The ceremonial farewell of the graduating class of 1968 in the auditorium of the Wesergymnasium had passed its climax. The new graduates. High school graduates had brought Goethe's Faust in excerpts on stage. Pupils and students of the lower grades were responsible for the vocal frame, and some laudators had "bored" the present pupils, their parents, honorary and other guests with their speeches. In these minutes, the principal presented each of the graduates with their high school diploma and a book gift. The mood was very good, not to say even euphoric. Applause and cheers filled the packed auditorium. Then Peter, as if through a rushing veil, heard his name. "And now I'll ask Peter to come up here," the principal asked him, looking in his direction. Peter's father, sitting proudly next to him, nudged him in the side and whispered, "It's your turn, come on, on stage!" I, on the stage?"Peter stammered in disbelief, but rose automatically, as if remote-controlled. But what was that? A heavy weight seemed to be attached to his new suit. He was inevitably drawn back to the chair. "Peter, may I ask you?", the principal asked again, seeming to grow a little impatient. "Of course!", Peter answered a little too loudly and blushed. With all his strength he overcame the weight tugging at him, pushed his way awkwardly through the rows of seats and stumbled onto the stage. His appearance caused laughter. However, when the principal congratulated him and presented him with his certificate of maturity and a gift of a book, Peter held both aloft and beamed at the crowd. Out of the corner of his eye he saw his proud parents, jumped off the stage a little more elated and went back to his seat. Overjoyed to show his parents the certificate. The book present like two trophies. One after the other and in alphabetical order, his classmates underwent the same procedure more or less confidently. Everyone was satisfied in the end. The celebration took its course.
" And thus all the graduates of this most successful baccalaureate class in the centenary year of our educational institution received their certificates!" With these words the rector ended his laudation. Georg was the last to receive his diploma, and the rector announced: "It is with a happy heart and a clear conscience that I send you off to your new phase of life, knowing that you will all go your own way. Always remember your school and your teachers with pleasure and represent us well in the wide world! Now I ask the complete Abiturientia 1968 once again for a joint photo on stage!"After a lot of back-and-forth, the photographer finally managed to take a suitable group photo, and everyone was released to their seats. The principal took the floor again: "Finally, I have the pleasant task of pointing out a small snack with drinks, which is set up on the back wall of our auditorium. My thanks to the booster club. The rector bowed again. Then left the stage. In no time the buffet was surrounded and laughter and buzzing of voices filled the large room. After endless handshakes and pats on the back, Peter felt Robert pulling him by the sleeve and whispering to him: "Meet me in ten minutes at the back toilets. I have already told everyone!" "Okay", Peter murmured back. Robert was their class president. Apparently still had the say. But what was it! Peter apologized to his parents. Made its way through the crowd toward the rear exit. At the toilets all classmates were already gathered, and Robert immediately took the floor. "Dear friends, so that's it, we're parting in all directions. But before the inevitable happens, we have to celebrate our high school graduation together again so properly." Approving murmurs interrupted Robert. But only briefly, then he continued: "So my suggestion is that we meet tomorrow afternoon at fourteen o'clock in our best threads on the forecourt of the school. It's okay for the girls to get all dolled up for once!" Approving murmurs from all sides. "As if we had not always done this for you!", Ilona interjected. "Fair enough," Harald ignored Ilona's objection and wanted to know, "and what do we do then??" "Let me finish!", Robert said. "I'll get a handcart from the janitor and old, discarded textbooks, and we'll stage a graduation march down to town. Until we get there, we'll make a few stops," Robert winked his eyes conspiratorially, "and then march onto the Weser Bridge, our penultimate stop." Peter asked impatiently and somewhat defiantly, "And there we'll put in a reading lesson and then bring the books back to the school again."Peter," countered Robert, "you know me. I'm not that unimaginative after all. No, we set the books on fire one after the other and throw them over the bridge railing" The others' mouths were open. "Off we go," was heard, "this has never happened before. That is something new!" Praisingly, Robert was patted on the shoulders, and the proposal was unanimously accepted. "Let me say one more thing!", Peter raised his voice again. "Book burning happened once before, in the Third Reich, but it's frowned upon today. Do you think we can really …!"Peter didn't get any further, because a voice came from the door: "So here you all are. Please come in, we want to celebrate! Their class teacher had tracked them down. Complimented them back into the auditorium. It was an illustrious company that had gathered in front of the school the next day! The girls were all dressed up, and the boys were almost all in black suits. Some of them wore real top hats. You could almost get the impression that this was a funeral party. Well, a little sad was the Abiturientia already. You would eventually part forever in a few weeks. Nine years of school together in Freud. Also in suffering were then history! But first they wanted to celebrate and have fun together again.
