While driving all over Germany, Pat and I are always impressed by the excellence of the network of major roads. Today, there is no speed limit on autobahns unless otherwise indicated. Recommended maximum speed on an autobahn is 81 mph but, when we drive at that speed, other cars zip by us in the fast lane at speeds that make us feel we are crawling along. I had always assumed that autobahns were created by the Nazis in order to move their armies around quickly. However, the first autobahn was completed before that in 1932. It linked the cities of Cologne and Bonn. The then mayor of Cologne, Dr. Konrad Adenauer, was responsible for its creation. Dr. Adenauer always liked to keep the little city of Bonn in the picture. He was removed from office by the Nazis in 1933 and was in a concentration camp by the time the war ended. However, he became the first Chancellor of post war Germany, which found itself with a problem in 1949. It needed a new capital city, because it no longer had access to Berlin which was then cut off from the West by communism. Which West German city should be chosen as the new capital?
Yet Frankfurt did not become the capital. The little city of Bonn, located on the River Rhine just a few miles to the south of Cologne, was selected and remained the capital, until Berlin resumed that role in 1990 at the time of German reunification. This illogical selection was the decision of Dr. Adenauer who, in those days, was a colossus towering over the German political scene. It looked as if he would be chancellor for ever and he did not resign until the age of 87. He always loved Bonn. A story, no doubt apocryphal but then in circulation, was that his infant grandson expressed a wish to be chancellor one day but that Dr. Adenauer replied that Germany could only have one chancellor at a time. Pat and I passed through Bonn in August 2010 and it is unremarkable. It was once the location of the largest US Embassy in the world. It was the Baghdad of its day. Bonn retains many of the administrative offices and jobs that it acquired during its years as capital. Many of the buildings, formerly used for parliamentary purposes, are now occupied by agencies of the United Nations. Once Government has a foothold somewhere, it does not readily return an area to the private sector.
|Botticelli – Self portrait hidden in the Adoration of the Magi|
|Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi|
|Botticelli’s Madonna and child with angel|
|Botticelli’s Birth of Venus|
This piece, written by Bob, was originally posted on our website on August 23, 2010.