In the supermarket, I saw the sign Katzefutter and didn’t know what it meant. Katze is cat, but futter? In German the word for food is Essen. It’s also the verb to eat. A quick email to my cousin who speaks German, futter means feed for animals. Another interesting facet of the German language, which there are many.Back to shopping, when I first went into a supermarket I looked for baskets. There were none. How do shoppers carry their goods? Well, you can hire a trolley by placing 50 cents into a slot in the top of the cart, or you can be green and carry a discarded paper box around with you. Not so good if it’s raining. No polythene bags are in German supermarkets, and shoppers usually take their own (cloth) bags with them. I recall some years ago Countdown or New World trying this out, and it didn’t go well. Customers went to the rival supermarket and the company abandoned the scheme. In Germany, you must pack your own bag!! The first day I stood there waiting for the cashier to pack it, and a queue formed behind me. The cashier doesn’t chat while she scans your goods. After you’ve paid for your shopping which you’ve put into your trolley, you go to a separate counter and repack it in a canvas bag.  In NZ or the UK, it’s very rare to find a queue waiting to use an ATM. In Berlin, it happens all the time. I was having lunch in the Karl Marx Allee (not a busy shopping area) and watched people queue to use it. Perhaps some shops don’t accept cards, or maybe Berliners like cash. I don’t know. Last week I took my first trip out of Berlin which was challenging with my very limited German. I reserved a seat on the train online to Pederborn. Why there? Because it’s the nearest town to Wewelsburg Castle which Heydrich Himmler’s SS utilised in WWII. As I plan to use the setting of the castle in the last book of my trilogy I needed to visit it.  The train was delayed getting out of Berlin by about fifteen minutes. I had to change from a fast train at Hannover to a local train. Over the intercom there were several announcements all of course, in German. I listened intently and managed to understand the train to Pederborn was leaving on platform 4 and it did!  Using trusty Google maps I walked to the hotel about ten minutes from the station. It was located on an intersection with busy roads. Great! I checked in and ordered a breakfast. I asked the receptionist about the bus to the castle. This was the tricky part, as it was about 22 kms from Pederborn. A taxi would cost over 50 Euros. She tried her best but communication was difficult. I walked to the Tourist Information Bureau where an English speaking assistant gave me a bus time table. I could get a bus, but they only ran every hour.  The next morning, I walked to the bus station in the pouring rain. Exactly on time the bus pulled up, I jumped on and asked for a return. The driver understood me. Yeah! German buses and trains have indicator boards and a tannoy system fitted so you can watch and listen for your stop. A group of students had boarded the bus with their teacher. As luck would have it, they were visiting the Castle, so all I had to do was to follow them. Wewelsburg Castle sits on a hill and is surrounded by dense trees. It’s the only triangular castle I’ve ever seen. As I walked up I saw the houses in the village were large and well maintained, but no sign of life. The castle is kept as an historical museum for the Princes of Paderborn (children go there to hear about witches) but it’s also a Memorial Museum.  For the time of year, except for two groups of students, it attracted probably eight people while I visited. The castle has been restored and is being used by groups of children as a hostel.  The North Tower where Himmler lived and renovated is open to the public.  Himmler decided to take possession of the Castle in 1932 and turned it into a school to train the SS. The Nazis were pre-occupied with the Occult, and Himmler wanted to replace Christianity with a pagan-Germanic doctrine. Wewelsburg was Himmler’s ‘Camelot’, he was King Arthur and his highest ranking SS commanders the Knights of the Round Table.  Members of the public are only allowed to view two rooms. To see the ‘Crypt’ you head down narrow metal stairs until you reach a round room. The floor has been lowered by over 4 metres. Immediately I felt cold, but not from the damp. Twelve stone seats were located around the room. Above them are twelve niches in the wall, which are now covered by paintings. Four high windows provide some light.  In the middle of the room there is a circle cut out of stone, a gas pipe juts out, possibly for an eternal flame. When I looked up at the ceiling, I saw a swastika carved into the middle. Before I took the tour, I was told under no circumstances was I to take any photos. I lifted my phone upwards, and a loud voice boomed out. “Photos are forbidden.” Chastened, I lowered my phone.  Himmler may well have used the Crypt for initiation ceremonies into the SS. Rituals and cultic events were part of the everyday life at the Castle. Climbing the stairs took me to the ‘Hall’. This room looks out over views of fields and woods, but my eyes were drawn to the centre of the room. Cushions and tables had been placed over it to hide the ‘Black Sun’. This is a grey/green sun wheel. What does it mean? Nobody knows for sure, but it had meaning for Himmler. Some recent suggestions have mentioned the Black Hole, or Black Matter. To reach the tower you must pass through an exhibition relating to the SS use of the castle with some SS artefacts, eg cutlery and books. Unfortunately, not much information is in English, and the book store is a disappointment.  As the Final Victory eluded the Nazis, the Castle was set on fire. It was restored in 1949. After initial objections by the villagers the Castle was designated a war memorial and opened in 1982. I never knew this Castle existed until by chance, I read a book which mentioned Wewelsfeld and Himmler. Perhaps people don’t know it exists, and that’s why it’s not visited.  Time for a quick snack in the restaurant, and I made my way to the bus stop. The rain had worsened. I looked back at the castle. So much evil has happened here. How can people look at that castle every day? Till next time.Best wishes. 


Best wishes

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