Visitors from Weilburg 1951
At the end of the summer term fourteen boys from the Gymnasium Philippinum, at Weilburg, spent a month in London as guests of the Monoux (Weilburg was the town the Dramatic Society had visited earlier in the year) while a similar group of German boys stayed at the Wanstead County High School. The Monoux party, which arrived on Saturday, 30th June, was accompanied by Dr. Mainzer, whilst Dr. Krieger was responsible for the general arrangements. Everyone who saw these masters realised how friendly and polite they were. Most of the boys were between sixteen and nineteen years old but the youngest, a charming boy, was only twelve.
A dinner was held in the School Hall for the official welcome of the guests. Lord McEntee, the Mayor of Walthamstow, was present together with the Headmaster, the hosts of the visitors, and members of Staff. Dr. Krieger answered the speech of welcome in exceptionally clear and fluent English. Later the Headmaster and Mrs. Stirrup gave a tea for the leaders of the German party.
It is pleasing to note that the hosts and their guests mixed together to their mutual benefit instead of staying in two separate groups as so often happens. The older visitors were interested in the day-to-day events in the running of the School and eagerly attended lessons with our boys in the class-rooms; the German boys even went so far as to have lunch regularly in the dining-hall!
On a visit to the Town Hall our guests were received and conducted round by the Mayor. The Member for East Walthamstow, Mr. Wallace, met the party on their trip to the Houses of Parliament. On another occasion our guests went by bus to Windsor Castle and Hampton Court; they stopped to visit Eton, where they saw the names, of famous men such as Canning engraved on the desks. The development of the new town at Harlow interested the visitors but the German masters were kept fully employed in explaining the various maps and translating specialised terms such as "neighbourhood unit."
During their tour of Tate and Lyle's sugar factory our guests were able to walk round eating as much unrefined sugar as they wanted. Other visits included a trip round the London Docks and an inspection of the war-time cabinet rooms at Westminster. The hosts had good reason to be envious of the German boys' fine cameras on all these occasions. Many of our guests were interested in athletics and on Sports Day they competed in a relay against a Monoux team.
Before they left the German visitors generously presented three delightful picture books about German art and landscape, which are greatly treasured in the School Library. A tea was held in the Library to conclude the visit and the Monoux gave their guests an illustrated book about London as a token of friendship. The German party returned home on the 26th July.
Without the willing help and co-operation of parents the visit would have proved impossible, for they readily came forward to accept the German boys and staff as their guests. Now that contact has been established we look forward to welcoming many more visitors from Weilburg and we are anxious that more and more of our boys will join in establishing a bond between the two countries. It is to be hoped that these exchange visits with Germany will become a normal part of our School life for they give experience in friendly contact with a nation abroad which is both delightful and profitable.
Impressions from a Weilburg visitor 1951
If you ask anyone of those who went to England last summer which event of the visit made the deepest impression on him, you will get the answer that it was the Sports Day at Monoux. Through the kindness of our hosts, those who were keen on it had been given the opportunity to join in the competition, and the event thus took on something of an international aspect.
The many coloured flags of the "Houses," the dazzling white lines on the track and the brilliant weather combined to make us expect an exciting event. In the early afternoon the boys' relatives and friends arrived at the sports ground. We saw that the School consists not only of pupils, but of their parents and friends who take a vivid interest in its life. The "Old Boys" who wear the School badge and colours with the same pride as those at School at present also are an integral part of Monoux.
Soon a merry and festive atmosphere developed. Everybody tried to get a good place in order to follow the events closely. We were looking forward to the beginning of the competition with keen anticipation. We had learnt in the preceding days that our English friends had pursued their training with real endeavour for their "House," their Form and the School and with a keen sense of responsibility towards them. One could feel that that day was to be the climax of the School year, an opportunity to render account of the achievements in physical prowess, team spirit and personality gained in the course of the year. However, we had got the impression that this practice had been going on for centuries in England. For the development and cultivation of those excellent sports grounds and fields are only possible where sport and games play such an important part in education.
