. Eck had books printed (I saw one in a display cabinet) with a cartoon of Luther on the frontispiece, wearing devil’s horns. The reactionary Jesuits were in charge of university education here from 1549 onwards: they were the Counter Reformation and established a huge seminary here. Their books were mostly printed in Latin or Greek, or both. I saw a copy of Sophocles Antigone, with the Greek original on one side of the page and a Latin translation on the other.

In the 16th century, while the Swedes were waging war in this part of the world (Protestants v. Catholics), the city built fortifications and a city wall. During the 30 years war in the 17th century and the Napoleonic wars in the 19th, substantial further fortifications were built.

The museum displayed a replica of a wooden model with miniature houses and churches made by a city planner, Jakob Sandtner, in 1571. Hardly anything has changed within the Altstadt since then, although nowadays there is a vast Audi factory on the edge of Ingolstadt, as large as Monaco, apparently. I didn't find a mention of this in the museum, but Chris and Marcus saw it yesterday.

In 1632, at the height of the Swedish attack, the city was besieged. There was a battle, and Gustav Adolf von Schweden’s horse, known as der Schweden Schimmel, was shot down. The Bavarians immediately had the dead animal rather well stuffed and mounted as a souvenir, and there it is, in the museum. I was tempted to stroke it.

Time went by and in the 18th century, Duke Maxmillian III and his Polish wife encouraged the advancement of science at the University of Ingolstadt. Die Aufklärung setzte sich endlich durch: i.e. at last Enlightenment prevailed! 19th century Ingolstadt was a military establishment, hence all the circular stone towers in the park near our hotel. French prisoners of war from Africa were paraded here in the 1870s. The city manufactured armaments and military musical instruments; it was also famous for making church organs and zithers; Zither-Vereine (clubs) were popular.

The 20th century, needless to say, was full of grim moments. The locals were annoyed to see the Bavarian Army disbanded in 1919. In January 1945 Ingolstadt was heavily bombed with the loss of 650 lives; the railway station was burned to the ground, and on April 26th of that year the Americans crossed the Danube and marched in. A gallery near the end of the museum’s permanent exhibition was a memorial to the men and women who had been victims of the Nazi régime, including a bespectacled vicar (b. 1900) who had stood up to the Nazis and was therefore imprisoned at the Dachau concentration camp. He came out “a broken man”, but did recover and survive, to resume his job, living until the age of 79. Similarly, representatives of the Unions and the SDP were remembered, as well as two deserters from the army, one born in 1924 and the other in 1914, both of whom were executed by firing squad in 1945. A middle aged woman was commemorated, whom the Nazis had forcibly sterilised because she had an epileptic teenage daughter, and then, of course, there were also the Jews who had lived here.

I found a photo of 2nd World War refugees housed in Ingolstadt, along with the information about the 1950s reconstruction efforts. The bridge I crossed in the morning and afternoon, by the way, is called the Konrad-Adenauer-Brücke. I’m glad he is still remembered with gratitude.

I emerged from the museum very hungry, until I remembered that the wrapped cheese sandwich that had been handed to me on the flight from London to München was still in my bag. I topped it with a cappucino and a slice of Apfelkrüste from one of the bakeries am Stein.

The Deutsches Medizin-historisches Museum at the Alte Anatomie on Anatomiestraße was another worthwhile discovery. In the afternoon, I was its only visitor, so got the full attention of the curators. Having paid my 2€ Eintritt (senior’s rate) a gentleman with an incomprehensible Bavarian accent led me up the garden path into an annex (the other side of an ornamental herb garden) to see their special exhibition on the removal of kidney stones through the ages. I nodded wisely at everything he failed to tell me. I couldn’t bear to stay there for long, recovering by myself among the dying roses and by the fish pond, while the old chap remained seated among the gruesome exhibits. The main exhibition is within the stately home with its Baroque architecture, its exterior painted yellow, and a panoramic view from its upstairs window. Again I had a museum guide to myself, although she didn’t intrude while I learned about Ingolstadt’s medical history, described in a series of biographies of eminent doctors who had worked here, in galleries displaying pictures and examples of medical equipment, with explanatory notes alongside. Once again, I read about the clash between philosophies and attitudes religious (or superstitious) and rational (or profane). How students of medicine had cut up paupers’ corpses to further their knowledge of anatomy; how the dying and their families had been comforted in different ways through the centuries; how patients had to be held down for surgery without anaesthetics; how astrology and homeopathy have been respected by patients and practitioners alike. My overwhelming feeling on emerging from this experience was profound relief that we have finally reached the 21st century.

With Marcus again, in the evening, we found a Greek place for supper near the Frauenkirche.

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