Wiesbaden is situated in the southwest of Germany and has more than a quarter of a million inhabitants. On top of this, it also has around ten thousand Americans who are in the US Army. It is classed as one of the most aged spa towns within the EU and its name literally means ‘meadow baths’. To qualify for this, fourteen springs are still operating today.
History and Geography
Wiesbaden sits right on the Rhine and, on the opposite bank, is Mainz. The centre of the city is around five kilometers away, sitting on flat land. In the distance are the Taunus Heights, with the Hainerbert to the east of the city. However, it is the wide and flat plains that make this place ideal for cycling and hiking. The municipality is just 204 square kilometers, but the north has some extremely large forest areas. On the western side, expect to see grapes growing and general farmland.
Best time to go
Wiesbaden is a very moderate place when it comes to temperatures with May to September being the warmest months. Even then, the temperatures will not usually go above 25°C (77°F), which is really quite pleasant. Winter sees daytime temperatures dropping down to around 4°C (39°F).
Getting Around in Wiesbaden
Since the centre of Wiesbaden is usually clogged with traffic, having a self drive car or taxi during the working week is probably not the best choice for tourists. Spending hours in traffic jams is what most of us want to get away from on holidays, so think carefully here.
There is a good train service in Wiesbaden and visitors can easily connect to places like Frankfurt and Koblenz or Mainz. There is also high speed train that runs from the city to Cologne-Frankfurt and beyond. Those who are staying for some time may find it more economical to purchase a BahnCard to get discounts along the way.
The bus service is good and connects all the districts with a half-hourly service. This is increased to a fifteen minute service during the rush hour so people do not have to wait long to get on board.
Since Frankfurt Airport is not far away, Wiesbaden can be accessed by visitors from around the globe. The airport also has two railway stations making it extremely easy for visitors to get into the city.
Major Attractions and Sights
Some of the buildings in this part of the world are absolutely stunning. The Baroque-style state theatre is a masterpiece of over the top design. It was designed by two Viennese men, Fellner and Helmer, in the late nineteenth century. Along the same complex of buildings, find the Theatre Kolonnade and the Kurhaus Kolonnade among others. Expect to see performances brought in from the wider Germany area which will include theatrical shows, classical music and opera.
Another great place to explore is the Market Church (Marktkirche) which, at 92 meters, it is the tallest building in the town. Try to catch a glimpse of it in late afternoon when the masonry turns to a lovely orange color in the fading sunlight.
One of the largest churches in Wiesbarden is the St Boniface church which has a really striking appearance. Not only can it seat 4,500 people, it has two huge spires which look out over the town. It has a bit of a history since it almost fell down not long after it was built in the early nineteenth century, but locals got together to ensure that it went back up again, this time with a completely different feel to the place.
Being a spa town, a must-visit is the spa rooms. Located next door to the casino, it features the longest colonnaded hall in Europe, a clutch of assembly rooms and a pretty English-inspired garden where you can follow in the footsteps of such luminaries as Goethe, Brahms, Wagner and Dostoevsky.
The old city is charming and its main attraction is Schlossplatz with the magnificent city palace that was once home to the Prussian royal family. The winding narrow streets make for an interesting walking tour and you can see the old structure of Weisbaden – the Heathen’s Wall, and also the Bäckerbrunnen fountain. As you meander, you’ll hear the striking and the call of the Wiesbaden Cuckoo Clock – reputedly, the largest in the world.
It may be a good idea to jump on a train and take a trip to Koblenz. The railway line goes all the way along the Rhine and there are beautiful castles en route for photo opportunities. While in Koblenz, grab a lovely lunch in the old Prussian fort which has a remarkable statue of Kaiser Willhelm himself.
There is a lovely spa town in the Taunus hills with the Taunus Wunderland with a host of fun attractions for the rest of the family. Here, expect to ride on the overhead railway, rides for the brave of heart or those who would much rather something a little more sedentary. There is even a carousel ride for the very young and they get to play at being pirates or challenging the older folks to a great water fight.
