The road to Bamberg

I kept trying to figure out what the noise was outside of my hotel room that woke me from a sound sleep. It sounded like small firecrackers continually exploding. It turned out to be raindrops pelting the windows. Hmmmmm. This isn’t boding well for the ride just a few short hours away. I fell back to sleep and awoke to blue skies and puffy white clouds. Whilst sunny, it was a bit chilly. Riding in the cool morning air is much prefered to riding wet.

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Rothenburg, Germany

The final destination was Bamberg, Germany but we planned to stop at the medieval town of Rothenburg along the way. Rothenburg was founded in 1170 at the construction of Staufer Castle. The centre was the market place and St. James’ Church with walls and towers being added in the 13th century. In October 1631, during the Thirty Years’ War, Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly, (a Catholic) wanted to quarter his 40,000 troops in Protestant Lutheran Rothenburg. Rather than allow the entrance of Catholic troops, the town took to arms to defend itself. Tilly’s troops, however, quickly defeated the city, losing only 300 soldiers. The following year they left the town poor and nearly empty. Three years later, in 1634, the Black Death killed many of the remaining residents. Without any money or power, Rothenburg stopped growing, thus preserving its 17th-century state.

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Schneeballen

Rothenburg held a special significance for Nazi ideologists. For them, it was the epitome of the German ‘Home Town’, representing all that was quintessentially German. Throughout the 1930s the Nazi organization “KDF” (“Kraft durch Freude”- Strength through Joy) organized regular day trips to Rothenburg from all across the Reich. This initiative was staunchly supported by Rothenburg’s citizenry – many of whom were sympathetic to National Socialism – both for its perceived economic benefits and because Rothenburg was hailed as “the most German of German towns”.

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Salted fatty meats

In October 1938, Rothenburg expelled its Jewish citizens, much to the approval of Nazis and their supporters across Germany. In early March 1945, German soldiers were stationed in Rothenburg to defend it from allied troops. On March 31, bombs were dropped over Rothenburg by 16 planes, killing 37 people and destroying 306 houses, 6 public buildings, 9 watchtowers, and over 2,000 feet of the wall. The U.S Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy knew about the historic importance and beauty of Rothenburg and he ordered US Army General Jacob L. Devers to not use artillery in taking Rothenburg. The local military commander Major Thömmes ignored the order by Adolf Hitler for all towns to fight to the end and gave up the town, thereby saving it from total destruction. [1]

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Can’t afford land? Buy air rights!

After a couple hour walk-about of this beautiful town we headed off for our final destination for the evening. We arrived around 5:30 in the evening and I immediately set out on foot to explore this magical city of Bamberg before it got too dark. Dating back to 1007, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry II made Bamberg a family inheritance and the seat of a separate diocese. For a short time Bamberg was the centre of the Holy Roman Empire. The witch trials of the 17th century claimed about one thousand victims in Bamberg, reaching a climax between 1626 and 1631, under the rule of Prince-Bishop Johann Georg II Fuchs von Dornheim. The famous Drudenhaus (witch prison), built in 1627, is no longer standing; however, the mystic powers of the city remain today. Bamberg is a definite must for the “bucket list” of places to visit.

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Bamberg, Germany

[1] Adapted from Wikipedia

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