Sunday, 24 February 2013


Spielgel’s Eines Tages has a fascinating little article about a short-lived micro-nation that came into being in the Rhine Valley due to cartographical errors in dividing up occupied Prussia after WWI among the British, French and American area-of-responsibility. A gap resulting in dividing control which left the region containing the monastic town of Lorch, Kaub and Limburg isolated and able to claim a quasi-independence.

Because of this quirk, as the mayor of Lorch proclaimed (who was subsequently elevated to president), from 1919 to 1923 with the formalized French occupation of the Ruhr and putting a stop to the shenanigans of this Freistaat Flaschenhals (the Free State of Bottleneck) with its annexation back into Prussia. The shenanigans consisted of border enforcement, issuance of their own stamps and currency, and profits to be made from smuggling coal, cows and wine from occupied lands into unoccupied Germany.
Trains and barges had to avoid this isolated territory, but pirate operations and black-market trading became quite sophisticated rather quickly. This place is really a picture-postcard idyll, not very far away at all. We’ve been through the area a few times but never knew about this history before, and on our next trip, we’ll have to see what traces we can find about this curiosity.