Palatinate (region)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Highest mountain in the Palatinate:
the Donnersberg ( 686.5  m )
Symbol of Freedom Festival 1832:
the Hambach Castle
Important industry:
the wine-growing (here Pleisweiler , Southern Palatinate)
Largest wine festival in the world:
the Dürkheim sausage market

The Palatinate is a region in the south of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in southwest Germany . Since the separation of the Saar Palatinate in 1919, it has an area of ​​5451.13 km² and today has around 1.4 million inhabitants.



In the west the Palatinate borders on the Saarland , in the northwest on the Hunsrück , in the northeast on the Rhenish Hessian Alzeyer Hügelland , the eastern border with Hesse and Baden (including today's Kurpfalz region ) is formed by the Rhine , and in the south the French landscapes of Alsace extend and Lorraine .

The Palatinate Forest, part of the Palatinate Forest-Northern Vosges Biosphere Reserve, covers a third of the region and, at 1771 km², is one of the largest contiguous forest areas in Germany. The highest peak in the Pfalz is in Nordpfälzer mountains located Donnerberg ( 687  m above sea level.  NHN ); the deepest point at 87.3  m is on the district of Frankenthal and is only a few hundred meters from the Rhine.

Water bodies make up only 1.26% of the area of ​​the Palatinate. 61% of these are in the cities and districts on the Rhine; here the landscape is strongly characterized by arms of the old Rhine and quarry ponds. The Palatinate main watershed runs in the middle of the Palatinate Forest roughly from south-southwest to north-northeast. The large watercourses that drain to the east -  Lauter (on the upper reaches of Wieslauter) , Queich and Speyerbach  - flow directly to the Upper Rhine . The Schwarzbach flows to the west; its water reaches the Middle Rhine via Blies , Saar and Moselle . The Glan enters the Palatinate in the west and flows in a north-easterly direction through the North Palatinate Uplands. At Meisenheim it leaves the Palatinate (within the borders that have existed since 1969) and flows into the Nahe . With a proportion of 68 km on Palatinate soil, the Glan is the longest watercourse in the region, apart from the border river Rhine (a good 80 km). A larger area in the north of the Palatinate also drains via the Alsenz over the Nahe to the Rhine.

Geographical and natural division

Division of the Palatinate in its current definition (excluding Saar Palatinate , Electoral Palatinate and the municipalities that were transferred to the
Bad Kreuznach district during the 1969 district reform )

Geographically and naturally, the Palatinate is divided into the West and North Palatinate, both of which have a more mountainous character, as well as the Front and South Palatinate, which are predominantly in the plain between the Upper Rhine and the Haardt , the eastern edge of the Palatinate Forest are more densely populated. The transition between plains and mountains is formed by the narrow hill country on both sides of the 85 km long German Wine Route , which makes up the largest part of the Palatinate wine-growing region . The low mountain range known as the Palatinate Forest extends between the natural parts of the Palatinate listed below .

West Palatinate

The West Palatinate includes the Westrich plateau , the West Palatinate Moorniederung and the western part of the North Palatinate Uplands . The districts of Kaiserslautern (administrative seat Kaiserslautern), Kusel and Südwestpfalz (administrative seat Pirmasens) are wholly or partially in the West Palatinate ; the independent cities in the West Palatinate are Kaiserslautern , Pirmasens and Zweibrücken .

Northern Palatinate

The North Palatinate is a hilly to mountainous country that lies entirely within the North Palatinate Uplands and is dominated by the Donnersberg massif. It is very sparsely populated, the largest places Eisenberg , Kirchheimbolanden and Rockenhausen each have less than 10,000 inhabitants. The only district is the Donnersbergkreis (administrative seat Kirchheimbolanden), which was created in 1969 by merging the previous districts of Kirchheimbolanden and Rockenhausen .

Front Palatinate

The north-eastern part of the country east of the Haardt in the Rhine plain is called the Vorderpfalz . The administrative districts of Bad Dürkheim and the Rhein-Pfalz-Kreis (administrative seat Ludwigshafen) are wholly or partly in the Vorderpfalz . The independent cities in the Vorderpfalz are Frankenthal (Palatinate) , Ludwigshafen am Rhein , Neustadt an der Weinstrasse and Speyer . The most populous village in Germany, Haßloch , which has around 20,000 inhabitants, is also located in the Vorderpfalz . The Vorderpfalz ends in the north on the southern city limits of Worms , which is located in Rheinhessen .

Southern Palatinate

The southern Palatinate consists of a flat part of the country in the southeast and the southern part of the Palatinate Forest, which is identical to the German northern part of the Wasgau, also east of the Haardt in the Rhine valley . The districts of Germersheim and Südliche Weinstrasse (administrative seat Landau) as well as the eastern part of the district of Südwestpfalz are located either entirely or partially in the southern Palatinate . The independent city of Landau in the Palatinate is also located in the southern Palatinate .

Tourist classification

Deviating from the geographical and natural subdivision, the tourism industry divides the Palatinate into four regions and also uses its own creations for names and spelling:

Palatinate Bergland holiday region

Eagle arch on the Donnersberg
The summit of the Potzberg from the plane

The "Palatinate Bergland Holiday Region" is largely identical to the North Palatinate Bergland . The tourist center is the highest mountain in the Palatinate, the Donnersberg , which was settled in Celtic times and on which the remains of a large Celtic settlement can be seen. A Celtic village as a tourist attraction was recreated in nearby Steinbach .

