So, the end of a very enjoyable and enriching stay in Weimar beckons. As the old adage goes, time flies when you’re having fun! It certainly doesn’t seem too long since I landed in Erfurt.
Since my last entry, I have travelled to Wolfenbüttel with members of the KSW. There, I had a tour of the Herzog August Library with the ‘dortigen Hospitantinnen’ from Oxford. On the return journey, we visited the Gleimhaus and cathedral in Halberstadt. I believe that I have managed to visit the majority of the Stiftung’s properties in Weimar, including the delightful Schloss Belvedere and Schloss Ettersburg . The latter is ideal for a gentle Sunday-afternoon stroll.
On a more somber note, I also decided to visit the nearby former concentration camp of Buchenwald. Once one of the largest ,,KZs’’ after Auschwitz, with approximately 56,000 victims to its name, it provides a startling reminder of the depths to which humanity can sink against a backdrop of culture and great artistic and natural beauty.
No trip to Weimar would be complete, of course, without a visit to Goethe’s residence on the Frauenplan. In comparison to many of the historic buildings here, it is a fairly modest, but most cosy, house.
Goethes „home office”
To mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the Stiftung has also been staging many events. I did manage to attend a talk with the renowned German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk on the intellectual hinterland of the conflict. I remember him arguing, that many powerful and influential contemporaries undervalued the significance of the individual, which partly made it easier for them to declare war.
The Goethe-Schiller Archive hosted some readings from letters of locals who participated in the ‘war to end all wars’. Many deplored the carnage suffered by both sides, and admitted that they were not quite sure exactly why they were there, but felt compelled to see it through out of a feeling of duty and attachment to the ‘Vaterland’.
The last KSW property that I visited was the Castle Museum in City Castle, and it was certainly a case of ‘last but not least’! In my view, it is the jewel in the Klassik Stiftung’s crown. So extensive and absorbing are its contents, that it requires at least two lengthy visits.
Entering the ballroom in the City Castle
The ballroom in the City Castle
The scope of this entry precludes description of all that is worth seeing, but the ballroom, guest room for foreign acquaintances of the princely family, and the Schiller room immediately spring to mind.
It is worth noting that the building has suffered two devastating fires. Goethe oversaw the palace’s redevelopment after the second fire of 1774. On the whole, I think you can safely say that he did a smashing job!
Finally, I would like to thank everybody who has made my time in Weimar so rewarding. I would like to extend special thanks to my friends and colleagues in the Stiftung, and I hope to see them again in the not too distant future! Vielen Dank und alles Gute!
Alexander Mortimore is working on his PhD at Oxford University. His focus is on Edmund Burkes und Goethes reactions to the French Revolution. As a trainee he spent two months at the Klassik Stiftung.