August 2008


Weimar News

Goethe, FramedConsidering how little time I’ve lived in Weimar (four years), this city keeps making the pages of The Economist at an unbelievable rate. Take this week: Weimar: Up from the ashes.

My previous homes of Denver, Laramie, and Bloomington, have either not made it in at all, or have appeared a number of times appropriate to the size of the place.

I suppose Weimar’s Goethe, Bauhaus, Republic, Nazi, Concentration Camp History is what drives it into the magazine at a rate disproportionate to its size. The first time it appeared in the pages of the Economist was shortly after I moved here in 2004, when the Anna Amalia Library burned.

Weimar made it again becaus the city is getting €90 million to, in the words of the Economist, “step up awareness of Weimar’s place in German culture and history.” Apparently the “Kulturebahnhof” announcements are insufficient, as are the “Kulturestadt Weimar” signs that still are being put up a mere NINE YEARS AFTER it was the European Capital of Culture. Some of the dough, €30 million, is going to a new Bauhaus Museum (the current one is tiny and distinctly unimpressive), while some of the rest is going to rehabilitating the Stadtschloß, turning it “into a new gateway for visitors.”

This strikes me as a bit odd, they are going to attempt to unify the separate strands of Weimar history into one coherent story—with the president of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar declaring that “Our aim is to heighten awareness rather than let you relax.”

I don’t know about you, but generally speaking when I am picking vacation spots, I don’t want to go places that make me tense, I aim for relaxing interesting places, whether they are one of my cultural destinations (say, Armenia) or one of my gay-party places (say, Berlin). Sure there can be moments of tension (police check points, visiting Checkpoint Charlie), but the points of relaxation and calmness are equally, if not more, important. I hope that the planners make sure that they find a way to support those things which also are fun for visitors.

I also hope that this time they will use the money to advertise the city outside of Thüringen—I can imagine now billboards in Frankfurt, “Visit Goethe in Weimar,” or “Visit Where the Weimar Republic Started: Weimar.” Maybe a catching television spot would help: “Your Haus, Our Haus, Bauhaus in Weimar.”

2 comments to Weimar News

  • J

    Is there really a lot to see in Weimar? Perhaps I should make a day trip out sometime.

  • @J: It depends what you’re interested in–there’s a lot of Goethe related activities; a bit of Schiller; Buchenwald, if you are interested in that history; and a bunch of other things–The Nazi history isn’t that visible on the surface, and the Bauhaus history is pretty limited here in Weimar.

    However 3.5 million visitors a year cannot be wrong!

    I’ll be hanging out in the coffee shop.