Wilhelm Geyer and other Ulmers

Start this bit of exploration at the white Bauhaus structure (city information) across from the Münster.

Interior of Münster in Ulm

A little-known but interesting tidbit about this building: In 1937, Wilhelm Geyer participated in a funny, satirical, but halfway serious “vision thing” for Ulm. His sketch included green belts and parks, precisely where Ulm has installed them since the war. And a white Bauhaus structure across from the Münster. Only difference, he thought it would be a parking garage, not the tourism center. The resemblance to his sketch is eerily accurate.

Of course while you’re here, be sure to tour the Münster itself. (Look for Wilhelm Geyer’s stained glass window, his postwar contribution.) Take time to listen to the porcelain bells on the nearby store, buy ice cream, soak in the beauty of this plaza. It was much different in 1943, since traffic passed through here. Still, Münsterplatz has always been Ulm’s heartbeat. Continue reading

The Scholls and Ulm

Münsterplatz 33 as it was seen in the 1930s

Starting at the train station, take a quick look around Bahnhofplatz. It was much larger, fancier, and attractive in 1943. Try to imagine Susanne Hirzel—in her early twenties—being led through this plaza in her hometown along with ‘common criminals’, on her way to spend the next six months in a women’s prison.

Next, find Bahnhofstraße 10, where Robert Scholl had his accounting offices from 1930—1932. (Bahnhofstraße runs directly in front of the train station, whereas Bahnhofplatz is behind it.) Continue reading

White Rose student hangouts

Starting at Marienplatz: Head north onto Weinstraße. Make a right (south). Alexander Schmorell’s father had his medical practice at Weinstraße 11.

Now keep heading north on Weinstraße. Where Weinstraße becomes Theatinerstraße (to the right will be Schrammerstraße), turn left. This will be a small street—pedestrian zone only—called Maffeistraße. Number 4 was the very, very favorite cheap restaurant of the friends of the White Rose: The Bodega. Continue reading

Palace of Justice and environs

Starting at the Hauptbahnhof (main train station), the first “White Rose place” you will encounter is the Justizpalast, or Palace of Justice. To reach it, walk down either Prielmayerstraße or Bayerstraße from the main train station. Located at Prielmayerstr. 7, it’s an impressive building directly across from Stachus or Karlsplatz.

Right next door at Prielmayerstr. 5, the Chief Prosecutor or Bavarian Attorney General in Munich—a Dr. Helm—had his offices. While he was not directly involved with the White Rose trials, he coordinated things for Roland Freisler. Continue reading

Introduction to Munich

Ulm may be a place where hard work and industry produced a magnificent cathedral and concepts that mirror our own ideas about democracy. Everything it stands for, Munich casts aside.

In Ulm, the mayor renews the oath guaranteeing that every man is equal. In Munich, they fight to ensure that purity laws for brewing beer are enforced. In Ulm, they celebrate a tailor’s failed attempt to fly. In Munich, they party for two weeks to commemorate the marriage in 1810 of crown prince Ludwig of Bavaria to princess Therese of Saxon-Hildburghausen – though it is doubtful whether anyone enjoying the rides or beer tents remembers those names any longer.

This does not disparage Munich in the least. In Ulm, you feel like you must be doing something. It is a city of overachievers. Remember that Albert Einstein was born in Ulm.

But in Munich? Ah, my friend, slow down! Relax, find a table in a biergarten. The sun is shining, can’t you hear the birds? We can work tomorrow. Continue reading

13 Kislev 5759

(Tuesday, December 1, 1998) – Tel Aviv

I am sitting here in a luxurious hotel room with the balcony door wide open, thoroughly enjoying the sounds of the Mediterranean and the fresh breeze. Yesterday I shopped all over the place for a birthday present for myself, and found nothing I wanted that could properly commemorate this adventure. But tonight, as I stood on that balcony and watched the last of the sun kiss the turquoise waves, I knew that this was God’s birthday present to me. All of it, not a silly souvenir, but the whole of it, every drop of these eighteen days.

Once again, “my” day did not go at all as planned, but was more exquisite than I could have imagined. Continue reading

11 Kislev 5759

(Monday morning, November 30, 1998 – my birthday!) – Kfar Blum

The Jordan River at Kfar Blum

The rest of Shabbat was pretty hard. During Shabbat lunch, the wait-staff completely ignored me. I felt isolated, terribly alone. I wrote Dubi (the General Manager of Kfar Blum) a note about my experience.

Sunday night when I returned from my daily adventure, I found a bottle of wine and an apology from Dubi. He wrote that he realized they needed to be more attentive to people traveling alone. My bad experience will be worth it if it translates into genuine concern for women like me in the future.

I spent most of Shabbat wandering the kibbutz grounds. It is a fascinating place, Kfar Blum. Bordered on one side by the Jordan River, life is simple here. Children play in nice but un-fancy spaces, wide open, inviting, low-tech. They have a swimming pool, not Olympic size, but big enough. Continue reading

9 Kislev 5759

(Saturday morning, November 28, 1998) – Kfar Blum

I fully expected to be sitting in the Kfar Blum shul at this time. I ate breakfast – a little late, but it felt good to sleep in – and walked over to the synagogue. I’d known Kfar Blum was a fairly secular kibbutz, not unusual, and I had already seen how small the synagogue was. I had wondered what they do on High Holy Days. Is it that secular? Maybe it has stayed “truer” to the roots of the kibbutzim than most.

But I did not go in. The door is behind the bima, so you enter facing the congregation. Maybe if I could speak Hebrew, I would be a bit bolder. I stood outside for a while, and when I heard only male voices, I turned around. Even in this secular place, the religious are apparently Orthodox. Continue reading