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The myth of the Blumenthal forest in Brandenburg – Germany

In the Blumenthal Forest, one of Brandenburg’s largest closed forests (30 hectares), you may get goosebumps as you stroll through its trails.

Not for nothing, for an atmosphere of mystery hangs over the forest with its landscape that mixes hills with flat areas. 

Storytellers and fairy tales have worked hard on the mysteries that have given this forest land, endowed with sanctuaries, dense woods, and small lakes, the attribute of legend.

blumenthal alemanha
Photo Karla Maragno

 All the creepy German legends are in Blumenthal. Remember the White Woman, a partly beautiful and even graceful figure haunted by noble castles? Blumenthal knows her, of course. The headless horseman? He is also present. A forester, who many years ago is said to have bullied elderly women gathering branches, was punished with eternal headlessness. Multiplication of money based on the principle of “Eselein strecken dich!” – found here. An oak stump is mentioned in which an initially righteous shepherd found a penny every morning – until he grew fat on years of special allowance and went into a spending frenzy. This existed even then around here as well. 

The Missing City of Blumenthal

Near Strausberg in Märkisch-Oderland. In the middle of the forest, some hikers or mushroom pickers suddenly have a vision: walls, towers, hustle and bustle in the market square, the ringing of church bells and in winter also tracks in the snow. Riders rush by on horseback. The medieval town of Blumenthal appears as if out of the fog. As if it wishes to be resurrected.

“Whoever passes here at noon hears tinkling and ringing from the ravine and the lake, and whoever comes along the path at night, when the moon is in the first waning quarter, has no reason to complain about the silence, because strange voices, calls and laughter move beside it.

 “This is how the poet Theodor Fontane described the atmosphere in Blumenthal in his” Walks through the Mark “in 1893.

Blumenthal
Photo Karla Maragno

Stadtstelle

Today, the small farming village lies on the country road between Prötzel and Tiefensee and its main street soon gets lost in the surrounding forest. There are various interpretations for its origin.  

What is known is that in the middle ages it was already there and was the place where the legends of the abandoned, submerged or even destroyed city of Blumenthal originated.

Blumenthal in the state of Brandenburg

Since 1961, this forest has been protected as a natural reserve. Its beauty enchants the eyes of visitors. 

Theodor Fontane already praised the species-rich flora; the trees here are “in the richest mixture”. There are many cairns in the sparse areas; they tell of successful attempts at cultivation, or of those abandoned during the war, by pioneers from the Mark Brandenburg or Slavic tribes who disappeared in the distant past. 

There is a mysterious stone on the site also tells about the last wolf killed in 1823. (It was covered with snow. I promise to return in the spring and photograph it).

Some researchers believe that the stone was the sacrificial site of a sacred grove of Elbe-German Semnones, who settled in the area between the middle Elbe and Oder rivers in the early 1st century. 

The book “Landbuch der Mark Brandenburg von 1375” mentions a place with the name Blumenthal. The name itself can even be traced back more than 1000 years. The Saxon King Heinrich I (875-936), later German King, who expelled the Wends during the settlement of Mark Brandenburg.

But as early as the 15th century, another chronicle of warlike conflicts between the Marks and the land-hungry Pomeranians that had appeared. The source says: “The Pomeranians had moved into the Blumenthal forest and had sought out the hidden villages of Blumenthal and Biesow, plundered and burned them.

Photo Karla Maragno

Large-scale murder and assassination have remained in the past. And so, even in today’s idyll of Blumenthal, one can hardly understand that the “simple and natural warrior society” that existed here, as sociologist Norbert Elias (1897-1990) calls it, required its members to be constantly ready to die. From one minute to the next, everyone could lose their belongings and lives. And this happened on a large scale in the 15th century in Blumenthal. The Thirty Years’ War from 1618 to 1648, with its unparalleled horrors and atrocities, was still to come.

The German Baroque poet Andreas Gryphius (1616-1664) described the misery of this war in his famous poem “Tears of the Fatherland” (“Thränen des Vaterlandes”). He begins with the words, “Now we are whole, more than completely devastated!” At that moment, there was nothing left to do in the Blumenthal forest.

Photos Karla Maragno

Sustainability

1.Firewood, wood for biofuel and bioplastics.

2.Footprint of Deer that are many living in this area. 

3. Solar energy, responsible for more than 12% of the country’s energy production, present even in small villages.

Despite being among the countries with the fewest hours of sunlight, Germany is one of the largest producers of solar energy in the world. With an installed capacity of over 49 gigawatts (GW) in 2019, the country ranks 4th in the world.

4. Cars are not allowed to drive through the woods.

Hinkin in Blumenthal

This was our winter hike. The temperature was below -5 and the snow was very fluffy. It is not a trail for beginners at this time of the year. We are well trained and you can see how long it was. Of course, we stopped a lot to film and photograph. And in the picture on the right, you can see our crossing on the completely frozen side.  

top tip

Before going to a frozen lake with the intention of walking or skating on its surface, research its depth, and how long it has been frozen. Be very sure that it is safe to do so and avoid an accident. 

The same lake in winter and spring

Photos Karla Maragno

Check out our winter hiking trip in Blumenthal

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