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My [2017] Trip to Leipzig & Bautzen

Monday 13 February 2017 at 5:06 pm.

Report on Charles Wukasch's trip to Leipzig and Bautzen while living in Poland for about a year.


I spent three days in Leipzig and three in Bautzen, my two favorite cities in the "old country."  In Leipzig, in addition to getting together with friends (both German and Wendish), I visited the Wendish (Sorbian) Dept. at the university. I'll give a lecture there in May. I'll speak in English, although I may say a few words in my bad German and Wendish. My talk will be on minority language and cultural maintenance, with special reference to the Texas Wends.

At the Wendish bookstore in Bautzen, I bought a new book (expensive and heavy) titled Sorbisches Kulturlexicon, an encyclopedia on the Wends. I joked to Annette that there was nothing in it on the TWHS, but maybe there will be an entry in the second edition.  

Yesterday (Sunday) a.m. I visited St. Peter's in Bautzen (as you all know, the landmark church there - in German Der Dom St. Petri and in Wendish Katedrala swj. Pětra ) and caught the tail end of a Catholic service. I read on the Lutheran announcement board outside that at 9:30 a.m. there would be a service at the Mary and Martha Lutheran Church (in German Die Maria-und-Martha-Kirche  and in Wendish Cyrkej Marje a Marty). I asked someone who had left the Catholic service where that was, and in the spirit of ecumenalism, he said "hop in and I'll drive you there." I attended the Lutheran service. I had never been in that church. Although not as famous as St. Peter's, it's nonetheless a lovely church. If you want to see a photo of it, check out: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria-und-Martha-Kirche_(Bautzen). Sadly, it's rare that Wendish is used in the churches in Bautzen. I've heard that Pastor Mahling preaches once a month in Wendish. However, if one wants to find churches which preach weekly in Wendish, one must go to the Catholic villages.

Re: This the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I'm not a theologian (Dave Goeke can help us out there), but we often forget that Luther didn't want to start a new church, but rather to reform the church. In the same way, Henry VIII didn't want to start a new church, but when he broke with Rome about the same time Luther did, he felt he was reforming the church. Of course, Henry VIII and Luther didn't agree on everything. Henry wrote his famous Defence of the Seven Sacraments (in Latin Assertio Septem Sacramentorum). Speaking of books, when I was in Bautzen in 2016 for the Wendish summer course, I bought an interesting book titled Luther und Calvin: Briefe, die Nie Geschrieben Wurden. These were hypothetical letters between Luther and Calvin on various theological matters. It reminded me of C. S. Lewis's book Letters to Malcolm:  Chiefly on Prayer. These books use the literary technique of the epistolary novel (a book written in the form of letters between two people).

A few individual comments: Sandra [Matthijetz], I noticed that the Bresan Bakery which we've discussed was closed for a week due to the illness of the owner (or maybe manager). Richard [Gruetzner], as I said, I haven't joined the smartphone or tablet generation, so I couldn't photograph the family property you asked me to. But when Jim comes on his visit, I'll have him do it. Your family property is a good news - bad news situation. The good news is that you and Cathleen have inherited it. The bad news is that you owe about a million dollars (actually euros) in back taxes, and the German government has gotten an international lawyer to put a lien on your home in Texas. OK, enough silliness! But seriously, I'll have Jim take some photos. When he comes to visit later for his first trip to Lusatia, we hope to see Cottbus in addition to Bautzen. I've only been to Cottbus in transit. As you know, Cottbus is the cultural center of the Lower Sorbs (Wends). If the weather is nice, maybe we can do a cołnowanje (boat trip on the Spree).

Well, I didn't mean to ramble, but wanted to say a few words about my most recent trip to the "old country."

Finally, I got together with Susana Hose one day at the Cafe Marx (my favorite Konditorei  in Bautzen) for a nice chat. I hope she'll be able to visit us in Texas again sometime.


One comment

Dave Goeke

I am writing you with much envy…because I wish that I were there, too. So many, fascinating culture and so much yet to be discovered and/or salvaged from both a family perspective as well as a cultural perspective. I’m afraid that I have given up on any attempts to learn Ober Sorbish or Nieder Sorbish. Too old…and too dumb. I am grateful, however, that God brought me up in a home where German was spoken and that He gave me opportunities to “hone” it a bit in the subsequent years. However, it still needs honing, especially where grammar is concerned. That being said, I can hold my own fairly well and for that I am grateful.

I would so love to visit the Verlag in Bautzen. All I need is another book (I have literally thousands of volumes, mostly of a theological nature, and many others others, too), but, those books that deal with Wendish folklore, city histories, folk medicine, etc., are irresistible to me. Besides, I’d love to visit with Annette again. She’s always been so helpful.

You said that you had gone to hear Jan’s lecture on Luther. Was it mostly of an historical nature or was it largely of a theological nature?

Thanks for the updates. By the way, I ran across a photo of your brother, Kenneth, the other day. If I can find it again, I’ll scan it and email it to you.



Dave Goeke - 02/13/2017 20:11

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