Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dresden and Freedom of Speech

When the silver and tin deposits in the Erzegebirge Mountains in eastern Germany declined, miners turned to wood carving to support their families. While German Christmas markets now feature plenty of wooden items from China, there is still a large German cottage industry manufacturing nutcrakers and other Christmas decorations.

The giant painted wooden candle holder, pictured above, stands guard at the Christmas market in Dresden, a beautiful city with amazing architecture. I felt a little uncomfortable here, remembering from history the allied firebombing in World War II, a strategic necessity but devastating from an artistic viewpoint. The city has bounced back, however, as it also did in 1491 following a great fire, in 1760 following bombardment by Prussia, and an uprising in 1849. Plenty of money appears to be pouring into town, judging from an enormous number of building projects.

On the walk to the Christmas market, I passed an old Communist standing astride his bicycle with a a huge red flag with hammer and sickle waving beside him. He was talking to a couple extremely enthusiastically, with a fervor that only a true believer can muster.

On the walk back to the train, a young street preacher was loudly proclaiming the importance of Jesus, and some people with him were passing out nice little calendars for children with pictures of animals and Bible verses on them.

With Advil, some rest, and a pretty delicious potato pancake for lunch, walking was again becoming a fairly pleasant experience. I felt quite happy to see citizens, silenced for so many years by the Iron Curtain, enjoying their freedom of speech.

Because I saw so little of Dresden, I made a goal to one day return.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice photo. I should admit you really try to know lot of info about any place you want to visit. That is absolutely superb trait.

Dec 14, 2006, 5:10:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

You are too kind! This is an amazing city. Tomorrow I will have that elephant picture for you. In fact, if I go to my other computer I may send it tonight. You will love it, but this time I may get my facts wrong.

Dec 14, 2006, 6:33:00 PM  

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