34C3 Review

23 minute read

The last few days of 2017 were spent in Leipzig, attending the 34C3. It was my fourth congress and the first one in Leipzig. I didn’t know what to expect from the new location and I never was in Leipzig before. In addition I was interested in the new ICE route from Berlin to Munich and thought that the part Berlin-Leipzig would be interesting. In preparation of the congress I looked through the talks and was blown away. There were - again - so many good talks, especially the shortly announced one with Snowden via livestream was promising.

I arrived in Leipzig on the 26th December. The plan was to quickly drive to the hotel to leave the trolley there and then drive to the exhibition halls. Well, it turned out that the public transport in Leipzig on holidays and especially between Christmas and New Year wasn’t that good, especially compared to Hamburg. Overall it took us about 3 hours to drive to the hotel, leave the stuff behind and then drive to the exhibition halls. In 2018 I will already arrive on the 25th in order to participate the entire 26th December. The train journey itself was without problems but the route from Berlin to Leipzig was in fact not new. That part hasn’t changed. The new route for the ICE trains only starts in Halle/Leipzig. Another dent in the initial experience was the fact that the hotel was one station outside the Leipzig tariff zone 110. Another thing I will make sure to get right in 2018 will be the location of my hotel. It will be within the Leizig tariff zone.

The Bad and the Ugly

But enough with these environmental conditions. Let’s start with the congress itself. The area was huge and much bigger than the CCH in Hamburg. Though it is not entirely correct to simply compare the top-down area since the CCH had a lot more verticality throughout whereas in the Leipzig exhibition halls most things happened on one level. In any case many people brought rolling devices with them to cover the long distances more quickly. Some even built their own rolling chairs. The Congress Center Leipzig (CCL) was home to the Heaven, the smallest lecture hall and the merchandise as well as some political assemblies. There was one huge hall (Hall 2) which was filled with all the assemblies and two halls filled with the big lecture halls. The connecting glass hall was home to CERT, the main entrance, food catering and some more things.

It was definitely a different light experience. The big glass hall allowed daylight consumption and made it plain obvious when that was missing. Furthermore it was never as warm as the CCH. I’d say the lighting and the temperature feeling were the main detractors from the experience. In the CCH I was able to stay much longer without being tired, simply because there was a lot more to discover and more exciting locations. The new areas are good for the amount of people but it all felt a lot more anonymous and less comfortable. I had a bit of CeBIT feeling in the congress thanks to the long walking times and the few opportunities to sit down. This dragged my feeling down. Furthermore the out of center location in Leipzig meant that there were no relative cheap opportunities to eat. You had a Mc Donalds within 10 walking minutes but after one side exit was closed down, the walking distance doubled at least, which ruled it out in the next days. Other than that only the expensive catering inside the congress was available. There was also the Heaven’s kitchen but like always you lack vouchers in the beginning and have too many in the end. This was especially true, because I always had shifts during the meal times, something I will avoid next time. However I can positively note that the available catering offered more variety and most importantly more hot meals than the CCH.

The location of the hotel also limited the time I was able to stay at the congress, since the tram line driving to the hotel didn’t benefit from the better connections of the tram line driving to the congress and therefore didn’t drive through the night. Then again, there would not have been many things to do after the last talks were over. That reinforced a bit the CeBIT feeling. The layout was good for huge amounts of people but the spirit and charm of all the small things in the CCH was gone.

If the goal of the congress are more professionalized conference processes than this new location is wonderful. But if it supposed to maintain the community spirit of previous congresses many things must be improved for 35C3. First and foremost a lot more content must be available per square meter. Right now the space may be bigger but the relative amount of content per square meter is lower, which makes the entire experience more stressed.

I know that a lot of this has been negative and more will come but I’d like to start with that and then mention the good parts. Coupled with the many hours needed for a T-Shirt at the beginning, the unfitting times for angel meetings, many already booked out shifts on the 26th and less breaks in the lecture schedule, the experience was everything but great. In 2016 there were consistent breaks between 15:00 and 16:00 and between 19:30 and 20:30. The talks by the way didn’t start earlier. In 2017 there was only one break to be found which was consistent across all lecture halls and days and that was between 17:30 and 18:30. With the afternoon and evening breaks in 2016 it was possible to have two meals without missing a talk. In 2017 there was only one time frame to get a meal and not miss something. It was so early that you were hungry again before midnight. The longer walking times but not longer breaks between the talks made it also more difficult to quickly eat some small thing (e.g. an ice cream) before the next talk. In the CCH it was certainly possible for most talks (except for the really big talks) to go to Heaven between the talks, talk to people, go to toilet there, eat a bit and then go back to the next talk. In the new location you need almost the entire time to go from one hall to the other and there is no food just outside the lecture halls. The nearest food is almost always 5 minutes away.