We had soon found out that the competition would not make it easy for us to gain a victory. We were therefore especially proud when H.E.Geiss won the 100 Yards. We applauded him enthusiastically, but we saw the same appreciation and pleasure in the eyes of our English hosts. Knetsch competed in Putting the Shot, but every time he made a good throw he stepped outside the circle. It was hard luck really, for otherwise he probably would have made a win. Our expectations concentrated on the Relay for which we had managed to form a German team. I think our boys had been rather too optimistic about it on the day before; that is always a mistake. Their performance was good; Geiss especially as the last runner reduced the English lead considerably. But it could not be helped; the English team as a whole was better and more consistent. We were sincerely glad about their victory, all the more as some of our good friends were among the runners. No one of its showed ill-feeling; we must be able to be good losers.
In the middle of the field were the distinguished guests with their wives. During the afternoon some of our boys were eagerly trying to take snapshots of them, hoping (with success sometimes and sometimes without) not to be noticed. There was Lord McEntee whom we well remembered from the kind reception given to us on our arrival at the School and on the other occasion when he welcomed us to the Town Hall. During our stay in England he had become a Peer in recognition of his political and public services, and now each one of us has his signature on some small possession as a memento. There were also two members of the House of Commons, one of them a Minister. And they were by no means formal, but willingly allowed us to take snapshots of them. And among them, now here, now there, as was to be expected of a good host, moved Mr. Stirrup, the Headmaster of Monoux, in flannels (as the day demanded) with the amiable and captivating smile that he had had so often for us during our stay. We felt ourselves real participants in that stirring day.
It was interesting for us to see the genuine interest with which the English public and the English authorities follow the sports and games of the schools. When Lady McEntee distributed the prizes we all stood round her and rejoiced with the happy victors. Later we received a School lapel badge, which at present, we wear even in our school at Weilburg.
All of us felt at the end of the sports day that it is better to give the youth of all countries an opportunity of meeting in friendly competition rather than to let them fight against each other in a senseless war. We hope for another "International" Sports Day this summer to take place either in Walthamstow or in Weilburg.
Weilburg / Lahn, Hessen.
This year marked the tenth anniversary of the start of these exchange visits with Weilburg and this year's group was the largest ever. There were eighteen boys from Monoux and a large crowd of boys and girls from other local schools-Woodford and Wanstead County High Schools and Stratford Grammar School. One outstanding feature of the group was the relatively high number of people who were making the visit for the third, fourth, or even the fifth time.
In order to avoid the long wait at Victoria Station, which had invariably occurred in preceding years, the decision had been made to make the trip to Dover by coach. There was a wait, nevertheless, at Farnan Avenue instead of Victoria. We also had to wait a long time at Dover, but once on the boat we settled down in canvas chairs ready for the four-and-a-half-hour crossing. The sea was of proverbial mill-pond calmness and some of the more hardened sailors were heard to express disappointment at the lack of rough weather!
We were met in Ostend by Helmut Pfeifer, driver of one of the three buses, who had the unenviable task of driving us to Weilburg. He had recently bought a new coach and there was a rush for places on it; fortunately the second-, third-, and fourth-timers were given precedence.
So far there had been no hitches-most unusual for a Weilburg exchange (incidentally, a certain Monoux fourth-former lost his passport, but this sort of thing happens every year). However, the expected 'hitch" soon occurred: Mrs. Moore, the organiser, was travelling in the new coach and she thought that the other two drivers knew that we were to stop in Brussels. They did stop, but in Liege! While we waited in Brussels they waited 100 miles away.
When we reached the frontier we expected to find the other two "lost" coaches, since Mrs. Moore had all the necessary papers, but they had already left the frontier. Thus we arrived in Weilburg two hours later than the others.
Several formerly regular events were absent this year from the general routine: first, the introductory tour of Weilburg, visiting the castle, castle gardens and museum; second, there were none of those exhilarating Folk Dance sessions which are generally dodged by all except first-timers. Also missing was the Wanderung ins Blaue (Wander into the Blue) which invariably took place after a heavy rainstorm had soaked all the grass and bushes. This was perhaps a sad omission, for it used to end with an Anglo-German gathering during which the respective National Anthems were played and the National Flags were raised under the 'Green E" -- the European flag. This symbolised the purpose of the Exchange, which is to help cultivate a European feeling in the youth of this continent.
