It´s good to stop and think… I did that, at what has become a regular riding spot for me. In my first week of moving to Germany I sat on a bench at Kesterlingrodefeld and wondered at what I had done. I was now an immigrant.
I began this ride at a local road named after the German artist Käthe Kollwitz.
Kollwitz´s (1867/1945) art depicts life for people in the raw, illustrating suffering, hardship, and death at its starkest. After losing her son to the nightmare of World War One she produced several works about loss – ´Mother with Dead Son´ later became the basis of the German national memorial for the victims of war and tyranny.
Another strong theme of Kollwitz was the pitiful state of the German speaking people (especially peasants) and, on this ride, I visit two lost villages – Klein Kesterlingrode and Omborn (two of so many), this being a reprise of a ride I did in November 2019.
Kesterlingrodefeld is a Stadt Wald open to all having been a Panzer training area – there are clues to this hidden in the undergrowth including a large concrete/brick shooting range and a panzer bath.
Before this the village of Klein Kerstlingerode existed on this spot until it was almost destroyed during a local feud in 1387 and in 1410 it was abandoned because of a lack of a sufficient water supply. Later any surviving buildings such as a manor house were burnt to the ground during the Thirty Years War.
The Manor House was rebuilt many times and the one that now stands in ruin is dated to 1753. It was made that way during NATO training exercises – 15km away were the Warsaw Pact armies.
Further on in the ride we descended past the lost village of Omborn, here all that remains to signify what was home to several families is an overgrown graveyard and a few worked stones lost in the undergrowth. First mention of the village is in the 10th Century before it was destroyed and abandoned also in 1387 after a dispute between a local lord, and the city of Göttingen.
Some two million German speakers abandoned their villages and emigrated from the countryside of central Europe to across the world in the 1800s including the mother and father of Harry Karasek who is buried in a Commonwealth War Grave in Gö. They left because the peasants and unpowerful had been crushed under the weight of the mish mash of hundreds of German speaking Kingdoms, Principalities and Bishoprics who got rich, profiteered, jostled for a lead position, and made war, leaving their people exhausted, hungry and persecuted.
It is the imagery of Käthe Kollwitz that resonates strongly with me when I think of German history and lost villages.
The Ride – 29km
A mix of gravel trails and single track, the latter featuring tree roots, berms and off camber sections – great for refreshing handling skills. In the German forest under the trees, it was muddy and at times I delighted in drifting my front wheel including one moment when an innocent puddle almost swallowed it, otherwise away from the trees it was dry and fast. I got my first puncture in months when my front wheel hit a large stone at 40kph.
I also did a fair bit of climbing!