Sunday, 14 June 2020

wüstung schmerbach

Owing to the proximity of the former inner-German border, we knew that there were some depopulated places in the region as well as losses due to geopolitical forces and factors spanning from 1945 to 1990, but had not realised before how assiduously these abandoned settlements (Wüstungen)—often removed without a trace, have been documented and studied nor how recently removal and demolition was carried out.
One such place was the valley village not far from Helmershausen, first accounted for in 1562 as holding of the Henneburg cadet line, Schmerbach was destroyed during the Thirty Years War but re-established in the mid-1600s.
In the late nineteenth century, an industrialist from South Hampton founded a brick factory there and in Weimarschmieden, a village not far away on the Bavarian side of the border. When Soviet forces occupied the area in July 1945, employees of the brickworks were given parcels of land as part of reform efforts by the state, but because the frontier was only a few hundred metres distant and expensive to patrol, authorities decided in 1973 to raze the factory, stables, farmstead and eight homes and resettle the residents. A memorial stone commemorates the destruction and removal.
The surrounding area is all farmland and the only remnant of the village are the electricity transformer tower and a small cemetery in the middle of a field, marked by a grove of trees, the last burial having taken place in August 1948. There are other spots like this and we plan to explore and learn more.