German Students Make Two Excursions

An old square in central Frankfurt, Germany

Darren Cochran ’16 – On Saturday morning, we took the train south from Marburg to Frankfurt, where we visited the Goethe House and Museum. It was very interesting, because Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was an amazing German writer, artist, and intellectual. The museum showcased numerous pieces of art depicting Goethe and his time, as well as quite a lot of information.

German Professor Brian Tucker talking about the Goethe Haus.

The style of the paintings was just entrancing, bright, and vibrant. After going through the museum, we moved on to Goethe’s childhood home. It is four stories tall with several important rooms on each story. The first thing you see when walking into the house is the exquisite staircase made of sandstone; the first few stairs are the original sandstone steps, the very same ones Goethe and his family walked on.  Throughout the house were the family’s personal belongings, my favorite being a beautiful grandfather clock that told the time, date, phases of the moon, and even the zodiac year. We also got to see the table and lectern at which Goethe wrote several of his most famous works.

Our next stop was the Frankfurt Cathedral, a famous cathedral where the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire were elected. The cathedral was very large, but I was disappointed not to be able to see it as it had been before the bombings during World War II. Even rebuilt, though, it was beautiful. It was built in a Gothic style, with the high ceilings, pointed arches, and ribbed vaults that this style is known for.

On Sunday, we traveled in the opposite direction, north to Kassel. I was very excited for this excursion, knowing we would be learning about the Brothers Grimm. After studying law in Marburg, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm spent some of their most productive years in Kassel. The Brothers Grimm have always fascinated me, and almost every child today has grown up on the fairy tales they collected. The first stop was an exhibit that was all about the Brothers Grimm and their accomplishments, as well as how much they have influenced modern culture.

It started with an exhibit that showed the history of the brothers and contained books, journals, portraits, and possessions that were either of historical value or important to them. After that, we went through a very fun and interactive showcase of the two brothers’ work in literature, linguistics, and philology. There was one part that played videos showing the influence the fairy tales still have on contemporary culture. Another showed one of the brothers’ other great achievements, their dictionary of the German language. The volumes filled an entire wall with word after word. It is amazing how much they did in one lifetime.

After the exhibit, we went to a museum that showcased the fairy tales the Brothers Grimm collected. It was a really fun exhibit. For the most famous fairy tales, we got to see many different artistic depictions of the same story. I even learned of some new ones that I need to read.

Saturday and Sunday have definitely been my favorite part of the trip so far. Getting to see all of these amazing buildings and pieces in the museums, as well as learning more about both Goethe and the Brothers Grimm was just amazing.