If I would end at this point, the summary of the congress would be devastating. But it’s not over yet.

The Good

There were many great talks and I sadly experienced only a handful of talks. The second day of congress was the only one where I could visit some more talks. The talk with Snowden was definitely the most memorable one. There were many more world history like talks but I sadly visited far fewer talks than at 33C3 so I couldn’t visit most of them. The talks that I did visit where mostly great. Another positive aspect were the many great people I saw and spoke to during the congress. It’s always nice to catch up and meet friends you otherwise don’t see. In addition it always feels good to be a part of world history or witness it happening right next to you.

Furthermore I used the time during the congress to finish the relaunch of my website. The relaunched website will form the base for better coordinated activity in the year 2018. Thanks to some immediate feedback I was able to fix some glaring issues related to the mobile friendliness of the website. This website also brought with it a lot more motivation for activity going forward.

Leipzig

I drove back to Hamburg on the 31st December. This allowed me to explore some areas of Leipzig. I used the time between check-out at the hotel and the departure of the ICE to walk trough the inner city of Leipzig and visit the Völkerschlachtdenkmal. Along the way I have made some images which illustrate this very well. Therefore I will show these images in the following section with a bit of explanation for some images. There are MANY images.

First of are some images from the S-Bahn station at the central station. However these were made during the 34C3 as I used an S-Bahn to drive to the exhibition halls.

Entrance to City tunnel at Hbf (tief) from Tram side

Hbf (tief) platform level

S-Bahn at Hbf (tief)

inside S-Bahn to Messe

After arriving with the Tram at the central station I went by foot into the inner city. The first significant building was the St. Nicholas’s Church.

Look back to central station

St. Nicholas's Church from further away

St. Nicholas's Church

Old St. Nicholas's School

After passing the Nikolaikirche I encountered “Real Life” instructions.

House wall coloured with Real Life Instructions

A few minutes later I was on the central place of the inner city, the old market. Here I found the Old City Hall, which is nowadays a museum for the city history.

Old City Hall

Old City Hall

Old City Hall

memorial stone for Robert Blum

Next up was the St. Thomas’s Church and a Commerzbank building with golden aspects.

St. Thomas's Church

golden Commerzbank building

In front of the Thomaskirche was a Bach statue.

Statue of Bach

From there I went in the direction of the Wilhelm-Leuschner-Platz, even though I didn’t know that at the time. On the way I saw this advertisement and couldn’t resist to make a photo of it.

Advertisement about frosting your body fat

historic building

historic building

At the exit of the inner city I found the music school, a Deutsche Bank building and the lonely entrance to the S-Bahn station Wilhelm-Leuschner-Platz.

Music school

Deutsche Bank building

Wilhelm-Leuschner-Platz station entrance on an empty place

I continued left towards the Moritz Bastei, the Gewandhaus, the university and the Augustusplatz. However I wasn’t aware of it at the time. The first university building I saw was the mensa. Next I saw a statue from Albrecht Thaer, the Moritz bastei and the Gewandhaus.

Mensa

Albrecht Thaer statue

Moritz Bastei

New Gewandhaus

From here I walked right onto the Augustusplatz and was overwhelmed by the main entrance to the University of Leipzig. They even have their own University Church St. Pauli or otherwise known as Paulinum. The main building is the New Augusteum.

University Leipzig skyline

University Leipzig main entrance

University Leipzig building plan

University Leipzig building plan legend

Paulinum - University Church Music Trail station

Paulinum - University Church St. Pauli

Right next to the university was a Vapiano. I was hungry at the time but didn’t want to stop here. Therefore I made further images from the Augustusplatz. The first image after the Vapiano is from the opera house, followed by images from the New Gewandhaus and some “Omnia vincit labor” installation.

Vapiano at Augustusplatz

Opera House

New Gewandhaus

Omnia vincit labor installation on top of a building

At the Augustusplatz I also saw the start point for the Leipzig Music trail.

Leipzig Music Trail sign

After I was done exploring the Augustusplatz I went back in the direction of the market and encountered some statues on a cross.

Statues on a cross

On the way back to the market I saw again the St. Nicholas’s Church.

