Wetterau Museum

The area around Friedberg is known as the Wetterau, not because of the German word Wetter meaning weather, but because there is a small river named the Wetter (a tributary of the Nidda) which flows through this region not far from Friedberg.

Courtyard of the Wetterau Museum

The Wetterau Museum documents the archeology and history of the region through well-organized exhibits (in German only) on two floors. The emphasis is on agricultural history. They point out, for instance, that until around 1830 there was a large rural proletariat in this region, workers with no land of their own who were hired by the day to help with the harvest, and they had to bring their own scythe or sickle. How they survived the rest of the year is a mystery.

The existence of the large reserve army of cheap labor meant that the landowners had little or no motivation to modernize their operations, but that changed in the course of the nineteenth century as the laborers started emigrating to America in search of a better life. Eventually there was a labor shortage which forced the landowners to invest in better tools and machinery.

Different sorts of 19th century plows

A plow might seem to be just a plow (or a plough, in British English), but actually there were different shapes and forms of plows, and these kept evolving throughout the nineteenth century as landowners found themselves confronted for the first time with a labor shortage.

One of the first tractors

On display in the Wetterau Museum is one of the first tractors from the early twentieth century.

A general store from around 1900

On the upper floor of the museum there is a reconstruction of a general store as it looked in Friedberg around the year 1900.

Photos of Elvis Presley in the Wetterau Museum

As a part of its exhibits on life in this area in the 20th century, the museum has some photos of Elvis Presley, who was stationed in Friedberg as an American soldier from 1958 to 1960.

My photos in this post are from 2011. I revised the text in 2021.

See more posts on Friedberg, Germany.
See also: The Tauber Valley Village Museum in Weikersheim, Germany.

4 thoughts on “Wetterau Museum”

  1. Fascinating although I could skip the Elvis connection. It would be depressing too visit Germany and run into Elvis. We try to escape that nonsense. It’s one of the reasons we like traveling to Europe . . . lots of good classical music even on the radio.

  2. How they survived the rest of the year is a mystery.

    Did they actually say that in the museum, or was that your question? Because I don’t think it was too long after the end of adscription (serfdom). In England serfdom died out between the 14th and 17th centuries. in Finland, Norway and Sweden it was never fully established but in the Austrian empire it lasted until 1781, in France until 1789, in Russia until 1861. In Denmark it was in effect from 1733 to 1788 and in its subsidiary Iceland from 1490 to 1894.

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