Memories of Germany

Rhine at Königswinter around 1900
Rhine at Königswinter around 1900

[Rhineland, around 1893/94] A few weeks later, Lorenz and Annelie were on board of a huge steamer on their way to Germany. The shipping companies competed for size and comfort, soon floating palaces like the Titanic would be launched.

The joy of reunion was great. Emil, a gentleman around 50, seemed to be in the prime of his life, and time had not left any marks on Lena. Also Sophie and Andras. They were now assigned to the Austro-Hungarian embassy in Brussels, and well respected. Sophie had renewed her contacts from her childhood days and included Belgian millinery shops in her training and exchange program for milliners and tailors from all over Austria-Hungary and Germany, to help young women build up a better life for themselves.

Quarries and railways

In the Seven Mountains, tourism had become an important economic factor. Lorenz, the white-haired gentleman, was excited like a little boy about the new mountain railways and eager to ride on all of them: The cog train to the Drachenfels mountain, put into operation in 1883, the first cog train in Germany at all. Then the cog train to the Petersberg mountain and the Heisterbach Valley Railway which went since 1891 from the village of Niederdollendorf through the village of Oberdollendorf, past the monastery of Heisterbach up to the quarries at Grengelsbitze. On the weekends it transported trippers, during the week it brought working people to work and stones from the quarries down into the valley.

The quarries .. seeing the “gaping wound” on the Petersberg made Lorenz’ heart ache. The damage done to nature alarmed many people, and the Verein für die Verschönerung des Siebengebirges negotiated and fought. “Do they have a chance?” Lorenz asked. “The protection of nature stands not only against the interests of the owners of the quarries, but also against those of the quarrymen,” Emil answered, “we also have to think of those indirectly affected, like the Heisterbach Valley Railway who mainly does freight traffic from the quarries to the factories. Finally, tourism is important, because many people have discovered the Seven Mountains as a destination for themselves and leave a lot of money in the hotels, restaurants, transportation companies, etc. We will do all we can to find a good solution.”*

Rhine Steamer “Aimée”

Emil’s and Lena’s daughter Susan was a young lady. She had big news. Susan took them to the Rhine promenade, towards a little steamer with the name “Aimée” on it. Hans was already waiting for them, by his side stood a young man. “This is the ‘Aimée’,” Susan said with a beaming smile, “and this is her captain, Etienne.” The old Captain Boule-Piquelot had died and left the “Aimée” to his foster son Etienne and his friends, Hans and the Bergmanns. “We will cruise the Rhine under German and Alsatian flag and keep the ‘Aimée’s’ tradition alive”, Susan went on, “Hans will be at the helm, and I’m in charge of the gastronomic service.” Annelie smiled and winked at her husband Lorenz. “Susan is glowing,” she whispered, “and I bet it’s not only about this gorgeous little steamer. “Etienne is a fine young man”, Hans said, having noticed their whispered conversation, “I’d love them to get together, preferably on the “Aimée”. He had immediately liked the young captain, and he was very happy that he didn’t have to become a retired captain just sitting on a couch.

Militarism

That evening, they all set together. “To your enduring happiness”, said Lorenz when he raised his glass. Silently he added a prayer: “and may you never be forced to take up arms.”
Later that evening Emil approached him. “You sense it too, don’t you,” he began, “this growing militarism and nationalism. Many around here aren’t satisfied with Germany’s place in the world, for them it is time that our country’s military and economic strength pays off, that the world recognizes Germany as a world power that will always be on top. Bismarck’s days are over, and so is his more prudent foreign policy. Kaiser Wilhelm II is the perfect monarch for these people. They celebrate the anniversary of the battle of Sedan big style and think war is all glory. Unlike you and me, many of them haven’t seen the horrors of war.”

* After long discussions, land purchases and law suits the last quarry on the Petersberg was closed in 1908. However, the quarries at the mountains Weilberg and Stenzelberg went on.

References
The picture is from the German Wikipedia, public domain section.

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