Archive for December, 2011

(Photo: Chrissie Dittmers)
European Culture: From Adiemus to Blue Spanish Eyes (Satis Shroff)

This year’s Christmas Concert in Kappel’s Festhalle began at 8pm with a song from Spain sung by the MGV-Kappel with the title ‘A la nanita nana,’ with Johannes Söllner as its conductor, a serious-looking young man with a bald head, and a goatee, but with an elegant gait. The way he sways his torso and extremities, you’d think a panther is about to pounce you. Johannes is a perfectionist and he has the talent to coax out the best performance from his singers of the men’s choir from Kappel. Every song bears its characteristic lilts, sudden burst of energy in the form of loud men’s voices that peter away. Ah, it’s a delight to watch this dynamic conductor lead his charges to new heights and it’s an honour and a pleasure to sing under his baton.

Next came a song from neighbouring France but in the German version with the title: ‘Hört der Engel Jubellieder.’ It begins slowly but I love the part when you have to sing ‘Gloria’ in excelcis deo..’ You do hear angels sing.

We went back to the 16th century and sang ‘Gaudete’ with much pomp and gusto. Söllner calls it ‘mit schmackes!’ That was our share of spiritual songs for the evening.

We went to the Heimat chest and fished out a German folksong ‘Nun Ade, du mein lieb Heimatland’ about a son who remembers his beloved country while travelling to foreign shores. The Heimat laughs benignly with its azure sky and greets the traveller with its meadows and fields. God knows, my heart is always with, sings the wandering son, but he has to go afar to seek his fortune.

The fifth song was another volkslied, as a folksong is called in German, penned by Friedrich Silcher: ‘Durch’s Wiesental gang I jetzt na,’ a long song with a sad ending sung in a light style with a heavy refrain: I have no treasure anymore. The treasure implied is the lover who doesn’t seem to be in his grave because he wasn’t true in his love towards her. The roses and the carnation have to wilt away like my love, she says, for I have my Schätzele no more.

Then came a jolly song about plantation workers from Jamaica: the Banana Boat song made popular by Harry Belafonte. Johannes Söllner sang the lead part and the labourers of the banana plantation were the men of the MGV-Kappel. The song was sun with the usual swing and a good piano beat. The song came to an end and suddenly the choir members had Bio-bananas in their hands as a gag. The audience raved and loved it.

The ‘Day-O’ song was followed by a love-song about a Mexican beauty and her ‘Blue Spanish Eyes’ sung by Satis Shroff with the Kappeler men’s choir singing the chorus. This brought the house down. The people love schmaltz and quite a lot of elderly Germans could remember the hit from the sixties composed by Bert Kämpfert and made famous by Al Martino.

The evening of international songs was ended with Karl Jenkin’s ‘Adiemus.’ An encore ensued with a song from Israel: ‘Hine ma Tov,’ with lovely, manly Hebrew intonation. The moderation of the men’s choir ‘Liederkranz’ was performed by Johannes Söllner, who established himself as an animator and made the audience answer his quiz and pranced and hopped around on the stage. The audience was putty in his hands.

Since Karin Peters was busy with her family affairs, a moderator of the South-West 4 did her job and received a lot of appreciation for his im promptu interpretations and announcements. The Musikverein began with ‘A Celtic Christmas’ with music by James L.Hosay and the conductor was Manfred Preiss, a thick-set man with a bald head, who has been conducting the Musicverein Kappel orchestra since over 30 years. Noah Schroeder’s rendering of ‘alla Milanese, Siciliano, Rondo Veneziano on his fagott was a treat for one’s ears with music by Kees Vlak, accompanied by the brass-orchestra. Other notable numbers were: ‘The Bremen Town Musicians (Hayato Hirose), the Images of a City (Francesco Sessini, Op.42) and the New York Overture (Kees Vlak). The last piece was one with feeling: percussions, clarinets, flutes reaching a crescendo only to melt away in recurring waves. Samba rhythm in the first half, followed German brass in a slow tempo mingled with bells chiming, a trumpet solo reminiscent of Milies Davis, a foxtrott played on the clarinet and the evening vanished like stardust on a dark Schwarzwald sky.

