Yesterday we grabbed a rental car in Heidelberg and drove east and south up the picturesque Neckar river into the German countryside. The hills were heavily wooded with spruce and hardwood. The drive was placid along the beautiful Neckar.
We arrived at the tiny village of Adelshofen around 3. Gaby Birouk (née Röcker) met us at her home. She is Kay’s distant cousin with a common 6th great grand father. The Röckers have been in Adelshofen since the late 18th century when Johann Röcker moved from Ofterdingen, 50 miles to the south where they lived since at least the mid 1500s. The village of Adelshofen is small with about 1000 people. Most of the houses are new. Gaby explained that when she was a child each house had a small farm attached with a barn. She even remembers some houses with the people living upstairs and the livestock downstairs. Here is a rare remaining example of such a building.
This has changed for the most part with newer house built close together. Unlike some villages like nearby Eppingen, Aldeshofen has not preserved its historical buildings. We met her brother, Marc who still farms sugar beets, hogs and even a hatchery for trout.
We also met her mom, Gertrude Bock, and her aunt Mathilde (also a Röcker). Although her memory is waning Mathilde is bright eyed and surprisingly strong. We found her sweeping the leaves from the driveway at the fish farm.
Gaby married Jamal Birouk, from Morocco. He is amiable and quick witted. They have three teenage children, two girls Yasmine and Samira, and a son Yassin.
We walked the town with Gaby visiting the family farm, church and cemetery.
Everywhere in Germany are memories of the war. Here are the fallen and missing from Adelshofen including some Röckers.
I am envious of Gaby, living as she does in the midst of her ancestors. She has known many of her neighbors all her life and is related to a surprising number of them. It’s hard for me to imagine having such a sense of belonging and place.
After breakfast this morning, Gaby drove us to Burg Steinberg, a fortress tower 5 miles north of Adelshofen first built in 1109.
The tower sits on high ground with commanding views of the countryside. It was easy to imagine a watchman seeing approaching rivals and raising the alarm.
The countryside is largely agriculture with small stands of forest and a village every few miles. There is however, industry every so often including nearby Audi and Porsche plants as well as high tech. For lunch we visited Bad Wimpfen. Bad is German for bath thus Bad Wimpfen has mineral springs and has been a center for healing since the middle ages. The old town center has tiny cobbled streets lined with 16th century half-timber buildings, expoused timber framing filled with plaster or, more traditionally, wattle and daub (straw mixed with clay).
After coffee in nearby Eppingen, another village with medieval architecture, we returned to Gaby’s for a little rest.