Today restaurants and pensions have often emerged on old farms, which are particularly suitable for family vacations. The 40 km long draisine route in the Glantal, which leads from Altenglan in the Palatinate to the Nahe valley, is also interesting for tourism . A good network of hiking and cycling trails has been created in the last few decades, especially in the Donnersberg and Potzberg area .

Wine is grown on the southern slopes of the Zellertal in the east of the holiday region. In the actual, rather barren and sparsely populated mountain country, agriculture and grazing played an important role. The people used to be relatively poor, and quite a few emigrated. Traveling musicians from the Kuseler Musikantenland often moved through Germany or made their way to the USA.

Palatinate Forest Nature Park

From the front: young vine leaves, blooming chestnuts and the Hambach Castle
Teufelstisch natural monument in the Palatinate Forest near Hinterweidenthal

The " Palatinate Forest Nature Park " is reduced in the east by the Haardt, but expanded in the west by the Westrich plateau and the West Palatinate moorland. In the east of the nature park lies the largest contiguous forest area in Germany on red sandstone , the Palatinate Forest, which gave the nature park its name. It is criss-crossed by hiking and cycling routes to small villages, farmsteads, inns and hikers' huts.

Many mountains in the Palatinate Forest are crowned by castle ruins; the formerly important Reichsburg Trifels z. B. is surrounded by a ring of protective castles . In the south of the Palatinate Forest, which is formed by the German northern part of the Wasgau , the Dahner Felsenland is characterized by numerous rock formations suitable for sport climbing . In the north the elevations are flatter, there are plateaus and extensive mixed forests.

German Wine Route holiday region

View from the southeast of the castle and wine village of Neuleiningen
Winzergasse in Gleiszellen-Gleishorbach (Southern Palatinate)

The "Holiday Region German Wine Route" comprises the hill country planted with vines on the German Wine Route, to which the Haardt mountains in the west and a 10 km deep strip of the Rhine plain in the east. The wine route begins in the north at the wine-growing village of Bockenheim . The northern section of the wine route runs through the Leiningerland with the castle village of Neuleiningen and its medieval town center via the Freinsheim holiday region to the district and spa town of Bad Dürkheim , where the Dürkheim sausage market takes place in September , the largest wine festival in the world. In the middle part of the wine route, which was previously called Mittelhaardt , there are traditional wine towns such as Wachenheim , Forst and Deidesheim . The Mittelhaardt ends in Neustadt, the center of the Wine Route, where the German Wine Harvest Festival is celebrated every year at the end of September / beginning of October, where the German Wine Queen is traditionally chosen. To the south of this begins the section of the Southern Wine Route , which stretches over Landau to the southern end at the German Wine Gate in Schweigen-Rechtenbach , where the German Wine Route ends on the Franco-German border in the immediate vicinity of the Alsatian town of Wissembourg .

The Rhine Valley holiday region

Autumn morning near Barbelroth (southern Palatinate)
Blue Adriatic Recreation Area (near Ludwigshafen)

The "Rheinebene holiday region" has been reduced to the west by the area shares allocated to the "Deutsche Weinstrasse holiday region". The Palatinate (western) bank of the Rhine was originally a meadow landscape with small lakes and typical alluvial forests . In the north near Ludwigshafen, however, there are large industrial plants, e.g. B. BASF's, the picture, while on the plain to the west of it extensive vegetable fields predominate. A local recreation area around the Blue Adriatic begins at Altrip south of the Ludwigshafen port area . The tourist highlight of the region is the city of Speyer, one of the oldest cities in Germany and a bishopric since the 5th century ; the imperial cathedral is on the list of UNESCO world cultural heritage. To the south of the fortress town of Germersheim and the industrial region of Wörth there are again alluvial forests up to the French border. In the interest of tourism, the southern Palatinate districts and cities with Baden and Northern Alsace have merged to form the Eurodistrict Regio Pamina association . B. created the Pamina-Rheinpark . This nature park extends to the left and right of the Rhine from Leimersheim in the Palatinate to Drusenheim in Alsace . In the west of the Palatinate part of the Pamina-Rheinpark, the alluvial forests merge into the large Bienwald , which stretches along the Alsatian border in a westerly direction almost to Wissembourg .


Almond blossom in the Vorderpfalz
Sweet chestnut in the southern Palatinate

The Palatinate is characterized by a moderate , humid climate that is mainly determined by the Atlantic . The mean annual temperature is a good 10 ° C. Moist air masses flowing in from the west or south-west rise in the low mountain ranges of the west and north Palatinate, causing abundant rainfall there. East of the Palatinate Forest, on the edge of the Haard and in the Rhine plain, the air sinks again, warms up and becomes quite dry.

The mild climate between the Palatinate Forest and the Rhine makes it possible to plant cold-sensitive crops in the open air. Some places along the German Wine Route spread a Mediterranean flair through almond trees , figs , pines , cypresses , hemp palms , some hardy cactus species and certain types of bananas . On the edge of the Palatinate Forest, towards the vineyards and the Rhine plain, there are extensive forests of sweet chestnuts .

Because of the plants reminiscent of the south and the gently rolling landscape, the Front and South Palatinate are often referred to in the advertising industry as the “German Tuscany ”.



The name is derived from the Roman hill Palatine , on which the palace of the emperor stood in ancient times . In the Middle Ages, a palace ( Latin: palatium ) was a temporary administrative seat where the monarch stopped when he was touring his territory. The administration of such a palace was incumbent on a count palatine ( Latin comes palatinus ). The Count Palatine near the Rhine was given a prominent position early on, as the south-west of Germany was one of the ancestral lands of the noble families ruling at the time, especially the Carolingians , Salians and Staufers . Later the name Pfalz was transferred to the whole area administered by the incumbent. Only after the division in the early 19th century was the area on the right bank of the Rhine (which had become Baden) known as the Electoral Palatinate and the one on the left bank of the Rhine as the Bavarian Palatinate .

