Jun 3, 2016
|From the campground we were able to walk into the small town of Kaysersberg. Our walk took us alongside the river which was in full spate due to the amount of rain. The region of Alsace- Lorraine has a long history of being an area of tug-of- war between France and Germany and so the towns and villages have a very Germanic feel to them.
Kaysersberg was first mentioned in records in 1227 when Henry VII, son of Frederick of Hohenstaufen bought the castle at Kaysersberg with the aim to control the Weiss valley. It became an Imperial Town and an important economic centre due to its location at the entrance of the Weiss valley which linked Upper Alsace to Lorraine via the Bonhomme pass. As well as trade and craft industries the town exported its wine across the Rhine. Despite being damaged in the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and badly damaged in December 1944 the town continued to thrive.
The towns’ also main claim to fame is as the birthplace of Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer, who founded a leprosy hospital at Lambarene in French Equatorial Africa. Heather remembers reading a book about is his life and works when she was a school and how thought provoking it was.
The town was a joy to walk around with its pretty Hansel and Gretel half-timbered houses, cobbled streets and the River Weiss running through the centre. Although touristy but not over the top it was charming unlike very many towns and villages in France. Around the town there was quotes from Albert Schweitzer with modern interpretations. One particularly was thought provoking in the graveyard by the war memorial.
“Guilty or responsible”
“Is it indecent to speak about the present where we are dealing with remembrance?
As you are reading these lines, other fighters are dying by the hundreds, elsewhere. But are the dead shown on television conceivably real?
Are conflicts caused by crazy dictators or do they originate from the will to control primary resources which others are dependent on, such as petrol, gas, uranium, and more and more…. drinkable water?
Albert Schweitzer doesn’t ask me to be perfect but to make choices and to assume the price of them in all conscience. Are you ready to face the link between the energy consummation or my dietary habits and the death of my child-soldier in Africa or a farmer from Indonesia?
Each time that I prefer to think about something else I take my share of the responsibility. I can accept or refuse what happens…. But I can’t ignore it.
As Albert Schweitzer said ‘For many among us, suffering doesn’t exist as long as we are not forced to witness it. We run away without clearly sensing that it is precisely because of this, our denial to see, that we have become guilty.’
After exploring the town, we climbed up to the ruined castle with views across the town and the surrounding hills and vineyards. Returning to the town we spotted storks nesting on one of the rampart chimneys.