by Buddy Dugan

June 17, 2014

Your correspondent is writing from the Rhineland in Germany, and is currently in the city of Cologne.

The city of Cologne, Germany was founded as a Roman colony in 39 BC. The centerpiece is the “Dom” cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in Germany. Construction began in 1248 and was completed in 1880. It was mostly saved from five years of allied bombing in World War II, although its surroundings were leveled. On March 6, 1945, a pair of Army photographers, T/3 Leon Rosenman and T/4 James Bates, were shooting motion pictures of a German Panzer Mark V tank which they believed had been knocked out. The tank sat in front of the “Dom.” The enemy tank suddenly turned to open fire on an approaching American Sherman tank. The Sherman was hit and its three crewman killed. A newly arrived American M-26 Pershing tank appeared and exchanged armor piercing rounds with the Mark V tank. The Pershing had thicker armor and a larger gun than the Sherman tanks and the Panzer mark V burst into flames. The cameramen got it all on film.

In Cologne, in 1709, an Italian expatriate, Giovanni Maria Farina, created a citrus scented toiletry that he named “Eau de Cologne.” Other entrepreneurs followed. One was Wilhelm Muelhens who founded the celebrated 4711 brand of Cologne, so named for the address of the building where Muelhens manufactured his scents.

Two must see sights are the Schokolademuseum, or Chocolate Museum, and the Romisch-Germanisches Museum, or Roman Germanic Museum. The Chocolate Museum chronicles the 3,000 year old history off chocolate from its humble Mesoamerican origins to its elevation as a European luxury item. The centerpiece of the Roman Germanic Museum is the Dionysus Mosaic, an extraordinarily well preserved work of art created around 220 AD. It was discovered in 1941 by workers building an air raid shelter. The museum was built around the mosaic to preserve its integrity.