Happy Valentine’s Day to every one out there!
Now I have had a pretty exciting Saturday. I went into Cologne to do some proper site seeing. I had already googled the places to go and places I thought was worth seeing, pinned them all on my offline maps and off I went.
The first stop was to see the Cathedral. I was completely in awe of its beauty. The Cathedral is a World Heritage Site and I can see why. Standing amongst all the shops and the main train station, its size and gothic look is just stunning. It is the largest gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second tallest spires. It is also said to be the most popular German attraction, with 20,000 people visiting each day.
So me and James went to the top of the Cathedral!
The view was amazing at the top. You could see for miles! Cologne is very much like London, very heavily built up. Oh and it was absolutely FREEZING at the top ! BRRR..
After journeying to the top of the DOM we went to see the padlocked bridge – every city has one..but it was fascinating. I’ve never seen that many padlocks ever! and was so nice to see all the love that people have for each other. I would love to put a padlock on a bridge one day, it’s a nice little token I feel.
So then me and James went for lunch after working up an appetite on the steps of the Cathedral (HA!) and he took me to the FUNK HAUS which served the most amazing food. I had an Assam tea (new found love since coming to Germany) and I had penne pasta with spinach, parmesan and fried spinach on the top. BEAUTIFUL. Reasonably priced too!
After that James left me to do some shopping and meet up with some friends and I went off to explore the Cathedral and to see some other places I had researched about.
At first when me and James went to the Cathedral we couldn’t get to the alter as there was a service being taken. How amazing is that, to have your local place of worship as the Cathedral of Cologne! Well anyway after lunch I was able to take a look around and to try and also find the Shrine of Three Kings.
Below is the Shrine of the Three Kings, said to hold the bones of that of the three kings that attended the birth of baby Jesus. I couldn’t get any closer to it as it was behind iron gates. As you can see it was beautifully lit, the detail on the casket itself was amazing!
Legend recounts that the “relics of the Magi” were originally situated at Constantinople, but brought to Milan in an oxcart by Eustorgius I, the city’s bishop, to whom they were entrusted by the Emperor Constantine in 314. The relics of the Magi were taken from Milan by Holy Roman Emperor Fredrick Barbarossa and given to the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainald of Dassel, eight centuries later, in 1164. The Three Kings have since attracted a constant stream of pilgrims to Cologne.
This creation below was so fascinating. The detail and the size of it was crazy! I stood in front of this for a while looking at all the different scenes that were going on. There was so much to take in! It has doors on the sides where you could close it up. Imagine, never seeing this before and then opening the doors of this up to reveal these scenes behind it. The art and decoration that has gone in to creating this, is just amazing. All situated around the death of Christ.
After being at the Cathedral for a little while, I then went on to the EL-DE Haus which was the Gestapo headquarters during World War 2. Now if you know me well, you will know that World War 2 is a passion of mine. I find it so interesting especially anything to do with the injustice that happened during that time. I don’t know why but I think its because I find it so absurd and to be able to walk around these places and experience them for myself really gives me a sense of how lucky I am to live my life without any fear.
So off I went, a short walk from the main square of Cologne. I found it fairly easily but it wasn’t really well advertised as to what the building was or that it was any kind of museum.I paid my entry fee of €4.50 and €2 for my audio description and off I went. Starting at the bottom first – the prisoners cells.
I wasn’t sure if you were allowed to take pictures so I only took the 3 below just to try and give you an idea of the type of place this was. There was a definite atmosphere to this place, it’s like without evening knowing what happened there there is a feeling of evil.
So the Gestapo, the secret police in German during World War 2, arrested A LOT of people. Men and women and also children who they thought were working against the Nazi party. They would arrest them, bring them here, interrogate them, torture them and try and get more information about certain peoples whereabouts or to find out what work they had been carrying out. Many of them survived but many of them died.
There was a courtyard you were allowed out onto, where the Gestapo officers would hang as many as 7 people at a time, and shoot them too.
They had poor hygiene, some never being allowed to shower or bath. They were fed little, bits of bread and soup and they were cramped in small cells only really fit for 2 adults. It was mentioned in writings and by the Gestapo that towards the end of the war they had as many as 33 people in one tiny cell.
There was a memorial room, showing you the names of the people that were killed there. I couldn’t stay in there long, because it was making my angry – hearing things like:
‘…killed because she was a gypsy.’
‘…shot because he didn’t seem right.’