Celts, Romans and Teutons

During the 1st millennium BC BC, in the Latène period , the area of ​​today's Palatinate was inhabited by Celts . Around 50 BC, Roman troops conquered areas on the left bank of the Rhine during the Gallic War and encouraged the settlement of Teutons . The Romans were replaced by invading Teutons from the Alemanni tribe in the 5th century . Around 506/507 the Franks defeated the Alemanni.

From the Middle Ages to the end of the Old Kingdom

Region of castles, here the Wachtenburg

In the Middle Ages , numerous castles were built in the Palatinate region . At that time, large parts of the Palatinate were among the ancestral lands of the first Carolingian, later Salian and Staufer emperors, until the initially personal fiefdoms became hereditary. The Trifels near Annweiler , from 1113 Trifels Reichsburg , housed the imperial regalia several times and for a long time until 1298 ; it was one of the most important castles in the entire empire. From 1214 the noble house of the Wittelsbachers with its various lines became the determining force of the region and provided a vote for the king's election . Most of the later Pfalz belonged until 1803 to Wittelsbach Electorate Palatinate of the Rhine , just Palatinate . This has had the Palatinate lion in its coat of arms since the early 13th century at the latest .

Palatinate lion
Speyer with the cathedral, engraving by Merian , 1640

Until the end of the 18th century, however, there were several territories in the region. In addition to the already mentioned areas of the Palatinate Elector on the left bank of the Rhine and Palatinate, these were above all the Duchy of Palatinate-Zweibrücken, created for a Wittelsbach sideline, and the Speyer Monastery . The area around Kirchheimbolanden was subordinate to the House of Nassau . In addition, there were smaller imperial and knightly territories (e.g. Leiningen and Sickingen ) and, last but not least, the free imperial cities of Speyer and Landau. The Electoral Palatinate (including its large parts on the right bank of the Rhine around Mannheim , Heidelberg , Weinheim as well as in the Odenwald and on the Bergstrasse ) was united with the later Kingdom of Bavaria before the French Revolution , when the old Bavarian line of the Wittelsbachers died out there and Elector Carl Theodor removed from the line Pfalz-Sulzbach heritage in Munich took. The union with the Duchy of Pfalz-Zweibrücken was completed in 1799, when Carl Theodor died childless and the later Bavarian King Maximilian, who came from Zweibrücken, united all the Wittelsbach territories in Germany as the sole heir. The residences of the former Electoral Palatinate heartland were in what is now North Baden in the castles of Heidelberg, Mannheim and Schwetzingen. At that time, the geographical Palatinate was part of the Electoral Palatinate “patchwork carpet” throughout Germany, with the exception of imperial cities such as Speyer and Worms, which even refused to become the Electoral Palatinate residence twice.

During the Reformation the ruling family of the Electoral Palatinate converted to the Protestant , more precisely to the Calvinist faith; Only Philipp Wilhelm , who came from a sideline, brought the Catholic faith back to the noble house in 1690. In this way, three denominations - Catholic, Lutheran and the Reformed (Calvinist) - coexisted in the historical Electoral Palatinate, which was a rare exception in the Old Kingdom .

The Thirty Years War (1618–1648), in which the Palatinate was one of the most affected territories and lost about three fifths of its population, also emerged from a denominational conflict . After that, the devastated country lacked people for reconstruction. Elector Karl I Ludwig , who had returned from exile in London, tried to bring back the Palatinate people who had been scattered across other regions by means of material incentives, and also massively recruited “colonists” from other regions and countries. So it was possible to settle farmers and craftsmen from France, Holland, England, Scotland and above all from Switzerland and Tyrol in the Palatinate. The returnees and, above all, the immigrants brought their knowledge and experience with them from their countries, and the Palatinate experienced a considerable boom, similar to what later happened on a large scale with the colonists in North America. The immigrants were evidently integrated in a relatively short time. After this upswing, however, the Palatinate was plundered and destroyed in the Palatinate War of Succession in 1689 by the troops of the French General Mélac , who carried out the order of his Minister of War Louvois : "Brûlez le Palatinat!" ("Burn down the Palatinate!")

In the years 1717 to 1732 the Palatinate experienced its largest ever emigration wave, when about 3,000 Mennonites relocated to North America for religious reasons. Many descendants of the emigrated Palatinate people still use the Pennsylvania Dutch today, a language variant based primarily on Palatine dialects , which they call "Mudderschbrooch", "Pennsylvania Deitsch" or simply "Deitsch".

French time

Département du Mont-Tonnerre at the beginning of the 19th century
Contemporary 20 franc coin with the portrait of Emperor Napoleon

In the course of the French Revolutionary Wars in the 1790s, the entire area on the left bank of the Rhine, including today's Palatinate, was occupied by French troops. Through various agreements from the Treaty of Lunéville (1801) to the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss (1803), Germany on the left bank of the Rhine became part of the French Republic, both formally and under international law . Most of the Palatinate territories were combined with other parts of the territory (including what was to be called " Rheinhessen " after 1815 ) in the Département du Mont-Tonnerre (Donnersberg) , which was newly formed in 1798 , and administered as an integral part of the French state. The areas of the Electoral Palatinate on the right bank of the Rhine, on the other hand, became part of the Grand Duchy of Baden . When Napoleon , who had risen to the rank of French emperor in 1804, returned to Paris in 1807 after his victorious battles against Prussia and its allies , he was given a triumphant reception in Neustadt, which was now the capital of the “French” canton . In 1809 63 or 66 families, most of whom came from the southern Palatinate, which was devastated by the Napoleonic Wars, accepted the invitation of Tsar Alexander I and emigrated to Russia, where they founded the mother colony in Landau . Most of the Palatinate families came from the districts of Germersheim , Bergzabern , Landau and Pirmasens , most of the Alsatians from the canton of Weißenburg .