The marching formation formed as if by itself. Their cohort consisted of ten girls and eleven boys. Ten couples were found, and Robert led the triumphant procession with a handcart loaded with books and various alcoholic beverages. And as a surprise a straw doll was enthroned on top with a lanyard on which "teacher" was written. So that's what Robert's wink meant yesterday! Peter was about to join Robert at the head of the procession when he was approached from the side: "May I hook up with you??"And without waiting for an answer, Ilona had joined him. "I know you have a steady girlfriend," she continued, "you don't have to marry me right away!"Peter felt his face flush and was about to break away from Ilona. Then he noticed that all the others had already formed pairs and stammered apologetically, "Shh!… It's alright, you just had me a little scared. I was just thinking." So, so, with your friend in mind?", Ilona wanted to know. "She won't miss you, and it's only for today, I promise!"Peter wanted to say something, but the procession was already moving towards the city. After a few hundred meters Peter realized that it was not so unpleasant to have Ilona at his side. She did not cling to him. Was also no excessive chatterbox. They chatted pleasantly and exchanged memories of their time together at school. After all, they were table mates last term. Had passed some experiences together. Now a loud shout rang out from the head of the procession: "Gaudeamus!"This was the signal to intonate the student song "Gaudeamus igitur", and from all twenty-one throats sounded: ":Gaudeamus igitur, iuvenes dum sumus: post iucundam iuventutem, post molestam senectutem, :nos habebit humus!": "So let's be merry" was almost something like a motto for the boisterous society. On their march into the city, passersby waved to them in a friendly manner. Windows and doors opened, and a few shouts of encouragement were heard. Thus incited and stimulated, the twenty-one friends reached the church square, which had apparently been chosen as the first stop on the way to the Weser bridge. Joyfully excited, everyone gathered around Robert and the handcart. "Give me the stuff!"Was heard, and Robert distributed the bottles. Peter noticed that Ilona wanted to break away from his arm and get a bottle of beer. He held her and said pompously: "Just a moment, young lady, this is my task!"Hello, you're becoming a real gentleman," Ilona returned, staying close to him. Again Peter blushed, but it pretended not to notice and got them two bottles. "Ugh, what is that?", sounded Harald loudly. "This is Alsterwasser, I am used to something stronger!" Everyone had to laugh, but still toasted happily and sang loudly "Thoughts are free, who can guess them, …"The student song filled the entire church square, and they really felt like real students, or at least important members of society. "Now let us carry the teachers to the grave!", prompted Robert. He put the straw doll on the ground, a bit away from the boller cart, and set it on fire. The flames blazed brightly, and the Abiturientia staged a somewhat archaic dance around them. At the end, some stood a bit reverent around the "remains of the teachers" spread out. Then the remaining flames were extinguished. The ashes swept back into the bollard wagon. When everyone had finished dancing and drinking, the procession started moving again and left the church square, marching down Lange Straße towards Sommerfelder Platz, their second stopping point. Exactly in the middle of the square, the group gathered again around the cart, helped themselves to the remaining drinks, that is, Peter served Ilona, and they loudly belted out songs again. This time were present: "Au claire de la lune, mon ami Pierrot",… And "It's a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way to go",…! A large crowd formed in the large square, and many of the bystanders joined in the chant. After the chants still some discussion groups formed. Many hands were shaken. Congratulations expressed.
