Un gato entre las luces y sombras de Weimar

Un gato entre las luces y sombras de Weimar

19 abril 2024 Janek Kobylinski view 1063

A travel account of a fascinating tour through the historical and mysterious corners of Weimar

The trip

The day before the trip to Weimar, most of my companions went to rest early. This was not my case because I spent part of the night reading. At five in the morning the alarm clock sounded along with the bells of the city of Arlesheim that it was time to get up. Some friends organized to take the tram, while others preferred to take the train. The spirit that was lived was of wanting to walk together taking care of each other. Irupé shared some bread to prepare me a snack. Then Gerard arrived worried about the little time we had, even more so without having things for breakfast, so we prepared some sandwiches. That's how we went minutes later to the Dornach station. I knew that Irupé would be worried thinking that we would not arrive on time and that she would arrive at Basel central station before us. What she didn't take into account is that the train is actually much faster and, in fact, even leaving later, we arrived before everyone else.

We arrived in Weimar almost six hours after the train trip, surrounded by beautiful landscapes, and then met the other friends at the intermediate stop in the city of Erfurt in Germany. We arrived. The feeling in the soul was calm, of friendship and tranquility that went hand in hand with the pleasant climate of this new place. I was not alone in the room, nor were there two of us, nor three...there were five of us: Giorgi, Rezo, Nicholas, Gerard and me. It was a pleasant opportunity to talk about everything: what happened every day, philosophy, love and girls. Between games, Nico assumed a fatherly role at night, either to wish us good night or to tell us to stop talking and turn off all light reflections. Maybe in the mornings it was his voice that told us: "Hey kids, time to get up.

My desire as soon as I arrived was to go for a walk around the city, thus I arrived at a first important point within the tourist attractions of Weimar: its ice creams! The almost two euros that each ball cost were nothing to describe the pleasant sensation of dark chocolate on my palate. It was also a good decision to bring a good book like A Course in Miracles to read. I enjoyed this one sitting in the restaurant outside the ice cream shop. "You can't be here," I heard the friendly voice of the restaurant waitress say. —This place is only for those who buy at the restaurant, not for those who buy ice cream to go—. The sun, the book, the ice cream and the view of the Theater platz from where I could see the bust of Goethe and Shiller like good friends were too good to leave that place. "Then give me a beer, please," I said. I continued in this flow until I felt it was appropriate to pause. When I asked him for the bill I learned something else. —We only receive cash. —I saw the coins he had and they weren't enough to pay for the beer, much less to leave a tip. —Do you receive Swiss francs? —I asked him. “You can go to the ATM that is very close to here,” he suggested. I then told him that I would return in a few minutes, and I left my beloved book on the table as a witness of my commitment and my soon return. An hour later we were all together walking with Peter and Constanza for our first tour of the city.

The lights of Weimar

This is how we arrived at the house that Goethe had in the beautiful Ilm Park, named after the river that runs through it. The place we went is known as “Goethes Gartenhaus” and the story goes that it was a property purchased by Duke Carl August for him, his good friend. It wasn't until the next day that we returned and were able to see inside both the house and the private garden around it. It is curious that this place has the quality of being far from the city and at the same time no more than five minutes from it. It's a beautiful combination. My attention was captivated by thinking about how Goethe lived with the house, with its interior garden, but, above all, with the large Ilm park that surrounds it. Maybe I heard wrong, but I thought I told Peter that Goethe sometimes walked around naked, and that, seeking his privacy, he once put a gate in the middle of the wooden bridge which you have to cross to get to the park. In the environment there is a deep relationship with nature, art and mystery; which correspond very well with what Goethe's works hold in their essence. As well as this beautiful house located in Ilm, we also visited the house that Goethe had in the city, which was striking for its large size, its modesty, and once again, its beautiful garden around it. And just one block from this was the home of his good friend and illustrious figure from Weimar: Schiller. They were both very close to each other. Constanza said that when Schiller died, in 1805, no one dared to tell Goethe directly. It was then that he told his wife about the health of his friend, whom he knew was delicate. His wife could not utter a word, and through that gesture Goethe realized and mourned the departure of his beloved colleague. It is worth knowing in this context that Goethe died in 1832.

It was almost 90 years after Schiller's death, and almost 60 years after Goethe's death, that Rudolf Steiner lived in Weimar, that is, between the years 1890 to 1897. The reason is related, in principle, to the legacy of Goethe, since the last grandson heir of the genius declared in his will that all the properties of his family would pass into the hands of the princess of the Netherlands, Her Royal Highness Grand Duchess of Saxe-WeimarEisenach, called Sofia. Something similar also happened with Schiller's inheritance, which is why she founded the archive that bears both their names. It was then that, in 1890, Rudolf Steiner was commissioned to edit the works of Walther von Goethe (this work was called the Sophienausgabe or “Sofia edition”). Then, in 1894, Friedrich Nietzche's sister did the same, commissioning him to create the literary archive for her brother, who was already bedridden and lethargic in his last years of life, until his death in 1900. Thus, among figures like Goethe and Schiller, or Nietzche; Weimar has been seen as an artistic, cultural and spiritual bastion for Germany, Europe and humanity; much more so if we consider it to have been home to other important figures such as Steiner, or the illustrious painter Lucas Cranach, the religious reformer Martin Luther, composer artists such as Bach, Liszt and Wagner; philosophers like Herder and Schopenhauer; writers such as Hans Christian Andersen; to mention a few of them.

