Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Notable mainly because it was rendered a backwater before the place could fall into the hands of ‘Developers’ who would have levelled pretty much everything in sight – and what remains is a remarkably well preserved medieval-renaissance-30 Years War melange …

Actually this is, again, out of chronological order – I visited it between Wurzburg and Nuremberg.

One of the remaining major city gate complexes (the south one, I think). A bastion built in front of the older (original) medieval gate (marked by the tower you can just see poking above the left side of the bastion gateway).
The Bell-tower Gate – originally it divided the older town from the (relatively) newer one – and would have fallen foul of those (fortunately nonexistent) developers … you can see the narrow s(and steep) streets. This is from the ‘old town’ side of the tower and you can see one of the original public water-fountains in front of the half-timbered house on the right.
This is the opposite direction from the above – looking toward the main square of the town. Sure, the street is lined with touristy shops and the like, as well as some private homes, but it’s pretty much what it would have been like back in the day …
That’s the town from the castle grounds which is off to one side (the west, I think) … you can see the town walls and the clock tower gate. The Castle grounds are just that, the grounds where the castle used to be. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the 14th century and all that remains is one tower … and the grounds, which the Town has turned into a lovely park with plenty of shade trees and a great overlook on the town commons below.
That’s the Tauber river valley (the trees mark the course) from the outlook over it from the Castle Park (evidently a favourite hangout for local teenagers making out) and the Town common lands below … still commons (well, owned by the Town now).

The town has a fairly good museum for such a relatively small place … with, amongst other things, an excellent collection of arms and armour. Some of which were even photographable! Sadly, of course, most were behind glass and badly lit so they were all reflection … what else is new?

Renaissance and Late Medieval Polearms plus a nice Mail Hauberk … not sure of the provenance of that. It could be late Medieval (i.e. late 13th or early 14th century) or intended to be ‘High Medieval’ (i.e. 15th century) and intended to be worn under Partial Plate, though probably not Full plate, so probably not later than the end of the 15th century (or so).
A nice example of one of the many possible varieties of the medieval Falchion.
Some more medieval Swords … including three rather more high quality versions of the basic Falchion in front.
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Nuremburg III

Then there was the Deutsche Bahn (German Railway) museum …

A full sized replica of what was probably the first German railway carriage – two 2nd class and 1 1st class compartments.

… which was actually a Transport & Communications museum as well.

Very early printing Cash Register – they took ‘communications’ quite loosely.
Post WW2 rotor cypher machine – IIRC this model used a paper tape to set the Rotors electro-mechanically unlike the earlier purely mechanical rotor ENIGMA machines.
S-Bahn rolling stock. These are suburban trains, but they may run in tunnels under major cities just like the U-Bahn (underground) … they serve the outer suburbs and may even connect nearby cities to a central major conurbation. Much of their route will be above ground.
The cream and maroon train is an Intercity train – but not one of the really high speed ones. If I got the German description correct this would often be on ‘all stops’ or ‘regional’ services with limited stops rather on major routes such as Munich-Berlin.

A lot of the indoor stuff was badly lit and behind reflective glass – or, just as bad, was placed in such cramped spaces that you simply couldn’t get a shot of more than a meaningless fraction … and the outdoors stuff, while better lit and not behind glass was also often in such cramped quarters as to make getting any sort of meaningful shot impossible.

Nuremburg II

Like I said, more to follow –

The German Museum

No, not the German History Museum (that is in Berlin), just the German Museum – though it covers a fair chunk of history while, theoretically, covering German culture.

