11/15/2019
Formal dinner on St. Martin's Day
Years 5 to 10 celebrated St. Martin's Day on 11 November 2019 with a formal dinner with a delicious Martin's goose in the festive dining room. Boarding school director Stefan Steinebach gave an extraordinary speech.

Speech at the Sankt Martins dinner by Stefan Steinebach, boarding school director in Salem:

On the 9th November, on Saturday, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. For most of you this event was at best interesting, since none of you were born and even a lot of your parents will have been too little to remember it.

To me, apart from my marriage to the most wonderful wife in the world and the birth of my three children, this event counts amongst the most memorable of my life.

A few months before the 9th November 1989, my History teacher decided to organise a Berlin trip for the second week of November that year, leaving my hometown on the 10th. When the events on the 9th took place, kicked off by a misinterpretation of a message referring to new visa regulations at the borders of the GDR and FRG, and we saw the pictures on the television of people climbing on the Berlin Wall, people leaving the East to go unchallenged to the West where a day before you would have been shot for this „crime“, our school were debating whether it might be too risky and dangerous for us students to go and visit the city the next day.

I am still eternally grateful to my History teacher Herr Müller, who argued that these events are History in the making and it would be a terrible mistake not to take the opportunity and experience this live!

There we were the next day, driving through empty and eerie checkpoints, lights still on but without being challenged by any guards whatsoever. Having arrived in Berlin, our first trip was to the wall where we were handed hammers and chisels (at 5 DM per hour) and so my mates and I hacked away at the deadliest and most inhumane border in history. A large piece of this wall still sits in my office at home reminding me of this incredible event which changed the world forever.

Without this event, all you wonderful children from Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Mongolia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, former Yugoslavia – apologies in case I have not mentioned all former „Eastern Block“ countries -  would not be sitting here among us enjoying this tasty dinner.

You may ask yourselves: What has this to do with St Martin?

„A lot“, I would answer.

When we celebrate St Martin, we celebrate a historic figure, which did something out of the extraordinary. St Martin showed us through his attitude and actions that you can change the world. Through his example, millions of people in Germany and throughout the world every year on the 11th celebrate an event where light was brought into the darkness.

The same is true for the events in East Germany those 30 years ago. Had it not been for the principled and courageous individuals who fought for their basic human right to be free, the Berlin Wall would maybe still stand today. It was those individuals who inspired the others to go out on the streets and protest for what was right. So they also brought light into the darkness and as a result of their actions we are able to sit here and enjoy our community.

Kurt Hahn und Prinz Max von Baden, our founding fathers, had the same idea when they started the school 100 years ago in this place: To educate young people to become leading lights when they go out into the world. Our aim as teachers and mentors is to educate you all to become responsible, honest, disciplined, principled and courageous leading members of society.

Stefan Steinebach

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