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In Search of the
Grand Hall of the Odeon Theater

A Birthday/Anniversary Visit

No, Paul, it's not the Odeon!

Climbing the stairs from the sparkling clean underground railway -- called a subway in America -- the view is spectacular. The steeple of a majestic church and then the church itself first appears as the stairs are ascended.

Paul on Odeonsplatz Finally at the top of the steps the view is of a splendid platz surrounded by imposing buildings. The heart begins to beat a little faster as the the beautiful surroundings add to the excitement that our first step in the birthday celebration is about to begin.

the old Odeon Theater (and Paul) Paul and Mike have come here to find what remains of the Odeon Theater, the place where Ulrichs gave the first public speech in defense of same-sex love. That was on August 29, 1867, the day after Ulrichs' 42nd birthday. It is here in a building on a square now called Odeonsplatz that the words that would forever change the Gay rights movement were first spoken. It seems fitting that now the Munich annual Gay pride parade ends in this historic place.

Wolfram & Paul in front of the old Odeon A turn to the left of the subway entrance reveals a pale yellow building that is now the Interior Ministry. Wolfram, our guide, informs us that what is left of the Grand Hall of the Odeon Theater is on the inside. Near the entrance of the building are the only two street-side bill boards on the square. Appropriately they announce the right of Gays and Lesbians to marry.

Entrance We step into a small reception area where we are greeted by a woman and a police officer behind a glass partition. There is a wall with a rack of pamphlets concerning the work that is done in the ministry. One pamphlet has a short history of the Odeon Theater with a picture of how it was before World War II. We take several. We ask and are given permission to enter the courtyard...

Grand Hall Wreath

Grand Hall Column

The eyes mist over,
Smiles stretch our
Mouths -- all is silent.
Then the click, click, click
Of cameras and admonitions
To pose here or there.

All is so quiet. Not for long, as Paul bursts out, Or be judged a coward! Speak! "At last, a dream come true." Mouths are stretching with smiles and everyone starts talking at once: "It's inside out;" "We're in what was once the basement;" "Where was the stage?"

Click, click, click go the cameras. Admonitions to pose here, there, together, alone are given.

Paul & Mike A scaffold being used for some repairs to the building next door is the only blemish on the view. There is a small stage jutting out from one wall with a few stairs leading up each side.

Paul The floor is made of individual red bricks (cobble stones) set in a circular pattern, with a fountain in the middle. Because the room is open to the sky (is a courtyard), beautiful green moss grows between them. Paul plucks some and puts them in a film container. He intends to take them as a birthday present to Karl in L'Aquila.

Paul mounts the stage He goes up on the stage and suddenly feels the need to orate. He booms out "Speak! Speak or forever be judged a coward!"

Wolfram & Paul He shuffle dances across the stage. This brings the guard into the room but when he sees everyone smiling he says nothing. We can leave happily now. We have found and stood where the great man first fought for our rights.

Paul & Mike Paul & Wolfram

picture of Grand Hall in Odeonsplatz subway station

Paul & Mike

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