We bombed what?

April 21-22 – Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, Germany

Monday morning, April 21st we packed our bags, checked out of our Munich hotel (Muenchner Kindl), and walked to the train station (less than a mile away).

Here’s me and Linda sitting in the train on the way to our next city.

Linda and FS on train to Rothenburg

Today we’re going to Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, which is a big name for a little city. It means “Red Fortress on the Tauber (river)” in German. The train trip was interesting from a number of points. We had to change trains several times. Europeans travel by train a lot more than people in the US do. The train systems of the different countries work together, and the major cities are linked together by really fast trains. If you are going to a small town, you need to change trains one or more times, to slower, older trains.

Our first train took us from Munich to Nuremberg, and was one of the really fast trains. These pictures show that train, an ICE (Inter City Express).

ICE train in Munich Hauptbahnhof

The train had computer screens at the end of each car, showing the next stop and other information. At times it would show the speed of the train. Here we’re doing 216 kilometers and hour, which is around 125 miles an hour (ask your teacher about kilometers).

The speed of ICE

The next train took us from Nuremberg to Ansbach. The third train was from Ansbach to Steinach, then one final train to Rothenburg. All in all, it took us about two and a half hours to get from Munich to Rothenburg, just in time for lunch!

The Rothenburg town center is enclosed by a wall put up in the Middle Ages (to protect against invaders). While this was common 800 years ago, most cities have torn down their walls by now. Not Rothenburg. At one point it was a booming commercial center, but thanks to repeated defeats during the 30 Years War (a long war a long time ago; 1618-1648), it went into a long sleep and hasn’t changed much in 600 years. That’s what makes it so charming, it’s like stepping back into the Middle Ages. The wall is broken by towers and gates, put there to allow access to the city by nice people (the gates), and to be able to see and fight any bad people trying to get in (the towers). Here’s a picture of one of the gates, called “Roedertor”. We walked through this gate on our way in from the train station.

Roedertor (Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber)

Rothenburg actually had an older wall, when it was even smaller. During the middle ages Rothenburg was growing, so it built the current wall to allow it to grow. The older wall is gone, but some of the gates and towers of that wall still remain.

Here we are in front of our hotel. It’s called the “Markusturm”, which is German for “Mark’s Tower”. The tower with the clock in the background is the Markus Turm, and is part of the original wall, one of the parts left behind when the expanded the town.

Markusturm (Rothenburg)

After we checked in, we walked around town taking in the sights for a bit as we looked for a place to have lunch. As you can see, Rothenburg is cute.

Ploenlein (Rothenburg) Rothenburg Town Hall Rothenburg panorama Old Forge in Rothenburg Shop sign in Rothenburg Rothenburg castle gardens

That night we took the “Night Watchman’s Tour”. This was a very interesting and amusing tour of the town at night, with a guide who told us all about the history of Rothenburg and life in the Middle Ages. The guy was a little spooky though. That thing he’s carrying is called a “halbard”, and he uses it to defend against bad guys.

Linda and the Rothenburg Night Watchman Burgturm in Rothenburg Herrngasse (Rothenburg) Rothenburg main square Ploenlein bei Nacht

The next morning it was time to do laundry for the first time on this trip. Don had insisted that we pack our clothes into “carry-on” sized bags, since we would be having to carry our own luggage on and off trains, and from train stations to hotels. This meant we could only pack about 6 changes of clothes each, so every 5-6 days we had to do laundry. Linda was OK with this, as she enjoyed the “down time”. I hung out and tried to read the German portion of the sign. It’s a good thing they had an English translation or I’m not sure we would every have gotten clean clothes again.

Laundry in Rothenburg

While Linda and I did laundry, Don took his camera and walked a little bit of the town wall. There are a couple miles of wall, covering about 2/3rds of the town, thet you can walk along. Part of the wall was destroyed toward the end of WWII. A high-ranking German general had moved his headquarters to Rothenburg, and the US Army Air Force bombed it one night. Fortunately, two things happened; most of the bombs missed (it was foggy), and the next day they convinced the German army to leave town (so they didn’t have to bomb it again). Some of the wall and part of the town was destroyed in that first bombing though. After the war, the people of Rothenburg asked for help rebuilding, and people from all over the world donated money. They have plaques thanking them built right into the wall.

Rothenburg wall Plaque in Rothenburg wall

Later, we went into one church that had a famous carved wood altar. It took the man who carved it, Tilman Riemenschneider, several years to finish. The photo on the right is a close-up of the men on the right side of the main panel.

Tilman Riemanschneider altar (Rothenburg) Tilman Riemenschnieder altar detail

Last, I’d like you to meet Herr Stephan Berger. Stephan greeted us at the hotel when we arrived, checked us in, and even carried our bags up the stairs (many old hotels in Europe don’t have elevators). Stephan also was the cook in the hotel restaurant, and is a very good cook too! Our meal there was great! Stephan ALSO is the brewmaster of the little brewery they have in the cellar of the hotel. Don tells me the beer was very good too. Stefan’s wife Lilo works there too, and did all the decorating. The rooms are lovely!

And yes, they also own the hotel. It has been in Stephan’s family over a hundred years, and their daughter is training in hotel and restaurant management to take over whenever Stephan and Lilo retire. The way this man works, that may not be for a very very very long time.

Stefan at Hotel Markusturm (Rothenburg)

Linda says this may be her favorite hotel of the trip.

So tomorrow we’re off on the train again, heading for Prague in the Czech Republic. I’ll write you when we get there.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Flach Stanley

3 comments so far

  1. ok September 24, 2008 11:16 pm

    good site gexwkj

  2. Fergal July 8, 2011 11:22 am

    I’ve just left this town and just like Wurzburg, I was surprised the allies risked lives to bomb an old city. I hadn’t heard the story of the general – per chance do you know who as I cannot imagine who warranted the use of such assets. Keep in mind they went after Goering with two aircraft….

  3. DQC July 8, 2011 5:21 pm

    Pretty much what I relayed is what I heard on the “Night Watchman” tour.

    The longer part of the story he told is that the hard-liner left after the first night’s bombing, and the officer left in charge negotiated (against Hitler’s specific orders) the withdrawal with the US forces.

    The town itself, now that you’ve been there, is a strategic point that an advancing army could not afford to leave in it’s rear… or at least I suppose that’s what the army thought.

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