Despite these omissions there was a full programme of visits. The first was to Bonn, capital of the Federal Republic, where we visited the Houses of Parliament. These impressive, modern, white concrete buildings stand directly on the banks of the Rhine. They were converted into the Parliamentary buildings from a Teachers' Training College in 1948, when a constitution was granted to Western Germany. The assembly hall of the Bundestag or Lower House was unfortunately undergoing repair, but we were able to see the impressive large German Eagle dominating the whole of the front of the hall. This hall is built on conference hall lines with the representatives sitting in a semi-circle around the speaker's platform and facing the President of the Assembly, equivalent to our Speaker. We saw the hall from the Strangers' Gallery where some of the intricacies of the German Constitution were explained to us.
On our way home from Bonn we visited Konigswinter, one of the most picturesque Rhenish towns. Dominating the whole town is a great cliff called Drachenfels which is the basis of an old legend: a dragon used to live there in olden times and it used to eat (by way of an unusual diet) one beautiful maiden per day. However, a certain young man objected to seeing his fiancée eaten and promptly killed the dragon. The vines were turned red as its blood ran over the fields. To day one of the finest German red wines is produced in this area and is named Drachensblut----Dragon's Blood.
We reached the top of Drachenfels by rack-and-pinion railway: we were afterwards told that a serious accident had recently occurred there when a railcar hurtled down the track out of control and crashed into another car. At the top of the cliff we had an opportunity to sample some of the famous Dragon's Blood wine, and some people later missed the steps of the railcar when re-entering.
The second visit was to Frankfurt, where most people visited the large stores or picturesque coffee bars. In the afternoon we visited the Sarotti chocolate factory just outside Frankfurt. We saw the proccss of chocolate making and came away loaded with very generous free samples. From this factory we went to Feldberg, the highest mountain in the Taunus range, where the T V and VI-IF transmitters of Frankfurt Radio are situated.
The third trip was the traditional Rhine journey. We travelled across Taunus, via Wiesbaden, to Rudesheim, a famous tourist (and wine) centre. In the Drosselgasse, a narrow alleyway, there is nothing but inns and public houses, each with its own band providing dance music. Here we were unable to stop (officially) and we took a cable-railway up to the Niederwald. From Niederwald there was a second precarious journey on a chair-lift down to Assmanshausen. This town is another famous wine-centre and when we boarded the boat there was evidence that coffee is not the only German drink. The boat took us on a superb trip along the Rhine Gorge to St. Goarshausen (yes, another wine centre!) where we refreshed ourselves before getting back into the coaches.
On the night before our return there was a Farewell Party at Braunfels with all the English and German exchange people. This was the most enjoyable part of the exchange and was organised on the basis of a social with dancing to gramophone records. After the interval, during which appropriate speeches were made and gifts exchanged, the group was entertained by "Herb's Hot Five" which played "real hot Jazz, man." The group consisted of "Herb" Whiter (trumpet), Mick McColgan (clarinet), Pete Middleton (piano), Mick Shepherd (drums) and an "unknown German" (guitar). Gerry Wodhams did the vocals. Some people were under the illusion that the group had been rehearsing but this was not true. The party broke up with various people in various stages of happiness due to German lemonade, Coca-Cola, coffee, and so on.
Once again the whole exchange was thoroughly enjoyed by all who took part. It provided an opportunity to combine a little learning with a grand holiday, for these exchanges should be, and are, academically invaluable. They bring people into close contact with the language and, what is more important, with the German people and their way of life. However, there is certainly no "classroom" atmosphere about the exchange and a large amount of personal freedom is enjoyed by all.
There were, unfortunately, always some people ready to criticise the organisation and to be sarcastic when hitches occurred, but this sort of thing is most unfair; a tremendous amount of work goes into organisation and there is nothing to complain of. It must be rather like fitting a jig-saw puzzle when pairing up exchange partners and the worry and difficulty this year has indeed been greater than ever before. We are, therefore, sincerely grateful to all those who helped in organising the event, particularly to Dr. Warschauer who looked after the interests of our own School party. Above all, our thanks go to Mrs. Moore and Herr Riihsam on whose shoulders lay the brunt of the organisation.