The history of the MGV-Kappel dates back to 1920 and initially it carried the name ‘Musik und Gesangverein’ under the leadership of Hermann Steiert. However, it was in Mai 1, 1932 that the official MGV_Kappel ‘Liederkranz’ was founded. Whereas in those thrifty days the membership-fee for the singers was 1 Reichsmark, today it is 15 euros per annum. Politics brought new changes in the vereins of Germany in general and on November 23,1933 the Singers’ Association (Bund) demanded that a meeting be held whereby the key word in those days of the Third Reich was ‘Gleichschaltung’ meaning thereby that all associations in the country had to have a common function: to serve the nation under Adolf Hitler. New terms were introduced: Vereinsführer, vice vereinsführer.

The World War II broke out on September 1, 1939 and a lot of MGV singers had to go to the battlefields. It was on may 8, 1945 that the big ethnic murders were brought to an end in Europe. Where ever you looked, you saw piles of rubble, dust and ashes left by the krieg. It was on July 13, 1947 that the MGV-Kappel ‘Liederkranz’ was given permission by the French military government to re-start the men’s choir.

Since the Musikverein and the men’s choir in Kappel have a common origin and split up later and hold the annual Weihnachtskonzert together, it would be wonderful if the two vereins would cooperate and coordinate music and songs together in future. Miteinander instead of hintereinander or nebeneinander, for through togetherness we can win the hearts of the audience.

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1. Interkultureller Freiburger Lesemarathon
Die Welt ist längst in Freiburg zuhause: Menschen aus über 80 unterschiedlichen Nationen leben hier. Einen Tag und eine Nacht lang soll die babilonische Seite Freiburgs gehört, gesehen und gefeiert werden. Das Centro Culturale Italiano e.V. veranstaltet zusammen mit Südwind e.V. den 1. interkulturellen Lesemarathon im Theater Freiburg. Die Kammerbühne wird zum weltgewandten Wohnzimmer, in dem FreiburgerInnen circa 60 Muttersprachen zum Klingen bringen: Sie lesen, zitieren, singen und skandieren literarische Texte, eigene Texte, Lieder, Gedichte. Für eine Übersetzung ins Deutsche ist gesorgt. Für kleine Speisen und Getränke ebenfalls. Damit das Ohr ganz Läufer ist in diesem Marathon.

My name’s Satis Shroff and come originally from Nepal where I worked as a journalist. I am a lecturer at the Uniklinik Freiburg, Uni Freiburg, Volkshochschule-Freiburg, and in Basle. I love teaching Creative Writing and medical subjects. I live in Freiburg-Kappel and am the Schriftführer of the MGV-Kappel. I love singing songs (Russian, Broadway, German songs, Hebrew, African and Nepalese and Hindi songs. In my poems and articles I write about   themes like longing, love, the agony of war, the discrimination against Gurkhas, togetherness, dignity of humans, tolerance and one-world.

Awards: I was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize and also the Kulture prize of Green City Freiburg for my social engagement and was nominated by Green City Cluster Freiburg for the Deutsche Engagement Preis in Berlin 2011.

I’ll be reading the following poems:

1. Summertime I or II

2. A Gurkha Mother

3. The Lure of the Himalayas



SUMMERTIME I (Satis Shroff)

I sat in the garden
With Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure on my lap,
And watched a small butterfly
With dark spots on its frail wings,
Violet patterns on its tail.
It was Aglais utricae
Flattering lightly
Between the marigolds
And chrysanthemums.

The Potentilla nepalensis
Was growing well
Under the shade of the rhododendrons.
The great pumpkin was spreading
Its leafy tentacles everywhere.
The tomatoes were fighting for light
Hiding beneath the pumpkin’s gigantic green leaves.

A Papilio machaon with its swallow-tail
Came from no where.
The laughter of the children,
As they swung in the garden’s two swings
Were a delight to one’s soul.

Little Florentin’s fear of bees,
Natasha’s morbid fear of spiders,
Elena’s garden gymnastics
And Julian’s delight in discovering
New insects, snails and snakes.

Holding hands we strolled in our garden.
You watered the flowers and trees,
I removed long, brown snails,
A hobby-gardener of Nepalese descent,
In a lovely house with character in Zähringen,
An Allemanic stronghold.
Once the subject of dispute
Between Austria and France,
Now a sleepy residential area of Freiburg.

