Also present in profusion are effigies of witches. They adorn shops, are seen in the windows of many houses and are even plastered over the ubiquitous sausage stalls. These images reflect the pagan pre-Christian heritage of these lands. They are still celebrated come April 30, on Walpurgisnacht, where the ghostly Wild Hunt pursues the goddess Walpurga through hail and snow as winter yields to spring in the mountains. "There is a mountain very high and bare, whereon it is given out that witches hold their dance on Walpurgis Night," says folklorist Jacob Grimm in his Teutonic Mythology about the Brocken, highest peak of the Hartz mountains.
So it is not surprising that Christianity also has a potent place in the melange which makes up Quedlinburg. The town is glowered over by the massive fortress church of St Servatius. It is an austere, plain Romanesque basilica, notable for its wonderfully spare stone carving. Founded by Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich I, it was further finessed and expanded by his successor Otto I. Frescoes once covered the walls, but these are no more, though their ghosts can be seen in the crypts beneath the pseudo-romanesque choir which was built into the church by the Nazis, who used it as a 'sanctuary' for the SS. Heinrich Himmler saw himself as the embodiment of long dead Heinrich, come to return the Germany the glory of the Holy Roman Empire, bringing on the Thousand Year Reich.
Which lasted but 12 ruinous years. The fastidious reconstruction of the town and its monuments can be laid at the feet of the otherwise unlamented GDR, which did fine work in its years of travail in preserving the history of the German peoples. Munching on a bratwurst in the fine Market Square, one can thank them for this service at the least.