Die Postkutsche (Stagecoach)

A work by Rolf Weinhardt

Postkutsche

Travelling from Stuttgart to Tübingen in the 18th century involved some seven hours in a less than comfortable coach. Most of the passengers were therefore glad of the fact that – about halfway between them – there was a stop to change the horses in Waldenbuch. Many travellers will have gone into the "Post", the post house inn, for something to eat and drink. We only know a few of their names, but they are illustrious enough: Schiller, Goethe and Uhland, for example.

The "Schweizer Straße", the road that linked Württemberg's royal seat to the Swiss Confederation via Tübingen, was already in existence in the Middle Ages. In those days postal services were taken care of by the butchers, who delivered letters on their journeys through the region. From 1691 onwards the stagecoaches of the House of Taxis regularly travelled along the Schweizer Straße, and a post station was established for them in Waldenbuch where today's "Post" now stands.

The first postmaster mentioned in Otto Springer's town chronicle was Andreas Lenz, or Lentz, whose name appears in a source dating from 1714. He was first succeeded by his descendants (1740-45), and later by Christoph Friedrich von Raden (1746-50), someone by the name of Weber (1751-59) and – perhaps directly afterwards – by Johann Michael Klein. The latter, for example, accommodated the Berlin bookseller and travel writer Friedrich Nicolai in the year 1781, who paid due tribute to Waldenbuch in his later publications. One day in the summer of 1793 two gentlemen sat in the inn who were unknown to the postmaster. These were none other than Friedrich Schiller, then professor in Jena, and a friend of his, the court physician Friedrich Wilhelm von Hoven, who noted in his autobiography regarding that visit to the "Post": 'The luncheon was fairly good, but we were all the less satisfied with the host. To serve his guests in the appropriate manner, he never moved from the spot, his napkin over his arm, and – even more noticeably – he stood there gawping without saying a word. We were both annoyed about this irksome companion, before whom it was hardly possible to hold a conversation, but we did not know how to get rid of him without being rude. Eventually he did open his mouth and said in broad Swabian, with little show of emotion: 'This morning we buried my old mother.' 'And you say that so callously, host?' protested Schiller, somewhat agitated. 'Please, do not feel bashful in our presence: we share your loss... So retire to your chamber and shed your tears; we can see to the meal ourselves.' The host suddenly took Schiller at his word: he left the room immediately... and never returned.'

At some point in the following years, the "Post" came into the possession of the highly- respected and long-established Kielmeyer family, who also ran various other inns in the town. A member of this dynasty with the initials EFK had the old "Post" partly demolished and rebuilt as a prestigious three-storey structure – basically the building which can still be seen today and is now a protected monument. A dressed stone at the house bears the initials of its constructor: "EFK"; another shows the date of construction: 1797. That same year the "Post" also received a visit from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Between 1810 and 1820 Ludwig Uhland was more or less a regular customer, and in the year 1814 he even recited his latest poems in Waldenbuch for some of his friends. In 1825 Wilhelm Hauff also read excerpts from his works here.

A decision of the postal administration authorities marked the end of the inn's heyday. In 1845 the post station in Waldenbuch was closed and replaced by similar institutions in Echterdingen and Dettenhausen; this was intended to speed up the service. For more than a century the "Post" continued to operate as a "normal" inn, before it closed its doors for good in 1957.

In the former building of the "Post", Auf dem Graben 22, there are today shops, a pub and an ice parlour. A small memorial in the form of a bronze stagecoach in front of the building commemorates the inn's illustrious past.

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Waldenbuch as Top-Groupdestination 2017