Freitag, 1. Juni 2012

The Mystical....

           During our weekend in Münich, I accomplished one of my lifetime goals: visiting Neuschwanstein Castle. When I was about six or seven years old my dad was sent by the Army National Guard to Nuremburg for about two weeks. While he was there he visited the castle and brought back postcards. It was so pretty that I vowed to someday go there.
Neuschwanstein Castle
Photography by April Magneson
            Although Neuschwanstein looks like a medieval and Renaissance-style castle, it was actually constructed in the mid-1800s. The king of Bavaria at that time, Ludwig II aka “The Fairy Tale King,” dwelt on the past and nature’s beauty, key traits of romanticism, a movement popular around this time. He built the castle to escape from the public eye, but it was never fully completed; ironically, tens of thousands of people visit the castle each year. The design is familiar to some Americans and Disney enthusiasts because animators based the design of Sleeping Beauty’s castle—and the castle at Disney World—off of Neuschwanstein.
            It’s located on a mountain in the mystical Alps, a bit of a hike upwards. Luckily for visitors there are three ways to reach the castle: by foot, by bus, or by horse carriage. The cheapest way is by foot, and so we hiked what they estimated to be a thirty to forty minute hike in about twenty minutes. Take that, mountain!
            One side of the exterior part of the castle was under restoration, but it was still beautiful—as pesky as it is to see buildings under renovation, it makes it possible to see them still beautiful twenty, fifty, even one hundred years down the road. More than half of the group continued to climb higher to the Marienbrücke, where there are dreamy views of Neuschwanstein. A lot of people love to have their pictures taken with the castle in this area, and we were no different, having individual and group photos. Being on the bridge is a somewhat nerve-wracking feeling:  the bridge connects two sides of a ravine a few hundred feet off the ground, and if there are many people on the bridge, you can feel the bridge swaying a bit from the weight, like a suspension bridge. We quickly descended back to the castle so we could make our tour slots on time.
Mary, April, Zach, Will, Josh, Maren, and Brianna
            The tours run for about an hour, and aren’t necessarily cheap, but it is worth seeing the lovely rooms and designs. No photos or recording are allowed inside, so unfortunately the only images we have are from postcards or books. Ludwig II took ideas from mythology and the composer Wagner’s operas for designing the rooms, such as a bedroom with scene depictions from Tristan and Isolde, a tragedy of ill-fated lovers. The Singers’ Hall was based on the singers’ hall at the Wartburg Castle, where the legendary Tannhäuser singing tournament took place in medieval times. It all is very beautiful, but I do pity Ludwig and his plight: he was a dreamer stuck in a position with a strong sense of realism and practicality, and his heart couldn’t bear that. He mysteriously died when he was only forty years old, but it would have been amazing to see what else he could have accomplished.

Samstag, 26. Mai 2012


Josh and I had an extended and deep conversation with Ellen, our housemom, over Buchenwald the night we returned from our visit. Buchenwald was a strong experience and one that will stay with me, and all of us, for an extremely long time. The actions that the Nazis, and mainly SS, committed were atrocious and more notorious than outsiders to the country were led to believe.
Gate of Buchenwald. Translated as "To each his own."
Photography by April Magneson
The surrounding area of Weimar, in very close proximity to Buchenwald, let American GIs and other Germans believe that they had no or very little idea of what was happening in the woods outside Weimar. After Buchenwald was liberated, the community members of Weimar were ordered by the American Army to walk through Buchenwald and witness the horrors that the SS committed. No matter the knowledge the members of Weimar had, no one had the imagination to think of the atrocities at Buchenwald. This leads to one wondering how much guilt the community members of Weimar had. The same can be asked of the whole German population at the end of, and even during, the war.
As we talked with Ellen, she told us of how she and the vast majority of the Germans have no guilt over World War II or the events and actions committed by the Nazis. Nor should they. It is a history long enough ago that the generation during the Third Reich era is steadily withering away. The groups in power in the Bundestag are filled with leaders and members who have no experience during the late ‘30s and early ‘40s. However, that era is a history that still shadows the perceptions of citizens in other countries.
The nations of the world and its 7 billion inhabitants can no longer hold Germany’s past and Nazi history above the progressive and transparent government that is the current German state, just as the world has not held our bloody chapter with the Native Americans over our government and reputation for over a century. The world must remember its part (the indecisiveness, the tolerance, the Stand-by-as-the-world-burns Doctrine), as well as the previous German government’s part, in order to maintain peace and recognize the distinct signs and acts that lead to a neo-Third Reich era.
Events that are current would lead one to believe that we have already reached the neo-Third Reich era in a modern way; in a way that’s more globalized, transparent, and with the same view of idleness and indifference. After the neo-Third Reich era, will the world still be blaming the actors, or will the world start sharing blame to the ones who watched comfortably from the box?
-Zach Sommers

Berlin (in pics)

Frau Losch bought us all chocolates for the trip :)

First view of the city!

Starting off our tour...
Our guide explained that approx. every 2 weeks
an unexploded bomb is found in Berlin.
A 250lb one was just discovered... eek!

