Weidenhausen 700 Birthday Celebration

War memorial service on May 31

War memorial service on May 31

It’s a remarkable experience to be a part of the birthday celebrations of a hamlet marking seven centuries of history. The townspeople of Weidenhausen, in the Siegen-Wittgenstein area of Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany (all 495 of them) turned out during a lovely weekend to mark the birthday with a series of events. Marie and I were fortunate to be a part of the crowd.

The weekend culminated with a special church service led by the local pastor. We learned later that this was his last day as pastor. He’s been offered early retirement by the government. It’s a money-saving move but also a practical one. Even though it was standing room only at the church on this day, we learned from one of Marie’s relatives that on a typical Sunday, only four or six people come to church. This is typical of many small towns all across Germany as busy lives interfere with the weekly habit of going to church.

A solemn observance of the sacrifices made by those who have lost their lives in the two great wars of the 20th century followed the church service. Two members of the Weidenhausen fire brigade stood by with their shiny axes and spic-and-span uniforms. A large wreath was laid on the war memorial at the conclusion of the ceremony, attended by various village and area dignitaries as well as those who had been at the church service.

An Alpine horn performance followed. It was nearing one o’clock and Marie and I were getting hungry. Those bratwurst looked good! Unfortunately, by the time we got into line they were all gone – and it wasn’t even official “lunch” time yet! A mistake in planning, no doubt, resulting from a better than expected turnout for the day. Faced with the thought of going hungry for hours, we decided to return to the Hotel Raumland for lunch. That turned out to be a great idea – because we dined on fantastic food while those attending the festival had to contend with “fast food,” German-style. A nap followed the big meal and then coffee out on Marie’s balcony with the sweeping view of the hills and forests. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.

View from the Hotel Raumland

View from the Hotel Raumland

We returned to the festival later in the day and enjoyed five hours of fest-making with the locals. A fabulous band from the South Tirol area kept things hopping, we heard later, until 4 a.m.! We left at the “early” hour of 11.

The next morning, on our way to the Frankfurt Airport, we stopped to say good-bye to Marie’s relatives Heinrich and Helga Muesse. Gifts were exchanged and photos taken. Then we went over to the home of Heinrich Imhof, the author of the extensive history of Weidenhausen. The book took 15 years to put together. Herr Imhof told us that he had to learn how to read the old handwriting in order to put together the facts in the book. The collaborative efforts of Herr Imhof and Jochim Karl Meldau of Karlsruhe are obviously appreciated by the locals. A print run of 550 books and there were only 15 left on June 1.

Marie Gauron and Heinrich Imhof say good-bye

Marie Meese (Muesse) Gauron and Heinrich Imhof say good-bye

On the way south to the airport we passed through more bucolic scenery, small towns and villages. This was Marie’s third visit to the Weidenhausen area, but it will not be her last.

Rural Weidenhausen

Rural Weidenhausen

Posted in Family History Tours, Germany Tours, Private Tours in Europe and tagged , , , , , .

One Comment

  1. After leaving Herr Imhof’s beautiful home for the Frankfurt airport, we paused on a road above his home looking over Weidenhausen for photographs. But then as we drove toward Sassenhausen, the beauty of the landscape was almost overwhelming. The town is tucked in the hills amidst fields and forests. The weather seems to change constantly, and the sun hitting the hills at this hour was so extraordinary. The natural beauty of this area is not to be missed. Be sure and add two days to your journey to visit Wittgenstein and you will be charmed by a place that is off the radar of most tourists !

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