Atomkeller Museum in Haigerloch

At the Beer Fest, Jens and Daniela were telling us about Haigerloch, a beautiful village just south of Starzach, in the northwestern corner of the Swabian Alps. They said that towards the end of World War 2, Hitler was building a nuclear reactor in a beer cellar below the Palace Church in Haigerloch. When the Americans arrived at the end of the war, a courageous Pastor pleaded with an army Colonel to spare the facility for the sake of the beautiful Church just above. The Americans removed the reactor but the rest of the facility remained intact. It’s now a museum called the Atomkeller Museum. “Whaaaat? Really? C’monnnn! How do we get there???” Jens said “You want to go? We’ll take you tomorrow!”

The next morning my head felt like luggage. Call me crazy, but I think there might be a connection between how much you drink and how bad you feel the next day. It took a couple of cups of Luca’s old espresso to set everything right. I had all but forgotten about the visit to the Atomkeller Museum when I got a text saying they’d pick us up at 2:00. Gamze had plans that day so it would be just Jamie and I going. I asked Rochyne if she wanted to go and she said “Wait wait wait…’re telling me that two Germans you hardly know want to take you and two other women from abroad to an underground bunker? Uh yeah that sounds like a great horror movie!” And then she added “Of course I’ll go!”

Jens and Daniela arrived right on time and we were off! Jens drives very fast! YOW! Everything was a blur! I kept hearing a beeping sound so I leaned forward and asked what it was. “Oh that’s just the car telling me that I’m going too fast”. Oh….okay.

When you get to Haigerloch the first thing you see is big rocky cliff face with a Church on top. The Atomkeller Museum with the nuclear reactor is underneath it.

Inside the Museum there are many display cases with things inside. The writing is all in German. I have no idea what I’m looking at – partly because I don’t speak German, and partly because I don’t understand science….

And there it is, in the picture on the left: An exact replica of Hitler’s nuclear reactor. (I wonder if that’s where he got the idea for the crazy mustache?) It looks like a bunch of black cubes on strings hanging from a giant shower head. Since Hitler didn’t know much about science, I wonder if they were putting him on. “NO VUN PUTZ DE FUHRER ON!!!” Okay okay…..

Daniela, Jens, and Rochyne inside the Museum. As you can see in this picture, everyone who visits the Museum is required to keep their hand in their right front pocket.

After we left the Museum, we figured we would go and see the Church at the top. It’s uphill….wayyy uphill! Don’t they have escalators in Germany?

As we climbed the Forever Stairs, the views of Haigerloch became more and more spectacular. Of course, I was breathing so heavy it fogged up my sunglasses.

The Forever Stairs turned into Forever Cobblestones. We had climbed such a long distance and we were still only halfway up. It was at this point that I started thinking about getting on that grassy sidewalk and rolling back down to the bottom.

Finally we made it! We’re at the Church at the top of the cliff! Here’s the doorknob….let’s go in!

WOW! I was expecting it to be beautiful, because everything in Germany is beautiful, but this…….this…….

Murals and hand-carved scroll work on the ceiling.

This is the King’s box. When the Royal Family would attend Church, this is where they would sit.

Everywhere you look in this baroque Church, there are paintings, sculptures, carvings, and architectural flair! It’s unbelievable!

Th Artists and Craftsmen responsible for all of this outstanding work may have been forgotten by history, but the beauty of their work lives on!

For some reason I thought the Church was at the highest point and there would be no need to climb any further, but I was wrong – there’s a Castle even higher up! (I knew I shoulda thrown myself down the hill when I had the chance!) Okay, let’s go…more climbing! So this is where the King of this area once lived. The Schloss Haigerloch is now a 3-star castle hotel.

After we left the Castle, Jens drove us to a hill on the other side of the village that offered breathtaking views of Haigerloch! In this picture you can see the Church, the Castle, and the million steps that we climbed when we first arrived. Yikes!

This is Jens and Daniela – obviously the cutest couple in Germany! We are so blessed that they invited us to see this beautiful village of Haigerloch! And they were so incredibly gracious, and fun, and generous with their time, we can’t thank them enough! Thanks Jens and Daniela!!

I’ve seen a lot of odd looking tree-type things in Germany – tall, spindly trees with decorations, like this one in Haigerloch:

I asked Jens and Daniela what it was and they said it was a Maypole. A Maypole? I’d heard of them – I think we even used to sing a song about them – but I never knew that they existed. Apparently Maypoles are popular here, and they symbolize the welcome return of good weather. That’s when Jens asked if we in America have the tradition of giving a tree on May 1st. Giving a tree? What? Tell me more!

It’s the German tradition of the Maibaum, or May Tree: If a guy likes a girl, he’ll go and get a small tree, decorate it, and then in the early morning hours of May 1st, he’ll sneak up on to her roof in the middle of the night and leave it there. Seriously. This is how he proclaims his love. He then comes back in a month to get the tree, and if she likes him, she’ll ask him out. If she doesn’t….well…then he’s got a lonnnnng walk home!

Jens actually did this to win his true love, Daniela – he left a Maibaum Tree on her roof in the middle of the night!! That is so sweet and so romantic!! I asked Daniela if she had a picture, and she sent this to me the next day:

I joked that when he got up on the roof that night, there were already four trees there. LOL! Daniela thought that was funny. Jens said that if the girl is not-so-nice, a guy may leave a tree made of cans. OUCH!

As much as I am taken by the romance of the Maibaum Tree, I don’t think I would want a guy on my roof in the middle of the night – one slip and my true love would be eating through a straw for the rest of his life….

We ended our tour of Haigerloch with a visit to Daniela’s family. They don’t speak any English but we could communicate just the same. They’re lovely people, very friendly, and there’s lots of laughter in the house! I was honored to meet them, and it was a wonderful end to a very special day!

And finally: Just look at the amazing view from her Daniela’s parent’s house. Gorgeous!

As you can imagine, there’s a lot happening here at Kunstort ELEVEN ArtSpace ( #kunstortELEVENartspace ) with work, and play, and people coming and going. There are also new adventures on the horizon!

I’ll keep you posted!


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