Light snow had been falling all day on Tag 21 on the German Haus, nonetheless David led us into the forest for an evening ride – we did feel a wee bit like Hansel and Gretel especially when we hit some truly gnarly single track made slick by the snow.
This forest was planted in the 1800’s to replace lost trees and is now part of the Stadtwald Goettingen. I have been told that Germany is two thirds forest and that the relationship between German and forest is strong.
The German Romantic Movement, and this maybe a surprise to some, lived within the multitude of German States which were seen as being poetic and lyrical in contrast to the militaristic French who in the 19th Century had a calling for conquest in the name of the Republic.
German Romantic’s played strongly on folklore and history, the former with reference to medieval epics such as ‘The Song of Nibelungs’ and the latter, the great victory over a Roman Army in the Teutoburger Forest.
The problem with folklore is that it is susceptible to being expropriated and brutally that’s what the Nazi’s did when they offered up the image of the forest as a marching army.
But, looking back before the barbarism of National Socialism the German Forest has been the inspiration for so many Germans and not just writers, musicians and artists. Today the forest is often cherished and it’s no surprise to me that the country has probably the strongest green movement in the world.
Local to this ride were the Brothers Grimm who set so many of their fairy stories within grasp of the outstretched limbs of densely packed trees – the stories of Hansel and Gretel, Ride Riding Hood, and the battle between good and evil was played out deep within the forest.
You can be very alone in a German Forest, but you probably aren’t as many German’s will venture there also and you will not be surprised to meet and greet fellow riders, hikers, bike packers and walkers all following the heady romantic aura of the ‘wald’.