It was the middle of February yesterday, and a beautiful day: nearly 10 Celsius (that's 50 F), plenty of sun, bird song and snowdrops in the gardens. Much colder today, and overcast, so I have decided against the long walk I actually wanted to go on today.
Here is what we had only 2 weeks ago, on my Dad's birthday:
Spring is definitely on its way. Already, daylight starts considerably earlier and finishes much later than only a few weeks ago. I do hope there won't be another cold and snowy period until November or so.
I have realized I've not yet told you of the very interesting guided tour my parents and I took in January: we went to the Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg, which is much more than just an archive for my hometown's documents.
This description from their website sums it up nicely:
In 1995 the Department Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg moved into the former
arsenal barracks in the town centre. Today about 680
State agencies from the governmental district
Stuttgart transfer their files to the Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg.
Ludwigsburg also stores 500 000 files from the time of the Third Reich
and the time after World War II, which have been created by the
Heimatspruchkammer in the course of denazification. These files are a
unique source for researchers.
Records specifically worth mentioning are those of the police
headquarters, of the administration and artistic performances of the
State Theatre of Stuttgart, and all the birth registers of the women's
hospital (Landesfrauenklinik). Ludwigsburg also holds records of Ulm,
Esslingen, Heilbronn and other former free imperial towns, of the
Teutonic Order and of the domain of the Prince-Provost of Ellwangen. Of
special interest are the records of the courts of justice, of the
district government and Oberämter.
Our group of visitors were lead by a most enthusiastic guide. Even for someone not that interested in local history, the buildings alone were worth seeing. The main building used to be barracks, which makes for some unusual architectonical features that were kept. Another important building, interconnected with the first one, used to be the arsenal, i.e. a place of military storage.
Because of the group, I did not take my camera with me (I knew it would have been impossible to get pictures without people, since there were so many of us and space very limited), but when I saw the original staircase and columns in the arsenal, I hung back a moment and took at least a few pictures with my mobile phone:
We were shown some fascinating documents, the oldest one being a hand-written deed from the 1200s (of course it was hand-written; Gutenberg's invention of the press was still two centuries away). There were also some more recent pieces to look at, such as the diary of an aristocratic lady from the 1800s, who meticulously listed every day the meals that were served in her household, the price for all the groceries and all the social engagments she had.
Our guide showed us emigration documents of a handful of the hundreds of thousands of emigrants who left Württmberg in search of a better life during the 1800s. Back then, if you were to emigrate legally, you had to resign your citizen's rights formally, and the king had to "release" you from being his subject. A governmental department set up for that purpose checked your background - did you have a criminal record, was a punishment still pending, or were you in debt with someone? If all was clear, you were free to go. If you knew not all was well, you left the country in a clandestine manner. That way, if things would go wrong in your new place (the US or Russia, mainly), you could sneak back in after a few years, and the authorities would be none the wiser.
We saw and learned so much more - it was a two-hour tour, and not a second of boredom. This visit offered a rare glimpse into a past world.
But these archives are by no means only for the past: The department is responsible for the agencies,
law courts and other state institutions that have their seat in our
governmental district as well as the
regional agencies of the Federal Republic in the governmental district.
Ludwigsburg is the Archives for all the documents in the Land classified
as strictly confidential and also holds all the IT-based documents of
the whole Land in its digital Archives. [Description taken from their website.]