P. J. MIDDLETON.
The 25 members of the English party from four schools in our area (Walthamstow High, Wanstead County High, Buckhurst Hill County High and, of course, Monoux Grammar) who boarded the coach to Victoria on July 29th went to Germany accompanied by their German friends who had been their guests for the preceding three weeks and with whose families they were to stay for another three weeks. Those who went for the first time (there are always some "Old Weilburgers" in the English party) may have wondered how they would fare living in a foreign country. They will have forgotten by now that they harboured some apprehension. The hospitality of the German parents, the contact with the members of the German group, the picturesque town of Weilburg almost circled by the river Lahn, and the lovely country-side are enjoyable enough. Those who lived outside Weilburg proper will have noticed that people there are as motorised as their English counterparts. Also the members of the party are together at local events: and at excursions by coach. The same applies to the German group in this country: this year they went to Clacton-on-Sea, to Canterbury, to Cambridge (the last, the English organiser is happy to say, an old Monovian on the spot, Anthony Gable, and Mr. Hyde of our Staff helped to bring about) and on a cruise in the Port of London. The English group in Germany saw the Rhine twice at two different points, went into the neighbouring hills of the Taunus, and had a very impressive, though saddening, experience when visiting the border between East Germany and the West Federal Republic. Of other events we would like to mention that the English group invited their German guests to a tea party in Monoux School, which was most generously reciprocated by the latter with a farewell dance in Weilburg before our return to London. The welcome which the Headmaster, Mr. Stirrup, gave the German group in our school had its parallel in the warm and friendly words which Dr. Brodt, Headmaster of Weilburg Gynmasium Philippinum, addressed to the English boys and girls in his School Hall. All this was an exchange indeed, but not merely out of politeness, but of genuine friendliness. Details of these events will be found on the following pages.
The lion's share of thanks is always due to the organiser on the German side on whose efficiency an exchange depends. For this year's success we thank Mr. Ruebsam, of Weilburg Grammar School (Gymnasium Philippinum), whose thorough knowledge of the members of his party and awareness of the difficulties of the exchange as well as his efforts in organising our excursions over there were a decisive help. Mr. Glockner, his colleague (well known to us throughout the many years of the exchange), though not responsible for this year's event, showed his interest for us throughout our stay. On our side we were supported by the cooperation, essential indeed for the whole venture, of Dr. C.H. Dickson of Wanstead County High and D.F. Shotter, B.A., of Buckhurst Hill County High. We have also to thank the various members of our Staff who took an active interest in the exchange, the Office Staff of the School, and Mr. and Mrs. Swan and the Monoux Parents' Association for helping to arrange the tea party. We cannot close this list without paying a compliment to our boys' parents who ventured to accept a foreign young guest into their home and cared for him with so much success. And may the organiser have the last word in saying that he enjoyed the time he spent with, and for, a cheerful and pleasant English group.
Weilburg Exchange 1964
The regularity with which these annual reports have appeared during the last ten or twelve years might lead the casual reader to suppose that the Exchange comes about as automatically as every yearly event in the Monoux calendar. That this is a false impression is clear to anyone who is, or has been, personally connected with the scheme. Planning for the link-up begins in January, and from then on the organisers on both sides are always in touch, as they must be, because the number of matters which have to be arranged is considerably more than one might imagine. This organisation is in itself something which tends to be taken for granted, but it must be pointed out that without the hard work of the organisers on both sides there would be no exchange, and only those involved with the scheme can realise the debt which each member of the party owes to their selfless efforts in this direction.
What does occur automatically, however, is the uncertain feeling and eager anticipation which every member of the Monoux group experiences as the date of the arrival of the German group draws near. This year they arrived on July 8th after the crossing from Ostend to Dover made in a force nine gale. Thus most of them were feeling the effects of this very unpleasant voyage when their coach arrived at Monoux at 9.15 a.m. The welcome given to them by their English friends was all the warmer. The obvious desire of most of them was to get home and to sleep off the effects of the journey, although some of the more resilient of them had still enough energy to venture out into the local area later in the day. It was not long, however, before they found their feet and were soon taking in the sights of London and surrounding area with organised trips to Clacton, Canterbury, Cambridge and the London Docks, and private visits to such places as Brands Hatch for the European Grand Prix, Finsbury Park Astoria for a Ray Charles concert, Earls Court for the Royal Tournament, and the London Pavilion for "A Hard Day's Night". I think anyone who met them will agree that the German boys who exchanged with Monovians were the friendliest and most pleasant to come here for quite a time. So, when the day of departure to Weilburg, July 29th, arrived, the farewell from the "foster parents" was more difficult than ever. Here we think a word must be said about the English parents who so warmly welcome these "strangers" and make them feel at home. I can assure these parents that this hospitality was one of the things their guests mentioned when asked in Germany what their impressions of England were.
