This Tuesday we took a day trip to the town of Wittenberg, about an hour away by train.
Wittenberg’s most famous resident was, of course, Martin Luther, who lived here in what was an Augustinian monastery and, after the Reformation, a school and his private residence.
The building is now an excellent museum on the history of the Reformation. One of its best features is the many paintings by Lucas Cranach, who was a close friend of Luther’s. Here are Cranach’s portraits of Luther and his wife Katharina, a former nun. Their marriage has become such a legend that it is reenacted every summer by the locals in Wittenberg!
A few of the rooms are wonderfully preserved, as well. Here is one of the rooms that Luther used as an everyday living space.
(John and Eleanor paused for a quick photo under the portal to Luther’s house.)
The other important site in Wittenberg is the Schlosskirche, where Luther famously nailed his 95 theses on the door in 1517. The church has burned down and been rebuilt since then, but it’s still a pretty amazing piece of history!
One thing that has really been brought home to us – especially in these last weeks, as we discuss contemporary German identity – is just how integral Christian, and in the north, especially Protestant, history is to an understanding of what many people believe it means to be German. This is where it all started, after all! And, as the history of the Reformation shows us, changing people’s assumptions can be difficult. As Germany moves into an age where multiculturalism is increasingly a feature of the social landscape, it will be interesting to see how they make sense of the shifts in religious identity, as well.
I'm a doctoral student at CUNY Graduate Center. I'm thrilled to be teaching the CHID Berlin program with Prof. John Toews! You can contact me at naraelle [at] gmail.com, or find out more about me at www.naraelle.net.