August 16, 2017 Mainz to Rüdesheim to Koblenz Germany Fear: Walls & Castles


Today we had breakfast with our Australian friends and were joined by an American Presbyterian Minister from Dayton Ohio who was also a lawyer. What an odd combination. He was a very interesting man.

I asked him something that has been bothering me for some time. How could evangelical Christians so overwhelmingly support Donald Trump for President no matter what he said or did? To me it seemed entirely incongruous.

He said that their entire conservative religion is based on fear. They fear hell, the devil, Muslims, crime, fear immigrants, elites, blacks and Hispanics. That is just the short list. They have many other fears. Their list of people to fear is extraordinarily long. That is why they support Trump’s idea to build a wall. They feel safe behind walls. Like people felt safe in the Middle Ages behind castle walls.

Trump told them when he was campaigning ‘Don’t worry, Trust me.” That was his message. The times are scary. Mexicans are sending us their worst people—rapists, drug dealers, and murderers. Blacks are getting uppity and dangerous. Trump’s message was simple. Don’t worry I will make you safe. I will take care of you. I will keep those scary people away from you and your home.

I will keep the American carnage away from you. The disaster in Chicago where crime flourishes in the city centre should be kept on the other side of a wall too. “Believe me,” he says and they do. They feel safe with Trump. I think they still do and that is why they continue to support him.

Americans are very fearful people. They spend more on their military than the next 8 countries combined, yet they are scared of everyone. That is why I think their civilization is in decline. Fear is inimical to the desire to build civilization. That requires confidence, something current Americans lack.

Until today we were a bit disappointed that we had not seen much of Europe from the boat. Usually we sailed at night when we could see nothing. So really we felt the idyllic scenes of sailing by castles on the Rhine were a bit deceiving. That is we felt like that until today. Today things were different. We sailed right by the castles. Before the day was finished my camera was nearly white hot from taking over 500 images. Before the day was out we were nearly ready to cry out, “ABC.” That meant, “Another bloody castle.” I must admit I never felt like yelling out ‘ABC.’ Today we spent the entire day on the ship. In morning we had it nearly to ourselves as skipped an excursion. It felt like this was our personal yacht.

Castles were built because rich Europeans (no one else could afford a caste) feared many things too. They feared invasion, the princes nearby, foreign nobles, the masses, and the rabble. Castles were designed to build a wall around the families of rich people and keep the fearful enemies out.

The Rhine Gorge, as this area was called, has greatest concentration of castles in the entire world. It seemed there was one or more castles around every bend in the river. That is why this area has been declared a World Heritage site.



Sometimes we saw castles and churches at the same time. 

Schönburg Castle is a gorgeous castle perched on a spectacular rock overlooking the Rhine River and a town of Oberwesel and an equally spectacular church. I love churches; I love cathedrals; and I love mountains. Here you get all of these together.


In one town we sailed by a church and pub that were married together. In order to get into the church you had to walk through the pub. Who thought up that design?

Again a church and a castle


This was probably my favourite castle. Marksburg Castle was built (mainly) from the 14th century though partly from the 13th century. It still retains much of its medieval character. It has never been destroyed. Its canons fired on vessels that did not have permission to go by. Knights who pledged their loyalty to master of the castle made it their home.

Eventually we arrived in Koblenz. The city was first established in 9 B.C. by the Romans who deliberately chose the site because the two rivers met there. In the 5th century the Romans withdrew from the Rhine, leaving the territory to the barbarians.

The Jews of Koblenz were not treated well in the Second World War. Before World War II about 500 Jews lived in Koblenz—a small but fairly wealthy community with a synagogue. After the war none were left. A few escaped, but most were killed. Murdered by the Nazi regime and their numerous supporters.

Kristallnacht is a night that people in civilized countries should never forget. It was a night when it was demonstrated forever how thin the veneer of civilization is that separates civilization from barbarism. No one should ever forget that there is no barrier between the two. It must be remembered that Germany at the time considered itself, not entirely without justification, the most civilized country in the world. It took great pride in its achievements.

By now I am sure my readers are screaming: ABC!

Leave a Reply