I have been in Leipzig several times, the first time 1997, only 8 years after the wall fell in the former DDR. It was just being rebuilt, and still looked gray with 40 years of decay. Leipzig has undergone significant change with the restoration of many historical buildings, the demolition of others, and the development of a modern transport infrastructure. It is one of the most vibrant and livable cities of Germany
Friends of us who lived in the former DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republic) have told us about their daily life before 1989. Some decades earlier inhabitants were moved out of Leipzig city apartments that had minimal comfort to highrises outside of the city. The heat in those buildings was delivered from pipes alongside the road that came from a building that served the city. There was no thermostat in the apartment, and when it’s gotten too hot, you just opened the window to cool the room.
The second time in Leipzig we visited the Stasi Museum. It was interesting to see how the government spied and documented the atrocities of people. They had cassette tapes disguised as music tapes that were used, also recorded over
We saw the cells of political prisoners and the interrogation room. There were suitcases with secret compartments of spies, also all kinds of gadgets with recording devices and letters, files they kept of people.
One letter particular stood out and I remember it well. A man wanted his yard worked on, so he wrote a letter to family in the West, describing that he had a gun hidden in the back yard. The Stasi came and dug up the yard, expecting to find a gun. Nothing was found of course, but the soil was disturbed, but also ready for planting a vegetable garden (-;
Snooping on people was a huge industry, and eventually the Stasi outgrew these offices. When you exit the building and turn to the right, you’ll see the ugly and dreadful Stasi HQ expansion.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach spent his adult years leading the children chorus at the St. Thomas church. You can see his statue when entering the church. We had a rare treat to see and hear a children choir sing. Bach was the leader of the boys’ choir there from 1723 to 1750. While there he was very ambitious and composed a new cantata every week.
If you stop in this area, across from the St. Thomas church is the Bach Museum, and two hours from Leipzig is the J.S. Bach Birth house in Eisenach
The Leipzig Battle of the Nations (Völkerschlacht) Memorial
From 16 to 19 October 1813, Leipzig was the scene of the Battle of the Nations. The allied armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria and Sweden achieved the decisive victory over Napoleon and his allies on German soil. The result: 600,000 soldiers from over twenty Nations were involved. Over 100,000 soldiers died or were wounded, and it caused a typhoid epidemic in Leipzig that cost the lives of ten percent of the population.
Just one year after the devastating battle, the poet Ernst Moritz Arndt had the idea of a memorial to honor the fallen. In 1894, the Leipzig architect Clemens Thieme founded the German Patriot League with the aim of collecting donations for the erection of the monument. In 1898 the sum was sufficient, the foundation stone could be laid. The Monument to the Battle of the Nations was inaugurated in 1913 as a national monument.
Many beautiful buildings from the Gründerzeit, the Gilded age turn of the century can be seen throughout Leipzig
Mädler Passage, one of 24 covered passages in Leipzig city center
After a stroll downtown it was time to drive to Eisenach