* * * 


SOMMERZEIT I (Satis Shroff)

Ich saß im Garten,

Thomas Hardys „Herzen im Aufruhr“ auf dem Schoß,

und betrachtete einen kleinen Schmetterling

mit dunklen Flecken auf den zarten Flügeln

und violett gemustertem Schwanz.

Es war ein Aglais urticae,

schwerelos flatternd

zwischen Ringelblumen

und Chrysanthemen.


Die Potentilla nepalensis
gedieh prächtig
im Schatten der Alpenrosen.

Der große Kürbis streckte
seine wuchernden Tentakel nach allen Seiten.

Versteckt unter seinen grünen Riesenblättern
kämpften die Tomatenpflanzen ums Licht.
Aus dem Nichts tauchte ein Papilio machaon auf

mit seinem Schwalbenschwanz.

Das Lachen der Kinder

auf den beiden Schaukeln im Garten

erfüllte die Seele mit der reinsten Freude.

Der kleine Florentin mit seiner Angst vor Bienen,

Natashas morbide Furcht vor Spinnen,

Elenas Gartengymnastik

Und Julians Entzücken beim Entdecken

Neuer Insekten, Schnecken und Echsen.


Händchenhaltend schlenderten wir durch den Garten.
Du wässertest Blumen und Bäume,

ich sammelte lange, braune Schnecken,

ein Hobbygärtner nepalesischer Herkunft

in einem charmanten Häuschen in Zähringen,

der alten alemannischen Burg.

Damals umkämpft

zwischen Österreich und Frankreich,

heute verschlafener Vorort von Freiburg.

* * *


Zeitgeistlyrik: SUMMERTIME II (Satis Shroff)

My German Grandma

Is an early bird.

She discerns the birds,

Chirping and tweeting outside her window.

It’s six O’clock.

Feels the rays of the morning sun,

On her parched skin.

Her Siam cat Sirikit

Jumps out of the bed,

Stretches itself and yawns.

The old grand lady shuffles

To the bathroom in her blue gown.

Later she goes to the bakery,

To get her croissants and buns.

She hasn’t read the Sunday Zeitung,

Hasn’t heard the radio,

Watched no TV.

The bakery is closed,

She notices.

Has the baker gone to Mallorca,

The Teutonic grill?

The street is empty.

No tram, no bus,

Not a soul.

She turns around to walk back home.

‘Unverschämt’ shouts Grandma.

She’s ill-tempered this morning.

Time seems to drag at a snail’s pace,

For an octogenarian.

It’s the last Sunday

Of the month of March.

Middle European Time began at 2 am,

When she was dreaming in her cosy bed.

The clocks were turned

From two to three am.

The world was synchronised.


But not Grandma’s biological clock.

An hour later Frau Fruttiger greets her,

‘Guten Tag’ she replied.

Her keen eyes see that her neighbour

Has a paper bag with hot buns

In her basket.

‘The bakery was closed an hour ago,’ she says.

Frau Fruttiger smiles benignly and says:

‘It’s open now.

We have Summer Time.’

Grandma mutters inaudibly:

‘Sommerzeit. Winterzeit.

So ein Unsinn.’


* * *

Lyrik: A GURKHA MOTHER  (Satis Shroff)

(Death of a Precious Jewel)


The gurkha with a khukri

But no enemy

Works for the Queen of England,

Yet gets shot at

In missions he doesn’t comprehend.

Order is hukum,

Hukum is life

Johnny Gurkha still dies

Under foreign skies.

He never asks why

Politics isn’t his style

He’s fought against all and sundry:

Turks, Tibetans, Italians and Indians

Germans, Japanese, Chinese

Argentineans and Vietnamese.

Indonesians and Iraqis.

Loyalty to the utmost

Never fearing a loss.

The loss of a mother’s son

From the mountains of Nepal.

Her grandpa died in Burma

For the glory of the British.

Her husband in Mesopotemia

She knows not against whom

No one did tell her.

Her brother fell in France,

Against the Teutonic hordes.

She prays to Shiva of the Snows for peace

And her son’s safety.

Her joy and her hope

Farming on a terraced slope.

A son who helped wipe her tears

And ease the pain in her mother’s heart.

A frugal mother who lives by the seasons

And peers down to the valleys

Year in and year out

In expectation of her soldier son.