There is all kinds of stuff going on here, for example, spot the dragons hiding behind the rocks, a haunted house, giant water slides and pirate ships to hitch a ride on.
Another energy sapping place to go to is the Kletterwal Neroberg which is situated out of Wiesbaden. Not only is the place scenically beautiful, it is also home to the largest ropes course in the whole area. There are four different courses on offer which challenge people to climb, just dangle or balance across the course. Don’t forget to cover legs with good trousers or track suit bottoms and wear comfortable flat shoes for the climbing parts. They only close when it is raining or snowing or the wind is too high so ensure that weather appropriate clothes are brought along.
For something a little bit different, adults and kids could try out the Schloss Freudenberg. This Neo Classical mansion provides just the right environment for everyone to experience different ‘sensory’ feelings like touch, smell, thinking etc. The Dark Bar serves up drinks and food in complete darkness, as the name would suggest, by blind waiters who rely on their very honed senses to find the clients. In the gardens there is an Aeolian harp which plays with the strength of the wind blowing through it, a labyrinth made from stone and many other toys and playgrounds for the kids to let off even more steam.
Cycling is a must in this part of the world and whole families can get on their wheels and head off into the Rheingau region. This is a lovely area to view and it is the healthy option for getting around. Not only is the town easily traversed by bike, it is also easy to go off to the mountains in the Taunus Woods. Visitors can book up for the Riesling Routes or try the main Veloroute-Rhine which takes riders through a few countries.
There are cycle maps to show people which way to go and to assure the family that they do not get lost en route. Overnight stays can also be factored in so there is no scramble for shelter at the end of the day. This is a lovely way to reconnect with the family after working hard all year!
Shopping in Wiesbaden
The Sternschnuppenmarkt is within central Schlossplatz and spreads out to the neighboring streets. This enticing show of goodies starts in November and goes on until the day before Christmas Eve every year. This is an extremely colorful market since it is decorated in the national colors; gold, blue and lilies.
There are more than one hundred booths set up, with all kinds of Christmas goodies on offer. There are arts, crafts and rides for the kids to enjoy, all overlooked by a huge Christmas tree. This is decorated with more than a thousand gold and blue ribbons, naturally, and 2,500 lights. The complementing nativity scene is made up of life sized figures.
Wiesbaden has the best of both worlds for shopping in that it has individual outlets and chain stores jostling side by side. There are enough up-market stores to satisfy even the fussiest of tastes, which gives the place a rather cosmopolitan feel. There are antique shops, well known jewelry shops and goldsmiths, sitting side by side with designer stores so, for those with money to fritter away, this is the ideal spot to lose some dollars – or should we say euros?
Don’t forget the twice weekly Farmer’s Market for a taste of local living. Wednesdays and Saturdays are the days when this takes place.
Eating Out in Wiesbaden
It may seem odd but people in Wiesbaden just love Thai food. The Chookdee Thai restaurant is one of the best, but it does tend to get very busy. There are also middle-eastern bistros in Wiesbarden and they are dotted around the place. Cappadocia is one of the better ones and serves up a delicious stew with rice and bread for just a small amount of money.
Lovers of vegetarian food will be well at home in Spital, the restaurant which serves up lovely pastries and drinks in the morning and substantial meals in the evening. However, carnivores are also catered for.
Nova Lounge is situated in a lovely park area. Some tables are set out under the ancient trees and among the beautiful flower beds. It offers some of the most wonderful examples of the national cuisine so this is the place to go for something local. Yet another odd place to take a meal is in the old tower in an establishment called Turm.
Gourmands just have to visit the Ente restaurant. Here there are Oriental foods on offer, chefs cook up wonderfully unique dishes, and visitors can even sample Italian food at the Osteria Da Enzo. There are original recipes enough to keep everyone stuffed!
