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Stuttgart, Germany: Part 2

Eli and I spent Saturday in Tubingen, walking the streets, eating, exploring a castle. There was more to our day than whimsy. There was humor and depth and deep inner tears. And there was whimsy.

Eli had driven us to Tubingen by car. It was a bit of a drive on the highway. I kept seeing signs for Ausfahrt.

Ausfahrt must be a huge place, I thought, it has so many exits.

Eli told me Ausfahrt means departure or "exit." It seems I was not the first to experience confusion by Germany's exit sign. The two of us were cracking up laughing when Eli told me about touristy t-shirts that say "Where's Ausfahrt?"

When we found parking, parked, got out of the car, and began to walk, I realized my first stop would need to be a toilet. I walked into the first inhabited place I saw. I think it was a cafe that was not open yet. I could see a woman inside. "There's a public toilet right there," the woman said, and pointed to what resembled a booth, outside, maybe 20 feet away.

I walked across the street to the public toilet. The lock on the door was broken open. It did not matter. I had to go. I entered and walked over to the toilet. I looked down. I was horrified. Even though my need to pee was accompanied by a sense of urgency, I took the time to take a picture of the toilet I was about to pee into.

The next sight we saw, two men playing Vivaldi on accordions, helped to redeem my faith in culture and whimsy..

It seemed busking on accordions was a thing in Tubingen...

Food also seemed to be a thing in Tubingen. Eli and I went into a restaurant for a traditional German meal: sausage and beer. I had the sausage. Eli had the beer.

After lunch, we began to walk around Tubingen. I saw a whimsically quaint scene of a farmer's market stand and a bike, set on a cobbled stone street. I took a picture.

Eli pointed to plaques on the wall next to the farmer's market. The plaques were about remembering and apologizing for what had happened during the Nazi era.

"This is where a group of Jewish residents were publicly murdered," Eli said. "They were lined up against the wall and shot. You can still see the bullet holes in the wall."

It is true. I could see bullet holes in the wall. I felt nauseas. I could not move. We both stood, silent, looking at the wall.

I am thinking about the Cranberries song Zombie. According to the online magazine Grunge, Dolores O'Riordan wrote the lyrics "in response to the deaths of two children, Jonathan Ball, 3, and Tim Parry, 12... as a result of a London bombing during the Northern Ireland conflict... a 30-year period of violence and strife."

The lyrics to Zombie are:

Another head hangs lowly

Child is slowly taken

And the violence, caused such silence

Who are we mistaken?


But you see, it's not me

It's not my family

In your head, in your head, they are fighting

With their tanks, and their bombs

And their bombs, and their guns

In your head, in your head they are crying


In your head, in your head

Zombie, zombie, zombie

What's in your head, in your head

Zombie, zombie, zombie oh


Another mother's breaking

Heart is taking over

When the violence causes silence

We must be mistaken


It's the same old theme

Since nineteen-sixteen

In your head, in your head, they're still fighting

With their tanks, and their bombs

And their bombs, and their guns

In your head, in your head, they are dying


In your head, in your head

Zombie, zombie, zombie

What's in your head, in your head

Zombie, zombie, zombie

When I stood in front of that wall with Eli, the pain and suffering from the hatred and violence of the Nazi era was alive (in my head). Yet all around me were kind and friendly German people.

Telling you this now is reminding me of a conversation I had with someone, I do not remember who - someone in passing who I did not know, someone, I think, who I sat next to on a train.

They were saying that Germans are friendly but careful not to be compliant. They were saying that Germans remember their past (referring to the Nazi era) and do not want it repeated. They were saying that Germans know that being compliant was part of their culture and probably still is, because cultural ways are passed on from generation to generation. They were saying that the German people need to be diligently aware of the inherently compliant part of their nature so that no one can ever again lead them into allowing the infliction of pain and suffering upon another.

I am remembering another conversation. This one might have been with Mike.

I learned that, in Germany, it is illegal to say or show signs of positive alliance with Nazi politics. If a teenager, for example, shows up at school with a swastika on their clothing they will be expelled. "There is NO tolerance for Nazi-related paraphernalia or speech in Germany," this person (maybe Mike) had said.

I remember listening to this and saying, "I wish this were true in the US." In my opinion, the right to free speech needs to include the caveat that the speech can not incite hatred and violence toward others.

Germans, I was learning, are a kind and consciously aware people.

Eventually, Eli and I came out of our zombie-daze and enjoyed the present.

Tubingen was a quaint and beautiful town with funny little bits, like the tiny door (pictured next to Eli, below).

Tubingen had bustling areas...

...narrow streets, intriguing architecture, and lots of hills...

...and a castle (pictured in the video below).

Eventually, Eli drove me home.

The next day we went on a new adventure. To be accurate, I should say that the adventures were new to me. Eli had been anticipating my arrival with a list of places he had already been to and wanted to show me.

On Sunday, we went to see the Lichtenstein "fairy castle."

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