A smart Gurkha is underway

Heard from across the hill with a shout

‘It’s an officer from his brigade.

A letter with a seal and a poker-face

“Your son died on duty,” he says,

“Keeping peace for the Queen of England,

And the United Kingdom.”

A world crumbles down

The Nepalese mother cannot utter a word

Gone is her son,

Her precious jewel.

Her only insurance and sunshine

In the craggy hills of Nepal.

And with him her dreams

A spartan life that kills.


gurkha: soldier from Nepal

khukri: curved knife used in hand-to-hand combat

hukum: Befehl/command/order

shiva: a god in Hinduism




Der Verlust des Sohnes einer Mutter (Satis Shroff)

Der Gurkha

Mit einem gefährlichen Khukri

Aber kein Feind in Sicht,

Arbeitet für die Königin von England,

Und wird erschossen

Für Einsätze,

Die er nicht begreift.

Befehl ist Hukum,

Hukum ist sein Leben

Johnny Gurkha stirbt noch

Unter fremdem Himmel.

Er fragt nie warum

Die Politik ist nicht seine Stärke.

Er hat gegen alle gekämpft:

Türken, Tibeter, Italiener, und Inder

Deutsche, Japaner, Chinesen,

Vietnamesen und Argentinier.

Loyal bis ans Ende,

Er trauert keinem Verlust nach.

Der Verlust des Sohnes einer Mutter,

Von den Bergen Nepals.

Ihr Großvater starb in Birmas Dschungel

Für die glorreichen Engländer.

Ihr Mann fiel in Mesopotamien,

Sie weiß nicht gegen wen,

Keiner hat es ihr gesagt.

Ihr Bruder ist in Frankreich gefallen,

Gegen die teutonische Reichsarmee.

Sie betet Shiva von den Schneegipfeln an

Für Frieden auf Erden, und ihres Sohnes Wohlbefinden.

Ihr einzige Freude, ihre letzte Hoffnung,

Während sie den Terrassenacker

Auf einem schroffen Hang bestellt.

Ein Sohn, der ihr half,

Ihre Tränen zu wischen

Und den Schmerz in ihrem mütterlichen Herz

zu lindern.

Eine arme Mutter, die mit den Jahreszeiten lebt,

Jahr ein und Jahr aus, hinunter in die Täler schaut

Mit Sehnsucht auf ihren Soldatensohn.

Ein Gurkha ist endlich unterwegs

Man hört es über den Bergen mit einem Geschrei.

Es ist ein Offizier von seiner Brigade.

Ein Brief mit Siegel und ein Pokergesicht

„Ihren Sohn starb im Dienst,“

sagt er lakonisch:

„Er kämpfte für die Königin von England

Und für den Vereinigten Königreich.“

Eine Welt bricht zusammen

Und kommt zu einem Ende.

Ein Kloß im Hals der Nepali Mutter.

Nicht ein Wort kann sie herausbringen.

Weg ist ihr Sohn, ihr kostbares Juwel.

Ihr einzige Versicherung und ihr Sonnenschein.

In den unfruchtbaren, kargen Bergen,

Und mit ihm ihre Träume

Ein spartanisches Leben,

Das den Tod bringt.

* * *











The Lure of the Himalayas (Satis Shroff,)

Once upon a time,

Near the town of Kashgar,
I, a stranger in local clothes was captured
By the sturdy riders of Vali Khan.
What was a stranger
With fair skin and blue eyes,
Looking for in Vali Khan’s terrain?
I, the stranger spoke a strange tongue.
‘He’s a spy sent by China.
Behead him, ’ barked the Khan’s officer.
I pleaded and tried to explain
My mission in their country.
It was all in vain.

On August 26,1857
I, Adolph Schlagintweit,
a German traveller, an adventurer,
Was beheaded as a spy,
Without a trial.

I was a German who set out on the footsteps
Of the illustrious Alexander von Humboldt,
With my two brothers Hermann and Robert,
From Southhampton on September 20,1854
To see India, the Himalayas and Higher Asia.
The mission of the 29000km journey
Was to make an exact cartography
Of the little known countries,
Sans invitation, I must admit.

In Kamet we reached a 6785m peak,
An elevation record in those days.
We measured the altitudes,
Gathered magnetic, meteorological,
And anthropological data.
We even collected extensive
Botanical, zoological and ethnographic gems.

