Friday, February 28, 2014

A Statue in the Kurpark

This is one of those history lessons that I occasionally toss out.

Behind the casino in the Kurpark.  It's an English-grounds....designed for luxury visitors who came to Wiesbaden for the "cure".

The "cure" was mostly for the wealthy of Europe (not just Germans).  So you'd claim stress or anxiety, or symptoms of an unknown variety.  You'd pack up a chest of fine clothing, hope on the train, and arrive in Wiesbaden.  There were several upscale hotels, which you'd check into.

Over the coming weeks, you'd walk over to the casino in town and gamble.  You'd eat fine food, drink the best of Hessen wine, and sit in warm spa waters.  You'd sit and be visited by the distinguished doctor so-v-so, who would attend to your ailments (mostly fake).  You'd chat with other distinguished ailing folks, and pamper yourself to some "cure".

Along the way, you'd meet fascinating characters....political of wealth.....and writers.

So, this statue above is the city of Wiesbaden's way of honoring one of it's long-term "guests".  Gustav Freytag.

About ten minutes walking along the trail of the Kurpark....behind the will come to this large bulky statue works.

Gustav has a fascinating slant on life.  He would end up writing one of the ten biggest German books of the 1800s.  Debits and Credits.....published in 1855.  Gustav was around thirty-nine at the time, and this one book would propel him to be an authority.....on the terrible ills facing Germany.  Namely...Polish people, Jews, and living beyond your means.  The social character of the book dwells on the wealthy and their manipulation of the economy......and that financial spirals are just around the corner unless you establish rules, regulation, and ensure the wealthy are kept under control.

Yeah, at the heart of this this gentle jab that Jews are manipulating the business market of Germany.  Published in would get picked up and discussed at length by the intellectual and political classes of Germany.  Needless to wasn't that popular with Jews.

From 1876 to 1881 (five years)....Gustav Freytag was a regular in Wiesbaden.   He lectured....he spoke.....he was a invited guest to various dinners and parties.  When he spoke....he spoke with authority, and influenced a fair number of visiting soak up his stance on the broad situation of business, economy, and change required.

Folks in Wiesbaden thought highly of Gustav, and after his death....erect this statue in the Kurpark.  In some ways.....if you wrote up the top twenty things you'd do during your extended stay for the "cure".....from 1876 to 1881....getting to some function and hearing Gustav speak....would have been on that list.

The other curious part about this that Gustav Freytag stayed at the old Hotel Rose....which is a five-minute walk from the casino.

The Rose was a high-class establishment....probably one of the five best hotels in Wiesbaden in this era.  No one says much of the deal that Gustav had with hotel management, but one might assume that he was a guest well as an employee....lecturing folks and providing social commentary entertainment.

The Rose?'s hotel days kinda ended after WW II.  The US Air Force took control of it for a brief period (1945-1948).  For a while, it ran as a hotel but needed massive renovation.  So around got fixed up....but would have fewer rooms and be used for a number of years as a long-term stay facility.  You could say that it was slipping in status.

In the mid-1990s....there was an ambitious plan to turn the Hotel Rose into an old-fashioned upscale hotel again.  This apparently ran into bankruptcy issues, and got dropped.

A year or two later....the Hotel Rose gets picked up by the Hessen state real estate organization.  For four years around was under massive transform a fairly old building....into a modern state office building.  Today?  It's the Hessen state headquarters for the governor of the state.

If you walk by the state building....there's hardly anything to remind you of the hotel status....although the place looks grand and upscale from the exterior.

So, to put this all into prospective.....a German intellectual writer wrote a Uncle Tom's Cabin-type book....slamming the Jews and wealthy elite.....gets hired up to be a lecture celebrity with visiting wealthy Germans and Europeans....preaching his thoughts....and is respected enough at the end to get a five-star statue deal in a corner of the city park.

If you asked anyone from Wiesbaden to explain this....ninety-nine percent won't even be able to identify the statue, it's location, or what Gustav Freytag did.  Maybe three percent might remember Debits and Credits as a book.....but I doubt if I could find more than a hundred residents of the city of 260,000 who've ever read it, and most would not click on the thought of the Jew-baiting....already at work in 1855.

So, it is with left to be forgotten.

No comments: