Factories, Cemeteries, Dike Associations

Germany's a biker's paradise, because there are trails everywhere, and odd little things to see even in the country's dullest backwater. As proof, here are a few photos I took last weekend, when the sky was uncharacteristically illuminated for a few hours by a gigantic, glowing orb last seen about 3 months ago. First, a piece of graffiti under the Fleher Bruecke – featuring Street Denglish!

Graffito I dont looke alike under Fleher Bruecke

You know, I'd say that with that caramel-colored angora bodysuit, free-floating teeth, and multiple pupils, he actually does look "alike" a "psyco murda."

And now for something more dignified: a roadside altar from 1706.

Streetside Altar near Wahlscheid Overall View

I think the inscriptions's in Dutch. Anyone want to help translate?

Inscription on Roadside Altar near Wahlscheid

An interesting abandoned factories seen from the front (note the odd stepped platforms)…

Abandoned Factory Near Dormagen View 1

And from the rear:

Abandoned Factory Near Dormagen View 2 

If you were wondering where the jurisdiction of the Dormagen/Zons Dike Association ends and that of the Uedesheim Dike Association begins, here's your answer:

Border of Two Dike-Supporting Societies

You'll notice that nobody has removed the brown object on top of the post, whatever it is (I didn't try to find out). Probably because it's in the legal dead zone between the two associations' territories. I wouldn't be surprised if there have been screaming matches at meetings of the Uedesheim-Dormagen/Zons Jurisdictional Issues Joint Sub-Committee about who should remove the "unidentified brownish matter" on top of the border post.

After that, it was a short ride through the Hannepuetzheide, a small nature reserve which proudly advertises the fact that it's one of Germany's only stretches of inland dunes. Here is the Altar to St. Roch that you find in the middle of the forest:

St. Roch Altar Hannepuetzheide. Rochus Enclosure

And here is the relief found within:

Relief of St. Roch Inside Altar Hannepuetzheide

St. Roch, a plague survivor, is the patron saint of plague victims. He is usually pictured pointing to a plague sore on his leg, as here. For some reason, this charming naif relief made me thing of J.G. Ballard's Crash. I need help.

Perhaps the high point of the trip is the Jewish Cemetery (g) near Zons, a well-preserved medieval town along the Rhine. Germany has many Jewish cemeteries, most of them abandoned and partially overgrown. The Zons Jewish cemetery's official address is "Am Judenberg" – roughly, "on Jew Hill." It's entirely enclosed by a thick cement wall. Here's the entrance:

Entrance to Jewish Cemetery Hannepuetzheide

A view inside of some of the 24 graves located there:

View of Jewish Cemetery in Hannepuetzheide

From graffiti to abandoned factories to Catholic saints to Jewish history — all in the space of one short bike ride. Interesting place, Germany.

I will shortly be flying back to the States for holiday-related festivities, so blogging will be sparse. I hope everyone has a splendid time, and will be back to more-frequent blogging as of early January.

9 thoughts on “Factories, Cemeteries, Dike Associations

  1. The inscription on the altar seems to read:

    (Possible) meaning: Den 4. März. Hadchridian (Hans-Christian?) Gimnich und Celeia Meiszleleut haben dieses Kreuz zu Ehren Gottes und der allerheilig(st)en Dreifaltigkeit aufstellen lassen.

    Might be a late form of Frühneuhochdeutsch. I don’t think it’s dutch. Maybe frisian? Where did you find the altar?


  2. I found it at the intersection of Gut Altwahlscheid and Am Reckberg, or here. I had no idea there was such a thing as late Frühneuhochdeutsch (you’re not having me on, are you Alex?). I just guessed Dutch because it’s pretty close to the Dutch border. But you’re right — on closer inspection it doesn’t resemble Dutch from that era that I’ve seen.

    But then again, I’m no linguist, and you may well be. Enlighten us, please!


  3. I think Alex is correct, Andrew, though I won’t pretend to being an expert in historical linguistics.

    A rough translation using his transcription, which seems about right to me, though “Meiszleleut” sounds wrong:

    On March 4, Hans-Christian Gimnich and Celeia Meiszleleut had this cross erected to honor God and the blessed Trinity.

    Note the softening of final consonants (“Godd” instead of “Gott”).

    Lots of interesting stuff like this in my local area, too, including the remains of an underground munitions factory that was manned by slave labor in World War II, or so I’ve heard.

    Biking through the woods down to Siegburg, I regularly pass a marker stone where two jurisdictions abut. A “legal dead zone” in more than one sense, as it was there that miscreants from both territories were hanged. Is it a German tradition to situate unpleasant things in areas where ownership may be in dispute?

    Have a safe flight. Merry Christmas to you and all your readers!


  4. there’s a dot (word separator) between MEIS and ZLELEVT (but not between HAD and CHRIDIAN and EHR and EN). if the ZL wasn’t so clear, i would guess something like EHELEUT here.


  5. @Alex:

    Might be a late form of Frühneuhochdeutsch.

    I agree that it’s New High German. I can’t decipher the first words either, but the latter part is more or less the same language we speak today, spelled very badly.

    I don’t think it’s dutch. Maybe frisian?

    Ähmmm … bitte geh in Dich, Alex, und reflektiere über das, was Du soeben schriebst 😉

    On a serious note, you can very easily tell that it must be some High German thing. Words like “zu” or “se(t)zen” are dead giveaways of the High German sound shift. In any low Germanic language that hasn’t gone through this shift, they would be something like “to” and “seten” (in English: to and sit – well, sit is, of course, the cognate of “sitzen” (or “sitten” in Low German).) As such, Dutch or Frisian are out of the question.


  6. If you look closely, I think the questionable ZL turns out to be a ZU – the right upward stroke of the U having almost withered off.

    Then it would make sense as strcmp suggested: “Hans-Christian und Celeia Meis zu Eheleut”, meaning Hans-Christian Gimnich and Celeia Meis together as a married couple”.


  7. @ Sebastian: Oh well, mea culpa 🙂

    @ Andrew: Linguistics (especially German linguistics) aren’t my thing exactly. As soon as Germans start to write in their mothertongue (or what they beleive to resemble it) it tends get a lot to confusing.
    No thanks, but I prefer Latin by far. Any period will do nicely, but as historian I like the middle-ages best.

    The word ZLELEVT is quite interesting. I guess if I have nothing better to do the next days, I might have a nice riddle to solve. MEIS might be the surname of the woman (who is named after a Roman town in the Steiermark, now Cilly). But ZLELEVT doesn’t make any sense.
    Incidentally the letters ZL look a little bit funny. They are more blurry than all the other ones. Maybe that really was EHELEVT once ago. The weather can sometimes do funny things to inscriptions.


  8. Thank you for the photo report: since I had seen it, I headed toward the same direction today (perfect blue sky, 1°C), something I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise, since I’d expect only clean, sleepy suburbs and factories there. I found both (and more; saw the altar out of the above, I vote for “Eheleut”), but also had the unusual experience of being instructed twice (I couldn’t quite believe it at first so had to ask the next person again) by native locals to ride on a forbidden, unpaved path to return a tad bit faster to Düsseldorf…


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