Welcome to Rügen

During this time, people are anxious to get out into the open once again. It´s normal, if you consider that the average living space in Germany is just a little more than 40 square meters per person. That´s why they talk about “die Decke fällt uns auf den Kopf!” (Literally: „The ceiling falls on our heads!“ i.e. it´s just too cramped and uptight). No small wonder, most people are rejoicing that public spaces are opening up again. Kids are going to school; restaurants are serving up a storm and even churches are back in business – and not just online. Tourist bureaus are coming up with all sorts of ideas of getting people to come and visit. The various federal states are trying to outgun each other, putting the best foot forward and playing their trump cards as effectively as possible. So, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is not going to be outgunned, opened up its many holiday destinations in a concerted effort to get the tourist branch flourishing once again. One of the favorite destinations there for all Germany is the island “Rügen”.  

Although in normal years, this German outpost in the “Baltic sea” is full with campers, cars, bicycles, pedestrians, sunbathers and other holidaymakers, numbers are down quite drastic. You can actually get to see the sea and the many beautiful landmarks and get your lungs full of fresh air which pummels you more or less constantly with tangy wisps of free flying sea-salt. But it´s more than just the sea on this Island, which is stoically engaged in its ongoing struggle to maintain itself against the ever now and again brutal upheaval of hurtling waves or sometimes deceptively calm waters nibbling away at the shoreline, but never tiring of undermining the lofty chalk cliffs, always testing them, waiting season for season and day in day out, seeking their fatal fall into oblivion in the ocean below – just because they can. But still, the Island holds and for long stretches goes about its farming business as if there was no sea. Poppy fields as beautiful as never. Nowhere else in Germany have I seen them stretch out as wide and colorful as this. Canola fields in the brightest yellow too, but then you have corn fields plain and simple. Miles of the most impressive avenues of oaks, linden, chestnuts and others too linking the pristine beech forests, which are an world natural heritage site and understandably so.  Very impressive trees – and for as far as you can see…

The old islanders were not very rich. Fishing, farming, working all day, perhaps even smuggling a bit, who knows? Sounds romantic and recalls days of pirates in the legendary league of Störtebeker and Co. Ernst Moritz Arndt for his part was more land-bound, but not less courageous he first fled to Sweden only to return and fight as rebel and turn-coat on the side of the Russians against the tyrannical French emperor Napoleon, who had defeated Prussia in Jena and Auerstadt. Although I know him from his clear confession “Vom Fels des Heils”, he wrotes some really revolutionary stuff too:

Der Mensch soll gehorchen mit Freiheit und das Rechte tun, weil es seinem Herzen gefällt. Und es sind viele Laster schändlich zu nennen, doch das Schändlichste von allen ist ein knechtischer Sinn. Denn wer die Freiheit verlor, der verlor jede Tugend, und dem zerbrochenen Mut hängen die Schanden sich an. Wer mit hündischen Sinn das Rechte verschweiget, der umschleicht mit dem Unrecht bald auch das Recht.

Katechimus Pg.8

The low-lying houses seeking the protection of the ground against the storms from the artic North, framed by cute little gardens – orchards, vegetable patches and always a myriad of flowers. Reminders of paradise lost. Robust churches, chapels and cathedrals even. Stocky. Firm. Somewhat daunting in their manly abrasiveness, but actually most comforting for those, who knew to trust in their enduring protection and safety. Unmoving, steadfast, confessional stalwarts – for eternities – just like the divine treasures guarded therein. Tourists come and go. And no wonder, they discover an idyllic destination – hiking trails without end, excellent biking trails too. Forests, glades and moors, lakes and rivers, hills and fields, towns and nearby cities, beaches, spas, saunas and the wide-open sea.  What do you need more for a holiday?  It´s enough for decent living – nearly perfect – if you ask me.  “Rügen” is worth a trip any day… good for a stopover, perhaps even for longer than that. Perhaps You should hurry though, before the Chinese get it. Don´t say I (or F.C. Delius!) didn´t warn you 🙂

Here´s the hymn “Vom Fels des Heils” – and hey, I am sorry, I didn´t find a translation:

1) Ich weiß, woran ich glaube, ich weiß, was fest besteht,
wenn alles hier im Staube wie Sand und Staub verweht;
ich weiß, was ewig bleibet, wo alles wankt und fällt,
wo Wahn die Weisen treibet und Trug die Klugen prellt.

2) Ich weiß, was ewig dauert, ich weiß, was nimmer lässt;
auf ewgen Grund gemauert steht diese Schutzwehr fest.
Es sind des Heilands Worte, die Worte fest und klar;
an diesem Felsenhorte halt ich unwandelbar.

3) Auch kenn ich wohl den Meister, der mir die Feste baut;
er heißt der Fürst der Geister, auf den der Himmel schaut,
vor dem die Seraphinen anbetend niederknien,
um den die Engel dienen: ich weiß und kenne ihn.

4) Das ist das Licht der Höhe, das ist der Jesus Christ,
der Fels, auf dem ich stehe, der diamanten ist,
der nimmermehr kann wanken, der Heiland und der Hort,
die Leuchte der Gedanken, die leuchtet hier und dort.

5) So weiß ich, was ich glaube, ich weiß, was fest besteht
und in dem Erdenstaube nicht mit als Staub verweht;
ich weiß, was in dem Grauen des Todes ewig bleibt
und selbst auf Erdenauen schon Himmelsblumen treibt.

Ernst Moritz Arndt, 1819

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
This entry was posted in Gedankensplitter, Inside Germany, Travels and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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