Hermann and I made 751 sketches,
Drawings, water-colour and oil paintings.
The motifs were Himalayan panoramas,
Single summits, glacier formations,
Himalayan rivers and houses of the natives.
Padam valley, near the old moraine
Of the main glacier at Zanskar in pencil and pen.
A view from Gunshankar peak 6023 metres,
From the Trans-Sutlej chain in aquarelle.
A European female in oriental dress in Calcutta 1855.
Brahmin, Rajput and Sudra women draped in saris.
Kristo Prasad, a 35 year old Rajput
Photographed in Benaras.
An old Hindu fakir with knee-long rasta braids,

Bhot women from Ladakh, snapped in Simla.
Kahars, Palki-porters from Bihar,
Hindus of the Sudra caste.
A Lepcha armed with bow and arrows,
In traditional dress up to his calves
And a hat with plume.
Kistositta, a 25 year old Brahmin from Bengal,
Combing the hair of Mungia,
A 43 year old Vaisa woman.
A wandering Muslim minstrel Manglu at Agra,
With his sarangi.
A 31 year old Ram Singh, a Sudra from Benaras,
Playing his Kolebassen flute.
The monsoon,
And thatched Khasi houses at Cherrapunji

The precious documents of our long journey
Can be seen at the Alpine Museum Munich.
Even a letter,
Sent by Robert to our sister Matilde,
Written on November 2,1866 from Srinagar:
‘We travelled a 200 English mile route,
Without seeing a human being,
Who didn’t belong to our caravan.
Besides our horses, we had camels,
The right ones with two humps,
Which you don’t find in India.
We crossed high glacier passes at 5500m
And crossed treacherous mountain streams.’

My fascination for the Himalayas
Got the better of me.
I had breathed the rare Himalayan air,
And felt like Icarus.
I wanted to fly higher and higher,
Forgetting where I was.
My brothers Hermann and Robert left India
By ship and reached Berlin in June,1857.

I wanted to traverse the continent
Disregarding the dangers,
For von Humboldt was my hero.
Instead of honour and fame,
My body was dragged by wild riders in the dust,
Although I had long left the world.

A Persian traveller, a Muslim with a heart
Found my headless body.
He brought my remains all the way to India,
Where he handed it to a British colonial officer.

It was a fatal fascination,
But had I the chance,
I’d do it again.

* * *

 Two lamas from the Rumtek Cloister (Sikkim)

Die Sehnsucht des Himalaya (Satis Shroff)

Lange ist es her,

In der Nähe von Kashgarstadt,

Wurde ich, ein Fremder, gefangen

Von den wilden Reitern des Vali Khan.

Was macht ein Fremder,

Mit blasser Haut und blauen Augen,

In Vali Khans Gebiet?

Ich, der Fremde, der eine seltsame Sprache sprach.

„Er ist ein Spion von China.

Köpf ihm,“ brüllte der Kahns Offizier.

Ich flehte und bat um Gnade,

Versuchte meine Mission zu erklären.


Am 26. August 1857

Ich, Adolph Schlagintweit,

Ein Deutscher Reisender,

Ein Abenteuerer,

Wurde als Spion enthauptet,

Ohne eine Verhandlung.

Ich war ein Deutscher

Auf Alexander von Humbolts Fußstapfen,

Mit meinen Brüdern Herman und Robert,

Von Southhampton am 20, September 1954 gestartet,

Um Indien, das Himalayagebirge und Hochasien

Zu sehen und zu erkunden.

Die Mission von der 29,000km Reise

War, eine exakte Kartographie anzufertigen,

Von den unbekannten Ländern.

Sans Einladung,

Ich muss gestehen.

In Kamet erreichten wir ein 6785m hohen Gipfel,

Eine erstaunliche Höhe in jenen Tagen.

Wir haben die Höhen gemessen,

Meteorologische, magnetische,

Und anthropologische Daten dokumentiert.

Sogar botanische, zoologische

Und ethnographische Raritäten

Haben wir gesammelt.

Hermann und ich machten 751 Skizzen,

Aquarelle und Ölbilder.

Die Motive waren Himalaya-Panoramas,

Einzelne Gipfel, Gletscherformationen,

Reißende Himalayaflüße

Und exotische Häuser und Hütten

Von den Einheimischen.

