Rhine Revisited by Gregory E Bandlow

Our boat departed from the dock at Geisenheim on the East bank of the Rhine. Geisenheim is located directly across the river from Bingen which is just north of Mainz. We passed the Niederwald-Denkmal near Rudesheim. The Niederwald Monument is a bronze relief with the life size figures of Kaiser Wilhelm I on horse back, Bismarck, the German princes and sovereigns their commanders-in-chief as well as soldiers from all branches of the armed services. It commemorates the reestablishment of the German Empire. A statue of Germania bearing the Imperial sword and the German's Emperor's crown adorns the top of the monument. Around the next bend was the Mauseturn or "Mouse Tower" a 13th century lookout tower for the Ehrenfels castle, which in spite of its lofty towers has no view of the Rhine to it's north. This is where the term "mausen" comes into play. it means to be on the lookout, like a cat is on the lookout for a mouse, hence the corruption of the term. The next three castles came in quick succession, Burg Rheinstein, Burg Reichenstein and Burg Sooneck. I was becoming desperate. Everything that I had heard and everything that I had read resembled nothing I had seen. Was this really the place of my father's crossing?

Around the next bend in the river and two more ruins, the ruin Nollig and the ruin Furstenberg. Then into view came Burg Stahleck at the town of Bacharach. In the distance, in the middle of the river stood the castle Pfalzgrafenstein or "Pflaz" for short. I knew now we were getting close. My father had told me to be on the lookout for the "Pflaz". This was the southern end of the Eighty-ninth infantry's sector and their southern crossing point. The "Pflaz" is located in the river just below the city of Kaub. Above the city of Kaub stands the castle Gutenfels. At last definite confirmation that we were indeed in the right place. This castle is depicted in historical context on the preceding page. Burg Gutenfels, like all the other castles we had seen were constructed for two purposes. To exact duty from merchant ships traveling along the Rhine and more importantly to defend Germany from invaders. In 1945 this was the case. The German army had retreated behind the natural barrier of the Rhine. This was their last ditch stand, the last natural barrier to the attacking allied armies from penetrating the heart of the Germany. As we cruised lazily along in the morning sun that was just now beginning to break through the haze, I explained this story to my daughters Jessica and Jennifer. Burg Gutenfels last encounter with an invading army was in 1806 when Napoleon had the castle defenses removed. The castle was now going to again come under siege, this time by an equally determined foe. The Eighty-ninth infantry. The outcome would be the same for the castle and it's defenders, defeat.

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