Travel Tales

Germany - A Country of Contradictions


Deutschland is a country of contradictions. On the one hand it produced exceptional intellectuals such as: Bach, Beethoven, Einstein, Faulhaber, Goethe, Handel, Luther, and Schiller, to name a few, and on the other hand, it created a monster like Hitler and started the disasters of two world wars.

My fondest memories of Germany were when we lived in Frankfurt am Main for three years and I worked on television as the Weather Girl for the Armed Forces Network.

I remember driving my little Fiat and skidding in the snowy streets. We spent many a Sunday playing in the Black Forrest in Bavaria throwing snowballs at each other; coming from Florida this was great fun in a mysterious wooden fairyland. My family and I enjoyed taking boat rides along the Rhine River photographing the most charming little towns in southern Germany. The Rhine River carries many goods on boats. The Main-Danube Canal links the North Sea and the Black Sea. Dotted along the Danube, where trade brought prosperity, the old benevolent princes used their wealth for noble and cultural activities, erecting cathedrals, and magnificent buildings of rich Gothic architecture.

This triangle formed by the Rhine, Danube and Main is considered the treasure of the south. Even the larger towns of beautiful Heidelberg, Freiburg, Bamberg and Wurzburg, are seeped in intimacy and individuality.

In the west, the Ruhr district leaves its mark on the landscape with its heavy industry, producing a great proportion of the nation's wealth. Central Germany lacks the beauty of the south but with its fir-clad slopes and green valleys, has a charm all of its own. Goethe, the Frankfurter, made Weimar his adopted home.

Germany as a whole is a truly magnificent country, even though it grew up into a nation rather late in the day. Its history is so rich that I could not possible go into it in just these two pages, or even two books, so I will only give you the salient facts. Germany is in Central Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, between The Netherlands and Poland; with an area slightly smaller than Montana.

Currently, it is Europe's largest economy and second most populous nation with about 82,422,299 population. European power struggles immersed Germany in to World War I and World War II, in the first half of the 20th century, leaving it occupied by the victorious US, UK, France and the Soviet Union in 1945. With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany and the eastern German Democratic Republic. The democratic FRG embedded itself in Western economic and security organizations; the EC, which later became the EU, and NATO, while the Communists GDR was formed by the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. In 1990 Germany reunified at the end of the Cold War. Since that time, Germany has expended considerable money to bring the Eastern wages up to Western standards with much grumbling. In 1999, Germany and 10 other EU countries introduced the euro as their currency.

There are approximately 34% Roman Catholics, 34% Protestants, 3.7% Muslims, and 28.3% unaffiliated religions. Its capital is Berlin. Their national holiday is Unity Day celebrated on October 3, (1990). Their military branches consist of: Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr); Army (Heer), Navy (Deutsche Marine), Air Force (Luftwaffe), Joint Support Service, and Central Medical Service. The military service obligation is at age 18. Their legal system comprises civil law with indigenous concepts, judicial review of legislative acts in the Federal Constitutional Court. The current chief of staff is: President Horst Koehler.

Their political parties are: Alliance '90 /Greens (Roth and Buetikofer); Christian Democratic Union (Merkel); Christian Social Union (Stoiber) Free Democratic Party; (Westerwelle); Left Party - was Party of Democratic Socialism) (Bisky); Social Democratic Party (Beck).

I'll never forget visiting one of my favorite places, Baden-Baden, its best-known health resort. The orchestra was playing at the park near the casino, as we checked in to the hotel thinking we would have a lovely view of the park. The food was terrible: raw oat meal, hard boiled eggs, granola, tea, thick black bread. The room was all white, I thought I was in a padded cell, and everybody walked around stone-faced with canes. We were in the wrong hotel! We had spent the night in a hospital!

I had a wonderful time in Germany and have been back several times, especially around Christmas time. There is so much to see and do especially if you love art.


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