Weimar is the town of two great German poets, Goethe and Schiller, but also symbol of the Weimar Republik, founding place of the Hitler Youth, and claimed by the National Socialists as Hitler’s Capital, as the spiritual center of the tradition of German thought. The infamous Konzentrationslager Buchenwald lays on the Etterberg’s slope, here, an estimated 51,000 people were brutally killed.
Walking through Weimar, there is little that reminds one of the atrocities that casted a long and dark shadow over the city’s proud history. Instead, local inhabitants happily jumped on the new opportunities that have arised after the fall of the Iron Curtain, welcoming the influx of western tourists. The center of present day Weimar is a facade of entertainment, covering the fundaments of its history. Here, history is not the slow and heavy mass of time that accumulated and lays calm asleep. Instead, the silence of the historic current is overscreamed by the catering advertisements of local entrepeneurs, of the historic experience museum for instance.
At the Theater Platz the German National Theater is located. Here, the government of the democratic republic of Weimar, under the gold, red and black flag, fled toward during the violent years of the civil war, and the street violence of the Spartan Revolution, instignated by the Sowiet Union, and the fascist groups of soldiers, directed by the reactionary forces in German society. Now, the square is filled with drunkards, emptying their beer bottles in the shadow of the trees that surround the square, and youth punks hanging out on the steps of the German National Theater or the steps in the shadow of the Goethe and Schiller statue. But it is because of these marginal souls that the square remains its authenticity, which is washed out of Weimar by the transit flow of tourists and half-hearted smiles of the middle class shop owners.
We walk along the Schillerstrasse, the main shopping street, the most exploited and cheesy street of Weimar, where little authentic spirit has survived. Here also the Weimar Haus stands where the wax doll faces of Goethe and Schiller lure the visitors with the ‘experience of history.’ It is so detestable that is is embarrassing to enter the short hallway. A short way to the left lies the market place, where there is some original life to be found at the market stands. Past the Platz der Demokratie you get a view on the Town Palace, where Anna Pawlona lies buried. The palace is a composite building of a medieval tower and gate, with a baroque palace annex.
In a way, it is pleasant to leave Weimar again. It is a relieve to leave the heart of the center and walk around the depricated periphery around the Communist style trade hall. Weimar has for good been turned around from a center of thought, even though probably mostly mainstream thought, to a entertainment center, where visitors are showered in hospitality and platitudes.