Authentic locations and famous personalities in Frankfurt
Monday 18, April 2011
A notable attraction recently joined the famous museum embankment of Frankfurt am Main. Opened in March 2011, the “Kuhhirtenturm” in Sachsenhausen pays tribute to Paul Hindemith, a celebrated German composer. The time-honoured tower is of course not the only authentic location in Frankfurt to offer a closer look at a famous Frankfurt citizen.
With the Hindemith Tower, Frankfurt am Main boasts what may well be the world’s smallest chamber music hall, seating a mere 25 persons. The Gothic- style tower, once part of Sachsenhausen’s city fortifications and probably better known as the Kuhhirtenturm, was home to Paul Hindemith from 1923 to 1927. It was here that the Hanau-born composer created some of his most famous works, including his opera, “Cadillac”. Today, the three-storey tower, comprising some 224 square metres of floor space, highlights the genius of Paul Hindemith, with musical performances of his work regularly held in the aforementioned concert room.
One of the most well known museums in all of Frankfurt is the Goethe-House, birthplace of the city’s most famous son. It was the very first building to be rebuilt after the end of the Second World War, reopening its doors to the general public in time for Goethe’s anniversary year, 1949. Featuring original furniture from Goethe’s time, the museum offers visitors a close-up look at the life and times of a bourgeois family in 18th-century Frankfurt. Goethe’s writing room is of particular interest, for it was here that the great master wrote some of his most famous works, including “Götz von Berlichingen” and “The Sorrows of Young Werther”, two novels that helped him to gain international acclaim. Further locations associated with Goethe may be discovered by way of a special theme tour, entitled “Following Goethe’s Footsteps”.
Another of Frankfurt’s most famous natives became known around the world for all the wrong reasons. The diary of Anne Frank continues to be one of the most moving accounts of the dreaded national-socialist era. The young Jewish girl’s family had immigrated to the Netherlands to escape persecution; with war following close behind, they were soon forced to go underground. Betrayed after several years of hiding, Anne was deported to the concentration camp of Bergen- Belsen, where she died in 1945. The Anne Frank Youth Centre in Frankfurt (Hansaallee 150) attracts people of all ages, giving them the opportunity to learn more about those tragic times and the parallels to present day. Anne Frank’s biography and her diary are of course at the focal point of this highly interesting location. The centre’s interactive multimedia exhibition, entitled “Anne Frank. A Girl from Germany”, offers insights into the life of Anne Frank and the history of National Socialism. A stone pillar featuring a photo and an excerpt from her diary stands in front of the house where she was born (Marbachweg 307), reminding visitors and passers-by of a brave, hopeful and – in the end – tragic existence.
Max Beckmann also had to flee from the Nazis. In 1933, he was fired from Städel Art School after having worked there as an art professor for eight years. His work had been deemed “degenerate” by the National Socialists, putting him in a most awkward – and dangerous – position. Several works of this great expressionist artist made their way back to the Städel Museum, the most famous of which being the painting of the Frankfurt synagogue.
The work of Heinrich Hoffmann, meanwhile, may be found on show at the Struwwelpeter Museum. Originally created by Hoffmann as part of a book he wrote for his children, his best known character is no doubt much more famous than he himself. The stories of Shock-Haired Peter, Little Suck-a-Thumb, Johnny Head-in-the-Air, Fidgety Philip and many others have been translated into over 35 languages. The museum, situated in Frankfurt’s posh West End district, offers many excellent insights into the many-sidedness of Heinrich Hoffmann and his renowned children’s stories.
Bernhard Grzimek was the first post-WWII director of Frankfurt Zoo, a position he held until 1974. He gained worldwide acclaim in 1960, when his film, “The Serengeti shall not die”, received an Oscar nomination for best documentary. It continues to be widely regarded as a classic contribution to the genre of nature documentaries. The film also marked the beginning of Grzimek’s lifelong commitment to wildlife preservation. Today, Frankfurt Zoo (Bernhard-Grzimek- Allee 1) is known to be one of the leading zoological gardens in regard to species protection. A visit of the “Grzimek House”, one of Europe’s largest nocturnal animal enclosures, provides an unforgettable experience for both young and old.
In order to become better acquainted with some of the many other famous Frankfurt personalities, you’ll have to visit the memorials and monuments erected in their honour. One such individual is the philosopher and sociologist, Theodor W. Adorno, born in Frankfurt in 1903. Theodor W. Adorno Square, located in the city district of Bockenheim and not far from the Institute of Social Research, which Adorno founded, is home to a somewhat controversial monument honouring this famous Frankfurt native. His final resting place is also close by, at Frankfurt’s main cemetery.
Here, visitors will also find the grave of another famous philosopher. Arthur Schopenhauer moved to Frankfurt in 1833 and remained there until his death in 1860. A bust of Schopenhauer was integrated into the old city walls near his former residence, which unfortunately did not survive the air raids of World War II. It pays tribute to one of the great thinkers of the 19th century. Many of his personal belongings – cutlery, a razor, spectacles, various flutes and so on – are on display at the Schopenhauer Archive, which is at home in the library of Frankfurt University. The sofa on which Schopenhauer died is also there. The Frankfurt-based Schopenhauer Society has for some time been campaigning for a Schopenhauer Museum, which would help to make his work more accessible to a broader audience. One hopes that their efforts will bear fruit, thereby honouring yet another famous citizen of Frankfurt am Main.
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