Thursday, October 11, 2012

Re-Conceptualizing Rizal and Viola in Potsdam, Sans Souci, Germany

 Rizal's view of German justice is best illustrated in  a story of the Postdam miller and King Frederick II.

On the day of the Berlin International Marathon, (last week-end of September 2012), all the city tour buses were re-directed.  They were forbidden to drive into the city, so they took tourists to Postdam and SansSouci instead.

However I really planned to visit Potsdam in order to follow the footsteps of Dr Jose Rizal traveling with his best friend, Dr. Maximo Viola, in 1886.

Let's not go into the historical significance of the Postdam conference in 1945 when Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met at the Cecilienhof Palace to determine the fate of defeated Nazi Germany.

We will instead go straight to the Postdam miller's story.

King Friedrich II of Germany built a magnificent palace in Potsdam and called it Sans Souci,  (French for "without any care." He loved this palace for its sculpted gardens and valuable art pieces and lavish halls.  He spent most of his days in the peace, quiet and comfort of this palace, away from the daily grind of Berlin.

But there was a hitch.  The site where his architects built his palace was adjacent to a charming simple rustic miller and his family with lots of farm animals. The  miller had an old traditional windmill to grind his grains.  It was a natural bucolic scene.

It was interesting at first. Soon, the farm  novelty wore off and the king could no longer stand the noise.  He couldn't sleep. The windmill kept creaking even with the slightest wisp of wind.  The barnyard animals were a nuisance, especially the roosters

So the king offered to buy the adjacent land.  He'll purchase the land and tear down that blasted old windmill, drive  away those mooing, cackling, crowing, frittering, chattering barnyard fools,  including the miller's wife and children.

The miller refused. "Where is it ever been declared that I should leave when I had done nothing?  Nothing at all?"

He insisted on his natural right of domain.

      "You may be the king, " he said, "but I was here first.  In fact you are disturbing my peace and disrupting my normal routine."

Well, the king got furious and imperiously declared;

      "I 'm the KIng.  I can do what I wish.  l can  get you out of my way."

The miller replied, "Well, don't we have the rule of the land,  a set of rules and law?  Let's get the court to decide whether justice prevails equally for  the rich and powerful and the poor simple people of the realm.

And to make the story short, the court heard the case of the King vs the Miller and declared a decision in favor of the Miller.

That windmill still stands over there, near the palace of Sans Souci.  It has gained an international character.  That windmill design is so primitive and of course it captures the Middle Ages' technology.

Rizal related this story in his journal and said, this would never happen in the Philippines where the rich and powerful are always above he law.

Viola wrote this story in his Memoirs, too.

I made a  charcoal sketch of the creaking old windmill.  l  bought a children's book with colored  illustration by a German artist.  I plan to translate this story  in Tagalog for publication in the Island Sentinel, a Mindoro regional newspaper.

Rizal and Viola continued to travel on to Dresden, and Munich.  You'll  next hear from me in Munich.


I took a lot of pictures which I"ll share later.

Post Script.
The bus to Potsdam picked me up on Meineke strasse but returned and left me stranded in another spot about 3 blocks from Meineke Strasse due of the Marathon race detours.  Poor Sir Gerhard! He was waiting for the bus at Meineke,  to take me back to my hotel.  But I was nowhere around.  I saw a police station and asked them to call Gerhard.

It can be said that Sir Gerhard lost his ward (me), and that I was  picked up stranded at the Police Station.

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