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This is the small village where I live in the middle of Germany,
and it seems quite unremarkable.
But if you just look behind the scenes a bit,
you discover that for large parts of its history, it just seemed to drop in and out of existence,
like something out of a bad science-fiction movie.
You see, back in the 14th century, a group of villages here were granted “free jurisdiction”,
and this village seemed to be perfectly happy to count itself part of the “free jurisdiction”
as long as it meant they could get out of paying taxes.
But not if it meant they had to pay tribute to the lords of Hanau.
There are stories like this all the time.
For many years, the owner of a local schnapps destillery
successfully blocked a minor correction to the border between Bavaria and Hesse,
on the grounds that it would have caused him some major bureaucratic headaches.
That dispute has since been resolved,
but not before he’d caused the authorities some major bureaucratic headaches.
One day, this story, too, will be just another quirky historical footnote.
When I was at school, I just couldn’t see the point of history.
I think maybe it was the way it was taught,
which consisted of either learning dates of battles,
or writing essays on what it must be like to be a domestic servant in the 18th century.
What history really is, is the story of ordinary people trying to be clever.
And, more often than not, failing.
Every country is interesting.
It has its own culture, its own way of life, and its own unique look and feel.
It’s always worth poking around a bit behind the scenes to see what makes the place tick,
because a part of that is what makes us tick.
Beyond that is the pleasure of knowledge for the sake of knowledge,
which has never really gone out of fashion.
It just needs the right approach, coupled with a few resources,
some know-how, and a little help to, as it were, spread the word.
The whole world is fascinating,
but sometimes people just need to be reminded of the fact.
It’s also the story of why the people who live here
would rather die than admit
they had anything in common with the people who live on the other side of that hill.


For the sake of knowledge

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想你的我 2014 年 12 月 18 日 に公開
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