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Life Arts

Dostoyevsky and the Rhine Society in and around Wiesbaden circa 1865

By       Message Kevin Anthony Stoda     Permalink
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In literary circles, it has been well-noted that in despair, very lonely, and already in trouble for gambling too much, Fyodor Dostoyevsky fled his many debts in Russia and came to Wiesbaden around 1865. To this day there are still many evident links to Dostoyevsky and the Russian love with/of the West (especially Germany) in 19th Century Wiesbaden.

The very street in WiesbadenCity which bares his name, i.e. Fiodor-Dostojewsk-Strasse, is exactly where the Hessen regional Finance Ministry offices are located. This is where German residents, employers, and employees of all nationalities pay their taxes or have their tax books investigated. Fittingly, Dostoyevsky wrote his famous work, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, while living on the run in Wiesbaden and in neighboring gambling towns, such as Bad Homburg. Dostoyevsky naturally continued to gamble away his own moneys week-after-week, making him quite familiar with the material for his second novel in Wiesbaden--THE GAMBLER.

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Across town from the Finance Ministry and nearer to the Hessen Parliament, itself, is located the most famous gambling hall in the region: The Spielbank (Casino) Wiesbaden. Dostoyeski and other emigrants from all over Europe came to this hall to play.[1]

It should be noted that at the beginning of the 19th Century, Wiesbaden was barely recognized as major town on the Rhine. Kilometers away--Nassovian Bieberich was where the royalty lived. It was not until Castle Bieberich and its surrounding township slowly became fully suburbs of Wiesbaden during the mid-to-late 19th Century, that Wiesbaden had clearly arrived as an entertainment town for Germany's wealthy elite,including the German Kaiser and his family. (The largest bank in the region is still called the Nassau Sparkasse-Bank.)

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The original attraction for wealthy folks and schemers from all over Europe, and even North America, to Wiesbaden was not casinos.

The original attraction for coming to and visiting Wiesbaden had already been very well-known in Roman times. This attraction was Wiesbaden's famous hot springs. Therefore, the township, where Wiesbaden is located, had been called by the Roman Empire 2000 years ago "Aquae Mattiacorum" or the Waters of the Mattiaci. It was named after a German tribe that lived in the area named Mattiaci. In between the main train station and the street where I live in Wiesbaden is where an old gate to the Roman City Aquae Mattiacorum once stood.

"By 1370, sixteen bath houses were in operation [in the township]. By 1800, the city had 2,239 inhabitants and twenty-three bath houses. By 1900, Wiesbaden, with a population of 86,100, hosted 126,000 visitors annually." During that same 19th century, famous visitors to Wiesbaden, other than the German Kaiser and Dostoyevsky, had included Goethe, Wagner, Brahms, and loads of foreign royalty from all over continental Europe and America.


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Seemingly afloat over the city of Wiesbaden (in the direction of the Taunus Mountains) is a wonderful Russian Church with four golden onion domed towers. The church was built in mid-19th century by a Nassau noble for his young Russian bride who had died in child birth. This church holds the body of the young royal Russian bride. The church is known as the Russian Chapel and still dazzles the eyes of any visitor in Wiesbaden who comes across it while viewing the green hills north of the town.

A "Nassovian master builder Philipp Hoffmann, who was also responsible for building St. Boniface's Church and the Synagogue on Michelsberg, was also in charge of this [Russian chapel's] construction. . . . Hoffmann [had been sent by the husband of the unfortunate Russian bride to Moscow before constructing the chapel]. . . . [Hoffman] studied contemporary Russian architecture, [and] he decided to take the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow as a model."

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)

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