War damage on a column.
Bullet marks and blackening from the bombs.
German Art Museum on Museum Island

Close up of the Fernseherturm (TV tower)
Street light man. He characterized all their street lights

Humboldt Universität
Example of team work :)
Will needed help getting a better pic. Assistance from Josh!
Riding the double decker bus and then a car hit the bus!
Don't worry, no one was hurt :)

Berlin Wall running through the street
Part of the remaining wall

Berliner Bär, these statues are all over the city
Lindsey & Laura in the Holocaust memorial
Huge Boulevard behind the Brandenburg Gate;
It runs through the Tiergarten and on through the Victory Column
A world class museum... The Pergamon!
Mary, Josh, April, and Will sitting inside on the steps
Listening to our audio guide
Inside the altar
Big, beautiful, blue Babylonian Gates!!!
The Berliner Dom
Inside the church
View from the top, of course there were a lot of stairs to climb! Nothing unusual :)
The Reichstag... There is a glass dome atop that we went into.
It symbolizes that the people can see into their goverment.
Potsdamer Platz

Photography by April Magneson


Hello from Germany!
            Last weekend the group went on an excursion to Munich. We saw so much in those three days, but it was a blast! The highlight of my trip to Munich was our three-hour walking tour of the city. I learned so much in those three hours and the most interesting part was following the 3rd Reich and seeing those buildings in history.
Our tour guide was Maxine Ryder and she was from Australia. She has lived in Munich for 15 years and she was a great tour guide! She started off giving us a background on Hitler’s life as a child and in school. She mentioned that as a young boy he was never interested in school and that he wasn’t very ambitious. I found this interesting because later on in his life a lot of people would consider him to be ambitious and a man with a vision. I also learned that he was an artist earlier on in his life, but failed to get into art school because he lacked in the skill of figure drawing. He would buy postcards of Munich and copy them onto a bigger poster and then sell them.
After she gave us the background information on Hitler we visited the Hofbrauhaus. This building is where the Nazi party was formed. The party name was changed from the German Work Force to the Nazi party that we all know of today. We ended up eating the next night in the main room where the meetings were typically held. The room was very large and our meal was great!
I found this all interesting because most people don’t get the chance to say that they were in certain places of history. Most of the buildings that we saw were original while some of them were rebuilt because of World War II. Either way, being able to hear and see all of this history was an experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I feel like everyone should get a chance to visit other cultures, it really opens your mind to new possibilities. It really changes your life! Hope Wartburg is doing well!
-Laura Pals

Surprise Day in Bonn

May 21, 2012

We started the day just like any other day, but this particular day ended differently than any other day so far on our trip. This specific day was one of my favorites for the month. We knew that the Wartburg College Castle Singers were performing in Bonn, Germany that night. Bonn is a few hours away by train from Marburg where we were staying. Bonn is located directly west of Marburg. A few of the students decided to travel to Bonn to surprise the other Wartburgers. They had no idea we were coming!
After riding three different trains for about three hours total, we were finally in Bonn. We found a map of the city and we were off, but not before had a quick couple scoops of Eis (ice cream)! We walked along the beautiful Rhein to get to the Deutsche Welle where the Castle Singers were performing that night.
Once we knew we were close to where we were supposed to be, one person from our group spotted the Castle Singers. It was a complete random chance that we spotted them when and where we did! They were enjoying some nice fresh air in a little courtyard outside of the Deutsche Welle. They were extremely surprised to see us and we were extremely happy to surprise them!
After talking with them for a little while, they had to go get seated and ready for their concert. We were about ready to walk around to the front of the building so we could get in when one of them came back. Dr. Andrews had said that we could join them for the concert without having to go around to the front door.
It was cool and a good feeling to be able to meet up with other Wartburgers in a place over 4,000 miles from small-town Iowa. This just goes to show how the Wartburg students support each other in the things that they do.
-Mary Wrage


On our first weekend in Germany the group traveled to the nation's capital in Berlin. We stayed in a hostel on the east side of the city, which due to previous decades of neglect still shows its battle scars. The city itself was very intimidating because of its huge size, but was nevertheless easier to navigate than other German cities because of the way it is laid out. It is commonly said that Berlin has something for everybody, a statement which proved to be very true as the group had three days to explore the city but only saw a small fraction of the whole. It was a great experience to visit a city that is of such great importance on the international stage and I hope to someday return there to explore the rest of the city.

-Will Rector

Mittwoch, 23. Mai 2012

A Different Perspective

My stay in Germany has been an enlightening one, and as I write this three of the four weeks have already passed. My eyes have seen so many things that I have not seen before and may never see again. From small villages to magnificent castles and churches, endless fields of nothing but trails to the Alps of Southern Germany and Austria. I have seen remnants of the Berlin Wall and drank beer in a dining hall where Adolf Hitler spoke in front of the Nazi party. It all seems like a dream. Things that I have seen and read in textbooks, never knowing I would experience them for myself.

And yet, the truly enriching moments have come from conversations with my host family. We have compared everything from hobbies and interests to politics and policies of our respective countries. It was interesting to hear that from a European perspective President Obama would be considered a conservative, which he is far from in America. The most interesting conversation came earlier this week. It was a discussion regarding the perception of the United States as a whole and as a people. The man posing the question was German, but he has had the opportunity to travel around the world, including to the United States. Before I continue, I want to stress that this is one person's perception, not necessarily that of a whole. Nevertheless, I took his comments to heart.

His comment was that he respected and appreciated the opportunities of freedom that America provides to people from all around the world. However, he felt that America has the tendency to press its beliefs, values, and ideas on others. He referred specifically to the war in Afghanistan and the extended presence of troops. I found this comment to be very interesting and tend to agree. The United States is a nation that covers a large area of land, yet cultures from Boston to Los Angeles only have minuscule differences. There is nothing fundamentally different about accents or even how we vote. These seem like big differences to us as Americans, but in Europe a short car drive can put you in a completely different area as far as culture is concerned. From my perspective, Europe is a melting pot of hundreds, even thousands, of different cultures squeezed into a space smaller than the United States. People live amongst different cultures in harmony, and as a visitor I fit right in.

To wrap it up, I love the United States and am proud to say that I am American. However, this May Term I have learned that there is a whole world that I haven't seen. I encourage everyone to study or travel abroad sometime in their life, because it will change your outlook forever.

-Josh Hones