60 Years Ago Today

Saturday August 9, 1952:

At 6:15 a.m. it sounded like someone near our hotel owns a noisy tractor or truck. My feather tick was really warm and comfy but Herr Tractor was our alarm clock. Boy it sounded like everyone went to work at this hour!

Our tour guide, a little old man named Dinkel, was guiding our excursion. Dinkelsbuhl was 1000 years old and residents of the city were not allowed to change the exterior of any of the houses or buildings without the permission of the city. First was Deutche Haus, which was erected by the Lord Mayor of Dinkelsbuhl and had intricate wood carvings.

Soon after was a cathedral which was started in 1444 a.d. and had taken almost 50 years to build. The entrance was still the same on the outside since it had been restored in 1856. And there were wood carvings on the end of the pews. Dinkel told us that the city had been built on three hills and a man named Dinkelo gave the city his name. I observed the carvings of the different shields.

At St. Sebastian Church there were arrows on display and St. Aurelius’s bones, who had been killed by a sword and buried with the sword. At the center piece of the crypt there was an altar that was carved from one piece of stone. A pastor from the 13th century had led a procession from all over to see this church. As I turned around I observed a tub of holy water before me.

Next was St. George who lay on a large altar because he killed a dragon. As we continued there was a monument of World War I soldiers and people who had died from this church. The wood carvings were done by someone local.

As the tour progressed through the city I spotted the doorbells on the houses which had pull cords. Also, there were peep holes on the corners of the houses in order to see the people walking by. The oldest house, dated from the 11th century, was called Hezelhof. We also saw the City Hall or Rathaus. Next was the Three Kings Chapel which was built in 1350 a.d. It had been a sheep’s stable for over a 100 years during that period of time, but was restored again as a chapel.

I noticed old flags hanging in shreds. It had been a free city till 1802 when it was annexed into the Kingdom of Bavaria. There were 22 towers running around the city. One tower had been reconstructed by an Italian architect because it had been destroyed in the Thirty Years’ War between 1618-48.

Then we identified the Worntiz River which had a youth hostel nearby that used to be an old granary for storing corn which had been built in 1508. We walked down by the moat around the wall. Soon after we saw the Dinkelbaurer monument and our guide informed us the name of wheat is dinkel.

After a two week siege of Dinkelsbuhl by Sweden, Lord Mayor of Dinkelsbuhl decided to let the Swedes have it. A Swede General took the keys of the town and made it Protestant. Children from the city came to plead for the Swedes to save their city and lives. The Swedish general had recently lost his young son to illness, and a boy who approached him so closely resembled his own son that he decided to spare the town. The children softened his heart and became the saviors of the town. Every year the town celebrates a Children’s Festival where the little kids dress in 16th century uniforms and rejoice over their freedom.

As we circled back onto main street I noticed a sign warning of anyone throwing trash would get dunked for five minutes. Funny huh? We stopped and bought fruit at street side market. Later we looked in the Baroque Deutschhaus Palace which was another historical building. A travel bureau representative gave us a souvenir pamphlet of Dinkelsbuhl. We stopped to take pictures of a stork’s nest on top of the roof before we left Dinkelsbuhl.

The next town, Ausbach, was a fairly good sized, quaint little village. There were gabled houses with weeping willows. As we drove on we passed a big money exchange, theatre, and other buildings.

We finally reached Nuremburg around 12:30 p.m. where the old city walls and towers were still partly standing and many of the old buildings were mostly in ruins. We followed the street along the old walls and moat and there was a transient mess from what I could see.
Farther on there were sidewalk cafes and a big Bahnhof dome being repaired. It ended up being quite a large and thriving city. We passed a snack bar and opera house. Near here was a house where Hitler had stayed at one time.

As we continued to follow the wall we journeyed past the Palace of Justice where the Nuremberg trials were held after World War II for German war crimes. Hermann Wilhelm Goering, military leader and a leading member of the Nazi Party, committed suicide here. Other war criminals were convicted and executed by hanging here.

Our guide was a refugee from Czechoslovakia. He escaped with only the short pants he was wearing and no shoes. He informed us the post office was constructed in 1950-51, German Congress started in 1834, and Augsberg Church was built in a new architectural style.

During World War II Nuremberg was home to many German SS troops who marched, trained, and lived here. Even the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, which were Hitler’s personal bodyguards, were headquartered here. The Nazi party held big propaganda events in Nuremberg starting in 1933. We examined stoves from Italy and marble from Carrara, Italy. The city had a large modern coliseum where large Nazi party conventions were held. It was still unfinished.

In the heart of Nuremberg there was a flower church and a famous fountain market place. It was a shame to see all the ruins around the village and the remains of the old part of the town.
We journeyed past a whole castle made with a hammer and chisel. I couldn’t believe it! Next was a 12th century well which was 18 feet deep. Water drops fell down the well in 6 seconds and there were 8 rows of sandstone and then solid rock around the well. The water at the bottom was 9 feet deep with underground connections from here to town hall.

Shortly after we observed Hans Sachs, a German poet, we noticed it was the only statue not damaged in the city. We heard the story of hoofprints where knights jumped over the wall and moat. It was used for anit-aircraft guns during World War II. We saw the Kaiser garten which was done in a French style.

Then we went past Albrecht Durer’s House that holds Germany’s greatest statue of Durer, the famous painter. I met a lady in a shop off the square whose husband or father was Michael Power, who wrote Religion in the Reich in 1939. I couldn’t quite understand what she said. Then there were beautiful carvings. One of them was of Hans Sachs, a German poet, which sold for 160 marks. The carvings were sold at the University Club in Chicago as well.

We were staying here Sunday and Monday to see the festival which had been going on for 900 years. I caught sight of the statue of Hans Sachs in the rubble. And there was a new stove here. It seemed strange with all the gutted buildings around us. Certainly this was a city of contrasts as was most of Germany. A brand new Bavarian State Bank faced us.

All aboard for the youth hostel. Eric was directing us and picked up the rest of the kids where we had left them. Ralph Frogley, Dorothy’s boyfriend, was there looking for Dorothy. Fortunately, Dorothy was sitting on a step in front of the youth hostel when we pulled up. We weren’t real sure at first if this was the building we were scheduled to sleep at or not. From the outside it was just a big tall square grey box deal with funny round holes at intervals. Dot said, “Wait till you see it.” We could hardly wait to see it ! So we proceeded to look for the spot we were going to be laying down our heads for the evening.

The entrance was filled with bicycles and to one side was a dining room where some people were eating at wooden tables. After five flights of cement stairs, we turned into a bare hall and from there into a barren dormitory style room with double decker bunks with nothing but mattresses. We heard a rumor that we would sleep on a sheet. At the end of the two big rooms was a washroom with cold running water. Then we saw where the four men would sleep next door on army cots. Everyone seemed quite thrilled. The young natives roaming around the halls were all boys.

Andre refused to sleep there and said he’d sleep in the bus. There was a big conference and we decided against it. American Express fixed us up in three hotels for more money. Good thing because there was church tomorrow and we would have to get ready. The hostel wouldn’t have provided too much privacy.

Our new hotel was across the street from the Service Club. Two soldiers offered to show us around. So Alene, Alice, Carol, Elo and I went with them to a cute little basement café to eat. It was atmospheric with candlelight, U.S. Officers and music. What a delicious dinner of wiener schnitzel! Carol was sulking about something—not enough attention, I believe. It was raining as we walked back to hotel to complete a wonderful evening.

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