Kaiserswerth

Über den Gründer der Diakonie, Theodor Fliedner, schreibt Rev. William Fleming Stevenson in seinem Buch „Praying and Working“ (London 1862), das von Lebenswegen berühmter Christen erzählt, und nimmt dabei mit Thomas Hood (dessen Stil er mäßig kopiert) und Lord Byron einen langen rheinischen Anlauf, bevor er „The blue flag of Kaiserswerth“ sichtet: „Up the Rhine, has no more the meaning it bore in Thomas Hood`s exquisitely droll itinerary, – not so long ago, but for this railway and now telegraph speed at which the world is flying past us, – when it meant leisurely sailing for days together from the very Rhine mouth up to Basel, with nightly bivouacs at the villages on either side, and endless opportunity of observing the vicissitudes of social life from the crowded quarter-deck. For the first point of departure from Rotterdam is now the pretty station of the Dutch-Rhenish Railway, and along this railway you are whirled at a steady, comfortable pace, without so much as a peep at the rejoicing river, or at anything else, save a deep, full ditch, close to the rails, an occasional sand-hill, or flat colourless fields where the hard soil is bleached by the sun, until you see the towers of the great cathedral at Cologne, and there take the water for Coblenz and Bingen. But should any one be simple, quiet, and old-fashioned enough to embark at the Boompjes, in one of the fast Rhine steamers, and be content to look, for two days, at a row of bulrushes on the one side and poplar trees upon the other, or at poplar trees upon the one side and a row of bulrushes on the other, he will not only come upon the exquisite scenery higher up with all the advantage of contrast and relief, but will probably see, about an hour before reaching Düsseldorf, a strange flag floating from a tower upon the left. It is not time for the „Fruit, foliage, crags, wood, cornfield, mountain, vine / And chiefless castles breathing stern farewells, / From green, but leafy walls, where rain greenly dwells;“ the only rising ground in sight is on the horizon, and the tower is only the relic of a windmill. Neither does the flag suggest anything of battles passed below, but is simply a large blue flag, bearing in the centre a white dove with an olive branch. It is the signal that you are passing Kaiserswerth, a paltry, ordinary village, as you would presently say, looking at the houses that straggle down to the river; and is nothing more, notwithstanding its ruins of the eleventh century, and that St Suibert, the first evangelist of the district, is buried in the Pfarrkirche. Moreover, on nearer inspection it turns out to be dirty, as most Roman Catholic towns unfortunately are. And yet it is better worth stopping at than St Goar or Ehrenbreitstein. It is the seat of a movement which is exercising a profound influence on the German Church, and drawing no little attention from England, as well; where an unpretending German clergyman has been working out in his own way a problem which deeply concerns us all – the right relation of womanly gifts and service to the kingdom of God. (…)“


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