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REISENBACH  FOR  BEGINNERS

 
         
 

The village of Reisenbach is situated at an altitude of 530 - 550 meters, making it the “roof of the Municipality of Mudau” and also the highest village in the Neckar-Odenwald county. The population is about 335. About 74% consists of forest and only 14% suitable for farmland.

 
         
 

A documentation of Reisenbach does not begin until 1050 when it appears on the stage of history as a fief of the Benedictine abbey of Amorbach, but they failed to keep it. The name first appears in a document dated November 2nd ,  1292 where a certain “Heinricus dictus Rysenbuch” acted as a witness. However, we don’t know for certain just who that Heinricus was. Reisenbach  is  quite a bit older, though. Variations of the spelling such as “Reysennbach” can be found in later documents.  A series of other feudal lords followed such as Duern, Mainz,  Wuerzburg and finally the Leiningens.

 
         
 

During the Thirty Years’ War the population of the village dropped from 60-70 down to only 15 in 1648. Twenty years later there were still no more than 36 people in 6 families. Meanwhile the village had become a fief of Mainz again and most of the people were serfs of Mainz, but were allowed to take wood from the lord’s forests and drive their swine into certain forest districts to fatten them up. At that time the little brook Sondernach (a tributary of the Reisenbach brook) formed the boundaries between Mainz the Electorate of Palatine and Hirschhorn.

 
     
  Also historically documented is Reisenbach Grund where there were two separate mills, one for the Mainzers and the other for those beholden to the Palatine Elector. At that time it would surely have been correct to call Reisenbach poor. As to population growth, it is documented that in 1701 about 60 people were living in the village; the number rising to 168 by 1771/72, a year of famine when all four children of a family were fatally ill. Their father vowed that, should at least one of them survive, he would have a chapel erected which is still standing today in the “Kohlhofstrasse”. It was finished in 1775 (Altar 1791).  
     
 

The nearest chemist’s and doctor were 4 hours away in Amorbach. The Napoleaonic wars and the consequent changes of the legal status of church lands following the French Revolution kept Reisenbach in its impoverished state. In 1863 was integrated into the district of Greater Mosbach (until 1939).

 
     
 

For  hundreds of years the village of Reisenbach  lay off the beaten path until finally a road to Eberbach via Grund  was built in 1895. Even a rail line to Mudau along this route was talked about, but nothing came of it. In the first decade up to the First World War Reisenbach finally began to enjoy a certain amount of prosperity due to a more flourishing agriculture. The number of Gasthaeuser also grew to 3 by 1912 with now 466 people in 84 households. Grazing land increased at the expense of forest and farmland. Reisenbach lost 7 men in World War I. Between 1852 and 1925 about 500 people were forced to emigrate (a lot for a village this size!). Only one person had taken up work outside the village, whereas 64 farms provided work for the rest of the population.

 
     
 

Reisenbach finally got its own Catholic church in 1926. A lot of volunteer labor was donated by local people and the priest had to be picked up in the neighboring village of Scheidental. In the same year the youth hostel was built (this was confiscated after the war to become quarters for station #1).

 
  Text Box: Earl
 
 

During the Nazi era Reisenbach escaped being merged with other villages, but was integrated into the Buchen district  (1939). 22 young Reisenbachers died in World War II and when the Americans marched in numerous buildings sustained bullet damage. Due to the assignment of displaced persons in the aftermath of the war, the population rose to 546 people and once again Reisenbach was among the poorest communities of the Buchen district. For example the Grund did not get electricity until 1956/7 and the nurses from Oberscheidental also had to take care of those in Reisenbach who were ill.

 
     
 

In the first postwar election in 1949 88% (!) of the Reisenbachers went  to vote and voted as follows: 60%  Christian Democrats (CDU), 4% Social Democrats (SPD), 11% Free Democrats (FDP) and 21% Disadvantaged.  By comparison the vote in 1961 looked as follows:  88% CDU, 9% SPD and 2% FDP;in  1998 the picture was 55% CDU, 27%SPD, 4,5%FDP and 6% Greens.

