Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Strange Borders

Bad Mergentheim train station where in the old days traveling from Karlsruhe to Stuttgart you had to change (wechseln) from a Baden to a Württemberg train.
Strolling through Bad Mergentheim the second stop on this year's bicycle tour I happened to look into the window of an abandoned shop at the Market Place. Some local history nerds had used the "empty" opportunity to place an original drawing of Bad Mergentheim's train station there. The information said that the station was inaugurated in 1870 jointly by the Great Duchy of Baden and the Kingdom of Württemberg: Two identical side buildings are connected by a middle part that used to house a common waiting room. On top of the middle part there was a tower with two clocks showing the two different times valid in the two states.

An old map showing the region of Bad Mergentheim.
Famous Rothenburg ob der Tauber is shown in the right corner below.
I logically assumed that the border between the Baden and Württemberg States before Germany's unification in 1871 had run across the station with Bad Mergentheim a city built on the border. Nope! The following day visiting the exhibition on the city's history I learned that the old border ran slightly out of Mergentheim in the West. The historical map where I followed and marked the relevent borders in red shows to the left the Grand Duchy of Baden with the Württemberg enclave of Deubach in Baden territory. In the upper left the Kingdom of Bavaria is eating into Württemberg with the latter's microenclave of Bowiesen situated on the border between Baden and Bavaria. Notice the classical case of a Dreiländereck nearby (a region where borders of three countries meet) in the middle of Old Germany. With the creation of the federal state Baden-Württemberg in 1951 the border between Baden and Württemberg disappeared although a consentually artifical animosity is cultivated between the Swabians and the Badeners thus keeping alive the former border in their heads.

Nowadays Bad Mergentheim's train station looks somewhat down and out.
This impression is enforced when looking at the following photo.

Platform 1:  Historical and hence beautiful.
Old mechanical signals protect the three remaining tracks.

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