Medieval Reliquary Case (Rock Crystal and metal … probably bronze/brass or iron covered in gold plating and with silver-gilt ornamentation. Not quite large enough to take a whole corpse of a Saint … but his disarticulated or semi-disarticulated bones? Sure. The inscription in German wasn’t, I think, clear as to what or who had been contained in the reliquary as by the time reliable records referring to it came into being it was already empty. Yes, you can see reflections – but they weren’t too bad.
Medieval Book Cover – again, I am not entirely certain what the German caption said, but I think that the book inside it at present probably wasn’t the original one … Renaissance recycling, I suppose! Note that the gems still remaining are polished, and not even cabochon cut (i.e. with a flat base). Yes, fuzzy – rubbish lighting and reflecting glass playing havoc as usual. Win some, lose some.
A selection of Migration era (roughly late 4th through to early to mid 8th century AD) edged weapons, spear-heads and stirrup. Note the fact that all the spear heads are roughly the same basic type. No massive D&D differentiation!
Ostrogothic Brooch or Cloak Clasp in the Byzantine style – probably a gift from the Byzantine authorities. Niello (enamel) and gold work.
Roman helmet, probably for Hippika Gymnaiska (‘Cavalry Games’) or parade use – probably late 3rd or 4th century AD. Yes, fuzzy and reflections again – it was that sort of museum. <sigh>
Late (probably late 4th or 5th century AD) Roman helmet … probably for better grade (Field Army) Infantry or, possibly, light to medium cavalry. Hard to tell since it is missing cheek guards and other bits.
Late 14th or early 15th century plate armour suit. Reasonably sharp despite the unavoidable reflections.
Medieval folding chair of the Scissors type – just take the backboard off and it folds more or less flattish. Just the thing for a travelling noble.

Nuremberg

Last time I was in Germany I took the train from Munich to Berlin … didn’t have time to do Nuremberg on the way. This time, driving, I *did* …

The site of the Nazi rallies was quite accessible – a tram ride from the central station which, in my case, was a direct line from my hotel on the outskirts of town. Unfortunately, as is all to common, the museum (‘Documentation Centre’) while excellent was full of video clips (not photographable, obviously) and cases full of items so cunningly lit and glassed in as to make them also unphotographable!

I had intended to do a walk around the site (it’s huge) and see some of the remaining structures – but it was raining. Nice weather for the Geese on the lake shore, not so much for any pedestrians.

The City Proper

One of the days I was there I headed off to see the Imperial Castle which overlooks the city (well, the Old city) … and walked through parts of the old historic district …

One of the reasons Nuremberg is such a nice city is that the city fathers resisted the call back in the day to pull down the city walls and towers … they’re all still there … and this is the one just off the Hauptbahnhof square (the station is actually off camera behind the tower).
They also emphasised their status as a Free Imperial City by decorating everything official with all sorts of ornate heraldry indicating this status (a FIC was a direct subject of the Holy Roman Emperor, not part of one of the princely or territorial states). This is one of the ceremonial entrances to the Rathaus (Town Hall) complex off the old Market Square.
The Schoner Brunnen, a 14th century fountain in the Old Market Square – there are close to 100 figures of various sizes representing biblical and religious personalities as well as the Prince Electors (the seven guys who actually elected the Holy Roman Emperor) of the time. Did I mention the city fathers were big into preserving old things?
A different angle of the fountain.

The Imperial Castle

You know all about Town & Gown with differences between medieval Universities and their local towns? Well, Nuremberg had issues with Town & Emperor … the Imperial Castle overlooking the town was, from time to time, either seen as a threat to the Town’s civic rights or occupied by the town.

Of course, McGregor luck being what it is, most of the exterior was covered in hoarding and scaffolding as they rebuild and refurbish large swathes of the site … and after I’d hiked up this bloody steep hill to get there!

The views from the top, however, were pretty good …

View down over the ‘old town’ and the spires of some of the medieval churches … those steep roofed houses are mostly, as far as I can tell, medieval or renaissance … many are half-timbered … and the streets are narrow and winding for the most part. And steep … did I mention how steep the bloody hill was?
Strictly speaking, out of sequence, as I took this on the way back down … but it shows the sorts of houses we’re talking about.

