“The name is a bit of a show-off,” I thought, as the train pulled into Schöntal, which translates as “Beautiful Valley”. But, stepping out of the station, I had to admit that the name of the village was not wholly unjustified.
But as beautiful as the valley was, the sun pushed me up the hills on the left and right banks of the river.
There, completely unexpected, I found a surprisingly large Jewish cemetery. I mean really large, especially considering how small the villages down in the valley are. More than 1000 gravestones are slumbering there in the forest, I would venture to guess.
A memorial plaque informs me that nearby Berlichingen was once the seat of a rabbi and that the cemetery is about 400 years old. The last grave I find is that of Henriette and Samuel Strauss, who died in May and June 1938. Sadly, this is the time when the history of most Jewish cemeteries in Germany suddenly breaks off. For reasons well known.
Less well known, probably, is the fact that the Limes, the border of the Roman Empire, once ran through here, dividing Germany into a civilized and an uncivilized part. But then, even civilization does not protect against barbarism, as we can seen from the topic alluded to above.
Then it turned grey and rainy and uncomfortable, and I had to cut short my hike. But don’t despair. Soon, there will be spring!