Last Friday I went on a tour to the Haguenau and Soufflenheim cities. It was my first trip to the area so I did a bit of searching to find some historic information that might be of interest of people. Of course I took TONES of pictures (what else is new) and for those of you who are a little interested about this 2 cities, here are a little of what I found (believe me, I cut it to a little, cause… I guess it was boring, nobody really listens to what I was saying! LOL!)
The Alsatian region of France, like neighboring Lorraine changed ownership between German and France. Alsace finally became part of France in 1918 at the end of WWI. The influence of both German and French cultural traditions is evident today. Locals, most of whom address you in French, can also respond in German. The Alsacian German is the second most spoken minority in France.
Haguenau is at the edge of an immense 14000 hectare forest that was the favored location for middle ages imperial hunts. Founded in the 12th Century around the Hohenstaufen castle built by Duke Frederick the One-Eyed and owed its property in the Middle-Ages to the emperors Frederick Barbarossa and Frederick II who made it one of their residences and who granted the town important rights (Town privileges or city rights were important features of European towns during most of the second millennium. Judicially, a town was distinguished from the surrounding land by means of a charter from the ruling monarch that defined its privileges and laws. Common privileges were related to trading (to have a market, to store goods, etc.) and the establishment of guilds. Some of these privileges were permanent and could imply that the town obtained the right to be called a city, hence the term city rights (stadtrecht in German).
Some degree of self-government, representation in a diet, and tax-relief could also be granted.) Haguenau was the second most important Alsatian city, after Strasbourg. Medieval Haguenau retains three gates from its former fortification, the Tour des Chevaliers (Tower of the knights), the Tour des Pêcheurs (Tower of the fishermen) and the Porte de Wissembourg (Wissembourg gate), two fairly large gothic churches, Saint-Georges and Saint-Nicolas, an ancient water-mill and the old custom-house (Ancienne Douane)
The 17th Century was a dark period for the town, with a number of invasions and occupations, In the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 was ceded to France, and in 1673 King Louis XIV had the fortifications razed. Haguenau was captured by imperial troops in 1675, but it was taken by the French two years later, nearly being destroyed by fire in the process 1677. The town was rebuilt in the 18h Century: it is one of the town of Alsace with the greatest number of 18th Century buildings.
Occupied by the Germans in 1940, it was liberated in March 1945 after suffering great destruction.
Jews settled there soon after it received its charter as a city (1164), and a synagogue was established in 1252. Until the middle of the sixteenth century the Jews lived peaceably among their fellow citizens. The towns-people, impoverished by the protracted civil war, in their turn plundered the Jews, subjected them to every imaginable persecution, and finally banished them (1346). Soon readmitted on condition that they paid the debts of the city.
During the second half of the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth century the condition of the community remained unchanged. Only six families, which had settled at Hagenau in the twelfth century, were allowed to have a permanent residence there; and it was only on a heavy monetary payment that a newcomer was allowed to take the place of a deceased head of one of these families.
In 1720 it issued the following regulations, which remained in force until the French Revolution: “The Jews who are at present living in the city may remain. Only one married son in each family has the right to settle in the city; the other children, both male and female, must on marriage leave it, except when they live in common households with their parents. Grandsons acquire this right of residence only on the death of their grandfather.” The Jews of Hagenau were, moreover, restricted in their commercial activity to dealing in horses, cattle, and old clothes, and to the lending of money on interest; and they were closely watched by the Christian merchants.