The walled cities, witchcraft and torture
Our next day, the little boy from my memories and from visits both in USA and Germany is now a young man and he offers to take us sightseeing. From the beginning, I planned that I would have to manage all the driving, figuring out the roads, Evie as navigatior, etc. So, having Oliver drive is such a relief. Not to mention, more than once I fell asleep, the roads are smooth and so is the German-way of driving.
For the most part, my kids have been introduced to their English heritage. But now I want to show them my idea of Germany, not WWII Hitler-German. My family lives in Bavaria on the Romantic Road, and their house is centrally located to reach many different Sound of Music style towns. First is Rothenburg ob der Tuaber, one of the few villages with an intact stonewall surrounding the inner city. My daughter starts to sing Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang as she imagines the town where the little kinder are verboten. There is a torture museum and a history of Martin Luther. I wanted them to understand the history of the church and the ignorance of the people. And of course the 10 YO asks what a chastity belt is...
We also have lunch here and the same son says "Germany has the best food ever!" (Stuff that England). The museum also had a special exhibit about hexen (witches), which I found interesting. From what I can surmise, Martin Luther was against the Catholic Church because of its greed, telling the people that the church is man's salvation. ML, a well educated man for his time, felt that salvation was found through personal effort and practices. But he also capitalized on fear, telling people that witches were basically lost souls (instead of the church form of pagan persecution) and at some point they could not be redeemed. It was interesting to learn this non-catholic persecution of "witches" for political and religious gain, as well. The museum reports that witch hunts were much less than the internet suggests; yet they still had long poles and a neck hoop with barbs, so the witch-hunters didn't have to touch the witch, thus risk infecting their souls, all so they could easily take them to prison.
Next we go to Nördlingen and visit St. Georg's Cathedral and Daniel the bell tower. This is also a town with an intact wall. On the way to the town, Oliver, our host, tells me that he does not agree with the churches of Germany because 10% of their income goes directly to the churches (ironically the Luthern church of state). He feels that socialized medicine is without question a good thing. But not the greedy churches.
This town was built in the middle of a meteorite crater and from the top of Daniel you can see the rim of the crater made 55 Million years ago, now it's covered with village steeples, farm land and forest, but the geologic scar still remains. St. Georg's cathedral is the first grand cathedral that my children have ever seen. I ask Oliver if it's okay if I take pictures (so as not to break any unspoken cultural rules.) And he says "Yes, I have paid for it with my taxes." His version of a big FU to the bound church-and-state. In this area, NASA first trained the moon-landing Astronauts because they thought the remains of the meteorite would create a similar landscape of the moon.