Some people were arrested and kept in solitary confinement for things they never even had evidence for!
What was most interesting is that the organisation at El-De Haus have preserved the writings on the walls of the cells written and drawn by the inmates. There were billboards upon billboards of the inscriptions, showing you who wrote them and what they were saying. Many of the prisoners were either Polish, French and German. What shocked me was that they even killed and tortured their OWN PEOPLE!
Above is an example of the writings and drawings on the cell walls. This picture has been taken from the El De Haus website – http://www.museenkoeln.de/ns-dokumentationszentrum/pages/286.aspx?s=286 14.02.2016.
So as I journeyed above the cells I then went into the exhibitions that were put amongst the offices of the Gestapo. The audio told me that the organisation wasn’t sure how to present these rooms to the public as they didn’t want to show any kind of acceptance for what these people did. They decided to strip the walls and leave them bare and create the floor to that that matched the cells below. Looking partly damp and partly dry and to make it look as disgusting as they could, just like the people that worked up there.
This part of the exhibition was very interesting in telling you how it all began and who the Gestapo really were. I was told of the propaganda put out to all the German people and how people were euthanised just for having a mental or physical disability, as in the eyes of the Nazi’s, the world would be a better place without them!
One thing that I didn’t know was that the Gestapo had created worker educational camps in Cologne where they would put people that didn’t want to work or didn’t show up for work during the war time in Germany. They would put them in there, force them into hard labour and stop all food (or give them barely anything.) They would also arrest some of them and send them to the cells just because they could. After the horrific treatment, they would then put them back to work, emaciated and tell them to work and if they didn’t they would be back to the camps. I’m not surprised that the German people supported the Nazi party. They had no choice! if they didn’t they would be tortured and killed.
This was a real eye opener for me coming to this museum. Another section of the War history that I didn’t know much about.
I heard one thing that did upset me. The German people that were arrested and sent to the El-De Haus and survived it, later then had to collect their pensions from the same building years after the war had ended. You would think that you would move all of that wouldn’t you to another building, or another part of the city. How horrifying must that have been, to have to go and pick up your pension in the same place you were treated so badly. Disgusting.
After that little insight! and getting really annoyed over the Germans I then went to find the Basillica of St Ursula where the bones of her and a 11,000 virgins are said to be. St Ursula and 11,000 virgins were massacred by the Huns back in 383.
Inside the above cabinets where bones of Ursula and 11,000 virgins.
The Basillica of St Ursula, was made to be into a bigger deal on the internet but you wouldn’t know this was here unless you had looked it up or known about it. I am glad I have seen this though, it was definitely something to see.
One thing I have realised is that we aren’t learning from the past. People now are being massacred by their own people. People are being tortured, killed all because they believe in something different. Even in the UK we are becoming racists and hurtful people all because people are dressing differently or worshipping a different religion to what we know. We aren’t learning AT ALL from the past but then you get tweets and status’ on Facebook saying ‘Lest We Forget’ from people that are pretty much contributing to the hatred in the 21st Century. When we say Lest We Forget, we are saying lets not forget the terrible things that happened to human beings in the past and lets stop it from happening again! But people are just sharing these posts and not truly thinking about how it’s all happening again and it will keep happening.
LIVE AND LET LIVE REGARDLESS OF RACE OR RELIGION. IT DOESN’T MATTER IF A MOSQUE HAS OPENED ON YOUR STREET, OR IF THE WOMAN NEXT DOOR ONLY SHOWS HER EYES WITH WHAT SHE WEARS. GO TO THE MOSQUE, LEARN ABOUT IT. GO TO THE WOMANS HOUSE AND INVITE HER FOR A CUP OF TEA AND LEARN ABOUT WHAT SHE WEARS AND WHY. DON’T JUST BE FRIGHTENED BY THE MEDIA AND BUILD A BRICK WALL AROUND THE UNUSUAL. BECAUSE IT’S THROUGH LEARNING AND ACCEPTING THAT WE CAN BECOME A BETTER WORLD AND A HAPPIER WORLD FOR OUR FUTURE GENERATIONS.
When I got home from my wonderful day of site seeing and thought provoking exhibitions I found these had been delivered to my door in Germany..How beautiful! They smell lovely too.
A great end to a great day.
For a lot of hatred there is in this world there is also a lot of love and thats what we need to focus on.
Much love to you all and if you ever go to Cologne visit these places above!