In 2008 my family hosted an exchange student from Germany named Julian. Flash forward to the present and he now lives outside of Hannover. While I was in Germany I had to stop by to see him, and it gave me the chance to see the city for a day.
Hannover was extensively bombed during WWII, and the effects of that are still very present. The first evidence of the destruction was found a block from our hostel. A church that had been hit has been left in ruins as a memorial. Without a roof it opens to the heavens, vines crawl up the walls and sculptures stand guard. It was powerful and haunting to walk through.
We continued through the fairly modern city, eventually making our way to Old Town. It's a lovely collection of old German buildings along winding streets. These too are a hidden reminder of the destruction of the war. While these are all original structures, they are not in their original locations. The few buildings across the city that were left after the war were all relocated into one neighborhood to create what is now known as Old Town. It was strange and fascinating to think of that as I wandered the streets.
The last thing we saw before heading to dinner with Julian was the Holocaust Memorial, dedicated to the about 6,800 Jews of Hannover that were sent to the ghetto and then on to concentration camps. It was a stark square sculpture with an empty center, engraved with names of local victims.
We ended the night on a much lighter note, hanging out with Julian, eating schnitzel and drinking beer. It was great to see Julian and catch up. The next day we were on the move again, this time to Frankfurt.
kaitlin k walsh
Adventurer armed with a camera.