Padamtal, neben der alten Moraine,

Von dem Hauptgletscher in Zanskar

In Bleistift und Feder.

Ein Blick vom dem 6023 m Gaurishanker-Gipfel,

Von der Trans-Sutlej-Kette in Aquarell.

In Kalkutta 1855 eine europäische Dame

In orientalischen Kleidern.

Brahmin, Rajput und Sudra Frauen,

Gewickelt in meterlange Saris.

Kristo Prasad, ein 35jähriher Rajput,

Photographiert in Benaras.

Ein alter Hindu Fakir,

Mit einer knielangen Rastafrisur.

Bhotfrauen von Ladakh, aufgenommen in Simla.

Kahars, Palki-Träger von Bihar,

Hindus von der Sudra-Kaste.

Ein Lepcha bewaffnet mit Pfeil und Bogen,

In traditionellen Tracht,

Die bis zu seinem Unterschenkel reichten,

Und einen Hut mit Feder.

Kistositta, ein 25jährige Brahmane aus Bengalen,

Kämmte die Haare von Mungia,

Einer 42jährigen Vaisa Frau.

Manglu in Agra, ein reisender

Muslime Bänklesänger mit seine Sarangi

Ram Singh, ein 31jähriger Sudra aus Benaras,

Der seine Kolebassenflöte spielte.

Der Monsun,

Und die strohgedeckten Häuser in Cherrapunji

Die kostbaren Dokumente von unserer langen Reise,

Kann man im alpinen Museum in München anschauen.

Sogar ein Brief von Robert,

An unsere Schwester Matilde,

Geschrieben am 2. November 1866 von Srinagar:

„Wir sind eine 200 englische Meilen Route gefahren

Ohne ein Mensch zu sehen,

Der nicht zu unserer Karavane gehörte.

Außer unseren Pferden, haben wir Kamele,

Die richtigen, mit zwei Höckern,

Die Du in Indien nicht findest.

Wir überquerten 5500m Hohe Gletscherpässe,

Und gefährliche Bergflüsse.“

Meine Faszination für das Himalayagebirge

Brachte mich um.

Ich hatte die Himalayaluft eingeatmet,

Und vergaß wo ich war.

Ich fühlte mich wie einst Ikarus,

Und wollte höher und noch höher

Und vergaß wo ich war.

Mein Brüder Hermann und Robert

Verliessen Indien mit dem Schiff

Und erreichten Berlin in Juni 1857.

Ich, meinerseits, wollte die Kontinent durchqueren,

Ohne Gedanken an Gefahren,

Die vor mir lagen,

Denn Humboldt war mein Held.

Anstatt Ruhm und Ehrung,

Mein Körper wurde

Von wilden Reitern in den Staub gezerrt,

Obwohl ich schon längst

Die irdische Welt verlassen hatte.

Ein persischer Reisender, ein Muslim mit Herz,

Fand meinen kopflosen Körper.

Er brachte mein Leichnam,

Über die Himalaya nach Indien,

Und übergab ihn zu einem britischen Offizier.

Es war eine fatale Faszination.

Aber hätte ich die Chance,

Wurde ich dasselbe wieder tun.


* * *

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The 4th of December is celebrated as Barbara Day after the saint who is regarded as a protector of the hillfolk in Germany and elsewhere in countries where people work in mines.


According to a legend from the 4th century, the holy Barbara is said to have to have died a gruesome death as a martyr. She is regarded as one of the fourteen helpers-in-need and worshipped as the protector of the miners. In Freiburg-Kappel, the worship of St.Barbara dates back to 1146 at Eichberg in Litterweiler, which lies to the east of Freiburg, and has been documented in a certificate dedicated to the holy Barbara. It is said that the name-giving is closely related to the mining industry in Kappel.


In 1967 a kindergarden was built in Kappel and it received the name St. Barbara. Among the miners of Kappel the Barbara Day has always been regarded as a special day. This tradition has been documented in a certificate by a priest named J. Vitt who composed the lyrics of the St. Barbara (Miner’s song) as well as the popular Kappeler song. Both songs were composed in the year 1936. We, the men’s choir of the MGV-Kappel ‘Liederkranz’ sang both songs at the inauguration ceremony of the Bergbau exhibition at the Kappel’s  town council, located in the Grosstal Strasse 45. The project manager was our good friend Ernst Ehemann, who’s father-in-law Joseph Sumser gave his knowledge about the mining-industry to Ernst.


