Feb 4, 2011

Laufen an der Salzach

This postcard was sent to me a while ago from Norbert from Germany via postcrossing [DE-782022]. Although on the card it says: "Laufen an der Salzach", river Salzach is nowhere to be seen :(

Laufen is a municipality on the southeastern border of Bavaria with Austria. Laufen, situated inside the Salzach river bend lies directly across the river from the Austrian town of Oberndorf, where the carol "Silent Night" was first performed at St. Nicola church by the school master Franz Gruber and the young priest Joseph Mohr in 1818.
It was first mentioned in a deed of 748. The rapids that gave the town the name (Laufen = rapid running waters) were also responsible for the town's wealth from the salt trade. Small boats that transported the extremely valuable cargo from the rapids north of Salzburg were reloaded at Laufen to larger boats by privilege of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. When the independent principality was finally divided in 1816 between the Bavarian kingdom and the Habsburg Empire in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars, the town was split into a Bavarian part carrying the name of Laufen and into an Austrian town (the former Laufen suburbs on the right hand side of the river) by the name of Oberndorf. With the building of railways by the middle of the 19th century the transport of salt on the river Salzach came to an end, taking away the former source of wealth. A number of floods devastated both towns by the end of the century. The flood of 1899 destroyed the old bridge. A new iron bridge was built in a safer place up the river and opened jointly by the King of Bavaria and the Austrian Emperor in 1903.
The square shaped 15th century castle was built for the Archbishop of Salzburg. Later it was used as a prison. It overlooks the Salzach river. During World War II the castle in Laufen was used first as a prisoner-of-war camp for officers, Oflag VII-C. Then In May 1942 the officers were transferred to another camp, and the castle was used as an internment camp Ilag VII housing some hundreds of men deported from the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey and some American civilians that had been caught in Europe by the sudden declaration of war by the United States in December 1941. [wikipedia]

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