My German family lives mostly in Heilbronn, which is an industrial city about 40 miles from Stuttgart. Some of the family lives in Schwaigern (in which there are no restaurants), but they’re outliers. Heilbronn’s the family seat.

Heilbronn’s a somewhat different place, fairly cantankerous and disputatious towards its fellow Germans. The residents became known as pirates for their habit of traversing up the Neckar to local towns like Mannheim and stealing ship cargoes. During the 1848 revolution, the army garrison sided with the revolutionaries, several of them ending up in America to fight mits Sigle. Helibronn disliked the Nazis and tried to kill Hitler (or someone that looked like him) when he visited the place. Despite that, the locals put up a ferocious resistance when the US 100th Division tried to take the city at the end of WW2. ¬†Heilbronners are known as “knife-stabbers,” whatever the German slang for that is. It’s the Bronx of Germany, a bit of a rough place. My roots, people.

But it has its charms, like the Kilian Church above towering over the the Xmas market:

where I got some real German food:

which, incidentally, is hard to do. Usually you have to go to America to get German food. Yes, that’s gluwein, Yes, it’s good, knock-you-on-your-ass good.

Heilbronn is a place of chickens:

chicken ladies:

and conscripted labor:

Hmm. No wonder them chickens is happy:

It’s pretty in places:

grim in others, like here, where the casualties of the December  fire-bombing were buried:

The Neckar:

about two blocks from the house, which is the white one in this photo:

This is a coal plant on the north side of the city:

To the south out of view is a nuclear power plant. Think you’re gonna shut these down?

Uh uh. This is Heilbronx, bud.

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