when the bells struck eleven.
Claudia called to me that I should run down to the city hall for the ceremony. Fladungen's city hall is just a stroll around the corner -- most of Fladungen is a stroll around the corner -- so I did.
Nothing. Some towns do a thing, some don't. Ostheim (Claude's home town) makes a big deal of November 11, but apparently Fladungen doesn't. I went into the city hall to get the yellow bags for recycling plastic, and then I stopped at the bakery for some bread and some apple tarts, and then I went home and went back to raking the yard.
Here's a thing: November 11 is also "Faschingsbeginn" -- the start of the long winter carnival season. And Germans celebrate this by dressing up in silly costumes and building floats and all that. But it's also a day of mourning, the day World War One ended. It doesn't seem to have the emotional resonance that Veterans Day does in the US, or Armistice Day in Britain, but it's recognized. I'm not sure how the Germans deal with having these two completely different things on one day. Solemn ceremonies in the morning, wacky costumes after lunch?
November 11 is also St. Martin's Day, of which more anon.
Saw the very very old British WWI veterans (aged, IMS, 106, 108 and 109) on CNN. All three were in wheelchairs (I gather there's a fourth who is bedridden). Another year or two, and there won't be a single WWI vet left.
I said I went around the corner to the Rathaus, City Hall. Well, as one turns that corner, there's the war memorial. It's a fountain with the names of all the WWI dead carved on three sides. There are about 40 of them. Fladungen probably had a population of less than a thousand people then. Say six hundred adults, or a bit less. So this was around one adult male out of seven, plus about the same number maimed or traumatized. There are names on that memorial that are in my son's classroom. Dr. H____, who lives two houses down, is the great grand-nephew of the H____ who's carved there.
The fountain is small but nice. In summer there are water skaters, which the boys love. A few weeks ago I surprised and caught a black water beetle there, which was quite something: they're perfectly smooth and utterly black, little streamlined teardrops that just absorb the light. The boys oohed and aahed over it until, quite unexpectedly, it spread its wings -- I didn't know they could fly too! -- and hummed off into the autumn afternoon haze.
I didn't get the raking finished, because it started to rain. Maybe tomorrow.