Today, Rob and I and 14 of our closest friends went on a city tour of Kaiserslautern. It was really neat. Learned where the bus stops were and we rode the bus into downtown Kaiserslautern. We gathered into a room where our tour guide gave us a really neat historical overview of the area. It was rather interesting. The town has been destroyed at least a half a dozen times and rebuilt. She was saying that over the history of the city, 2/3s of it has been destroyed in various conflicts. The town went back and fourth from the Bavarians and the French and a lot of the catholics in were kicked out at some point during this tumultuous time in history (can’t remember the dates on that!)
I asked Rob yesterday why he thought the military wanted to be in this area and he couldn’t even venture a guess. Apparently, a big armament was here. Americans and British bombed the area pretty heavily towards the end of the war. And it makes sense, militarily. Take out the manufacturers of the arms and you will take down the military machine. But, not just that, it is also right next to a river and the soil is fertile. We also learned that there is a river called the Lautern that flows through Kaiserslautern (it is been built over, but there is about 300 meters of the river above ground) (and that’s why it’s named that) [I had assumed that it was a place where the Kaiser was killed–I was on the right track, but WAY off!]
Napoleon built a road that went from France to Frankfurt called the Kaiserstrasse (Kaiser=King/Emperor and Stasse=road or street). This road still exists! It also turns out that this is a pretty old city and they didn’t know it for the longest time because of all the fighting that took place in this area. It was destroyed, then rebuilt and so on and so.
Barabrossa was a beloved Kaiser here and spent quite a bit of time here in the 12th century. His castle has been built and rebuilt at least 3 times. The current castle has pieces of the old one built into it, but not much is from the original castle and in 1825 was when it was last renovated. There are many things here that keep the memory of him: from bookstores that bear his name to the chain bakeries that have the blue and white signs.
Emperor Habsburg gave Kaiserslautern its city charter in the 13th century and he is also held in high regard.
This used to be part of the French quarter, when Germany was divided up among the Allies. They remained in this area until the 1990s, when Communism collapsed in Russia in 1991. The Americans came to this area in 1951 and because of the strong dollar, was able to save this city. Kaiserslautern will remain as a permanent US Army Garrison and will not see closure as we have seen with several bases throughout Germany (like Hanau).