Bavarian time

The area of ​​the Palatinate as a Bavarian district (administrative district), in 1900 still with the
Saar Palatinate separated in 1920
The administrative structure of the Palatinate 1818–1862

After the Wars of Liberation and the Congress of Vienna (1815), the territorially newly defined Palatinate on the left bank of the Rhine came to the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1816 as the Rhine District . This was a compensation for the areas to the right of the Inn and that of the Hochstift Salzburg , which Bavaria had ceded to Austria in the Munich Treaty of April 14, 1816 . Attempts to regain the areas of the Electoral Palatinate on the right bank of the Rhine (with Mannheim and Heidelberg) for the House of Wittelsbach were unsuccessful.

The district capital of the Palatinate became Speyer. In 1835, Ludwig I (Bavaria) decreed that the administrative units of the middle level should no longer be named after rivers, according to the French model, but according to historical reference points. The "Rhine District" was therefore renamed "Pfalz". The name Hinterpfalz for the West Palatinate, which arose during the Bavarian period , is no longer officially used today. For a long time, “Rheinpfalz” stood for the Palatinate wine-growing region; since August 27, 1993 the name for this growing area has also been "Pfalz".

Hambach Castle , location of the
Hambach Festival in 1832

Within the Kingdom of Bavaria, the Palatinate enjoyed a special legal and administrative position, as the Bavarian government retained essential achievements of the French period. In the Palatinate, the manorial rule was abolished (which only happened in Bavaria on the right bank of the Rhine in 1848), the separation of administration and justice was enforced down to the lowest level (regional commissariats and regional courts) and complete freedom of trade was in effect. Moreover, who was the Civil Code until the entry into force of the Civil Code (BGB) in 1900 as a civil law of the Palatinate. One historian describes the relationship between Bavaria on the right bank of the Rhine and the Palatinate with special privileges as a relationship between “main state and subsidiary state”. Under the influence of the French July Revolution of 1830 , a great freedom rally took place in Hambach Castle near what was then Neustadt an der Haardt, which went down in history as the Hambach Festival . The demands for political say went further than the Bavarian constitution of 1818 provided. The event was not originally about the Palatinate, but about Germany and the German nation.

After the failed March Revolution of 1848 and the Frankfurt National Assembly , Palatine revolutionaries organized an uprising against the Bavarian government in May 1849 . The aim was the creation of a Palatinate Republic and the adoption of the Paulskirche constitution . The uprising was suppressed almost without a fight by Prussian troops within a few weeks .

The rule of the Bavarian royal family was expressed through building projects such as the royal Villa Ludwigshöhe near Edenkoben and the extensive restoration of the Speyer Cathedral.

The poor economic situation caused numerous people from the Palatinate to emigrate until the middle of the 19th century , especially to North America . At times, was Palatines ( English Palatine ) in the United States a generic term for all German-speaking immigrants. Well-known German-Americans with Palatine roots from this time are the food entrepreneur Henry John Heinz , whose father Johann Heinrich Heinz emigrated from Kallstadt to Pennsylvania in 1840 , and the US President Donald Trump , who was elected in 2016 . Trump's paternal grandparents were also from Kallstadt; his father Fred C. Trump was conceived there shortly before the family finally emigrated to the United States under pressure from the Bavarian authorities. Heinz 'and Trump's ancestors not only came from the same village, but were also distantly related: Johann Heinrich Heinz's mother was a born Trump and a great-aunt of Fred C. Trump.

With the especially in the early days onset of industrialization , which, however, was mostly limited to centers such as Ludwigshafen, Kaiserslautern and Pirmasens, the economic conditions improved slightly.

Consequences of the First World War

Pirmasens 1924:
memorial plaque for the separatist storm
Berlin 1924:
Loyalty rally for the Palatinate

After the First World War , the Palatinate was occupied by French troops until 1930 in accordance with the terms of the armistice and peace , even though it was still part of Bavaria. The Versailles Treaty of 1919 decreed the separation of western areas of the Palatinate, which were assigned to the newly formed Saar area , which in turn was placed under the administration of the League of Nations . In today's Saarland, these parts of the area form the Saarpfalz district . During the French occupation there were separatist movements in the Palatinate. This began on 6 November 1923 riots in Kaiserslautern, Neustadt and Landau and ended in the storming of the district office in Pirmasens on 12 February 1924. They led to the proclamation of the Autonomous Pfalz by Heinz Orbis , but did not last. The French troops evacuated the Palatinate in the summer of 1930 after the Young Plan had been adopted in the Berlin Reichstag .

As a result of the global economic crisis that began in 1929, the population's resentment grew in the rural region, which was reflected in the electoral successes of anti-democratic parties: Despite the democratic tradition, the NSDAP and its long-time Gauleiter Josef Bürckel were able to quickly establish itself in the Palatinate towards the end of the Weimar Republic achieved above-average election results.

At the beginning of the Second World War , after France declared war on September 3, 1939, the places near the border in the “ Red Zone ” (in front of the Siegfried Line, built from 1938 ) were evacuated and the population was taken to reception areas in the rest of the Reich.

