Our third excursion within the DAAD program for PhD in 2014 led us to a small city in the north of Saxony: Torgau (March 22nd/23rd).
We reached Torgau by train. At first our guide Herbert, a 79-year-old former English teacher, showed us the town. He really enjoyed having so many internationals around. While walking through Torgau we learnt that the city played an important role in the reformation. Martin Luther opened the first protestant church of Germany here and has been in Torgau about 40 times. Herbert also showed us the beautiful old major house which was built during the Renaissance and reconstructed some years ago to be used as a museum now. We later visited the Hartenfels castle – pictorially located above the Elbe river – and had a look at the original sculptures from the castle’s decoration, now displayed in the underground vault.
Torgau did not only play an important role during the Renaissance, but also in recent history. It was Torgau where at the end of World War II the American and Soviet armies met for the first time and shook hands on a just shortly destroyed bridge over the Elbe river. (Also check: here)
But there are also inglorious moments in Torgau’s history. It used to be a place of prisoning under the Nazi regime and under the Soviets. Later in the former GDR a closed juvenile detention center was established here to re-educate young people, who tried to stay individuals instead of becoming “good socialists”. (unfortunately only German pages exist: see here) In the evening we had time to talk about coming and previous events of the Welcome Center while we had dinner. Ideas for new activities came up, e.g. cooking-events (representatives of different countries could present there home’s cuisines und cultures).
Almost everything went fine. Just at the end the train was late, but even this could not spoil the good mood of all participants. Relaxed and full of new information we returned to Dresden.
We already got some feedback from one participant: “Many thanks for an awesome trip to Torgau. Many thanks for organizing it so brilliantly.” Thank you, Avinash! :-)
(Text: Nicole Kleindienst, Fotos: Claudia Reichert)