Adventure of mysteries

The second day I listened very attentively as Constanza shared verses by Schiller and a story written by Goethe called “The Green Serpent.” Gerard and I soon conspired to prepare a plan: we would visit Ilm Park at night, and we would find the place and time to read said story in one of the spaces in which Goethe's spirit would surely have been inspired. The night arrived and the journey began for the five of us in the room: we shared some kebabs on Dingelstedtstr, we walked towards the Markt platz where the Neptune brunen (statue of Neptune) is located. There I took a detour to contemplate for a minute the Theater Im Gewölbe, which I could only describe as magical. At the shout of the boys I hurried towards the corner and was greeted by Gerard playing a harmonium, whose sound like a baroque church organ enveloped me more in mystery.

Once we cross the small wooden bridge we enter the large park. Among all the darkness we were able to see some lights between the large trees that seemed to draw “something.” We played around saying that it was probably the Hotel California, in reference to the enigmatic hotel that appears in the middle of a highway in the Eagles song. Crossing a clearing we find the Sternbrücke, the most important and oldest historical bridge in Weimar, built in the 17th century. Giorgi and Nicholas decided to watch it from above, while I stayed below with Rezo and Gerard. I wanted to dig around to contemplate the banks of the river and the curious eye-shaped tunnel present between the arches. Once there he called the boys to tell them that a white swan was swimming across the river at that moment. Each scene was more beautiful and indecipherable. And no less curious than what would come after we met in the City Palace or Stadtschoss. Several wanted to return to rest, so we hugged each other and, as soon as we finished our gesture of brotherhood, the bells began to ring twelve times precisely signaling midnight.

Gerard and I decided to return to the eye-shaped tunnel and, once there, we listened to the first part of the story of The Green Snake. It is not up to this story to talk about it, I will only say: what a story! After approximately an hour we decided to walk inside the large, completely dark park and arrived, after a few minutes, at the Gartenhaus. There we continued diligently with our mission of continuing reading while we contemplated this modest and attractive house, until no matter how much curiosity and intrigue the story put before us, we somehow agreed that it was time to return. We later thought that it was a good decision, since once we crossed the park towards the small wooden bridge Naturbrücke, we could see how a car arrived at Goethe's house only to make a U-turn at the point where we had settled minutes before to read the story. "Maybe we were right to go out," we both said to each other.

And that's how, just leaving the park, in a cement construction in the shape of a crescent, which has two bird legs at its ends, we met "the cat." He was brown, salient and with gestures like a lineage. He approached as much as he sought space from him. This new curious being walked by our side between friendly movements and gestures of independence. Nothing seemed strange to us at that time. We just walked talking to the cat, until, having reached the end of Bethoven Square, the cat stopped, meowed for half a minute, attracting our attention and, once he had it, he jumped so high that it allowed him to climb up to the garden wall of a house. We thought at first that it was Bethoven, but a couple of minutes later we realized that the animal left the Ilm park where the Gartenhaus is located, and that the house it entered was none other than Goethe's house. This is how we understood who he really was.

A usurped light

We learned about another facet of Weimar, one that, in the history of humanity, contrasts in its somberness with its artistic, cultural and spiritual splendor. The names given to the first place we visited introduce us to the topic with some ease: we visited Weimar Square, formerly called Karl Marx Square, formerly called Adolf Hitler Square. I am referring therefore to the relationship between Weimar and Nazism.

To bring some context, the First World War took place between 1914 and 1918, with the dissolution of the German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Russian empires. For Germany, the period that began in 1919 for almost three five-year periods is known as “The Weimar Republic”, since its new Magna Carta was written in the national theater of this city. Two years later, in 1921, Adolf Hitler was named leader of the Nationalist German Workers party, known as the Nazi Party. Likewise, in 1926 the first conference of his party was held in the square in question, using twisted rhetoric that relied on the contributions to humanity of many of the illustrious figures described above to accommodate his vacuous doctrine of superiority. . In 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor or head of government of the German State, one of his first actions being the dissolution of the institutions created in Weimar and the establishment of what he called the Third Reich. All this took place in a Weimar that had around 50 thousand inhabitants.

As we know, during his government and during the Second World War, between 1939 and 1945, this Nazi Germany or Nationalist Germany eliminated other political forces and authorized establishing laws without cameras, thus beginning a dictatorship that, as we know, was characterized by racism and subordination of the individual for the supposed good of a superior Aryan race, for which they implemented policies such as the so-called “final solution”, through which they justified the extermination of nearly 11 million human beings, including Jewish people, disabled people, homosexuals , Jehovah's Witnesses, Africans and Gypsies. For this purpose, it is estimated that they built more than 25 thousand concentration and extermination camps, which shared characteristics such as torture, starvation, forced labor and murder. One of these camps was Buchenwald, about 10 kilometers from Weimar, which imprisoned around 277,800 people from 50 countries, with around 56,000 people dying there.

Reflections in front of the mirror

Fifty thousand people in Weimar and another more than fifty thousand murdered in the Buchenwald concentration camp…just ten kilometers away. Even today, nights of reflection are insufficient to exhaust these contrasts. They told me that at the end of the war the American army took inhabitants of Weimar to Buchenwald to testify what was happening in the backyard of their beautiful house. At first I mistakenly asked myself, How possible is it to not have been aware of what was happening ten kilometers away? Is there responsibility? What did you do? Then I realized that even in our time we continue to witness wars and exploitation of human beings. Then these questions came back to me like a boomerang: How possible is it to not be aware of what is happening in the world today? How responsible am I today? What should I do?

Weimar has been a teacher. A teacher who put a great mirror before us. In the mirror, past history is presented and a teaching for our present is reflected. The image that we see there incorporates extreme lights, extreme shadows, and on the threshold between the two mysteries are played out - also to the extreme.

In the world it heals when I heal my way of seeing the world.

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Janek Kobylinski, Lima, Peru - Alumni Anthroposophy Studies on Campus, 2024