Magic Library

When my grandfather turned 70 years old, he invited us (his guests) to visit a boarding school. Strange thing to visit isn’t it?
Well this was not any boarding school, and my grandfather is a historian, so visiting a place packed with history was a natural thing to do.

The Landesschule Pforta is located within the property of a cloister. I did not take a lot of pictures, even though there were many things to photograph on the winter day that we went there. I remember that inside the church there were some decorations that were unusual for the protestant monks that had put them there in the past.

What marked me a lot on this visit was the description of the school life in this boarding school. The students themselves have to ring a bell that marks the end and beginning of class. All students, even the local ones have to live within the school. Of an elitist heritage, it is a rather selective environment. One of the alumni is Friedrich Nitzsche.
In the past when the Abitur  (German final exams taken before University) was far less common the students were allowed to sit their exams in this school when their teachers deemed them to be ready to do so. When the teachers figured that their student was mature enough to move onto university. Taken into account the great presence of immature and very young students in Universities this might not actually be too bad. At that time (if I am not mistaken that was over 100 years ago) the pupils of the school would have to write a final paper in latin, yes in latin, that probably resembles a final dissertation for a current day bachelor’s degree.

All of these little details about the school life, past and present were presented within this library. Packed with old books it seemed magic. My cousin decided then and there she wanted to go there to study, she was very much reminded of Harry Potter. Who can blame her?

magic library, landschule pforta

Does this library inspire you?

© Solveig Werner 2015. All rights reserved.

Digging in the past

It is important to live in the present. But what can we learn from the past?
A lot! And for anyone being creative in any way, well history can have a lot of inspirations!

I am someone who definitely enjoys digging in the past, not my own, of course! But I like learning things about the past, maybe coming from a family with quite a few history professors helps. Lately I have been able to see quite a bit of family, and they always have something to tell from the past. I am always all ears, but don’t actually write down as much as I should. Now Eclectic Alli has teamed up with Nerd in the Brain for the Go Play, Go Learn Challenge and this time the mission is to look at the past. So for me this is a sort of prompt to tell some stories of the past, once again not really my own. But if you are curious what I looked like 20 years ago, then check out my first day of school.

Recently I learnt a few things about my great grandparents, who are sadly not around anymore to share their stories with me in their own words, but they would, I think all be over a hundred by now… I recently found out that my great-grandmother was considered 3/4th Jewish at a time when that was not very reassuring in Germany. She was born just a little bit after the Titanic sunk, and I think for her generation she was quite a modern woman. She went to University at a time when many women did not do so, she actually made it to a Doctoral title (sorry don’t know what field).

Only a few days ago, my grandmother’s sister (the grandmother I wrote about on Ula’s blog a few weeks ago) spend her 73rd birthday with us, and she told us some things about her mother, my great grandmother. Who had not been to university, but who had gone all the way to the Abitur (German high school diploma), which was still quite rare at the time. I don’t know much about my grandmother’s mother, but when it comes to her father’s family, then I guess I could sit down and write books (a few have actually been written). That is mainly because my grandmother’s cousins organise a family reunion every 2 years, and each time bits and pieces of the family history a shared (a lot of material for someone like myself who is constantly all eyes and ears for stories).

I feel like I should kick myself a lot lately, because now I realise that when my grandmother gave me family lessons, more than 10 years ago, there was so much valuable information about ancestors that I now have a hard time remembering. But, maybe if I have a look at the pile of old photographs, things might come back. Is it time for me to start keeping a diary?

Besides family history, I am completely hooked on Parisian history now. Each time I go somewhere I end up reading wikipedia for hours, learning new things. Recently I also visited some rather historic grounds, when I went to Omaha beach in Normandy. We walked on the beach, but also went to the memorial and to the American cemetery. In that area history is leaking out of every pore.

© Solveig Werner 2015. All rights reserved.