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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Rammelsbach, Germany

You enjoyed the fest, but how about the town?

What about the town of Rammelsbach?  You may well ask, but I don’t just ask, I wanna know!  The crowd for the two day Framer’ Market estimated at 30,000, while the town itself has only a population about 1600.  Often we visit a festival town for a day, drink some wine, eat some würst and forget as soon as we hop in the car and realign our GPS for home.

How many pages of history are we missing as we nonchalantly trod the cobblestone streets, passing rows of hewn stone buildings? Guessing we’re walking through centuries, without a backward glance.  Idly walking is not enough for those with high intelligence, inquisitive minds and a deep thirst for knowledge.  By that of course, I mean me.  Can’t answer for you.

Need a quick look without all the blather?  Skip to the bottom for a summation.

Time to give Rammelsbach a closer look, which means a closer looks at war, pestilence, the surge of armies and the woes of peasants as through the ages the town evolved into the pleasantly quiet village it is today.

Population has remained pretty steady for more than a hundred years.  Wasn’t always so.  As in much of this area, over the centuries Rammelsbach has had it’s share of conflict and disorder.  Martin Luther and the Protestant reformation for one, with local Lords insisting their people follow them and become Catholic or Protestant.

When the Thirty Years War hit (religious war 1618-1648), devastation of central Europe followed.  Proportionately, it might have been the most destructive war in history, with over 8,000,000 dead from the war itself, plus the plague, starvation and other by products of such a lengthy conflict.  When the Thirty Years War came to Rammelsbach, only one woman survived.

Today, about 60% are grouped under Protestant and less than half that percentage are Catholic.  Churches for each date to 1954.

But I’m such a quick thinker I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s take Rammelsbach and flip even more pages back in the dusty tome of history.

There’s evidence the forces of the real Roman Empire were here and to step WAAAAY back, stone axes of the type used by people of the New Stone Age have been found near by.

Now see what I’ve done?  I have to explain the NEW Stone Age to my three faithful readers.  And, because I know all three have the attention spans of scared rabbits, I’ll keep it simple.

Speaking of attention spans…….now where was I?  Oh, NEW Stone Age.  It’s also called the Neolithic Period and dates from about 10,000 BCE/BC until about 2000 BCE/BC.  Sometimes referred to as the first technology period, it was characterized by development of farming and lasted up until the metal ages (Copper, Bronze, Iron).

The Founding

Founded about 790 C.E./A.D., for centuries, it was the property of the Abbey of Saint-Remi in Reims, France. Later on it was the property of the county of Palatinate-Zweibrüchen.  It was mostly a Catholic town until 1588, when Count Palatine Johannes declared Calvinism to the truth and the light.

Rammelsbach is part of an area known as the Musikantenland, named after wandering musicians who roamed the vicinity from around 1850 until the First World War.

Until the middle of the 19th Century most villagers earned a living through agriculture and many of the single roof farmhouses you see in the surrounding area date from that time.  “Hey,” you ask as you ponder, “Don’t all houses have a single roof?”  Ok, sport, then let’s call them simple roof houses, usually with a on each end and no offshoots for extra rooms or garages. Drive through any German village and you’ll see plenty. Drive through France and you’ll see plenty, too.  Take another look at the background buildings in the top Photo.

In 1819, Rammelsbach had only 30 houses.  A stone quarry opened in 1868, although some quarrying took place from the middle ages. After the opening of the quarry, a growing population followed.  Built about 1901, there’s a Steinbruchstraße, or Quarry Street. At one time the quarry employed more than 900 workers, men and women, often working side by side.  These German women are TOUGH folks.  Now, due to mechanization, it only takes about 30 folks to do the same job.

The Quarry from a Wikipedia 1998 photo

Now let’s move forward a step and talk about the Second World War. Nazis in Rammeslbach? Not many.  Even after Adolph took over the country, less than thirty percent in Rammelsbach voted for him.

What’s Rammelsbach like today?  Primarily a bedroom community.

That's a thumbnail that covers the highlights, but slow  and impatient readers may want a summary:

1.    New Stone age people lived in the vicinity.
2.     Romans were here.
3.    790 Rammelsbach founded – agriculture primary industry
4.    Town owned at various times by France and Germany, was at one time Catholic and then Protestant.
5.    Thirty Years War (1618-1648) wiped out Rammelsbach.  One woman survived.
6.    1858 Stone Quarry opened – became the primary industry
7.    Majority of the population did not favor Hitler
8.    Today the population is about 1600 (and fairly steady the past hundred years)

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