Following World War Two, Helga Schmieder and her family were among many Germans exported from Czechoslovakia to what was left of Germany. Helga’s family were placed in Lauf an der Pegnitz. The purpose of this trip was to accompany Helga (now Troutman) to visit her remaining siblings
for her birthday.
Lauf is an old town. The castle in the middle of the river was built in 1360. You won’t find much more than that about the town’s history on the internet.
We walked through the town today without Helga, who went with her brother and sister to Nurnberg. It is a lovely town with stone pavement and lots of photo opportunities. It seems to be a popular hangout for its populace. You’ll have to see the album from my real camera to understand why I call it a postcard town.
Earlier in the day we went searching for a nearby castle ruin. It turned out to be a fortress. Rothenberg Fortress. It’s the remains of an 18th century fort built on the site of a medieval fort on a hill high above Schnaittach. You can see Lauf from the fort.
We drove to Schneittach, found a parking lot with a hiking sign, and walked the 2 kilometers to the ruins. Later we found a trail marker for the same trail at our apartment. If we’d known about it and hiked all the way, it would probably have taken all day and we would have missed Lauf.
We paid 2.5 Euros for the tour, and despite some skepticism it was worth it. In addition to seeing the remains of the fort, which look a lot like U.S. Civil War era coastal forts (Macon, Pulaski), as well as stunning views, we were treated to several entertaining German-language anecdotes. Fortunately, one of our fellow tourists was able to provide some translation.
The best of the stories involved one of many failed attempts to overtake the fortress. The aggressors dug in a load of gunpowder at the base of the fortress walls, but when they set the powder off, instead of crumbling the walls, the blast resulted in debris being thrown back at the attackers, who were routed.
The tour concluded by traipsing within he wall, a cavernous, dark area that housed, in addition to he fort’s arsenal, 5,000 refugees during a siege by Napoleon’s army. The refugees, who had fled their nearby homes, did not see the light of day for several months.