An Alien in America

An alien's perspective on life and everything else

Archive for March, 2008

History Lesson

Posted by nickxyz on March 25, 2008

Well, I am history buff. Always have been, even in school. Especially that part of German history that still causes a bunch of people great heartburn and anxiety for various reasons. I have always been interested in a less researched aspect of the bigger picture. That being any kind of resistance movements, political, religious, unionized, military, ethical, etc…. Particularly of the natives, the ones that risked life and limbs not only their own, but also their immediate families and relatives (ever heard of ‘Sippenhaft’, a popular legal (originally ancient) method at the time). Of course, resistance also originated in other countries, be it Germans in exil, or foreign natives of all color and faiths because they saw the evil and the incredibly destructive force. One of the most impressive acts of courage and perseverance in terms of resistance was found within the group of victims themselves as well. This gives the saying of ‘Hope dies last’ a completely different meaning.

The other historical interest of mine is the architectural concepts that had been envisioned and partly already put in motion. When reviewing old documents and blueprints, the intended scale of these plans almost always escapes the viewer and is even harder to comprehend in their entirety. In order to get a better grasp of the enormous dimensions and the work that these buildings and sites would have required, I wanted to see what is left myself.

Of all the architectural plans that still exist today of the various cities, master sites and propaganda buildings, really only two sites had experienced actual work being done. One being Linz (Austria), which is also the only site that still progressed at insane speeds even during the war efforts. The other being Nuremberg. There, the party had established the main party rally grounds, intended for annual political and show events for centuries to come. The underlying blueprint is available from various sources, most notably at the Nuremberg Dokumentations Center.

While not all planned buildings still exist today, two actually do (and one road). The first is called ‘Zeppelinfeld’, which had actually already been used for the annual party rallies and military show presentations. The second is the ‘Kongresshalle’, which is about 50% complete. It is an enourmous oval shaped building designed like the Roman collosseum. The one big difference being that it was intended to also have a roof over the entire structure.

The foundations and the exterior walls have been completed, yet the work stopped halfway during the construction of the inner walls and assemblies; the planned roof has not even been started. Today, the huge structure is used for various purposes, such as housing a symphonie (accoustics are marvellous once one stands inside at ground level), city storage and most importantly, home of the Dokumentation Center. The Great Road (2 km long, 60 meters wide) was intended as the main connector within the party rally grounds and also as a symbolic link between the past and the planned present / future. Today, it is used as parking lot during major events in the adjacent Frankenstadion.

Here a few of my impressions while walking the grounds recently. It still makes the hair at the back of your neck stand up and goosebumps appear within seconds. Architecturally, a great feat, but an immensly frightening site in every other possible aspect.

Zeppelinfeld – Impressions:

Zeppelinfeld - Speakers post Zeppelinfeld - Speaker\'s Post Dimensions (check out the cars)

Zeppelinfeld - Posts lining the sides (used to carry the search lights)

Kongresshalle – Impressions

Kongresshalle - Modell The Kongresshalle

The Kongresshalle Inside the Kongresshalle

Great Road – Impressions

Great Road

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Happy Easter

Posted by nickxyz on March 22, 2008

Happy Easter

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Week 7 – Germany

Posted by nickxyz on March 15, 2008

It is the middle of March. We are aborting the move efforts and packing up the doggies to go back to the States. Will be tacking on a few more weeks with the family at home and fly back in April.

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Some cultural escapades

Posted by nickxyz on March 14, 2008

Thought I needed to indulge in some cultural aspects as well. So I went and did the good old touristy thing of sight seeing. Here a few examples… can you guess what it is?

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Week 4 – Germany

Posted by nickxyz on March 13, 2008

Closing in on the end of week 4 in Germany. The novelty is about to wear off and things are starting to go their regular order: get up in the morning, go to work, come home, eat dinner, sleep and start over.

I have spent the last weekends house hunting. All sorts of houses, all kinds of locations, all kinds of odd landlords… why should it be any different here??? Nothing so far that really catches your eye or holds your breath. And everyone seems to be on the edge as soon as I mention I will be bringing two dogs with me. As if their sacred hardwood floors would take irreparable damage when crossed by doggie paws… Ever heard of little children dropping stuff, playing matchbox on the floor, driving their bobbycar, spilling food and drink,… I guess not.

Starting to pay a little more attention to the cultural transition and the cultural details. One example that just floors me is Aldi. When I lived in Germany last, Aldi was the discount store that one went to in order to pick up the basics, like milk and some cans. Now, Aldi seems to be THE store of choice for most people as it carries almost anything at reasonable prices (boy, did I ever mention the DMark to Euro conversion before???). There are special flyers every couple weeks that list the specialties that will be for sale in the coming weeks. Depending on the season, it could be running shirts, grass seeds or school supplies. And guess what? As soon as the stuff is officially on the shelves, the stores experience this huge run. As soon as the doors open in the morning, a huge number of people already waits to get in and get first dips on the ‘stuff’. By 9 or at the latest 9.30 am, the specially advertised items are gone; zip, zero, zilch left.

Since the conversion to the Euro (or the Teuro, which is a play on words for ‘teuer’ = expensive), everyone is so intent on saving money. Not because they would want to for any exzessive rational reason. No, because they really have to. The absolute price tag remained the same, say 1.50 for a stick of butter. While before it was in DMark, it is now in Euros. Not much of a deal, you would think. All that changed was the unit symbol. Well… far from the truth. When the conversion took place, 1 Euro was set at 2 DMark. So in effect, everything had doubled in price over night, while salaries and wages got split in half, nominally. While I am not sure that this is really completely accurate (I haven’t been in Germany for the last 10 years, other than for vacation), it is the strong perception of a lot of people I met. Both my age group as well as older generations. From my limited perspective, I would tend to agree with the perception personally. I used to pick up Focus quite regularly when I still lived in Germany. If I remember correctly, it had run at 4.50 DM or there abouts. Nowadays, it runs 3.20E. Perception…..

Anyway, it is now just amazing how cost conscious everyone has become. Not sure if it had made the front page of all international papers. But the OECD has just published a study of income vs tax burdens within the EU. Germany ranks right up there, but behind Denmark and Sweden, I think…. According to the study’s calculations, German workers receive about 48 cents net for every 1 Euro gross earned once all taxes and other required contributions had been deducted. Interesting…..

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