The tour of the interior was, of necessity, only of the interior … but it was pretty good, too

The main hall of the castle – those wooden beams are originals. Yes. They are bloody big and thick … and those are some of the annoying tourists who have plagued my every step <grin>
The Castle Chapel – from the Imperial balcony. Separate entrance and above the other courtiers and hangers on who were accommodated below. Remember, this is in the period when only the Priest consumed the wine and the host, with his back turned to the congregation. The modern participatory Mass is much much later.
One of the illuminated Manuscript/Books on display in the treasury … one of the few things that were lit appropriately and didn’t have glass that reflected poorly placed lighting.
One of the Renaissance suits of armour (well and truly post-medieval) in the Armoury.
A case for Crossbow Bolts – and a variety of different types of Bolts. You can see a cranequin in the background (a device for recocking one of the later metal ‘strung’ and metal ‘bow’ Arbalests)
A model of the Castle as it was in its early years.
And one of it as it was at its greatest late medieval extent. There were further Renaissance and 30 Years War era additions, some of which resulted in bits shown here being modified or to torn down … and which, in turn, have often been modified or torn down.

There’s more on Nuremberg, but not tonight …

Wurzburg

The main palace of the Bishop, the local feudal lord back in the day. It was severely damaged by bombing and fire during WW2 but, right at the end of the war, some of the American Monuments Men (per the movie) actually managed to put a temporary roof over the remnants and pretty much save a lot of it … and lots of reconstruction work has been done on the damaged and even some of the destroyed parts … with lots more to go, of course.

Actually, this is the Schloss, which was the seat of the Prince-Bishops until they decided they wanted something less medieval and more comfortable and homey …
The grand entrance. Just a little something the Bishop(s) had knocked up!
The rear, from the formal gardens outside at the back … must have been quite the place to hold a garden party back in the day … though there’s no place for Trump’s helicopters to land (which is, perhaps, fortunate, given the damage they did to Buck House’s lawns!)
One of the fountains in the grounds … had to have water features, of course!

The interiors were OK, but, again, lighting and the ‘no flash’ rules made it impossible to get decent exposure times. Still, there are other places I will Blog about ‘real soon now’ where there were much better conditions!

Buchenwald

On the road to Wurzburg (not direct, but along the Autobahns – so much faster, if longer in distance, than the ‘direct’ route, is the Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

Most camps in Germany weren’t death camps, per se. That is, they weren’t originally designed to be mass extermination camps … but the conditions there were so harsh that deaths were inevitable. And, of course, as things got worse for Germany and the Final Solution got well and truly under way, things got worse in the ‘not’ death camps.

Buchenwald was originally for political prisoners, but also held Russian POWs, Jews and, well, any number of odds and sods who had the misfortune to either come to the (unfavourable) attention of the Nazi authorities or who were regarded as racially (or other category) ‘undesirable.’

Interestingly, after the end of the war the Russians took it over and continued to operate it as a camp, no less brutal and no less lethal, for their political opponents. And, of course, the DDR followed suit for quite a while.

The more things change …

The main gate to the prison compound – interrogation cells on the left and offices and othe bits and bobs on the right. Doesn’t look too bad, does it?
“To each what they deserve” … the motto on the entry gates. Not quite as cynical as Arbeit Macht Frei.
The prisoner’s Commissary. The SS, cynical as all get out, ‘allowed’ prisoners to purchase goods shoddily made in the basement workshops with money sent to them by their loved ones … assuming, of course, their loved ones actually knew where they had been sent. The practise, both under the Nazis and then under the Communists, was often to simply ‘disappear’ people and ignore requests for information …
The only surviving Barracks Block – and it only survived because it was sold to a private company who used it as offices in their construction business for many years. For the rest? There’s either no obvious trace if they were entirely of wood construction (as this is) or there are stone foundations if they were slightly more substantial. Or the inmates were kept in tents. in the case of the Russians and the cold war prisoners they might not even get that.
The Crematorium. Since this wasn’t a death camp, it wasn’t as big as in places such as Auschwitz … but the death rate was high and it was set up as an industrial scale process,

Dresden – The Zwinger

As it turned out, the Residenz, the main museum in Dresden was closed the day I went to see it … but the Zwinger, the second main museum, was open … or most of it was. The bit with the Old Masters (paintings) was, of course, being refurbished and only a small selection were on display … but since old paintings, by and large, aren’t my particular thing, that wasn’t a big deal.