St. Nicholas's Church

All of a sudden I felt like ancient Rome when I saw a stele.

Stele

I read an explanatory text about the peaceful revolution which also contained a map of the city center. Lastly I saw a statue of Goethe.

explanation about peaceful revolution

map of Leipzig inner city

Goethe statue

At this point I walked through the inner city of Leipzig for one hour (12 to 1pm). I took a break and went to the “Brauhaus an der Thomaskirche”, where I drank a hot chocolate and ate fried potatoes. Strengthened by the meal I walked to the S-Bahn station Markt and was headed for the Völkerschlachtdenkmal.

Despite being a new construction, the entrance to the S-Bahn station is historic. Historically there was an “Untergrundmesshalle” below the market which was used for exhibition purposes.

Untergrundmesshalle entrance

Untergrundmesshalle staircase

Untergrundmesshalle memorial plate

Historic entrance to S-Bahn station Markt

S-Bahn station Markt upper floor

S-Bahn station Markt from top

On the Sunday, which Silvester was, the S-Bahn drove every 15 minutes to the Völkerschlachtdenkmal. After missing one S-Bahn I finally took the one at 2:06 pm and made images from within the S-Bahn. Sadly most of these images are of poor quality so I can show only few of them.

S-Bahn Mitteldeutschland network

Wilhelm-Leuschner-Platz interior

S-Bahn from inside

Leipzig MDR station

Leipzig Völkerschlachtdenkmal station

After I arrived at the Völkerschlachtdenkmal I went towards the Street of the 18th October and from there could see the memorial. I went to the memorial, documented the renovation information, took some pictures and then went towards the main entrance.

Street of 18th October

Memorial from far

Renovation information

View to memorial from across the lake

Close-up of memorial from across the lake

Map of memorial interior

Explanatory information

The memorial was closed so I was only able to look at it from the outside. But that was enough.

Memorial from bottom

View across the lake

View from first level

View to top from highest level

View across Leipzig

View across Leipzig

View across Leipzig

View across Leipzig

View across Leipzig

View across Leipzig

View across Leipzig

After I made these images of Leipzig from above, I started to go back to the S-Bahn station. On the way I saw an old water tower and the apparently newest tram with respect to Leipzig.

Memorial from side

Old water tower

Newest tram

Short before the station I saw something similar to a signpost on the ground.

Ground-based signpost

Back at the station I took the next S-Bahn to the central station. This one was special though. The interior light was off, which I didn’t notice until we entered the city tunnel.

S-Bahn network part 1

S-Bahn network part 2

Map of Leipzig inner city

S-Bahn without interior lights inside a tunnel

I left the train in the central station and notified the driver that the lights were off. He fixed it immediately. This time I left the station on the side of the central station itself and came up inside it’s hall.

Exit Citytunnel inside central station from middle level

Exit Citytunnel inside central station from above

The citytunnel entrance was at the location of the former platforms 1 through 6.

Former platforms 1 through 6

I had some time left so I went to the complete opposite side of the central station where I was surprised to see some historic locomotives and a memorial for the deported people during the Nazi reign.

Deportation memorial

Deportation memorial

Historic steam engine

Historic steam engine

Historic steam engine

The first historical locomotive was a steam engine, followed by a Hanseat of the Hamburg version. The Hanseat trains were built in the 30s and had a regular top speed of 160 kph. At that time it was revolutionary and they were the fastest trains of the world. Hence they were called “flying trains”. Nowadays 160 kph is the regular top speed for most mainline regional services. The presented Hanseat is the last existing one of the Hamburg variant.

Hanseat

Hanseat

Hanseat

Behind the Hanseat came some old electronic locomotives.

historic electronic locomotive E04-01

historic electronic locomotive E04-01

historic electronic locomotive E44-046

historic electronic locomotive E44-046

historic electronic locomotive E44-046

historic electronic locomotive E44-046

historic electronic locomotive E94-056

While I was looking at these old locomotives a more modern train arrived.

old vs. semi-old

I went in the direction of my train. On the way I passed by some documentation of 100 years Leipzig central station and an image of the new ICE route from Berlin to Nuremberg. As I initially wrote, the part from Berlin to Leipzig isn’t new.

Berlin-Munich route

Last but not least are some panorama views of the central station.

Leipzig central station panorama

Leipzig central station panorama

Leipzig central station panorama

The End

Now that you have survived the many images I just want to write that this journey through Leipzig was the key part that made me very happy about the 34C3.