From 1940 the Bavarian administrative district Palatinate was administered by the "Reichskommissar für die Saarpfalz" and from 1941 by the " Reichsstatthalter in der Westmark ". Several areas - Palatinate and Saarland, from 1941 also Lorraine - were administered in personal union without a formal merger of the areas taking place. The incumbent was Josef Bürckel until his death in 1944, from 1944 to 1945 Willi Stöhr .

Consequences of the Second World War

After the Second World War , the Palatinate was part of the French occupation zone until 1949 and 1955 . In accordance with Regulation No. 57 of the French High Command, it was incorporated into the newly formed state of Rhineland-Palatinate in 1946. This includes even the since in addition to the Palatinate Congress of Vienna to Hessen related Rheinhessen (capital Mainz ), formerly the Prussian Rhine province belonging Rheinland (with the low mountains Hunsrück , Eifel and Westerwald ), and the western part of the former Duchy of Nassau (now Westerwaldkreis and Rhine -Lahn circle ). In the parts of these areas bordering on the Palatinate, numerous places, including the present-day district towns of Alzey , Bad Kreuznach , Birkenfeld , Ingelheim and Simmern, sometimes belonged to the Palatinate-Wittelsbach predecessor territories Kurpfalz and Palatinate-Zweibrücken until the end of the 18th century heard (see also the section on culture and the list of coats of arms with the Palatinate lion ). The historical similarities together with the partial affiliation of these areas to the Palatinate-speaking area should have facilitated the integration of the Palatinate into the State of Rhineland-Palatinate.

Officially declared a memorial in 2017: the abandoned grave of the National Socialist murderer Josef Bürckel in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse

The period of the West German " economic miracle " until the mid-1960s meant a time of profound economic and social change for the Palatinate. Agriculture, which was dominated by smallholders, declined sharply in favor of large-scale wine and vegetable cultivation and the settlement of industrial and service companies. At the same time, the denominational division of the population lost its importance.

Newer development

A referendum in 1956 for a return to Bavaria did not find the necessary support among the population. Since the state treaty for the establishment of a cross-border European metropolitan region between Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg on July 26, 2005, business and politics have been trying to establish the socially and economically coherent area of ​​(left bank) Palatinate and (right bank) Palatinate in the metropolitan region of Rhine -Neckar to reconnect more closely.

In 2016/2017, the decision of the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage Rhineland-Palatinate to classify the tomb of the National Socialist murderer Josef Bürckel in the main cemetery in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse as a memorial that needs to be preserved, despite the abandonment of the grave , made waves.

Administrative structures

Administrative region of the Palatinate

Within the new federal state, the Palatinate was initially an independent administrative district with the seat of the district government in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. It consisted of the independent cities of Landau, Neustadt, Speyer, Frankenthal (Pfalz), Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Pirmasens, Zweibrücken and Kaiserslautern as well as the districts of Germersheim, Bergzabern , Landau , Neustadt , Frankenthal (Pfalz) , Ludwigshafen am Rhein , Speyer , Pirmasens , Zweibrücken , Kaiserslautern , Kusel , Kirchheimbolanden and Rockenhausen .

District of Rheinhessen-Pfalz

In 1968 the administrative region of Pfalz was merged with the administrative region of Rheinhessen to form the administrative region of Rheinhessen-Pfalz . While the state capital Mainz was no longer the seat of a district government, the administration in Neustadt was expanded. The districts were also redesigned from 1969 to 1974 : The districts of Landau, Bergzabern, Neustadt, Frankenthal (Palatinate), Speyer, Zweibrücken, Rockenhausen and Kirchheimbolanden were dissolved. The districts of Landau-Bad Bergzabern, from 1978 Südliche Weinstrasse , Bad Dürkheim and the Donnersbergkreis were newly formed . The remaining districts were expanded to include areas of the dissolved; only the layout of the district of Germersheim remained almost unchanged. The independent cities - with the exception of Speyer - were enlarged by incorporations. The administrative reform also changed the boundaries of the Palatinate in the north slightly: the Kusel district was expanded to include communities that had previously belonged to the Birkenfeld district in Rhineland ; Individual communities in the now extinct district of Rockenhausen were added to the Rhineland district of Bad Kreuznach , and a community in the former district of Kirchheimbolanden is now part of the Rhineland-Hessian district of Alzey-Worms .


With the restructuring of the state administration on January 1, 2000, the administrative districts in Rhineland-Palatinate were dissolved. The district governments were transferred to the nationally responsible supervisory and service directorate (ADD) and the structure and approval directorate (SGD) North and South . The latter are now also nationwide for selected areas of responsibility, but are no longer responsible for all tasks in their previous spatial district . The SGD Süd is now located in Neustadt, whose narrower area of ​​responsibility includes the former Rheinhessen-Pfalz.

District Association of the Palatinate

Coat of arms of the district association

The Palatinate region is divided into administrative districts and independent cities . These are members of the Palatinate District Association . It is a corporation under public law and the only higher municipal association in Rhineland-Palatinate.

The district association is based on earlier administrative structures: the Conseil général (French for "General"), adopted in 1800 by France, culminated in 1816, when the Pfalz the Kingdom of Bavaria was sold after the end of the Napoleonic era, the approved by Bayern 20-member Landrath , which eventually became the Palatinate District Parliament , the parliament of the Palatinate District Association.

The district association administers various cultural and social institutions in the region and promotes cooperation between the districts and urban districts.

In the ongoing preparation of a new territorial reform through the merger of smaller municipalities, changes to the district boundaries that would change the area of ​​the District Association of the Palatinate are being seriously discussed.