A proper ruler, at least in Germany, kept good records … and, to create many of those records, he needed many scientific and measuring instruments. One of the sections of the Zwinger contains all of those which belonged to the ruling house.

This is a magnetic compass, of course, and, as you can see, it is a gimballed one – that is, it is designed so that it will retain a stable orientation regardless of how its contained moves. Normally this would be used aboard ship – but, in order to carry out accurate surveys of their domains, rulers needed accurate measurements … and so a gimballed compass often accompanied them when they were surveying.
And, of course, they needed geometrical tools – but, being princely types, ordinary ones weren’t good enough … as you can see.
Pocket Sundials with corrections for various latitudes were also handy before the development of decently accurate clocks.
Likewise, weighing things was a necessity … and accurate fancied up Scales were part of the princely equippage.
And that’s probably about the only picture of me you’re likely to see. It does show, however, how piss poorly the lighting mixed with glass cases interact to make photgraphy virtually impossible in many cases. You’ll also note that, if you look closely, all of the photos here are fuzzy … no flash photos allowed and the rubbish lighting effects coupled with the glass reflections meant that exposure time was so long … a second or two … that I couldn’t get a decent focussed shot of, oh, pretty much anything.
A mechanical calculator – the type created by Blaise Pascal. IIRC this one was actually made in his French workshop and purchased by the ruler.

There were other collections in the museum, including the aforementioned Old Masters (which had nothing I was really interested in photographing) and the Porcelain collection – one of the rulers was a big collector and his descendants hung onto it …

This one’s for Jen! Chinese porcelain guardian cat in the Porcelain collection!
Chinese Temple Dogs

Dresden- Heer Museum

Another museum in Dresden, and more interesting than the other sights, quite frankly. Situated in a partly rebuilt armoury and barracks complex towards the outskirts of the city it covers the German army (Heer) from the middle ages onwards … and pulls no punches …

Waste not, want not. This was an old medieval Bombard which would originally have been mounted on a sled-like, wheelless, base – but as technology progressed, the owners had it mounted on a wheeled carriage, probably in the early Renaissance. It is unlikely it saw much use in that form, however, as it was simply too bloody heavy to drag around at any speed, even for use in Sieges.
Reiter’s armour and long barrreled wheellock pistol of the sort used during the 30 years war. The Reiter would, typically, be used in a caracole – the formed a circle in front of the enemy and rode around in the circle at speed, firing their pistols into the enemy formation at the nearest point … and, theoretically, if/when the enemy broke they could charge … or other shock-cavalry units such as Curaissers could do so. Typically they had at least four wheellock pistols, and might have as many as six.
Neger manned torpedo. It was based on a standard torpedo – it couldn’t submerge but it could carry a real torpedo slung underneath. A really marginal weapon idea – about 200 were manufactured and deployed and 80% of the crews died, often because the darn things simply capsized and they were difficult to escape from. They managed to sink one DD and three Minesweepers.

The big drawcard that was easy to photo (being outside and well lit, of course), was the vehicle park … including the usual West German homegrown stuff as well as their US/European made bits and bobs, but also including a lot of Russian stuff that was used by the DDR’s Volksarmee.

Volksarmee ZSU-23-4 ‘Shilka’ SP AA vehicle.
BTR-152 Armoured Personnel Carrier
BRDM-2 Armoured Scout Vehicle
Leopard Mk1 Armoured Engineer Vehicle
Mobile Patriot SAM vehicle.
M-577 Command Post is Bundeswehr markings and camouflage

There was a lot more, especially inside, but, as is all to common, the lighting was rubbish and/or seemed to be deliberately placed to reflect off the glass display cases … in both cases making it impossible to actually take usable photos … even with Flash, I suspect (though that wasn’t allowed).

