By Gerald Morgenstern
The ruins of “St. Peter and Paul”
After many years of training, “Hopfenohe Church“ has become a landmark for training soldiers from all nations. In 2005, the church ruin, located directly on the European watershed, was secured to preserve it. The tower and the walls of the former
“St. Peter and Paul” church of Hopfenohe remind visitors and soldiers that the training area was once populated and that spiritual, religious, and social life once pulsated in the former villages and hamlets.
Hopfenohe was one of the oldest settlements in this region. The village, which developed around the old “Hopfenache” Manor. “Peter and Paul“ catholic church was located in the center of the village. It had been built from the remnants of the simple castle chapel of the former knights’ manor dating back to the year 800. In 1935, Father Johann Ritter, who was a very industrious priest, initiated an extensive renovation and extension of the church.
However, the extension of the church did not prevent the displacement of the village by the Reich’s Resettlement Corporation in 1939 when Grafenwoehr Training Area was expanded. The church, however, remained undamaged until the end of the
war in 1945 but then had to be abandoned for good. The altars and the interior were donated to the church in Troschenreuth who had been gutted by f ire. There, they can still be admired today.
Preservation of the ruins
In 2004, Col. Richard G. Jung, the commander of the U.S. Army’s 100th Area Support Group approved the funds. As part of the preservation measures, the nave which had been built in 1935 was sealed with zinc sheets to protect it from water. Extensive work was done on the tower that dates back to 1791. Large cracks ran through the tower’s outer sandstone wall and on the western side, the sandstone ledge had already collapsed. The upper tower was stabilized with a circular
beam. The walls were secured with iron braces to avoid their further drifting apart. The tower was made weather-proof with a flat roof made out of zinc sheets and rain protection on the ledges.
Celebration on 9-11
With a festive service on the German Day of the Historic Monument on September 11, 2005, which is also the anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Twin-Towers in New York, the preservation of the ruins was honored by the church. A new cross and a commemorative plaque were installed on the southern side of the church ruins where the old cemetery cross was formerly located.
Hopfenohe church has become THE symbol of all the abandoned villages, hamlets and farms for soldiers, visitors and former residents.
From the book: Grafenwoehr Training Area, Yesterday – Today
“Grafenwoehr Training Area, Yesterday – Today” is the title of the bi-lingual book written by Reserve Sergeant Major Gerald Morgenstern. On 288 pages with more than 800 photos, he does not only tell the history of the training area since 1910 but also covers the development of the training area in recent years. The book also includes a chapter about the town of Hopfenohe. “Grafenwoehr Training Area, Yesterday – Today” is available in bookstores and at various locations on post. For more information, go to www.grafenwoehr.trainingareabook.com, or visit us on Facebook.
Photo Credit: Gerald Morgenstern (3)