CO-WRITTEN WITH SISTER COLUMN,
ERFURT, GERMANY- In Germany, we have quite a few satire magazines that poke fun at politics and social issues affecting Germany today. The Eulenspiegel is one of those satire magazines that is also one of the most popular a person can find at the book store. It was founded in 1954 and was the only known satire magazine in the former German Democratic Republic until German Reunification in 1990. Based in Berlin, the magazine still exists in its original form today (see link) but its origin goes back many centuries.
To the 15th Century and in the form of Till Eulenspiegel, that is. 🙂
The story of Till Eulenspiegel was first published as a chapbook in 1515 and is still considered a typical Middle German Folklore by many Germanists and historians today. The character Eulenspiegel: “is native of Brunswick whose picaresque career takes him to many places throughout the Holy Roman Empire. He plays practical jokes on his contemporaries, especially scatological in nature, exposing vices at every turn. His life is set in the first half of the 14th century, and the final chapters of the chapbook describe his death from the plague of 1350. His name translates to “owl mirror”, and the frontispiece of the 1515 chapbook, as well as his alleged tombstone in Mölln, Schleswig-Holstein, display the name in rebus writing, by an owl and a hand mirror.” Many artefacts honoring Eulenspiegel can be found today. Museums in Mölln (Schleswig-Holstein), Schöppenstedt, Presseck-Waffenhammer, and Damme (Belgium) are devoted to the works of Till Eulenspiegel, where as monuments honoring him can be found in Bernburg (Saale), Einbeck (Lower Saxony), Knetlingen, Calbe (Saale), Magdeburg,
….and Erfurt, the site of this year’s Krämerbrücke Festival.
As many as 130,000 tourist visited the bridge this past weekend and were taken aback by the thousands of shoes and quotes that covered the oldest bridge in the city and one of the oldest housed bridges of its kind in the world. The answer stems from Eulenspiegel’s folklore, which went along these lines:
One day in a small village, Till Eulenspiegel asked for 199 people to come follow him to the river. He announced that he was going to present a circus act and asked them to take off their left shoe and give it to him. He tied the shoe strings together and after placing them in a bag, he got onto a line he had tied to both sides of the river and balanced across it, before stopping halfway. He then took out the shoes and threw them down into the crowd, where they searched frantically for their left shoe. He was later pursued by the townspeople only to end in vain as he was hiding inside his mother’s house.
While the theme of shoes and Posters with commentaries by the most unpopular leaders, including Donald Trump, became the theme for this year’s Bridge Festival in Erfurt, it actually honored Eulenspiegel and his folklore in different ways. Firstly, volunteers donated their left shoe days before the three-day event so that they can hang them onto strings that went across from side to side (and from house to house) on the Bridge. Secondly, when the festival ended, the shoes were taken down but not before having small gifts inside for the owners to receive upon getting their shoes back. It was a creative way to honor Eulenspiegel with his “prank-style” decorations on the Bridge, making the visitors guess at the origins of the left shoe. 🙂
The Festival was bigger than in years past with over 190 booths offering arts and crafts as well as different Kinds of Food and beverage s that were typical of the region. Yet the Festival is typically musical as it had a combination of Medieval music and jazz that one could see in each of the seven market squares in Erfurt’s City Center and the Bridge itself.
Despite having mostly sunny skies, the Festival was shadowed by Germany’s loss to Mexico in the first round of the World Cup in Russia. While there was public viewing throughout much of the Festival, the mood was somewhat somber when Yogi’s 11 lost by a score of 1-0, ist first loss in the first round of the World Cup since 1982. The Coach Joachim (Yogi) Loewe is currently retooling the Team for ist upcoming match with Sweden in hopes that the defending World Champions of 2014 will be able to win the last two games and move on, defending their title against possible Teams that have been upending traditional Teams lately.
Will they succeed or will Yogi look for a new Job as a Coach, we will stay tuned and see. 🙂
In the meantime, enjoy the photos of the Festival both here as well as on the Chronicles’ Instagram page, not to mentioned the rest of the World Cup. 🙂 Information on the history of the Krämerbrücke can be found here as the Chronicles did a coverage on Erfurt’s bridges in 2012 and included this bridge as a separate part.