written by Melano Sirbiladze
On February 13th, 21 CIPSEM participants visited the 3600 panorama museum with German teacher Dr. Breuls. This day is a historic day for German people and especially for Dresden citizens. On 13th February 1945 British and United States Army Air forces dropped more than 3900 tons of bombs on the city. Dresden’s city center was severely destroyed.
The museum is very impressive and the atmosphere with emotional music takes you back in time. The amazing 3600 panoramic view, so-called “Dresden 1945” was created by the very famous artist – Yadegar Asisi. The artist dedicated his work to “people thinking about creativity and abysses of human nature, about grim logic and insanity of war in the world” (Yadegar Asisi).
In the museum, we “met” people from the past, people who experienced adversity during world war second. For example, we “met” Arno Wend, who was the youngest member of the Dresden City Parliament and unfortunately, was forced to go to Hohnstein concentration camp because of the Nazis. We also saw Jenny Schaffer’s profile. Jenny was an active member of Dresden Semper Opera House. She was Jewish and because of her origin, Henny Schaffer along with her husband was deported to extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were murdered.
We also listened to the stories of the people who experienced bombing during 13-15 February. Ordinary Dresden citizens talked about the unbelievable days they had in 1945. And one might think that these people have only sad, tragic memories but surprisingly in every person’s talk, you will find hope to rebuilt and renew the city.
Overall, for me and I think for every CIPSEM participant, 13th February was full of history, emotions, people, tragedy, and hope. And how surprising it may sound, I still managed to find the beauty in these tragic stories. The Dresden Beauty is that love continues even after death and the impact of that trauma brought people closer together due to the love they shared for the city. In other words, Dresden citizens had carried and still carry the amazing feeling of hope and the feeling to start over. So, as our guide told us, we saw not only the tragedy of Dresden, but people’s strong faith for a better future.
There is one of the largest remaining continuous floodplain forests in central Europe – and that’s surprisingly within an urban setting – the city also hosts the second oldest university of Germany (funded in 1409) and was domain to world famous artists like Johann Sebastian Bach and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, where the ladder was not only a student of the university, but also called the city his “Little Paris” … Leipzig.
The SC-73 course visited the city to get some insights in recent German history in the Forum for Contemporary History in the exhibition “Division and Unity, Dictatorship and Resistance”.
In the afternoon the group had a look into large scale car manufacturing at the BMW production site in Leipzig and according sustainability measures.
Just when I thought my year was exciting already, I was accepted into the 68th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Integrated Water Resource Management and Health. Dresden is a beautiful city full of details to admire. It’s a very clean and quite place, rich in history and culture. It´s very comforting to walk the Altstadt, from the Semper Opera House crossing to the Procession of Princes and arriving into the Frauenkirche. And sometimes you get surprised by a white shiny piano in the middle of the square accompanying a lady singing opera. Dresden being full of green areas has a great transportation system that invites you to any of its museums. The Hygiene Museum is a very curious place, don´t be skeptical about it, try it! Although Germans are very autonomous people they are very friendly and helpers with a good sense of humor. Many times they rescue me in the supermarket trying to get regular sugar or milk. Punctuality is one of their best qualities, so don’t be late in here!
street music in the Altstadt
going by tram in Dresden
This course was a tight schedule well handled by the CIPSEM staff to deliver water knowledge from all possible angles. Through lectures and excursions we learned about global water issues, types of treatments, bio-indicators and much more. We visit dams, reservoirs, treatment plants, a pilot project of greywater recycling (impressive!), research centers and institutes for drinking water, wastewater and underground water. Personally I learned new topics: antibiotics residual and sustainable sanitation. One of the best lectures were Andre’s classes, in which he gave us bridges to cross and doors to open for never stopping to learn. CIPSEM was also the passage to meet foreign friends. I know we all miss the companionship and the amity will be for a lifetime. The different personalities, cultures and traditions made it fun. We never stop learning from each other, even now that we are separate.
at the Saidenbach dam with Dr. Paul
Combined greywater-recycling and urban (fish-)farming in Berlin
I was very happy to accomplish my targets in this course, especially in expanding my world view. And as Dr. Paul said at the Saidenbach Dam: “We are so different but united in this course, why don’t our countries behave the same?”
by Ms. Laize Maite Barranco Pacheco – Panama
The CIPSEM trip to Berlin from the 20th to the 22nd October was a truly marvelous experience. The excursion to the German Energy Agency
and the German Energy Association of Energy Cooperatives
was overly interesting and useful. Both resource persons had an excellent sense of humor which greatly contributed to a sense of camaraderie among the group.
German Energy Agency – DENA
German Energy Association of Energy Cooperatives
However, for me, the true highlight of the excursion was being able to finally practically envisage the remains of the Berlin Wall after having been provided with an excellent historical overview in our first week at CIPSEM (complete with a quirky, hilarious video!!). Looking at the wall was a truly humbling experience as I was mentally transported back in time to the 9th of November 1989. I imagined the scores of people who had come to witness this historical occasion, the breaking down of a barrier that had separated brothers, sisters,sons, daughters cousins, friends…..finally being brought down. The tears of joy commingled with tears of anguish brought on by the effusion of emotion on this day must have flowed both fervently and freely. I stood there transfixed next to Checkpoint Charlie and imagined individuals getting their passports stamped in order to cross into West Berlin and back into East Berlin.
in front of the Federal Parliament
Watchtower of the former border defences in Berlin
on the history of Berlin with Ms. Königsberg (BMUB)
The enormity of it all cannot be put into words. Staying on an extra day after part of the group left Berlin allowed myself and one of my colleagues to take a city tour on the ubiquitous red “double decker” bus. We were taken on a trip down memory lane to Karl Max Street, complete with the German Democratic Republic (GDR) styled houses whose design was mandated by the government at the time, complete with certain symbols above the eaves of each window. We also got to see the captivating Berlin Bridge in seemingly suspended animation with the modern day yellow train traversing its lower reaches, a perfect juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern.
My Berlin experience was a personal indictment of the fact that a Wall could not and cannot solve political or ideological differences in the past or in the present.The willingness to respect other people’s opinions and genuinely listen to their viewpoints is what ultimately will see a semblance of peace returning to our tumultuous world.
by Mr. James Paul Mwangi – Kenya
As part of our activities to facilitate understanding for each other, our wonderful German teacher Dr. Breuls took all participants to see the current exhibition “Dresden 1945” in the Asisi Panomenter in Dresden and discussed this part of German history.