“This is a fine town,” she said, beaming her enticing smile, “and we are sure you will like it.” Who exactly the “we” was meant to include was not obvious. The room was bright enough, with two large windows opening over the roofs of the medieval houses.
I knew something of the history, and I recalled the rather sinister events that had followed the town’s enthusiastic approval of the new régime. For a time traveller this was a warning: never trust the smiles, nor the apparent gentleness of the burghers! Yet I wanted to have a look at what it had been, after seeing the place, as a tourist’s high spot some thirty years later.
So I walked those cobbled streets, along old walls that had stood the storms of the thirty years war. The tiled roofs were glistening in the spring rain. Blond girls in regional dresses walked hurriedly toward the central square. I got there after an hour of quiet wandering.
I saw them, the uniforms, the satisfied faces of well-fed bourgeois, the hysterical girls, saluting. And the hideous emblems. Silently I traced back my steps. I had already decided not to stay. What point is there in revisiting a nightmare?
Photo: the roofs and medieval wall of Rhotenburg, Bavaria