The Konigstrasse is the heart of downtown Stuttgard. Pedestrians walk its wide cobblestoned corridor, browsing in the many fine shops and stores, sitting with their refreshments at outdoor cafes, arguing politics, joking and laughing, watching the human scene. Only a few blocks in length, the street ends towards the northeast at the Hauptbahnhof. Approximately midway there is a slightly larger than life-size bas-relief of a nude female with one prominent and generous breast. Although you rarely if ever actually see anyone touch this lovely breast, it has been worn smooth by thousands of caressing hand, and I strongly suspect it is often lovingly and surreptitously kissed as well.
Entering the Konigstrasse from the southwest, moving along leisurely, you may encounter an organ grinder with his monkey, a magician, sidewalk artists, a quartet of colorful Peruvian flautists and drummers offering their distinctive music, a war veteran with no legs at all, beggars, peddlers hawking miscellaneous wares, and an altogether unbelievable variety of people, sometimes exotic, sometimes not. As you near the Hauptbahnhof, on your right is the Oberer Schlossgarten, a cheerful small garden with many colorful flowers, and sturdy benches on which lovers and others sit to enjoy them. There is also a gazebo where sometimes there are concerts. It is easy to spend an entire afternoon on the Konigstrasse, and difficult to imagine a more bustling, pleasant, or inviting place. But there is danger there as well, and hate.
We saw the "punk" approaching: mohawk haircut dyed bright red, dangling earring, baggy clothes, cigarette, probably eighteen to twenty years of age. Suddenly, with a look of terror in his eyes he began to run, followed by seven or eight tough looking youths of about the same age but dressed in more ordinary working men’s attire. He ran faster. They continued the chase although not as fast, apparently confident they would eventually catch him. Attempting to elude his pursuers the frightened boy turned into a side street, but as if on cue another party of similar toughs blocked his path. I do not know if this was by design or was merely a coincidence. But caught now between the two attacking groups there was no escape. One of his pursuers punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. They all joined in, kicking him viciously, taking turns it appeared, to see who could damage him the most. Although he rolled into a fetal position they repeatedly kicked him with their heavy shoes: his ribs, his stomach, his head and groin. Apparently satisfied, the fifteen or so cowardly bullies formed themselves into a ring and shouted together: sieg heil! sieg heil! sieg heil! Bystanders paused to watch as the brutes swaggered obscenely and unopposed towards the Bahnhof, presumably to drink beer and boast of their exploits. An old man knelt by the bloodied unconscious victim who was bleeding from his mouth and ears. The Konigstrasse fell quiet. But just for a moment.