Two days ago I left New York for Germany. Somehow it had never occurred to me before, but flying out of Canada is actually a very good option for Upstaters – you get to avoid the nightmare that is any of the NY/NJ airports, Canadian airports are often closer, and, in this case, the flight was cheapest out of Montreal. Lufthansa flies Montreal > Frankfurt nonstop in brand-new Airbuses. The flight took just under 7 hours and, characteristic of Frankfurt, you can get through customs, get your checked luggage, and be at the airport train station in less than an hour.
From there, a train to Marburg (change in Frankfurt HBf), which takes about two hours. A note for travelers in Germany: when taking regional trains (route number is preceded by “RE”), be careful to pay attention to multiple final destinations. At various stops, the train will split and send cars in different directions.
So after 3 hours in the car, 7 hours in the plane, 2 hours in the train, and a bunch of hours waiting around in between, I finally arrived in Marburg, a middling university town that was once home to the Grimm Brothers, has an impressive church that was built by the Teutonic Knights (and is the final resting place of Paul von Hindenburg and his wife), and a great little museum in an old hilltop castle. Most importantly for my purposes, however, it is the home of the Hessian State Archives – documents from the Middle Ages to the Second World War that contain the history of the various Hessian states. When Hessen-Kassel lost its independence in 1866, it came under Prussian administration which oversaw the maintenance of the region’s archives until 1945. In 1938, the present building was built with all the era’s typical fascist design elements (most of which have since been removed).
I look forward to spending the next eight weeks in this great town, living with friends I made on the last trip. As I come across them, I will post interesting excerpts from the sources I find at the archives.