During the last about 2,000 years, people of numerous nationalities have come to the Rhine: Celts, Teutons, Romans, Frenchmen, Prussians, just to mention some of them. The Rhineland has always been a melting pot, and Rhinelanders are a mixture by birth.
“Who once was settled here, to him this is his homeland”
thus the Roman historian Tacitus quotes the Germanic Ubii.
Therefore, the history of the Seven Mountains in the Rhineland is also a bit German and European history.
In a nutshell
In the Roman Era, the Rhine was the border between the Roman Empire and the free Germania. In the Middle Ages, the front between regional powers, the Archbishopric of Cologne and The Duchies of Sayn and Berg, went right through the Seven Mountains. In the early modern times, the Prussian Kings again and again claimed the Duchy of Berg. Then, in the French Era, the Rhine again became the border, and the Duchy of Berg became a French model state with Napoleon at the top!
In 1815 began then the long time the “Prussian Rhineland”. As citizens of the State of Prussia, the Rhinelanders lived to see the establishment of the German Empire, the First World War and the Weimar Republic, when there were efforts to create a “Rhenish Republic”. Finally, death and destruction in the Second World War, the new start with the Petersberg Agreement and the today’s federal city of Bonn.
100 years ago
About a hundred years ago, the Allied occupation of the Rhineland began. According to the Rhineland Agreement, signed at Versailles with the Peace Treaty, the Rhineland was to be demilitarized, and allied troops were to occupy the left bank and bridge heads in Cologne, Coblenz and Mayence.
The war was over, but not for the people here on the Rhine, and not for the occupation soldiers from far away either. The sequel to my emigrants’ story At home on the Rhine and in America is set in the Rhineland 1914 and 1922. The Allied Rhineland occupation brings American forces to the Rhine, among them the granddaughter of an emigrant from our region, and family comes together again.
This is not history for history’s sake.
I am so grateful that, after the horrors of the 20th century, we are together in the Western community of values, and defend liberty, open societies, tolerance and compassion. I for one am not willing to leave the floor to the hatemongers of the 21st century. We all lose if we allow what separates us to grow stronger than what brings us together.