Before leaving for Munich yesterday for a four day trip I was indebted to my colleagues on the Rust for their input. Henry Elkins recommended a short but highly informative history of Germany by Neil McGregor , Melanie Gay Munich by Robert Harris and I was interested to learn from Neil Rosen that Germany has the fastest growing Jewish population in the world.
The country lost two World Wars, both ending in shame, reparation and in the second global condemnation.
The country was flattened by 1945 but soon rebuilt largely by its women folk who cleared the rubble, the repatriation of a huge number of Germans from occupied lands to a broken country creating all sorts of problems, the division of West and East Germany, the Berlin air lift, the wall, the reunification of Germany and and then the united Germany becoming the economic powerhouse of the EU and its antecedents.
Tom Hollingworth informed me how much the national football team has achieved since winning the World Cup in 1954, Bayern Munich in European competition as well as individual sportsmen like Michael Schumacher and Martin Kaymer.
I was curious to see all this.
I arrived at my hotel The Bayerischer Hof owned by the Volkhardt family for 4 generations. It’s centrally located and boasts a theatre, cinema and night club as well as three restaurants, bars and all that goes with a luxury hotel.
It’s too early to form all but the briefest and most superficial impressions but as the taxi drove in I noted how modern in 1960s style the buildings are, the famous companies that have their headquarters here – like BMW and Siemens – and that feeling of efficiency and orderliness you associate with Germany.
I expect I will find hearty German bierkeller and today Tom and I are taking a tour of the Allianz Arena the home of Bayern Munich.
Herzlichen Grussen …