F: Niederstetten’s town hall, with its substantial ground floor built of natural stone, and its beautiful, half-timbered superstructure, has all the hallmarks of a historic building. And that first impression is quite accurate – if you’re willing to accept the post-war period as a historical era. Because the town hall was built in 1951 and formally opened in 1953.
M: In April 1945, during the final days of the Second World War in Europe, the actual historic town hall was completely destroyed in a US bombing raid. The old town hall had been built in 1528 and was located at Rathausgasse number 2, on what’s now Le Plessis-Bouchard Square. If you're wondering about the unusual name: Niederstetten is twinned with Le Plessis-Bouchard in France.
F: The new town hall was built entirely in the style of its historical predecessor. Its inauguration marked the end of post-war reconstruction in Niederstetten, which had suffered considerable damage during the conflict. Even now, the building expresses local people’s pride in their achievements. And it doubtless also serves as a symbol of Germany’s famous "economic miracle".
M: Historical and contemporary – the terms aren’t contradictory, whether applied to Niederstetten or to the town hall. In October 2021, we inaugurated a trail called the Tachelespfad. Tacheles is derived from Yiddish and means “straight talk”. The trail features contemporary, interactive installations that commemorate a historical event. In March 1933, local pastor Hermann Umfrid stood up to the National Socialists, an action with far-reaching consequences. You’ll be meeting the pastor again and finding out more in the course of our tour.
F: The installation here at the town hall is called "Moral Courage and Tolerance".
M: Have you ever displayed moral courage?
F: Are you willing to admit your own mistakes?
M: When was the last time you stood up against injustice?
F: Stand in front of the mirror and look yourself firmly in the eye. The installation challenges you to question yourself.
M: Now turn towards the old town hall fountain, where we’d like to tell you a story.
Fotos: © Trüpschuch