"There has never been anything so great in our city before!", said an elderly gentleman. "Respect, with such young people I am not afraid for our future!" Such and similar statements made the hearts of the high school graduates beat faster. Then they had apparently done everything right with their attention-grabbing action!
This time, Peter hooked up with Ilona and joined her on the train that was now tackling the last leg of the journey. A few of the passersby had become so curious that they joined the procession. On the Brink everyone let out another loud "Gaudeamus igitur", passed the pharmacy, crossed the road at the hotel and after the police station arrived at the bridge approach. The bridge over the Weser spanned the river in a large left-hand bend. Ended from here on the other bank in the district of Uffeln. But the happy graduates did not want to go that far today.
They left the old ticket booth on the left and moved forward on the right side, i.E. Upstream, to reach the middle of the bridge. Arrived there, Robert parked the handcart directly at the bridge railing and waited until all had gathered around him. "Dear friends," he began an emotional speech, "we have made it this far! And I don't mean our triumphant march from our educational institution up on the Winterberg, which we were privileged to attend for nine long years, but our long, temporal journey from the Sexta to the Oberprima. Unfortunately some companions have left us, others have joined us. And now we are all standing together here on our Weser bridge, which we always had in view from our school. It gave us, me anyway, support and confidence." "Hear, hear," Peter briefly interrupted Robert's flow of speech, and all the friends applauded. "Thank you, Peter," Robert continued touched, "I appreciate your opinion and your friendship forever!"After he had regained his composure, he continued his speech. The passersby in attendance also listened intently. "Here now, on our symbolic bridge to life, I would like to make a caesura that we will never forget. We leave behind our previous life, including school, and demonstrate this by burning old textbooks. The Weser will carry the leftovers to the North Sea and then distribute them all over the world – symbolic for us and our lives. Peter had pointed out to me the other day that a book burning could bring back bad memories. So that he feels at the own body that our action pursues however here completely own, positive intention, I ask him to step together with Harald and me now to the action and to accomplish this symbolic act."Peter was a little surprised, but did not let himself be asked for long under cheers and applause. Harald and he tore leaves out of the old school books that were lying in the handcart, held them out to Robert, who lit them on fire, and threw them in a high arc into the river. More cheers erupted, and people crossed the roadway to watch the rising wind blow the fire flares into the floodwaters on the other side of the bridge. Fortunately, there were hardly any cars on the bridge at this time, so there were no obstructions. "There's one thing I don't understand," Peter turned to Ilona, who handed him another book, "why haven't the police shown up yet? The police station is not three hundred meters away?"Ilona said: "I can only explain this to myself in such a way that the officials have recognized the special meaning of our action. Further, we did not impede or harm anyone, and the bit of pollution,…" She was probably right about that, and Peter continued to tear up the books. When all the books were finally delivered to their destination, Robert took the floor again: "That was great!" He exclaimed euphorically. "I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and we can move on to our final agenda item. We'll clean up here and meet in about an hour at our local pub. I know that Franz has increased his stock especially because of us. Let's go!"The assembly hooted and clapped until everyone's hands hurt and dispersed for the time being. Some of the friends, especially the girls, wanted to change and freshen up – for whatever reason! The meeting at her local pub turned into a big event. Of course, everyone showed up and soon filled the entire taproom with loud singing, which after a few beers turned more and more into bawling. A fully successful day was drawing to a close. In the next day's newspaper, the reporter, whom they had apparently not noticed in their tension, wrote about a great event in their city, which had never happened before in this way. He wrote in detail about the actions, but fortunately did not mention any names. Also on the following days, the newspapers were full of positive headlines: – "Pauker" carried to the grave and burned! – Smooth graduation for the 100th anniversary, all have passed! – A doll was killed! – Everyone passed the maturity test! – Released to Freedom! – Farewell without tears! So there was no lack of deserved attention for the 1968 Abiturientia!