It just wouldn’t be Germany without a Bratwurst from Thuringia, which hit the spot as we visited Weimar today. The weather changed drastically this morning and for once, I’m glad I had both my jacket and my coat.
Unfortunately the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, where two of Bach’s sons were baptized, was closed for renovations which meant we could not see the famous Cranach altarpiece. But thanks to Google, I can show it to you.
This striking painting depicts Martin Luther and Lucas Cranach the Elder immortalized at the Crucifixion and Jesus’ blood spurting out on the head of Martin Luther. A stream of blood from Christ’s side flows directly upon his forehead, implying that no priest or saint is needed for intercession. On the far right, Luther points to a passage from his German translation of the Bible concerning Christ’s redemptive blood, which frees all believers from sin. The painting was started by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1552-1553) and finished by Lucas Cranach the Younger (1555).
Our bus next took us to the Buchenwald concentration camp, and it was a brutal reminder of man’s inhumanity to man. Our guide pointed out that this was a working camp — primarily men were brought here to work on building munitions for the war, as well as being an SS training camp. She showed us pictures of typical SS personnel — and surprisingly, they looked like ordinary German 17-year-olds of the time. The camp was not a so-called “Death Camp” although many people died here from lack of adequate food and overwork. There was a crematorium for the people who had died in order for the SS to get rid of the bodies, but they did not cremate the bodies separately, which was illegal.
At the end of the tour, we stood around the memorial to the citizens of 51 countries who had perished in this camp, and were led in a brief service by Michael Krentz with two hymns and two psalms. The center of the memorial plaque is kept at body temperature year-round, as a remembrance that it was warm bodies who had died in this place.
It was a very somber moment for all of us.
It was in this camp that the Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer also was kept for the majority of his incarceration (he was moved to Flossenburg in the last week) and we saw a memorial plaque in the cellar where he was kept at Buchenwald.