Economy and Infrastructure


Fountain in
Gleisweiler decorated for Thanksgiving
Vineyard landscape in the southern Palatinate

The Romans introduced the grapevine to the Palatinate as early as the 1st century AD, where viticulture was practiced. Today, the Palatinate is home to the wine-growing region of the same name, which is the second largest in Germany and has many traditional family businesses. In addition to viticulture, tourism is a major economic factor, especially along the German Wine Route . In 2006, according to the Pfalz-Touristik, which is based in Neustadt, around 283 million euros were turned over in the tourism industry in the Palatinate. The city of Bad Dürkheim and the district of the same name are ahead with around 100 million euros, primarily due to the Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt festival. The Palatinate recorded 1.5 million overnight stays in 2006; on average, each visitor spent 77.86 euros per day.

The BASF in Ludwigshafen is the outstanding industrial companies in the Palatinate and with more than 30,000 jobs at the same time the largest employer. Many of the employees are commuters, some of whom come from more distant areas of the Palatinate. In Wörth am Rhein , which is in an economic area closely connected to Karlsruhe and thus Baden-Württemberg , a Daimler plant builds trucks that are exported worldwide.

The West Palatinate benefits less from the positive trends in the Palatinate economy. Adam Opel GmbH and the US armed forces, which operate Ramstein Air Base and the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center , offer important jobs in and around Kaiserslautern . Shoe manufacture has a long tradition in the Pirmasens and Hauenstein region . The Deutsche Schuhfachschule , which was founded in 1927 as a training institute for the German shoe industry, is located in Pirmasens . However, since the USA is increasingly reducing its presence in the West Palatinate and the shoe industry in the Pirmasens region has been in a difficult phase for years, jobs there are declining and the population is stagnating or even declining. In 2000, Kaiserslautern lost its status as a major city, but was able to regain it at the end of 2016. Pirmasens lost almost 15,000 inhabitants from the 1970s. In contrast, more and more young, innovative companies have recently settled in the vicinity of the Technical University of Kaiserslautern , which mainly create jobs in the IT sector .

Mining was once an important industry in the Northern Palatinate, as can also be seen from the list of mines in the Palatinate . Since the resources there have long been used up or their extraction has become unprofitable, this sub-region of the Palatinate is also suffering from a decline in population.


Theodor-Heuss-Rheinbrücke (A 6) on the northeastern edge of the Palatinate
Railway line Saarbrücken-Mannheim, the main part of the Palatine Ludwig Railway is

National road traffic takes place on various motorways. One of the oldest in Germany, too, is the A 6 ( Saarbrücken - Mannheim ), which runs from the far west across the region to the northeast. The A 61 ( Koblenz –Speyer) and the A 65 (Ludwigshafen am Rhein – Karlsruhe ) provide good access to the Vorder and Südpfalz ; the partially completed A 650 (Ludwigshafen– Bad Dürkheim ) is only of local importance. Parts of the A 8 ( Saarlouis –Pirmasens, no further development to Karlsruhe planned) and the A 62 ( Nonnweiler –Pirmasens, in parts only two-lane) are available to the West Palatinate . The North Palatinate is connected by the A 63 (Kaiserslautern– Mainz ), which was completed in 2004 . The four-lane expansion of the B 10 between Pirmasens and Landau (after the aforementioned abandonment of the A 8) began around the year 2000.

The most important long-distance routes of Deutsche Bahn run on the north-east edge - the Mannheim – Ludwigshafen – Mainz– Cologne connection - and from west to east across the Palatinate - the Palatinate Ludwigsbahn on the Saarbrücken – Kaiserslautern – Ludwigshafen – Mannheim route.

The Zweibrücken airfield had the largest volume of civil air traffic in the Palatinate. It has a 2950 m long runway and served as a military airfield in various western states until 1991 . Scheduled and charter traffic took place there from 2006 until the airport went bankrupt in 2014.


Commitment to the Palatinate on a car

Culturally, the Palatinate cannot be clearly delimited. Today's geographical borders essentially came into being in 1815/16 (see section History ), before that there was “the Palatinate” as an Electoral Palatinate, without the previous authorities adding the addition “Kur”. A Palatinate identity as it exists today only developed later with a view to the “fait accompli” created by the Congress of Vienna. For example, the borders of the Palatinate dialects (compare Palatinate dialects , Rhine-Franconian dialects , Electoral Palatinate dialects ) as well as those of other cultural assets may have to be drawn further and, depending on the objective (product marketing), become fluid.


The long-established Palatinate people, who like to be referred to in a humorous way as "Pälzer Krischer" or call themselves that, are considered to be an "unadulterated" breed of people in the local literature. They are said to be personal openness, natural curiosity and sociability, but also directness and stubbornness. The proverbial Palatinate cosiness is an important characteristic - people like to sit down at a table and dine and drink together. Consumer wine is traditionally drunk from bottle glasses that have a capacity of half a liter. Often it is the Palatinate “ Dubbeglas ”, a conical drinking vessel with indentations for the fingertips that does not slip out of the hand easily. In a contemplative group, for example at the Dürkheim sausage market or other wine festivals , it was not unusual, at least in the past, for the pint to be served in turn. The last drink we drink together before we go home ("trolls") is called "trolls". However, more recently, a mixture of half sparkling wine and half wine has also been called "Trollschoppen".

