Battle of Reichshoffen

A page in European history

This year was the 150th anniversary of the famous “Battle of Reichshoffen”.

On August 6, 1870, the 50,000 men of Mac Mahon faced on the hills of Woerth the 88,000 soldiers of Frederick of Prussia: this warlike episode was a carnage. The balance sheet of this dark story which took place on the peaceful hills around Woerth is 11,000 French dead or wounded, 9,000 French prisoners, 10,000 dead, wounded or missing Germans.

Historians believe that this war (triggered by Bismark’s snarling missive) was at the origin of the great conflicts between France and Germany at the beginning of the 20th century.

A landscape, a place of memory

The victorious Germans instructed the villagers of the surroundings to bury the dead on the spot. Subsequently the families or their regiment built graves scattered on the hills. These are sometimes simple crosses or modest stones, sometimes monumental buildings to the glory of the celebrities of the regiments.

Today, the memory of this event is weathered by time, the graves scattered along the small road between Froeschwiller and Woerth are adorned with romanticism, the roots of large trees jostle the plinths, humble bouquets are sometimes placed in their foot.

The path of the Turcos, meanwhile, allows us to reflect on the place held by certain colonized nations in our neighborhood quarrels: they did not defend their land, but their bravery in combat is renowned.

Their graves dot the other side of Woerth. The Chemin des Turcos climbs a hill and joins Froeschwiller.

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A rural and romantic walk

The walk on this place of memory is rural, pleasant, with small anecdotal curiosities.

  • It is here, they say, that Tim Burton came up with the idea for the Headless Knight for his film “Sleepy Hollow”.
  • A commemorative monument illustrated with both a Christian cross, an Islamist crescent and a Jewish star.
  • It is astonishing that this column survived the following two great wars.

The tower which dominates the landscape of the battle is composed of barrels of cannons on the first floor. At the top of the tower the view is panoramic over the orchards, the villages, up to the wooded mountain of Liebfrauenberg.

This year 2020, many events were planned to commemorate this historic event.

All have been canceled because of Covid 19.

I recommend this easy walk to my visitors where history can be read in the landscapes.

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