Lots of stuff on the Volksarmee and the Bundeswehr and how they interacted with their allies and civilian populations … all quite interesting, but, again, nothing in the way of written material that you could purchase in the sparse museum shop … not even in German.

Battle of the Nations – Leipzig, 1813

The Germans take their military history very seriously. This huge monument was built for the 100th anniversary at huge expense – which isn’t surprising as the structure is massive.

View over the reflecting pool – it doesn’t show, but the tower is 260 metres high and the base is 230 meters wide!
The Crypt – not quite a ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’ – the people on the upper walkway give an idea of the scale of the interior space here!
Leipzig across the Reflecting Pool taken from the main entry level.

As you will remember, Leipzig was where the anti-Napoleon Grand Coalition came together and trounced the Grand Armee, weakened as it was, both in numbers and morale, after the disastrous Russian Campaign. Napoleon was forced to abdicate and sent to St Helena the next year.

Colditz

This happened to be on the way … the Museum took up a small part of the prisoner’s wing – the main part of the Castle was the German Kommandatur – Offices, Administration and Barracks for the Guards and their commanders … unfortunately it is now a Youth Hostel and, unless you’re staying there, you can’t go inside … and it’s been completely refitted anyway.

The interior of the place was used as a Mental Hospital by the East Germans and there wasn’t much left of the ‘original’ WW2 fittings even in the prisoner’s wing.

The Main Gate (well, the one through which the Prisoners were marched when they arrived in town, the ‘service entrance’ is around the side, off to the right, and up the hill. Remember, this was an Oflag (for officers) so they were ‘gentlemen’ and you wouldn’t have them use the servants entrance!
The sparse furnishings of something represented as a ‘typical’ cell … but, being officers, the occupant(s) often had (or acquired) other possessions which would have filled up the space slightly more. I suspect it would have been unlikely they would have had a room to themselves anyway.
The Inner Courtyard. The space was deemed too small for proper exercise by the Red Cross so the Germans fenced off a part of the Castle’s game park (behind and down the hill from the building here) which is where many of the escape attempts were made.
The outer courtyard showing what would have been the entrance to the Kommandatur – but is now the entrance to the Youth Hostel.
The road up to the service entrance. The rear of the Kommandatur is near right, the lower building and the building behind it were the prison proper.

And that, gentlebeings, is all the photos I have downloaded from both cameras so far … there are more on the memory cards and I will get around to transferring them to my laptop and thence, gradually, to this Blog, over the next little while …

Dresden

Not a lot there. The rebuilt Frauenkirche is OK … but just another church.

After the bombing all that was left was a heap of rubble. The locals kept all the (larger?) bits of stone and, after reunification, rebuilt the church very quickly using the remnants plus a lot of new material. I believe that the darker blocks you can see are the older (original) bits.
The interior was also restored – a lot of the destroyed/damaged buildings had been extensively examined and recorded by various government authorities, especially during the Nazi years (though I don’t know whether Nazi era records had any role here) which made it easier to reconstruct. This is the Quire, Pulpit and, as you can see, it’s pretty darn ornate!

There was also a pretty good Transport Museum which looked at the vehicles and companies based in the city and their products – especially good on DDR era vehicles.

A model of Benz’s first ‘automobile’
Pre-War two seater Motorcycle – there was also a Sidecar available. Not very successful.
A 1950’s Wartburg – a pre-war manufacturer taken over by the DDR. Only produced in small numbers as it was too resource intensive it used the same basic two stroke engine as the Trabi!
Prototype Wartburg 355, mid 196o’s- again, considered too resource intensive, so it was passed over for the Trabant!
Everyone’s favourite ride on lawnmower – er Trabant. As in Russia, you didn’t just buy one, you paid for it and went on a waiting list – which could be as long as 10 years (those in politically important jobs or with the right connections might have that time halved or more. Of course, as with all East German cars, spare parts were in as short supply – so you actually had to bring your own to the Garage when you car broke down! So people tended to buy any spare parts that became available, even if they didn’t need them right away, so they could trade them for parts they might need down the track!