One Day in Germany 1

Explanation for this One Day Trip

(Many words, NO photos, to start the photo pages now, click here)

I took one personal day when I visited Northern Germany for a week of meetings in November, 2011.

My motive for that one free day was to visit the grave of Hermann Löns, poet and novelist.

I have done several things on this site that tell about the life of Hermann Löns. But by no means did I even try to write a biography.

I was interested in Löns, as I have explained elsewhere, because the person in charge of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands handed out an abridged version of Löns’ famous novel The War Wolves.

This novel was set during the Thirty Years’ War, a war of religion (and commerce) that devastated the German countryside. As much as half the population may have died from direct effects of the war, and the indirect effects: starvation and illness including the plague.

Löns gives us some individuals to follow over the course of this brutal war, and we experience farmers became a fierce and merciless defensive force, taking on any marauding army.  No matter whether the farmers were sympathetic to the marauders' alleged cause or not, they all lived off those who worked the land and they all stole, burned, raped and killed.  The farmers had an absolute right of self-defense.

So what would German soldiers have gotten from this tale if they read their ‘Hitler’s-Birthday Present’ from their commander? Would they have concluded that, as Germans, they had an absolute right to be as brutal as need be to aid the Fatherland? Or would they instead see themselves as the marauding army and the Dutch Resistance fighter as the Hermann Löns of this country?

I suspect, as I explained elsewhere, that in the obvious interpretation lies the reason for the commander’s having committed suicide on his way to Berlin, to personally rebuked by Heinrich Himmler.

The commander of the German occupation in the Netherlands was in a vehement disagreement over the treatment of the Dutch people. Dutch people were being severely brutalized because of escalating sabotage activities by the Dutch Resistance.

Schmidt thought the level of German occupation force violence was out of proportion to the threat. He passed out this little Löns booklet. A few months later he boarded a train for Berlin, and threw himself out when it was moving.

That is my interpretation, because it seems self-consistent. Others feel it may have been an accident, or that he was pushed. I find both of those scenarios less likely. People of that stature don’t fall from moving trains, and who would want to deprive Himmler of an opportunity to mete out his personal brand of justice?

Himmler was so taken with Löns’ story that he was setting up a secret resistance toward the war’s end that was code-named The Warwolves. Hitler was so taken by the super-human hero of this story that he caused Löns’ remains to be taken from a soldiers’ grave and reburied where the grave marker now stands. Hitler also named two of his secret front-line headquarters The Warwolf.

Did Löns have a clue about the popularity of his work with the National Socialists? Of course not. He died early in the First World War. He felt the need to defend his country, joined the army, was sent to France, and was almost immediately killed in action. He never knew the Nazis and the love they would have for his heroic story.

But he knew the German people and the love they would have for his story. It was a best-seller. It still sells well.

OK, so I was on business in the small town of Peine, and needed to get to Bad Fallingbostel. The train is 'the thing' in this part of the world, excellent, clean, on-time service at a very decent price.

On the way we rode through farms and villages and woods. The woods, dense woods even, became the major landscape toward the destination, which gave me great pleasure. I hoped to be walking through woods, soon.

The next page will take you to Bad Fallingbostel  to see its river, park, and surrounding woods, after that we go to the grave site.  The rest of the pages in this one-day visit series are about train stops, in Hannover and Köln.

Go to Bad Fallingbostel and its surroundings

Go to Hermann Löns' grave and memorial markers

Go to Hannover for a quick walk through town

Go to Köln (Cologne) and see the Dom (cathedral), outside only

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