December 26th, 2009 – by: williamsworld
Landsberg am Lech is a town in southwest Bavaria, Germany, about 35miles west of Munich and 20 miles south of Augsburg. It is the capital of the district of Landsberg am Lech We all decided that we would take a day to just go out and walk around this little town. I was just amazed at all the history that can be found in these small towns. I was just expecting to go and look at the medieval town walls, the historic and ornate gates, walls and towers of the city. Lest we forget the wonderful churches and gabled houses all over town, we will miss some of its charm. The town is situated above the right bank of the Lech. Landsberg is a mix of old and new.
The old town with its art treasures and the historical buildings which are kept in immaculate condition, contrasts well with the interesting modern buildings and gives the town its special flair.
Me in the main square
The town is also known for its prison where Adolf Hitler was incarcerated in 1924. During this incarceration Hitler wrote/dictated his book Mein Kampf together with Rudolf Hess. His cell, number 7, became part of the Nazi-cult and many followers came to visit it during the German Nazi-period. Landsberg am Lech was also known as the town of the Hitler youth. After World War II the city was the location for one of the largest Displaced Person camps for Jewish refugees and the place of execution for more than 150 war criminals after 1945.
The town, I heard, and am not really sure, began as a Nazi concentration camp.
By October 1944, there were more than 5,000 prisoners in the camp. Comprised primarily of Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union and the Baltic states, it developed into one of the most influential DP camps. It housed a Yiddish newspaper, religious schools, and organizations to promote Jewish religious observance. The camp was liberated on April 28, 1945 by the 101st Airborne (506th PIR) and the 4th Division of the United States Army. I was particularly interested in this date because it is my birth date. The year was before I was bore, but the 28th of April stuck with me. History said that General Taylor ordered the American to allow the news media to record the atrocities, and ordered local German civilians and guards to reflect upon the dead and bury them bare-handed.
The most dominant building in Landsberg is the Gothic basilica of the Parish Church which towers above the houses making them look smaller and more humble than they really are.
Over 500 years ago, at the request of the town, one of the most famous architects of the late Middle Ages, Matthäus von Ensingen was asked by the town of Landsberg to come from Ulm to build the Parish Church. One of his best-known buildings is the Bern cathedral in Switzerland. As you enter the church and look upwards you realize that you have left the Middle Ages behind you and are now in the magnificent
baroque age. Surrounded by the brightly colored glass-stained, Gothic windows, the shimmering gold of the main altar rises up with its larger than life angels and saints which were carved by the Landsberg sculptor, Lorenz Luidl. We also admire Landsberg’s most emotive and valuable work of art, the statue ‘Madonna with Christ Child’ also carved by Lorenz Luidl in 1430.
Since it was Christmas time there were many figures of the baroque crib on display. It was one of the largest and most beautiful in Bavaria.
Up on the hill, away from the hustle and bustle of the town, is the Jesuit church Heilig-Kreuz with its vaults and baroque frescoes. Of special interest is a much-admired painting depicting the deeply religious symbol of the victory cross which appeared to
Emperor Constantine and his cavalry after the battle on the Ponte Milvio in Rome. When you move around, you get the impression that the cross is following you so that wherever you stand, the cross is right in front of you. The former Ursuline church with its valuable rococo décor was worth a visit, but we didn’t have enough time. A famous painter from Augsburg, painted an unusual and interesting portrayal of the Holy Trinity for the high altar.
Salt was also an important part of this town and we visited the old Salzgasse buildings. We got to walk up in one and saw how the horse and cart would enter and the salt would be pulled up by a simple system of turn and pull. This shop had some pretty cool ceramics and we were able to purchase salt shakers and some other crafts.
I really enjoy shopping and there was a large range of shops and boutiques to choose from. I also like to relax, so it was important to be able to find somewhere where we could “stop by”, as they say in Bavaria, for something to eat and drink. We enjoyed coffee and dessert at a nice little café that sat directly over one of the rivers. It was a nice town to walk around. The charming houses, the grandeur of the churches and the cleanliness of the town made this a very memorable visit.