Thursday, October 3, 2013

Drinking Beer Where Dietrich Eckart Read Poetry

Dietrich Eckart (1868-1923) was one of the original members of the Nazi party in Germany. A playwright of some renown, he actually produced a German version of Peer Gynt. Later, drifting to Munich he became a mentor to Adolf Hitler as the Nazi party was founded. Eckart was the editor of an anti-Semitic journal called Auf gut Deutsch and came up with  the funds to start up the Voelkisher Beobachter, the Nazi Party newspaper, of which he became editor-in-chief. He died before Hitler came to power in 1933 and is buried in Berchesgaden.

As a student, Eckart studied medicine (none too seriously) at Erlangen University, was a member of the Corps Onoldia, a burschenschaft (fraternity), and frequented a tavern called the Goldener Mond, where he entertained his friends by reading poetry. A mysterious illness incurred in Erlangen led to morphine dependence, which ended his student days. During the Third Reich, Erlangen's Bohlenplatz was re-named Dietrich- Eckart- Platz.

So it was during my last sojourn in Erlangen in September that I was having dinner with an American friend who lives in Erlangen. He was telling me about an Irish pub in town and described its location near the train station. I was not familiar with the place and asked him to show me. As we came up to the place, I immediately recognized it as the Goldener Mond. As we settled in and I ordered a (German) beer, I recounted the history of the place to my friend. Today, it is what could be charitably described as a student hangout or maybe just a dive bar, but with an Irish flair. It has likely not seen any serious renovation since the days when Eckart hung out there. It is located at 18 Innere Bruckerstarsse at the corner of Goethestrasse.

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