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Visiting Temmels, Germany: village on the Mosel River with a complex 20th century history

Updated on March 4, 2017
Flag of Germany
Flag of Germany | Source
Temmels, c. 1924, by Jean-Pierre Beckius
Temmels, c. 1924, by Jean-Pierre Beckius | Source
St. Peterkirche, Temmels, Landkreis Trier-Saarburg
St. Peterkirche, Temmels, Landkreis Trier-Saarburg | Source
Flag of Saarland, 1947
Flag of Saarland, 1947 | Source

Reflecting a fluid past and a geographical extremity

When I visited Temmels, a peaceful village on the Mosel River, I thought I was in Germany. At Temmels, the western bank of the bank is in Luxembourg, the eastern bank is in Germany. So I thought, and I was correct.

But the reality of the 20th century past was more nuanced than I realized.

I later learned that Temmels was indeed in Germany until 1946, just after the Allies occupied the country completely at the end of World War Two. But under French influence, Temmels and various other villages were legally removed from Germany and attached to Saar.

Now I had heard of Saar or Saarland; indeed I had been there; but had particularly known of the Saarland as being part of Germany.

The Saarland to which Temmels and other villages belonged in 1946-1947, however, was theoretically an independent country, albeit influenced heavily by French foreign policy.

But in 1947, a change of heart was evident and the Allied attached Temmels and neightbouring villages back to Germany. In a sense, it could be argued that it had never ceased to be in Germany.

Interestingly, the borders of various entities known as Saar or Saarland in the 20th century were in a state of flux. Prior to Franco-German rapprochement, what the French authorities had in mind for the Saarland was a buffer zone that was larger than Saarland in its present borders; this is why an area of various villages in the vicinity of the Mosel River was added to the independent Saarland in 1946.

But as the possibility of a Coal and Steel Community emerged — the predecessor of the European Economic Community (now the European Union) — the French authorities progressively allowed first the localities taken from Germany in 1946 to be returned in 1947, and eventually the Saarland to be incorporated as a Land of Germany in 1957, following a plebiscite.

Among the most conspicuous of buildings in Temmels is the spired Sankt-Peterkirche, with the Gothic elements of pointed window arches and flying buttresses. A ruined castle known as Georgshof, dating from the 13th century, is within the precincts of the village.

Temmels, and its Sankt-Peterkirche, overlooking the Mosel River, have been the subject of the canvases of artists such as Jean-Pierre Beckius (1899-1946); I have supplied a picture which this artist painted c. 1924.

The profile of this building, reflected in the adjacent Mosel, has for many years been somewhat of a constant amidst the fluid, water-defined boundaries of Germany, Luxembourg and — yes, briefly — the Saarland.

Temmels, at a geographical extremity of Germany, is — and is now likely to remain — in the Federal Republic's Rhineland-Palatinate (German: Rheinland-Pfalz), in the Konz district of Trier-Saarburg.

March 4, 2017

Map of Konz district
Map of Konz district | Source

Also worth seeing

Nennig, Saarland (distance: 27 kilometres) has a Roman villa with a well preserved mosaic.

Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate (distance: 18 kilometers); its Porta Nigra dates from Roman times.

How to get there

Lufthansa flies to Frankfurt-am-Main, from where car hire is available. The nearest large international airport is Luxembourg (Aéroport de Luxembourg ), at Findel (distance from Findel, Luxembourg City to Temmels : 29.7 kilometrers; distance from Frankfurt-am-Main to Temmels : 193.4 kilometres). For North American travellers making the London, England area their touring base, airlines flying to Luxembourg include Luxair. Temmels also has its own railroad station. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Of interest

Draussen Vor Der Tur
Draussen Vor Der Tur

This German play (Outside the Door) is set in the rather interesting and starkly unusual immediate post World War 2 period. It involves a lot of soul-searching on the part of a representative German ex-soldier, as he tries to adjust to the post-war times.



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