Maloiseau’s Restaurant sits right next to the Sherry & Port Bistro and, as such, it is drawing a lot of attention. Here find a predominantly French menu with crème brulée taking top awards from the patrons. There is also a huge selection of seafood dishes but it must be said that the menu is on the expensive side. Six courses, including wine, coffee and water will set the diner back at something just below one hundred euro. Since the prices don’t put people off, book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Nightlife in Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden locals just love to gamble and it is no wonder because the casino at Spielbank Wiesbaden is spectacular in style. The building it resides in was partially destroyed in WW2 and stayed that way until about thirty years ago. Now it is an absolute perfection of filigree wood carvings and crystal chandeliers that really make the place sparkle. All the usual casino games are available but it is worth going along just to see the opulence of the place.
Café Hauptwach is a cool place to have lunch or dinner. There are many German dishes on the menu but it is the social side of the place that attracts many. Obviously the American influence can be seen in many places but everyone tends to mingle very well.
If people want to mix with the Brits, the Scotch and Soda Pub is the place to be. Locals love this place even though it is full of ex-pats. It stands on the Goldgasse and the food, which includes the unusual ‘steak on a stone’ dish, which sees people cooking meat right at their tables. The beer is good too and includes brands from Germany and the UK. The ambience is great so give this one a try.
Anything of local interest in Wiesbaden
May is the time to arrive to take part in the arts festival. The May Festival was brought into being in 1896 and features some of the very best music and theatre performances. There are operas, ballets and modern dance shows, as well as cabaret performances and poetry readings.
August sees the Rheingau Wine Week taking place. Here find fine wines and the sparkling variety housed around the town hall. Thousands of people come into the place just for this festival to try out the Riesling wines that the region is famous for. Expect to sample some delicious dishes from the same region and enjoy entertainment all in one very enjoyable week.
Wirecard : How Jan Marsalek Friend Henry O’Sullivan became “Corinna Müller”
The Briton Henry O’Sullivan is regarded as the dazzling puller of many Wirecard deals and friend of Jan Marsalek and internal emails show how big his influence was in the company.
Henry O’Sullivan celebrated his 40th birthday in paradise. He invited lawyers, managers and high-ranking executives from Wirecard to the lonely dream island of Benguerra off the coast of the East African state of Mozambique. Board member Jan Marsalek and his girlfriend should also come.
As a souvenir, the host wanted: pens for the school children in town and champagne for the party weekend.
The luxury resort Azura Retreats, which O’Sullivan rented in November 2014, had cabins right on the beach, palm trees, and a beach. On arrival, the guests would have to wade through knee-deep water as the British businessman’s assistant warned a month before the celebration. That wasn’t a problem for Jan Marsalek. He preferred to travel by helicopter anyway, according to an email from his secretary.
The extravagant birthday plans reveal a lot about two of the central key figures in the Wirecard scandal. Jan Marsalek (40) and Henry O’Sullivan (46) are close confidants who worked together on big deals far away from the headquarters in Aschheim. Now the judiciary is asking whether millions have been diverted. Wirecard is insolvent and Marsalek is on the run.
O’Sullivan does not answer inquiries. At the beginning of 2020, he only wanted to talk to the examiners from KMPG and EY under certain conditions but then he was no longer available to them.
The beefy Brit was known for his dissolute lifestyle. In Singapore he often dined in a top restaurant on the roof of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, with a view over the harbor. To save time on business trips, he preferred to travel short distances by helicopter instead of taxi and in the meantime he lived on a yacht in Monaco.
Marsalek had O’Sullivan flown in in 2014 to celebrate with him at the Munich Oktoberfest. A year later they flew through South Africa in the Learjet 45XR. And when the Briton wanted to meet the Wirecard executive board in Jakarta in 2014, he asked an Indonesian employee by email about a hotel that would tolerate the “type of spring break business trips”.
Beyond its luxury life, only fragments of O’Sullivan’s businesses are known. The Briton did not hold an official position at Wirecard. Many consider him a “phantom” in the background, a member of the mysterious clique around Marsalek.
It was stored in the Wirecard address book with an external e-mail address for freelancers – his profile photo showed Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord: another bad joke by Jan Marsalek, as insiders suspect.