Palatinate people tend to be seen as conservative-liberal and tolerant. If, however, something does not go as it should, the "thunderbolts" can fly - Dunnerkeidel is a common curse in the Palatinate. Palatinate people were significantly involved in the Peasants' War (1525), the Hambach Festival (1832) and the March Revolution (1848). Due to the two last-mentioned events, the Palatinate is also considered to be the home of the early German national and democratic movement . On the other hand, the Palatinate, as a German border region, has repeatedly experienced afflictions from wars over the centuries, which has probably also led to the close cohesion of the Palatinate people. While in the 1920s and 30s, despite this democratic tradition, the bitterness about the French occupation and the economic problems led to great electoral successes for the National Socialists, after 1945 the Palatinate became a pioneer of Franco-German reconciliation and European integration.

For the type of the Palatinate politician, who is always close to the problems of the "common people", but is also often ridiculed as provincial, there are some in the Federal Republic of Germany. a. Helmut Kohl and Kurt Beck .

For the genealogical processing of the Palatinate and Rhenish Hesse area, u. a. the Palatinate-Rhenish Family Studies Association . For example, it became known through genealogy that the ancestor of the singer Elvis Presley , the wine cooper Valentin Pressler (1669–1736), who was born in Niederhochstadt in the south of the Palatinate , emigrated to Maryland in 1709/1710 .


Restaurant on the German Wine Route

The Palatinate dialects belong to the West Central German, more precisely Rhenish Franconian dialects and are still widespread. The Palatinate dialect poets , who regularly fight for prizes in nationwide competitions, try to preserve them , for example in Bockenheim , Dannstadt , Gonbach (last held in 2011) and Herschberg . During the French period around 1800, numerous expressions from the neighboring country were incorporated into the Palatinate vocabulary, which are still alive today in the dialect. Examples are - all emphasized on the first syllable - "Trottwa" ( trottoir , sidewalk), "Barreblee" ( parapluie , umbrella) or "Schässlong" ( chaise longue , sofa).

The Palatinate dialect differs from the Rheinhessen dialect in the north. The language border lies in the area of ​​Worms, which has the so-called Wormser Platt as its local language .


The region's unofficial hymn is a High German poem by Eduard Jost , composed in 1869 and set to music as a Palatinate song in 1877 . Numerous other dialect hits, which are still popularly sung, come from the pen of dialect poet Kurt Dehn , who died in 2000 , whose humorous work (Än echde Pälzer raacht kän Hasch, our stuff comes from de Flasch) the beauty of the Palatinate and the joie de vivre of its residents is dedicated. Since the 1980s, regional music has increasingly relied on texts in the Palatinate dialect. The music is often rock, the groups often only consist of guitarists and singers.

Bands like Grabowsky and the Anonymous Giddarischde are particularly popular at the numerous wine festivals around the German Wine Route and among home-oriented young people . The latter wrote the oral arthymn Palzlied , which refers to the above-mentioned High German song. The music of the group Reinig, Braun + Böhm is rooted in folk music and is enriched by elements from chanson, blues, rock 'n' roll and chamber music. The band Blues Himmel around Michael Wack plays their own compositions in the Palatinate dialect.

One of the most important singing artists from the Palatinate was the lyrical tenor Fritz Wunderlich (1930–1966), who was born in Kusel .

Visual arts

Max Slevogt, Palatinate painter
(1917 by Emil Orlik )
Anselm Feuerbach
(self-portrait from 1852)

The landscapes and buildings of the Palatinate, especially the vine hills along the Wine Route and the castles of the Palatinate Forest, have inspired a number of painters and other artists. Many of them conveyed the beauties and the feeling of life in the Palatinate in their works. The list of Rhineland-Palatinate artists includes those who come from the Palatinate or have chosen it as their adopted home. For example, the work Im Licht der Pfalz by Clemens Jöckle provides more information .

In 2009 and 2010, a criminal case caused a sensation in which it was about the theft of around 400 works - mostly graphics, sketches and drawings - as well as personal items from the estate of the impressionist Max Slevogt (1868-1932), who as one the most important painter of Palatinate landscapes. A confidante of the artist's elderly heirs had gradually appropriated the valuables with an estimated value of 1.5 million euros and was sentenced to three years and four months in prison. Almost all of the works that have been seized are now part of the so-called graphic estate. This was in 2014 by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate u. a. with the support of the Kulturstiftung der Länder and the Rhineland-Palatinate Foundation for Culture from the property of the artist's two great-grandchildren and is now in the Landesmuseum Mainz . There, the estate is scientifically processed in the Max Slevogt Research Center. A selection can be seen in special exhibitions with various themes in the Max Slevogt Gallery , which is located in the historic Villa Ludwigshöhe near Edenkoben .


Steamed noodles
Läwwerknepp with sauerkraut, here with bread and wild herbs as decoration

The traditional Palatinate cuisine is sometimes quite hearty and includes a. coarse sausages , stuffed pig's stomach , "Läwwerknepp" , "Handkees with music" ( hand cheese with onions, cumin, vinegar and oil) and "Flääschknepp" (cooked in hot water meatballs ), typically with horseradish sauce , sauerkraut or Weinknorzen , a specific type of rye bread to be served. The “Gebreedelde”, fried potatoes from the Palatinate , are legendary and are often seasoned with marjoram and enriched with pieces of bacon or liver sausage. Also "Grumbeere (or Gequellde) with white Kees" ( potatoes with cottage cheese ) are a popular dish in the Palatinate, as well as potato pancakes under the name "Grumbeerpannekuche". Weck, Worscht and Woi , i.e. rolls, meat sausage and wine , are considered a small refreshment, for example when working in the Wingert or on an excursion . Baked goods are z. B. Damp (f) noodles , which are usually served with wine sauce, Quetschekuche , which is eaten with salty grumberry soup, and Kärscheplotzer .

