Visiting a Historic Place: The Former Workhouse in Dresden (1)

What is it like, walking on the ground of a former “total institution” as Erving Goffman defined it in his book Asylum? For me, it was a strange mix of feelings: excitement connected with respect and somehow glumly feeling. But let us start from the beginning, and in this post series, I will invite you to join me visiting the former workhouse in Dresden while explaining its history, use, and its current state.

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A new Journey – Rudolf Seifert and his Emigration to Brazil (1)

Sunday, 1. Aug.

Rain weather as if heaven opened its floodgates. This is the day I started my journey to Brazil. My brother and I joined a family from Leipzig, who wanted to go there as emigrants.

Rudolf Seifert, Meine Reise nach Brasilien als Emigrant, 1909

With this opening line, Rudolf Seifert, a far relative of mine, started his travel journal in 1909. Just randomly, I discovered this small black book among the belongings of my grandfather, who passed away in 2012. Last year, I decided to have a closer look at it and started to transcribe his handwriting. The more I read about the journey of Rudolf, the more excited I got as a historian about all the small hints and descriptions of the political and social circumstances of his time. Therefore, in the following months, I want to follow his journey stage by stage while discussing and contextualizing his views and statements.

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