Thursday, August 1, 2019

Along the Rhine

On my way back from Cologne to Freiburg, I had all my time. Going south I decided to take the train running along the meandering Rhine river. In Coblenz, I even mounted the local train to Frankfort that makes a stop at Assmannshausen, a village on the riverside with special memories.

Looking out of the window I internalized Ernst Moritz Arndt‘s slogan, “Der Rhein, Teutschlands Strom, aber nicht Teutschlands Grenze.” Arndt wrote, “The Rhine, Germany’s river, but not Germany’s border”, in 1813 when Napoleonic France indeed occupied all territories on the left bank of the Rhine including today’s Belgium and the Netherlands. Here are some photos of Vater Rhein (Father Rhine):





Double railway tracks and roads force their way through the most narrow Rhine valley on both sides of the river.


Initially, nothing else than a miserable toll station located on an island in the river Pfalzgrafenstein castle became a national shrine.

Wilhelm Camphausen 1859: Blücher and the First Army of Silesia crossing the Rhine
 near to Kaub on January 1st, 1814 (©HOWI/Wikipedia)
Here is the reason. The painting shows Prussian Field Marshall Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher and his troops crossing the Rhine on New Year’s Day 1814 tracking down Napoleon on the then French territory on the left bank. The Pfalzgrafenstein island was a welcome anchoring point for a floating bridge that allied Russian pioneers had crafted with 70 pontoons made from canvas and tar.

Adolph Menzel 1857:
Wellington und Blücher nach der Schlacht bei Belle-Alliance
This time Blücher was diligent. Not so at Waterloo on Sunday, 18 June 1815, where he was late. When in the evening of that very day Napoleon had thrown his last reserves into the battle creating difficulties for Wellington’s troops the Duke moaned, “Would to God that night or Bluecher were come” known in German as, ”Ich wollte, es würde Nacht oder die Preußen kämen.”


Next stop Assmannshausen. Wikipedia tells us that “the village has a lithium spring, spa, and a Kurhaus, and is famed for its red wine (Assmannshäuser) made from Pinot noir (German: Spätburgunder), which resembles red Burgundy wine.”

Die Krone in Assmanshausen
After I stepped out of the train at the deserted station, my steps led me to a restaurant at the river banks named Die Krone.

Edition Krone Assmannshausen, Roter Schäumender Trocken
(Red Sparkling Dry)
The Crown is known for its sparkling red wine ...

On the black-and-white photo, my mother sits on the right,
my father in the middle talking to two of his employees.
A bottle and five glasses are on the table so I must have taken the photo.
...that my parents already enjoyed in 1955.

Therefore it became a tradition for my family and me that driving along the Rhine on the way to my parents-in-law in Cologne we made a stopover at Die Krone.

My family in 1987 sitting at the terrasse without glasses.
My family inside in 1989, the glasses filled.
Me alone at the terrasse on July 21, 2019.

This year’s first chanterelles served with Serviettenknödel (serviette, napkin, roasted, or Austrian bread dumplings, you translate it).


The inside of the hotel/restaurant is nicely decorated like this festive table. Even the carpet shows the Crown.


Inside of the roof ridge, a half relief commemorates Ferdinand Freiligrath, a somewhat forgotten poet, friend and translator of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and preacher of freedom. In 1844 he became a liberal agitator and finished his political Glaubensbekenntnis (Confession of Faith) at Die Krone. His efforts culminated in the Revolution of 1848.


In the entrance hall you find a copy of a democratic Germania, her shackles broken. The original painting is located at Frankfurt’s Paulskirche (St. Paul’s Church), the meeting place of Germany’s National Assembly in 1848. In her left hand, Germania bears the banner black-red-gold, in her right hand, she holds the sword of defense entwined with an olive branch.

Confer to the seal of the American president with the eagle holding in his sinister talon thirteen arrows symbolizing the defensive strength of the founder states and in his dexter talon an olive branch.


Ups, sorry this is the fake one.

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