Check out the Photo Galleries: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Media Coverage: http://www.sz-online.de/nachrichten/base.asp?ausgabe=316&etag=10.04.2008
and Media Coverage
DAY NINE ~
Meissen and area • April 11, 2008
All the voyage is through lands built up way before Canada was colonized. Judy and I have become blase about chateaux, fortresses and castles. Meissen, however, took us a step even further back into time. An imposing hill topped with a cathedral and large castle were built between 1472 and 1525 in the late Gothic style. We had bratwurst in a pub with vaulted ceilings and cellars that looked to go back to medieval torture chambers. The cobblestoned streets are overhung by houses with dates going back to the 1700s and before. Our hotel looks over the ancient Elbe that flows on and on as we go on and on with it. We're going forward every day but we're also going backwards. It's quite an adventure. And by the way, Meissen is where they first made porcelain that made it's way around Europe and then the world.
The Elbe Radweg (Bicycle path)
The bicycle paths along the right and left banks of the Elbe (not always on both sides) are excellent. They are mostly well marked and well maintained. They take you along the flood plain, through villages and even at one point through a nature preserve with forests and hills. The cyclists fly by at tremendous speeds but locals also bicycle on their daily chores.
Speaking with survivors of the Dresden bombings of Feb 1945 was a humbling experience. All were children between 8-12 years of age. They saw Dresden burning with such intensity that people without faces ran by them, those who jumped into streams and fountains for relief from the flames were cooked alive. The thousands of corpses were placed on grates, burned and buried under Dresden. They were very gracious in helping me reconstruct details of how my grandmother must have made it by the city en route to Hamburg.
Reconstructing the past
As I try to piece together my oma's route along the Elbe, I look for traces of WWII. The bunkers along the right/Russian side of the Elbe, the old trains or train stations, the types of shacks that would have provided shelter, the flood plains that would have provided pathways. Eleanor Thielemann who was 12 in 1945 said that her family went from Dresden to Meissen along the floodplane. Eva said that her mother and sister were partially taken out of Dresden on army transports. Siegfried said that he and his mother fled along the Elbe among columns of other refugees. The roads were damaged but still usable once out of Dresden. And, here and there I find evidence of the Jewish life along the Elbe before and after WWII.
April 10th I took photos of the new synagogue in Dresden and of the memorial plaque to the Jews transported from the train station in Dresden Neustadt where today we took a train. Along the Elbe we see transport barges, tourist boats and lots and lots of trains as we keep pace with the Elbe on its way to the Atlantic. I tried to race a piece of wood floating seaward and managed to get ahead at times. The current is very fast. The very old trees, sandstone mountains in the Saxon Alps and villages nestled into hillsides or tucked just back from the river stand out. We also see reminders of the 2002 flooding everywhere. Most of the places we walk on this trip were under water a mere six years ago.
780 Kilometer auf Omas Spuren
Um zu erfahren, was ihre Großmutter 1945 erlebt hat, läuft eine Kanadierin mit ihrer Freundin die Elbe entlang.
Angelika Littlefield und Judy Stonkus haben noch einen langen Weg vor sich. Die rüstigen Damen aus dem kanadischen Toronto wandern rund 780Kilometer von Theresienstadt nach Hamburg. Immer an der Elbe entlang. Gestern Vormittag brachen sie in Pirna auf und machten sich auf den Weg nach Dresden. Einen Tag zuvor hieß ihre Etappe Krippen-Pirna.