Strict privacy laws and the German people’s well-practiced challenges to any risk posed to that privacy means that Street View isn’t available in the Federal Republic. Identifying the locations of old photographs, in this case 1954 images of what was then West Germany, is therefore more difficult than elsewhere but not impossible.
The statue above self-evidently represents the goddess Diana, seen with her iconic hunting bow, arrow and hunting dog. Sure enough a match can be found at the Diana Brunnen, or Diana fountain, which sits in the Postplatz in Donaueschingen, a Black Forest town in Baden-Württemberg in the extreme south west of Germany. Although Donaueschingen is famous as the source of the river Danube, the Diana fountain is not thought of as the river’s origin. That lies about 100 yards away beside the Church of St Johann.
The distinctive building in the background is Postplatz 1-4, which these days is a Fürstenberg (Thirstyburg?) hostelry, named after the local Thirstyburg brewery which produces 800,000 hectolitres of beer a year.
Established in 1283 the brewery is part of the House of Fürstenberg, a noble Baden-Württemberg family also responsible for the Fürstenberg palaces in Prague and Vienna. Present head of the house is 72 year old Prince Heinrich zu Fürstenberg, the second largest forest owner in Germany. As every Puffin knows, his wife Princess Massimiliana is one of the Austrian-Slovenian Windisch-Graetz’s .
It is not only brewing that runs in the family. Prior to Heinrich, other heads of the dynasty have included Joachim Egon who joined the Nazi party in 1941 and served in the war as a lieutenant. Karl Egon served as an Obersturmführer in the SS. Max Egon joined the Nazi party in 1933 and rose to be a Standartenführer.
In the old photo, the left hand side of Postplatz 1-4 is a Mr A. Rombs shop. Old postcards show the right hand side to be a Sporthaus outlet. In the modern day, all of the building is the Thirstyburg Bräustüble with a very plain exterior replacing the ornamentation, window boxes and plaques of the 1950s with the lower story’s retail outlets having been converted into dining areas.
Twenty-five miles to the south east of Donaueschingen sits Lake Constance. The third largest freshwater lake in Central and Western Europe, Constance is 39 miles long and reaches a dept of over 800 ft. At its southern shore lie two Swiss cantons and at its south eastern is Austria.
At first glance, the photographs above might be Konstanz, a university city of 80,000 souls which sits to the north of the lake and straddles the flow of the Rhine as it takes its gold north towards Strasbourg. But the lighthouse and giveaway statue at the harbour entrance mark this down as the Bavarian town of Lindau at the other side, and at the other end, of what Germans call the Obersee Bodensee.
The lighthouse is known as Neuer Lindaur Leuchtturm and the giveaway statue is of a Bavarian lion or Bayerischer Lowe. Nearly seven decades later you can still stand in the exact same spot. The ferries still tie up there but the street is no longer cobbled. Behind the photographer are street cafes and behind that the rail terminus of Lindau Insel. Lindau is well off for stations being a mainline junction on the routes between Munich and Zurich and Ulm and Innsbruck.
The stylised ‘A’ on the prow of the top boat shows it to be the Allgau which was the first motor ship on the lake capable of carrying over 1,000 passengers. In service between 1929-2001, she was completed at a cost of 1.1 million Reich Marks. Sixteen years following her launch she was extended to a three deck vessel. After the war the services became part of the Deutsche Bahn national railway company with whom Allgau served until being scrapped.
The other ship is the Motor Ship Baden. Built in 1935 she is still in service as the flagship of the BSB Bodensee Shiffahrt shipping company. Listed as an historic monument in 2014, Baden had been refitted in 1998. At 173 ft long and 32 ft wide, Boden is currently permitted to carry 650 passengers.
Further round the coast heading north is Friedrichshafen where Ferdinand von Zeppelin established his famous Zeppelin factory. The town was to became an important aviation manufacturing hub with Maybach, Dornier and Zahnradfabrik based there besides Zeppelin. During the war, the factories used slave labour and were heavily bombed with two-thirds of the city being destroyed in the conflict.
About 35 miles due west of Lindau we reach the foothills of the Bavarian Alps at Nesselwang. Approaching the town from the north on a main road that leads all the way to Ulm, we capture the classic view of the city showing pitched roofs and the onion domed church spire of St Andreas, part of a near identical vista nearly seven decades later.
A hamlet of 3,600 souls, Nesselwang receives 76,000 holiday guests a year, the winter attraction being the Alpspitzbahn lifts which take skiers nearly to the top of the Alpspitz. It is also a popular venue for veteran’s re-unions. On the 40th anniversary of the end of World War 2, a ‘harmless’ reunion was held in Nesselwang as old soldiers gathered to swap tales at the Krone Hotel owned by SS veteran Rolf Buchheister.
According to the Associated Press news agency, about 800 veterans and their families were expected to attended two events, the first being the SS Death Head unit’s May 2-5th ‘fun day’ with the 1st SS Panzer Corp meeting on May 10-12th. Well. The veterans were members of the Mutual Aid Society. Such societies are legal in German and have a right of assembly. ‘Mutual Aid Society’ probably refers to the HIAG. Gudrun Burwitz (nee Himmler) served in a similar organisation, Stille Hilfe, until her death in 2018. Charming people.
The Krone hotel is still there and self describes on Tripadvisor as a family hotel with a Happy Club for children. One 5 star reviewer noted, “It’s a very personal hotel with friendly employees, not an impersonal bunker as we’ve seen elsewhere.” Were they there for a reunion?
Having previously conceded, despite his country origins, that he knows nothing about cows and horses, your humble reviewer of old photos must now admit to not knowing the difference between hay, straw and silage. Whichever it is, in the photograph above it is pictured bunched around crucifix shaped sticks to dry. In the background can be seen a body of water, perhaps from the order of the photographs the Weisensee or Forgensee. On the horizon the wooded slopes of the Bavarian Alps slip down to lake level.
Only ten miles to the south east of Nesselwang lies Fussen. Half a mile from the border with Austria, Fussen sits on the Lech River which flows into a man made lake at Forgensee which acts as a catchment to manage melting spring snow. At one of the southernmost towns in Germany, we visit the Fussenfall when it is in spate, presumably during such a spring thaw. Although the noise and spray will have been impressive, the river is so swollen that you can’t see the stepped structure of the man made 18th century dam ladder built at the same time as the Forgensee to help tame flooding along the valley.
The photograph was probably taken from a lay-by next to the Tiroler Strasser road to the south of the town but is difficult to be certain because of the absence of Street View. As for the pictured footbridge of crisscross bars above underslung struts, it has been replaced by a concrete and steel structure. Carved into the rock behind the photographer is a bust of Maximilian II of Bavaria who lived from 1811-1864 and was King of Bavaria from 1848-1864 during which time he restored stability to the kingdom following Germany’s March Revolution of 1848.
As we are only a few hundred yards form the border, we will continue next time with Postcard From Austria!
© Always Worth Saying 2022