Anyone who grew up and went to school in Frankfurt has probably been to the Wegscheide, which is a camp for Frankfurt school classes up on a pass in the Spessart hills, not quite four kilometers east of Bad Orb.

The name Wegscheide means parting of the ways, not only because it is on a pass with roads and trails going off in different directions, but because at one time the idea was that school classes would come here in their last year together, before splitting up and all going their separate ways.

Cemetery for displaced persons, 1946-1948

The camp was first built for the German army in the First World War, then acquired by the Frankfurt public school system in the 1920s. When the Nazis came to power they made it into a forced labor prison, and for several years after the Second World War it was a camp for displaced persons. Two cemeteries nearby attest to the horrible conditions in those years.

In the woods near the Wegscheide

In the 1950s the Frankfurt schools were again able to take over the Wegscheide, and to this day they use it for class excursions and also as a summer camp during the school vacations.

(I have never been involved in the Frankfurt school system — except that we were allowed to use some of their buildings in the evenings for our adult education classes — but I did once spend a week at the Wegscheide for other reasons. This was quite a long time ago.)

Get out and walk

Near the Wegscheide is a typical forest parking lot with a sign urging motorists to get out of their cars and go for a walk in the woods.

Easy hiking trails

There are thousands of parking lots like this all over the woods in Germany, with short and easy hiking trails that go around in a circle and come back to the parking lot.

My photos in this post are from 2004. I revised the text in 2021.

See more posts on Bad Orb, Germany.

4 thoughts on “Wegscheide”

  1. The camp: Stalag IX-B, also known as Bad Orb-Wegscheide. The prisoners-of-war held there were of a variety of nationalities but the Soviets were particularly badly treated. There is a memorial dedicated specifically to them, I believe. Possibly IX-B’s most famous inmate was a US army sergeant, Roddie Edmonds, who was eventually transferred to IX-A near near Ziegenhain. In January 1945, when the commandant of IX-A ordered all Jewish prisoners to step forward out of the daily line-up, Edmonds (senior NCO) ordered his men to disobey the order, and told the Germans: “We are all Jews here.” It wasn’t until 2015 that Edmonds was (posthumously) honoured. The Yad Vashem Council, the official Holocaust memorial body, appointed him Righteous Among the Nations, the first American soldier to be so honoured. At the ceremony in Washington DC, Obama honoured him in an address.

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