But it’s an ill wind … and amidst all this misery, Josef Kohler was one of the lucky ones. He hailed from Friesenheim and was a 31-year-old Benedictine monk at Schuttern Abbey when the religious house was dissolved in 1806. But he was able to stay, since he’d been assigned to the newly founded parish of Schuttern. His contract of employment from December 1806 reads:
"His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Baden has graciously deigned to appoint Mr Josef Kohler as rector to Schuttern [...] This sovereign pronouncement is hereby made known to said Rector of Schuttern, with the commission’s seal affixed, to direct his further conduct. Signed at Freyburg, the fifth day of December 1806, Grand Ducal Court Commission for Monastery Affairs".
Kohler served as the rector in Schuttern for more than half a century, witnessing the gradual decay and ultimate demolition of most of the monastic buildings. The monastery church – now the parish church – was repaired in the 1830s. When a fire ravaged the village in the summer of 1853, Kohler noted:
"The terrible element raged until morning [...]. Of our beautiful church tower, formerly an ornament of the entire area, it left naught but a ruin of four bare, charred walls, only to be contemplated with the greatest of anguish."
Kohler died in 1862 and is buried in the cemetery chapel, which was built during his time as rector. His extensive art collection of almost 100 oil paintings and copperplate engravings was auctioned off, here in the rectory, that same year.
All depictions: © Historischer Verein Schuttern 603 e.V. / Gemeinde Friesenheim