The work in the mine was, and still is, extremely dangerous. On St. Barbara’s Day the people remember the miners who lost their lives in the recesses of the Schauinsland and Kappeler  hillsides where mining was done. The life-span of the miners were short and the miner’s pulmonary disease was dreaded.


The miners felt that they were responsible for the well-being of each other. They organised themselves since 750 years in an association called ‘Knappschaft’ in German and showed the solidarity and mutual support when someone was ill, couldn’t go to work, due to gerontological reasons or the near and dear one of the miners were left behind, families that were in need and comrades who’d died in the mines.


Much like the ‘guthi’ among the people of Nepal, the Kappeler ‘Knappschaft’ is the oldest social security organisation and became a model for the social insurance in Germany later. Nevertheless, it must be mentioned that not all people who are in emergency situations , ill and old are not sufficiently insured. Yes, in a modern country like Germany there are people who are impoverished, especially the children and single-mothers. It is hoped that those responsible in politics care about a real solidarity and assistance for the needy and the underdogs of the German society.


Our planet earth bares an endless treasure in its soil such as ores, coal, minerals, uranium, salts, oil, precious stones, gold and silver. The miners have been bringing these and other treasures since centuries out of Mother Nature’s womb. But how Man uses these treasures is another matter, for the human being tends to be unfortunately infected with greed, exploitation, misuse and extravagance which in turn brings danger to peace, tolerance, miteinander (togetherness). There is always the temptation of accumulating wealth at the cost of others. We can only hope that Man will make good use of the treasures that Mother Nature bestows upon us with more responsibility and respect for ecology and natural resources.


If you come to Kappel’s Schauinsland school you can see a mural on its front entrance painted by Benedikt Schaufelberger. It depicts three miners in their overalls, helmets and mining implements. A stylish blonde housewife sits barefoot near her playful children. The school was built after the World War II. There was a lot to be done in Germany in those days and the motto was: carpe diem and ‘trust morning only a little.’ The school’s first Hausmeister, who looked after the school’s non-academic sector, was a miner named Emil Krauss.


In a book about Kappel and its history with the title ‘Kappel im Tal’ Erwin Steiert devotes a chapter on: the Bergbau in Kappel from 1872 till1954. He mentions: ‘ Unfortunately there’s  a Bergmuseum neither in Hofsgrund nor in Kappel.’ But the Kultur und Kunstverein has made a start with Ernst Ehemann as a pioneer of the Miner’s Museum in Kappel’s town council. Perhaps a day might come when Kappel has enough money from Freiburg and Stuttgart to build a museum for its sons who dedicated their lives in the mines of Schauinsland and Kappel in their search and excavation for lead, zinc, gold and silver.


Ernst Ehemann was of the opinion that the museum should be made known throughout the world and children should be motivated to view the exhibits dealing with the mining industry, because those are the roots of the people of Kappel and Schauinsland. To this end, the MGV-Kappel sang the olde miner’s songs. If it hadn’t been for the silver mines in Schauinsland, Kappel and Zähringen, Freiburg would have remained an impoverished town. The wealth brought to Freiburg through the mines in the mountains was used to build the Freiburger cathedral (Münster). Today some 303,000 visitors come to the Schauinsland. Niklas von Gayling (FDP), a landlord and castle-owner from Ebnet praised the good relationship between Ebnet and kappel. Since the days of mining are almost over in this part of the Black Forest, Schauinsland’s future lies in the water it delivers to Freiburg’s growing population.


On display at the museum were: a boring-machine from 1820, a St. Barbara statue as a   holy figure from the Black Forest, a Bergman’s parade uniform in black studded with brass buttons on the breast and lots of mining equipment. In front of the town council there was also a rusty mining-wagon for the ore-transport on railway tracks.


In my head was the haunting melody of the miner’s song (Bergmannslied) depicting the fear and rising lonesomeness in the pitch dark tunnels and shafts and the thoughts of his beloved:


Ade, ade,ade,ade!

Herzensliebste mein!

Und da unten

In den tiefem, finstern Schacht

-bei der Nacht,

da denk ich dein.

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