Gau-Odernheim - History


In the ninth century the relics of Rufus of Metz were transferred to the local church in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mainz.

In 1268, the vast holdings owned by the Lords of Bolanden between the Donnersberg and the Rhine were shared out among offspring, among whom an open feud later broke out, which claimed some participants’ lives. At the battlefield near Ottenheim, as Gau-Odernheim was then known, at the boundary of the divided land, a so-called stone Sühnekreuz (“atonement cross”) was put up. In the Middle Ages, though, nobody wanted to have anything to do with an atonement cross; such a place was shunned and was eerie. Thus, the Ottenkreuz was eventually forgotten. Under the earth, bushes and thorny hedges it lay until those seeking it unearthed it at last. Until 2008, it could be seen on the right side of the road from Gau-Odernheim to Hillesheim; however, after a number of attempts had been made to steal the Ottenkreuz, it was secured, and beginning in 2010, those wishing to see it will be able to do so at the Gau-Odernheim town hall.

In 1286, Rudolf von Habsburg, the King of the Romans, granted Gau-Odernheim Imperial town freedoms. The master craftsman Erhart Falckener, who was known for his Late Gothic church furnishings, lived in Gau-Odernheim, according to a signature on a work from 1510. It is believed that he and his fellow craftsmen would have found ample work to do here, as on 1 August 1479, the whole village, but for six houses, burnt down. Sometime before 1731, the local lordship had passed to the Sturmfeder von Oppenweiler lordly family. Winegrowing was already being done in 850 on the Petersberg’s south slopes.

When the railway was built in 1896, Odernheim had its name changed to Gau-Odernheim to avoid any confusion with Odernheim am Glan.

Gau-Odernheim was an early Rhenish-Hessian National Socialist hotbed. In 1938, the municipality prided itself in “having been the first place in Rhenish Hesse in which Adolf Hitler’s idea had already gained a foothold in the years 1923 and 1924, and wherefrom it was spread into the nearer and further environs”. As early as half a year before the Machtergreifung, the municipality made Adolf Hitler an honorary citizen.

Since 7 June 1969, the outlying centre of Gau-Köngernheim has been part of the municipality.

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