As much as O’Sullivan was on business trips, he was always careful to be discreet. This is also shown by an episode from spring 2020, when the Wirecard world was already falling apart and auditors examined the opaque third-party business for which Marsalek was responsible.
O’Sullivan was very knowledgeable about third party business and a strange company purchase in India in 2015. He was therefore a sought-after discussion partner for the annual auditors from EY and the special auditors from KPMG. O’Sullivan apparently managed to convince the supervisory board of a special protective measure.
A sought-after discussion partner for EY and KPMG
O’Sullivan demanded at the end of April or beginning of March 2016 that his name should not be recorded in the “final report” or in any other correspondence with Wirecard. “These papers have a habit of appearing in public,” he wrote to an assistant at Marsalek. He assumes that “everything that is written will ultimately be read by others” and he therefore insists on being given a pseudonym.
This is how Mr. O’Sullivan became Mrs. Müller. On March 4, a legal advisor to the Supervisory Board wrote to Wirecard management: “As discussed yesterday, a code name should be used for all further e-mails and other references. Proposal: ‘Ms. Corinna Müller’. ”On the same day, EY agreed not to use the name in communication with Wirecard international.
According to supervisory board circles, however, it was clear: There should be no special treatment in the confidential internal audit report, and O’Sullivan’s real name would have been mentioned here.
But it did not get to that. According to the “Wall Street Journal”, the special auditor KPMG was cross: O’Sullivan had also made the condition of their auditors anonymous. When they refused, he refused to speak.
He could tell so much in the process. In the ten years before the bankruptcy alone, Wirecard acquired companies for 1.2 billion euros, according to insolvency administrator Michael Jaffé. In his report, Jaffé writes that the deals were one reason for the “enormous consumption of liquidity in recent years”. The public prosecutor is investigating former executives on suspicion of fraud and breach of trust.
O’Sullivan was involved in numerous Wirecard deals. His name is linked to one of the largest and most dubious deals the payment service provider has done in recent years: the takeover of the Indian Hermes group in 2015. Wirecard bought the companies from the Mauritius-registered fund Emerging Markets Investment Fund 1A (EMIF 1A) for 326 million euros. The amazing thing: the fund had only acquired the same company and assets a few months earlier for around 35 million euros and it is still not clear who was behind that deal
Marsalek stated in an interview with Handelsblatt at the beginning of 2020 that he had not checked the background. But insiders report that O’Sullivan and Marsalek were the ones who planned the deal and who ultimately benefited from it. In any case, the original Hermes sellers now feel cheated. They filed a lawsuit that revealed that it was O’Sullivan who negotiated the sale to the EMIF 1A fund for € 35 million.
The central figure in Senjo was also O’Sullivan, even if he did not hold an official position. A PR consultant for the British company stated in 2019 that her client worked for Senjo. That’s only half the story. In practice, O’Sullivan is said to have been the one in charge of Senjo. In Singapore, the authorities are now investigating for falsification of accounts in the vicinity of the group of companies.
How hard Marsalek worked internally at Wirecard for his party friend O’Sullivan is shown by a short-term lending business from 2016, which several Wirecard board members dealt with. Ascheimer Wirecard Bank AG granted Cottisford Holdings Ltd, a generous credit line of ten million euros from O’Sullivan, for which Wirecard AG guaranteed as internal emails and documents prove this.
“Today the supervisory board formally approved the loan retrospectively, but was not ‘amused’ about it,” wrote the then board member Rainer Wexeler of Wirecard Bank AG on March 2, 2016 to Marsalek. He complained that the panel had been poorly informed. Wexeler asked: “Can you please give me the private address of O’Sullivan and some key business data about his business, his connection to Wirecard AG, etc.?”
Wirecard Scandal claims another Victim – Heike Pauls from Commerzbank
It’s not even eight months since Germany’s number one payment service provider imploded: Wirecard had to admit in June 2020 that billions of euros never existed on the balance sheet. As a result, board members had to go to jail or disappeared without a trace. Since then, auditors have been distrusted, and the head of the BaFin supervisory authority has to look for a new job. The youngest victim is Heike Pauls of the German Commerzbank.