In the last few decades, especially in the Front and South Palatinate, gastronomy has experienced a great boom. The proximity of Alsace certainly plays a role and so the tarte flambée is now also widely available in the Palatinate . Since chestnuts and figs are being harvested to an increasing extent in the Palatinate, these products have found their way into a "southern" variant of the Palatinate cuisine in many ways.


Miroslav Klose in the 2014 World Cup final
Fritz Walter Stadium with the logo of 1. FC Kaiserslautern

There are well-known athletes who come from the Palatinate or have made their home there. Examples are the soccer players Fritz and Ottmar Walter , Horst Eckel , Werner Liebrich and Werner Kohlmeyer , all members of the world championship eleven from 1954 , Hans-Peter Briegel , European champion in 1980, Jürgen Kohler , world champion in 1990, and Miroslav Klose , world champion in 2014 and at 71 Hits record scorer of the national team.

The leg amputee athlete Wojtek Czyz won more than a dozen gold medals at Paralympics as well as World and European Championships, the long jumper Christian Reif was European champion in 2010 with 8.47 m, and the pole vaulter Raphael Holzdeppe was world champion in 2013 (5.89 m) and vice world champion in 2015 ( 5.90 m).

The wrestler Wilfried Dietrich and the boxer Karl Mildenberger were popular in the second half of the 20th century . The track cyclist Gregor Braun was a two-time Olympic champion in 1976, the gymnast Helmut Bantz won the gold medal in horse jumping in 1956 .

The roots of the Palatinate are particularly evident in their relationship with the soccer club 1. FC Kaiserslautern , which has won the German championship four times; his followers come from all over the region. The Fritz Walter Stadium on the Betzenberg in Kaiserslautern is the most famous sports facility in the Palatinate. It holds almost 50,000 spectators and was the venue for five games during the 2006 World Cup .

Important people from the Palatinate


  • Kurt Baumann: About the history and people of the Palatinate . Selected essays by Kurt Baumann (=  publications of the Palatinate Society for the Advancement of Science . Volume 73 ). Palatinate Society for the Advancement of Science, Speyer 1984.
  • Kurt Baumann and Paul Stroh: 1870. This side and that side of the border . Publishing house Arbogast, Otterbach and Kaiserslautern 1976.
  • Viktor Carl: Lexicon of Palatinate personalities . 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Hennig Verlag, Edenkoben 2004, ISBN 3-9804668-5-X .
  • Michael Geiger, Günter Preuss and Karl-Heinz Rothenberger (eds.): Palatinate regional studies . Contributions to geography, biology, folklore and history. 3 volumes. History seminar of the University of Landau, Landau in der Pfalz 1981.
  • Historical Museum of the Palatinate (Ed.): Kingdom of Palatinate . Exhibition magazine. Speyer 2013, ISBN 978-3-930239-24-5 .
  • Hansjörg Gruber: The development of the Palatinate economy 1816-1834 with special consideration of the customs conditions . In: Publications of the Institute for Regional Studies . tape 6 . Saarbrücken 1962, ISBN 978-3-923877-06-5 .
  • Sabine Kienitz: The French language policy in the occupied Palatinate 1918–1926 . In: Mathias Beer, Dietrich Beyrau, Cornelia Rauh-Kühne (eds.): Being German as borderline experience. Minority Policy in Europe between 1914 and 1950 . Klartext Verlag, Essen 2009, ISBN 978-3-8375-0097-4 .
  • Jörg Koch: The Palatinate. 55 highlights from history. People, places and events that shape our region to this day. Sutton Verlag, Erfurt 2020, ISBN 978-3-96303-159-5 .
  • Jörg Koch: The Palatinate in old views . Sutton Verlag, Erfurt 2016, ISBN 978-3-95400-750-9 .
  • Armin Kohnle: A short history of the Electoral Palatinate . 4th edition. G. Braun Buchverlag, Karlsruhe 2011, ISBN 978-3-7650-8329-7 .
  • Michael Konrad: Saach blooß. Secrets of the Palatinate . Rheinpfalz Verlag, Ludwigshafen am Rhein 2006, ISBN 3-937752-02-1 (three subsequent volumes between 2007 and 2012).
  • Hans Erich Kubach: The Palatinate (=  series Deutsche Lande - German art ). 2nd Edition. Munich, Berlin 1966.
  • Karl Moersch : History of the Palatinate. From the beginning to the 19th century . Palatinate publishing house, Landau in der Pfalz 1987, ISBN 3-87629-121-6 .
  • KH Rothenberger, K. Scherer, F. Staab , J. Keddigkeit (eds.): Palatinate history . Volumes 1 and 2. Institute for Palatinate History and Folklore, Kaiserslautern 2002, ISBN 3-927754-43-9 .
  • Ansgar and Stefanie Schmitz-Veltlin: Pfalz . 2nd Edition. Michael Müller Verlag, Erlangen 2011, ISBN 978-3-89953-629-4 (The travel book to the Palatinate).
  • Johann Christoph Wagner: The Pfaltz on the Rhine state, country, city and history mirror . Published by Koppmayer, Augsburg 1690 ( online at ).
  • Hannes Ziegler: Palatinate history. From the beginning to the present . pro MESSAGE, Ludwigshafen 2011, ISBN 978-3-934845-32-9 .

Web links

Commons : Pfalz  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Pfalz  - Sources and full texts
Wikisource: Topographia Palatinatus Rheni  - Sources and full texts

References and comments

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  37. New audience capacity: 49,780. August 25, 2010. Retrieved February 28, 2017 .