[ Baden Soellingen ]

The town of Lichtenau is situated at the northern border of the Hanau region with the Rhine River to the west and the Grauelsbaum to the south. The eastern border is formed by the "Schwarzwasser", which drains into the Feldbach/Acher (creek).

In the year 1300, a few years after the militant Bishop Konrad of Stasbourg had founded the small town, Lichtenau, and thus its citizens, was granted its rights as a free city. The Bishop erected a castle surrounded by a wall and deep moat to protect it from foreign warriors and pillaging hordes. However, the town was repeatedly the source of feuds between local rulers because of its location on the main trading route between Frankfurt and Strasbourg, and the nearby Rhine crossing. This was probably Lichtenau's most significant period in history as the town was the seat of secular and ecclesiastical authority in the county and its classical secondary school was known throughout Europe.

For over 250 years, the "Hanau" region was an independent county. This was one of the hardest times for the region as it was subjected to many outrageous cruelties starting with the Peasants War of 1525 and continuing through the Thirty Years War. The town was continually besieged, pillaged and ravaged by foreign mercenaries, leaving the inhabitants no choice but to flee to the forests or the inaccessible islands of the Rhine River. The most devastating of these actions took place on April 19, 1632, when Lichtenau was, after a lengthy siege, taken and the entire village was destroyed. The Westphalian Peace Treaty of 1648 brought a brief period of stability to the area but this was shattered in 1672 when the French "Rio soleil", Louis XIV, sent his troops across the Rhine in search of booty.

The Peace Treaty of Luneville (1801) put an end to the centuries of war and the formation of the Grand Duchy of Baden helped to stabilize the political unrest in the area. During this time Lichtenau lost some of its influence because most of its offices were removed and its town walls and gates were demolished. A peaceful time followed this period during which the town served at times as a stop over post for passing troops. Even Napoleon passed through the town on at least three occasions, the last of which was when he brought his wife to be, Marie-Louise, from Vienna to Paris.

Step by step, peace and prosperity came to the town with one notable exception; Prussian troops were dispatched to the area in 1848/49 to put down the Baden Uprising. Many local residents, discontented with the local political situation, left the area at this time to take up residence in North America.

When the local railway line between Rastatt and Kehl was established, industry and trade in the area was extended. Markets in Alsace, Bavaria and the Rhine Palatinate were now accessible and the local industries of silk and cloth weaving mills prospered. Later a thriving wicker industry, was established. These industries were to suffer severe setbacks at the end of WWI when trade with the Alsace region was lost.

World War Two saw the town devastated once more as it became the target of many bombing raids. The town suffered its worst attack on 24 March 1945 when it was attacked with incendiary bombs. It was only through the heroic deeds of its townsfolk hat the village was not reduced to a pile of rubble from the 34 major fires that were started that night.

Lichtenau has, since the war, enjoyed economic stability and has slowly , but steadily gained prosperity and development.

[ Baden Remembered | Forty Years ]