Zimmermen - 'Auf der Walz'

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Bamberg, Germany

Zimmermen - 'Auf der Walz' Bamberg Reviews

dougal dougal
70 reviews
Dec 29, 2006
Germans are very keen on their rural traditions and so there’s always the chance of coming across some sort of historical throwback as you travel around.

One such tradition is that of Zimmermen.

What are they exactly?

These guys are basically following the path of rural journeyman trades people - known as being 'Auf der Walz'. They travel from town to town, exchanging work for food and lodging and honing their trade skills as they go (I gather they’re supposed to be carpenters).

This all sounds like licensed scrounging but this being Germany there are very strict rules to follow if you want to take up this life. You have to wear the traditional uniform, travel without anything but the most basic possessions (that you have to carry in a specific backpack) and you have to travel for three years without returning home. Apparently you have to be under thirty and it's seen as a way of taking time out and working your way around Germany (or beyond) and learning a trade.

How can I spot one?

You can't miss them. They usually wander round from bar to bar wearing their outfits - black flared trousers, a white shirt, black waistcoat and top coat and some sort of hat. They also carry a big curly walking cane everywhere. And this isn't any old version of the uniform they throw together. Nope - there are official uniforms that you can buy from department stores.

When they arrive in a bar they basically bang their walking stick on the floor and loudly recite a traditional poem that explains who they are. Then they will wander round the bar, passing their hat round collecting money off each table.

So should I give them money?

Well yes. It's considered very bad form for a table not to give them a couple of Euro or so. I suppose it's a bit like the idea of shaking hands with a London chimney sweep being lucky or something. Unless you're a bar or hotel owner I doubt you'd want them to do any work for you so that’d be about the end of it.

This could only be Germany...
A picture I found of some Zimmermen
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