I took a brief trip to Southern Germany, where Inga has been living for a little more than three years. Somehow I had never managed to go – part of the reason being the terrible reputation the city has for being just plain ugly. Turns out: It is not so bad at at. The city looks as grim as any Western German town in late November and there are some clear signs of just how heavily it was destroyed during the war. Mannheim’s city center is divided into 136 “squares”, or housing blocks that, as Wikipedia points out, proved to be the perfect testing ground for the Royal Air Force’s bombing campaign: It was more or less leveled, and some of the inner city architecture was clearly pulled up in a haste. Still, the city has quite some quirky parts to offer, particularly outside of the bland city center. Really; Mannheim has more of a PR problem on its hands than true, irreversible ugliness. What a relief!
And what a clear reminder of the madness of war that saw all of Europe bombing each other’s historic city centers. Where the old building have remained, you can close your eyes and image in parallel universe in which it is all still standing – both here and abroad.