Up until a few weeks before the Wirecard scandal burst, several analysts in various banks believed in Wirecard. They unshakably believed that the annual financial statements for 2019, which had been postponed several times, would end well, some experts continued to insist on Wirecard price targets of 180 to 240 euros.
One of the bravest supporters of the scandal group was Heike Pauls from Commerzbank. The analyst was always loyal to Wirecard: She dismissed critical reports about the payment processor as false reports and even a few weeks before the collapse she issued a buy recommendation with a price target of 230 euros for the Wirecard share.
As the Spiegel reported, Pauls had in the meantime also provided the management of the payment processor with sensitive information that it had collected specifically on the capital market. In January Commerzbank had already restructured the research department and relieved the analyst of her duties, now the announcement was made:
“Commerzbank has terminated the employment relationship.”
The Wirecard scandal is far from being dealt with. Further personnel consequences in various economic areas could follow. Extensive claims for damages by investors against the insolvent payment service provider are also examined and the the Wirecard share remains taboo for any investors.
Wirecard Committee – Doubts about Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s Credibility
Didn’t Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg tell the whole truth when he appeared as a witness on the Wirecard investigative committee? Internal documents that are available to the ARD studio fuel the suspicion. The SPD accuses him of having lied to the committee and in the opposition too, doubts about its credibility are growing.
In December Guttenberg was asked about his role in the Wirecard scandal in the Bundestag. It was also about an article that the former CSU minister published in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” at the end of March 2020. The topic: The role of short sales in the Corona crisis. At the time, Wirecard was targeted by shortsellers, i.e. stock exchange traders who bet on falling prices for a company and Guttenberg had argued against such short sales in the article.
Mail to ex-Wirecard boss Markus Braun
Guttenberg apparently did not want to draw a direct connection to his work for Wirecard, but there are doubts about this representation.
An email to the then Wirecard boss Markus Braun, however, indicates that Guttenberg could very well have had the now insolvent DAX group in mind when he wrote the text for the FAZ.
In this email of March 20, 2020, the Managing Director of the communications company Edelman, Rüdiger Assion, proposed a “Short Selling Action Plan” to the Wirecard boss. Among other things, this contained the suggestion that Guttenberg could write a guest commentary on the subject of short sales in the newspapers FAZ or “Die Welt”. An argumentation paper with key messages is also attached to the mail. Just six days later, exactly such a guest comment appears in the FAZ. Guttenberg’s argumentation shows clear similarities with the line proposed in the argumentation paper.
SPD speaks of a lie
The SPD chairman in the Wirecard committee, Zimmermann, therefore accuses Guttenberg of not telling the truth on the witness stand. Zimmermann told the ARD city studio: “He (Guttenberg’s note by the editor) lied to the investigative committee and tried to set the wrong track when he denied arguing for a ban on short sales in the interests of Wirecard. A real surprise is this lack of honesty not with him. ” Now it must be clarified whether Guttenberg deliberately wanted to mislead the investigative committee.
CDU defends Guttenberg
Guttenberg is defended by the CDU. The MP Matthias Hauer said that the SPD should primarily devote itself to the question of why the BaFin, supervised by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, imposed the short sale ban on Wirecard. “This should certainly contribute more to the explanation of Wirecard than an article in the name of an ex-politician on the subject in the FAZ.”
But doubts about Guttenberg’s credibility are also growing among the opposition. The chairman of the Greens, Danyal Bayaz, said that Guttenberg’s remarks on his opinion contribution had already been implausible in the committee of inquiry. “Apparently it was part of the advisory service to specifically win over public opinion for a renewed ban on short selling.” That does not cast a good light on Guttenberg’s honesty.
The Linke chairman in the committee, Fabio de Masi, can imagine summoning the former Federal Minister again: “If Mr. Guttenberg was Baron Münchhausen and had said the untruth in front of the committee of inquiry, this would also be criminally relevant, (…) the question is then whether his other statements that he had met the Chancellor privately are also untrue. “
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