In Friedberg castle there is a secondary school of the type known in Germany as a "Gymnasium" -- not the same as the English word! This type of school is supposed to cater to roughly the upper third of German pupils, and at the end they have final exams to determine if they are awarded a certificate called Abitur (or Abi for short), which entitles them to go on to university.
You always know when it is exam time, because the walls are covered with big signs, often written on old bed sheets, giving words of encouragement to the pupils as they go in for their exams.
I found this first one interesting because it is written in three languages: "Allez allez Eva" in French, then "Hajde svojim putem, idi dalje uz naše zagrljaje pa da kožeš" etc. in what I believe is Bosnian (can anybody tell me what it means? -- the online translators can't deal with it) and then three lines of good wishes in German.
Update: Thanks to VT member Regina1965 for this comment: "Hajde svojim putem, idi dalje uz naše zagrljaje pa da kažeš: "Maturu sam dobio" - nije to sala, nije to sala" means: "Be on your way, go further from our embrace and say that you graduated, it is not a small thing (not a joke)" roughly translated, maybe a Serbian here can give a better translation.
Some arch-conservative Germans will no doubt be unhappy about the non-Germans at the school, because they still can't admit that Germany is a country full of immigrants, most of whom are here to stay. And some of the children of immigrants even attend good schools and get their Abitur, just like the children of well-to-do Germans.
Second photo: Now who do you suppose "M.v.E.-E." might be? I'm sure you knew right away that these are the initials of an obscure Austrian writer named Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916). Her aphorism Gelassenheit ist eine anmutige Form des Selbstbewusstseins means roughly "Calmness is a graceful form of self-confidence." In other words (paraphrased probably by this pupil's father): "Stay cool. We believe in you."
Third photo: "Go Tolga! Today Abi, tomorrow the world."
Fourth photo: "Full speed to your Abi! We believe in you, Larissa!"
GPS 50°20'26.06" North; 8°45'14.49" East
Atomic Energy? No Thanks!
A retired fireman was the speaker at a small anti-atomic-energy demonstration that I happened to see in Friedberg. He said, among other things: "I'm a fireman. I went to New York twice to help out at Ground Zero. In Chernobyl the firemen were the first ones to be sent in to keep the place from blowing up. Those guys are all dead now. And again at Fukushima the firemen were sent in to stop the catastrophe. We're so idiotic, we do that."
While he was speaking he demonstrated the protective suit and gas mask that they were issued years ago to use in case of an atomic catastrophe. As he pointed out, it was little more than a plastic raincoat and rubber boots -- unlikely to be of much help against nuclear contamination.
Second and third photos: Here the fireman is putting on his radiation suit while explaining how ineffective it is.
Fourth photo: Demonstrators with an 'Atomic Energy? No Thanks!' flag.
GPS 50°19'59.16" North; 8°45'8.43" East
Get me out of here!
This is a clever political poster that I saw in Bruchenbrücken, a village that now belongs to Friedberg though it is actually six kilometers south of the city.
In this poster the guy in the car is stuck in a traffic jam and is holding a sign reading "Get me out of here!" The text below says: "Time for more buses and trains. Time for green."
For those who didn't get the joke I should explain that one of the trashy commercial television channels in Germany has a program called "I'm a star, get me out of here!" (based on a similar program in the UK). In this program, so-called stars (better known in Germany as "C-Promis" meaning Grade C celebrities that hardly anyone has ever heard of) are put in a jungle camp and have to do unpleasant things and get on each other's nerves until the viewers vote to let some of them out. The voting is in the form of telephone calls and text messages, both of which are very lucrative for the television company.
The Greens did very well in the 2011 elections, by the way. In Friedberg they got 19.4 % of the votes in the city council election, which is exactly double the percentage they had five years before.
GPS 50°18'7.95" North; 8°47'19.81" East
How Friedberg was saved from destruction
In a small square within the castle walls there are three text panels, in German only, describing the events of March 1945.
World War II was coming to an end. Friedberg was full of refugees and surrounded by American tanks. Hitler was still alive (he didn't commit suicide until a month later) and had ordered that all of Germany be defended to the last man. Anyone who tried to surrender was liable to be executed by fanatical Nazis.
So it took a great deal of personal courage on both sides to save the city from destruction. The first attempt on March 28 failed because local Nazis caught wind of it, but on March 29 two American officers drove into the city in a jeep and persuaded the German commander to surrender.
The three text panels are entitled Auf des Messers Schneide (literally "on the edge of the knife", which in English would be "hanging by a thread"), Der 29. März 1945 ("the 29th of March 1945") and Friedberg vor der Zerstörung bewahrt ("Friedberg saved from destruction").
GPS 50°20'31.58 North; 8°45'10.44 East
- Historical Travel