Saturday, October 22, 2016

On a Sunny Saturday Afternoon

Red Baron lives in a place called Wiehre. The Wiehre was first mentioned in a document dating 1008 in which King Heinrich II gave the hunting grounds in the area to his loyal vassal Archbishop Aldabero II of Basel as a fief. Initially located on the banks of the Dreisam River, the Wieher - the word meaning Wehr (dam, weir) - is older than Freiburg, which was founded in 1220.

Today the Wiehre, Freiburg's largest district, is located solely on the left-hand side of the river. The city administration distinguishes four parts: the Oberwiehre, i.e., upstream of the Dreisam, the Mittelwiehre, the Unterwiehre and further downstream in the south-west the Heldenviertel (heroes' district) where the streets are named after "heroes" of the First World War, e.g., Manfred von Richthofen aka the flying Red Baron.

Last Saturday the blogging Red Baron participated in a guided tour of the Mittelwiehre where my apartment is located. Although I know my neighborhood pretty well one is never too old to learn something new.

I had tried to reserve a ticket but the people at the Volkshochschule (adult education center) informed me that the tour was fully booked. Nevertheless I went to the meeting point and got in an argument with guide Carola: I cannot take more than twenty people. To make a long story short: In the end five registered persons did not show up, which made everybody happy.

We started at the corner of Günterstal-/Urachstraße where before the First World War there was a hotel named Hohenzollern, its name paying tribute to the ruling imperial house. Now the building houses lawyers' offices and doctors' clinics.

Note the original streetcars (©Carola Schark)

Here is what is left of Hotel Hohenzollern

Built 1898 by C.Hoßmann - F. Weber, restored 1997

Nearby on Urachstraße the Freiburg transport company (VAG) built its main streetcar depot in 1901. It was used until 1994 when the VAG moved to modern premises in Freiburg's industrial zone in the west. Now the local fire brigade occupies half of the vast halls while in the other half the Freunde der Freiburger Straßenbahn (Friends of Freiburg Streetcars) restore historical rolling stock.

Streetcar parade in front of the depot
in the years before the First World War (©Carola Schark)
On October 14, 1901, two electrical streetcar lines started operating in Freiburg: Rennweg-Lorettostraße and Rennweg-Günterstal both passing the intersection Günterstal-/Urachstraße. We were just one day late for the 115th anniversary of the city's electrical streetcar system.

Here is streetcar 38, one of those in the parade above. In service until 1971, it is now in poor condition but will be restored.

Streetcar number 2 was in service until 1954 and has already been rebuilt. Its electrical equipment by Siemens dates to 1901 and is still operational. The short wagons with their serial numbers 1 to 71 made screeching noises when going around tight curves and therefore Freiburgers affectionately called them Hobl (literally, Alemannic for wood plane).

The conservator proudly presents his baby

Carola waving her folder is calling the group to order
We passed the former Anglican church built in 1894 that is now used by the Seventh-Day Adventists for whom Saturday and not Sunday is the day of rest ...

The Saturday afternoon service had just finished

Red Baron had to bow his head
... and the Christuskirche from 1890, the first Lutheran church in the Wiehre, now under reconstruction for the celebration of 500 years of Reformation next year.

Modelling the outside
The oldest school building in historicized style initially exclusively for girls is located at the corner Turnsee-/Talstraße:

Municipal primary school
Von der Stadt Freiburg als Mädchenschule erbaut 1899-1902

(Built by the City of Freiburg as a school for girls 1899-1902).
On our way to the rebuilt St. Marienhaus, now a retirement home, we passed Freiburg's Jugendzentrum (youth center) newly built in the 1950s. We just arrived when the Saturday offener Familienbereich (open family sector) from 1400 to 1600 hours had finished. Kids and even babies animated the entrance area.

Freiburg's Youth Center
In the years before 1960 the site was occupied by the municipal sawmill. Firewood from municipal forests was cut up and donated to the poor.

Water-driven sawmill (©Carola Schark)
Now the former creek is a miserable rivulet barely visible through the leaves.

A modern entrance to St. Marienhaus
St. Marienhaus on Talstraße used to be a home for Catholic girls who came to Freiburg as housemaids, protecting them from the vices of the "big" city. A vintage enamel sign serves as a reminder.

Catholic Protection of Girls, Freiburg'Br.
Catholic girls and saleswomen find advice, shelter & job placement,
 the former at Marienhaus Talstr. No 31,
the latter at St. Annastift Holzmarktplatz No. 12.
Nowadays the building of the Saint Anna Foundation is a retirement home too.

Another reminder of the old premises is the steeple of the former chapel. It was preserved and serves as decoration of the courtyard of the retirement home.

A cosy courtyard
On our way back through Hildastraße we discovered two somewhat hidden landmarks. More than 70 years after the war the front wall of house number 28 still shows a luminescent arrow pointing to the nearest air-raid shelter in the Hof (courtyard).

Never again
In a corner of the front wall of house number 47 a fastening hook for the catenary of Freiburg's streetcar is preserved. The line running through Hildastraße connecting the Hauptbahnhof (main station) with the old Wiehrebahnhof (Wiehre station) was already stopped in 1916 during the First World War.

A painted-over landmark
Our walk in the Mittelwiehre ended at the Kita, i.e., Kindertagesstätte (day care center) opposite the old Wiehrebahnhof. In the years after the war wooden shanties at the site served various charitable organizations (Swiss Donation, Quaker, CARE) supporting hungry Freiburg citizens. Thank you.

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