One of the sources I used while writing The Devil’s Missal was the journal of Steven Jan de Geuns, a Dutch academic who travelled extensively through Germany in the company of Alexander von Humboldt, passing through Meerbusch on 26th October 1789.
De Geuns waxed lyrical about Krefeld, calling it a beautiful city, clean and the closest to a Dutch city that he had seen (being a Dutchman himself, presumably this was high praise). His sightseeing tour of the city appears to have consisted of a tour of several factories. Meerbusch is mentioned only as consisting of fertile agricultural land. Which sounds about right for the period.
This photograph was taken before the installation of modern gates. The driveway used to be a network of muddy puddles of varying depths. It wasn’t too bad negotiating it in a car, but on a bicycle in the dark it was only for the hardened adventurer….
Autumn is the most beautiful season around Schloß Pesch as the woods which surround it turn golden and russet. If you haven’t taken yourself on a tour of all the breathtaking Meerbusch locations from The Devil’s Missal yet, the next few weeks would be the perfect time. These are older photos… the leaves have not turned yet.
Some people favour geraniums and hanging baskets, others prefer wind-chimes and gnomes. My favourite Meerbusch balcony has gone for the full Jurassic Park effect. I doff my cap to you, dear Dinosaur-balcony-family! Your outdoor paradise is awesome.
As one foreign settler to another, I have a soft spot for the local parakeet population which lives around Büderich. Of course they visit our garden often because we have a well stocked bird feeder. They seem to get on well with the local birds too. Perhaps they’ve learned to squawk in German?
Just look at this lovely Rhine landscape painting by Dr. Charlotte Boller-Dörper showing the scenery around Meerbusch-Büderich. Some parts of the flood plain are still common land and shepherd are permitted to graze their flocks there. You sometimes even see them in Düsseldorf near the Oberkassel bridge.
At the entrance to the cemetary in Büderich, just to the right as you go in, there is a memorial sculpture by Peter Rübsam, erected in 1988, consisting of seven basalt pillars, each with a bronze plaque in front of it. On each plaque is written one word: Dachau, Buchenwald, Theresienstadt, Riga-Kaiserswald, Treblinka, Maidanek, Auschwitz
Close family ties took on another meaning back in 1935 when the three Radmacher sisters, Franziska, Leni and Adele and the three Hermkes siblings all married at the same time. For both families it must have been a highly memorable occasion. Nowadays it seems odd that the brides are all wearing black, but white wedding gowns were not well established in the Rhineland until the 1940s. Before that a formal black Sunday dress would typically be teamed with a wedding veil and flowers as we see here.
Images from Landleben und Brauch – Heimatkreis Lank e. V. 1998
In the early 1990s the grounds of Schloß Pesch were still hugely overgrown and the ‘lawn’ was a mass of weeds and nettles. During the late 90s a gardening contractor was brought in to clear the weeds and plant a proper lawn. This is what it looked like after it had been newly ploughed, rolled and seeded.