Station:  Wilhelmsplatz
M: You’re standing on Wilhelmsplatz, probably Offenbach’s most beautiful public square. It’s a place where you can still sense the ambience of the historic city. The buildings and the chestnut trees that line the square so decoratively survived the Second World War bombs. A regular market has been held here every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday since 1903.
F: Offenbach residents stop at nothing, not even dead bodies, to visit the historic market with its many restaurants and cafés. That’s almost literally true, because this was the town cemetery until 1832. After that, a new cemetery – today's Old Cemetery – was opened outside the city.
M: In 1868, a cattle market opened on the site of the former burial ground. In 1876, the square was renamed "Wilhelmsplatz" in honour of Kaiser Wilhelm. The Nazis renamed it again, calling it "Platz der SA" in honour of their Stormtroopers. After the Second World War, it reverted to Wilhelmsplatz.
F: Let's head back in time to 1911, the year in which the “Markthaus” was built on the north side of the square to provide accommodation for the store holders. Today, the cottage is a popular meeting place, where you can enjoy a good glass of Äppelwoi, the local cider.
M: Next to the cottage, a monument by the sculptor Judith Quartier commemorates an Offenbach original, Streichholz-Karlche the match-seller. Check your screen to see a photograph of him.
His real name was Karl Winterkorn, and he was just 130 centimetres tall – four foot three, hence “Karlche”, little Karl. He lived from 1880 to 1939 and made a living selling matches. If you asked him about his work, he’d come back with, as it were, “matchless” humour: “I’m a timber merchant”. Carrying his suitcase, he’d go from pub to pub, from Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen to Offenbach and offer his matches for sale. The proceeds were sufficient to provide a living for him and his mother. Karlche died at the age of 59, but his mischievous smile hasn’t been forgotten.
Foto 1-3: © Dagmar Trüpschuch
Foto 2: © Stadtarchiv