The journey to Weilburg was slightly different this year as we travelled to Dover by train from Victoria instead of going all the way by coach. Arriving in Dover we were delighted to find the boat relatively empty and easily got seats together instead of scattered all over the ship as usual. The rest of the trip was uneventful as ever, except for the last part from Limburg to Weilburg. The little train had 66 seats, and there were 70 in the two groups alone, so the local inhabitants had a rather thin time, for anyone who has not slept for 30 hours is not inclined to give up his seat to anyone else be they old or young, male or female.
When the train finally pulled into Weilburg station the platform was crowded with relatives and friends of the members of the German group who welcomed us warmly. Mr. Glockner, a great friend of the Exchange, was there, the mayor, I believe, too, and, as one of the Germans commented, all that was missing was the town band!
The first organised meeting was a tour around Weilburg, a traditional feature of the exchange, conducted as ever by Mr. Glockner. After this there was a trip to a restored Roman fort in the Taunus, the Saalburg, one of the strongest points of the great wall the Romans built to ward off the attacks of the tribes of Eastern Germany, about 30 miles from Weilburg; another to Koblenz and the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers and a third to Rudesheim and the Lorelei rock on the Rhine, both of which included boat trips on the great river. The final excursion took us to several points on the border between East and West Germany. This really brought home the terrible realities of something which we had previously only heard about. This fearful border runs from the Baltic Sea to Czechoslovakia and is fortified by the East German authorities with barbed wire fences, watch towers and a strip of "no man's land". We visited a spot where two villages half a mile apart were completely cut off from each other by this border as if on opposite sides of an actual curtain of iron. We saw another West German border village where a house was split by the frontier, with the side in West Germany lived in and neat and tidy and the East German side filthy and decaying. It was at this spot where we saw a child's ball that had rolled underneath the barrier into "no man's land", lost for ever to its little owner, although only ten feet away. Here too we saw double lines of barbed wire with notices warning about mines by them, and also a tall watch tower from which we knew our every move was being observed. I don't think any of us will forget that day easily, and neither do I think we should.
The previous evening had seen the revival of the Farewell Dance which had not taken place for the past two years. A local group was hired to supply the music and there was plenty of it from five in the evening until a little after ten. Mr. Glockner's highly individual version of the twist was loudly applauded, after everyone else had stopped dancing to watch this remarkable solo effort!
On the day before our departure we were received by the Headmaster in the hall of Weilburg's Gymnasium Philippinum. In a short speech he urged us to keep up our ties with our German friends, for in these days of international struggles and tensions it was more important than ever that such connections should exist. Replying, Dr. Warschauer made mention of the now legendary hospitality of Weilburg and said he felt sure we would keep our connections with the School and the town. Both he and Mr. Ruebsam, the organiser on the German side, were then presented with gifts as thanks from both groups for their hard work which had greatly contributed to this most successful exchange.
When the time finally came to leave, the station platform was once again crowded and confusion reigned as everyone made his farewells with the many friends he had made during the three week stay. The Germans are very proud of the punctuality of their trains but I don't think anyone would have complained had our train arrived late. But no, it was right on time, and we had to take leave, whether we wanted to or not. The long rail journey to Ostend passed fairly smoothly, but when we boarded the boat we were dismayed to find it quite full. Standing at the stern of the boat surrounded by luggage, we soon began to feel rather tired and cross, but we needn't have worried, for thanks to Dr. Warschauer we soon found ourselves politely ushered down to the first class deck by a smiling purser! There it was empty and protected from the wind, and we passed a comfortable three hours-at least as comfortable as possible on a cross-channel ferry. We arrived at Dover just as the sun was coming up, and were unexpectedly soon through the customs, again thanks to Dr. Warschauer. From Victoria we were taken. to Monoux by coach which we reached at 8.15 a.m. on the 21st August, tired and hungry and somewhat surprised at how quickly the past six weeks had gone. In these few short weeks, however, we had got to know many people and many interesting things and places, and I am sure that everyone in the English group enjoyed himself both here and in Germany, and that many of them will return to Weilburg at some time or another, whether with the exchange or in their own time, in order to renew the many friendships made there.
K. J. Burns.