 
       
 

The community’s code of arms was not awarded until relatively recently (Feb.23, 1960).  In 1954 Reisenbach was designated to be an economic promotion area. The purpose of this was primarily to reduce the village’s dependence on agriculture by encouraging people to take up other trades or jobs.

 
         
 

By 1961 the population was 370 with 54 family farms and a total work force of 172 .  110 of these people actually worked in farm and forestry jobs and the rest in various other fields. At that time there were 62 dwellings in the village. This picture had changed considerably by 1987, when there were only 20 jobs left in farming and forestry out of a total work force of 153 but the number of dwellings had gone up to 90 and continues growing today. One factor leading to this trend was the formation of today’s Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis (NOK) in 1973. This was not popular at the time, because it meant the absorption of Reisenbach into the consolidated town of Mudau (1975).

 
         
  Due to the pleasant climate of the location, which resembles that of higher alpine regions, tourism and especially cross-country skiing have been promoted since then. The Americans favored Reisenbach for a different reason as of 1945: its properties for telecommunications. They stayed, first in a youth hostel and later with a barracks of their own. In 1957 a new station was built complete with radar facilities, which was closed down again 35 years later in 1992, partly a consequence of the end of the Cold War and downsizing of the US forces. German forces became their neighbors in 1980 by setting up shop around the TV tower built in 1968. Unlike the Americans they still have 21 men on the site and are thinking of increasing the number to 38 Today, Reisenbach has changed from being an impoverished peasant village to a bedroom community. Although the population has been stagnating for years, the quality of life and the infrastructure have been improving steadily.  
         
   

Back When

   
   
         
 

Some dates in the recent history of Reisenbach

 
         
 

Ø      In 1912  running water came to Reisenbach’s  homes; electricity arrived 8 years later in 1922.

 
         
 

Ø      The village Rathaus was built in 1914, and its church in 1926. Text Box: Reichsarbeitsdinstlager

 
         
 

Ø      Text Box: Reisenbach Today
The church was  consecrated in 1929. Text Box: Gasthaus Zur frischen     Quelle,Besitzer:  Ruloff Rechner

 
         
 

Ø      A youth hostel was also built  in 1926, which was to become station # 1 for a time.

 
         
 

Ø      Reisenbach  had a cemetery of its own just beginning in 1927.

 
         
 

Ø      In World War II, it was not until 1944 when the Americans marched into Reisenbach.

 
      Text Box: Hans
 
 

Ø      By 1947 the village had its own fire department.

 
         
 

Ø      Nevertheless, in 1949 Reisenbach  had the dubious distinction of being the poorest community in the entire county of Buchen. At about this time the following crafts had established themselves: 1 cabinet maker, 2 shoemakers, 1 saddler, 2 smiths, 2 wheelwrights, 1 carpenter and 1 baker.

 
         
 

Ø      The schoolhouse, which went back to 1875, was enlarged in 1956 to accommodate  sports and a large kitchen only to be closed down four years later.

 
         
 

Ø      In 1957 activities at station #1 were discontinued and transferred to the newly built station #2.

 
         
 

Ø      In1958 the ominous back road  to Eberbach was paved for the first time and, only ten years later, Reisenbach’s skyline changed with the construction of its imposing TV tower on the site of #1 station.

 
         
 

Ø      Back in the village school reorganization forced kids as of the 5th grade to continue school at Mudau, the younger ones were sent to Schlossau seven years later.

 
         
 

Ø      Between 1976 and 1978 the village church was renovated; the same year saw the women of Reisenbach join together in forming the Frauengemeinschaft.

 
         
 

Ø      Between 1976 and 1978 the village church was renovated; the same year saw the women of Reisenbach join together in forming the Frauengemeinschaft.

 
         
 

Ø      In 1980 the first cross-country skiing began, in 1987 the mixed choir and the sports and gymnastics club were formed.

 
         
 

Ø      Also in 1980 the Americans were joined in Reisenbach by the German armed forces (Bundeswehr); 2 years later the American station was closed down permanently.

 
         
     
   

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  Text Box: Reisenbach 50 years ago
 
         

Text Box: Doris at her GraduationFrom 8th grade in 1957