See biography by his son John Lahr (1969).
Lahr is a city in western Baden-Württemberg, Germany, approximately 38 km north of Freiburg in Breisgau and 100 km south of Karlsruhe. It is the second largest city in Ortenau (district) after Offenburg, and serves as an intermediate economic center to the cities and towns of Ettenheim, Friesenheim, Kappel-Grafenhausen, Kippenheim, Mahlberg, Meißenheim, Ringsheim, Rust, Schuttertal, Schwanau and Seelbach.
The population of Lahr passed the 20,000 mark in the mid 1950s. When the new body of Municipal Law for Baden-Württemberg went into effect on April 1, 1956, the city was therefore immediately awarded Große Kreisstadt status. In addition, Lahr cooperates with the town of Kippenheim in administrative matters.
The city of Lahr is made up of Lahr (proper) and the formerly independent communities Burgheim (merged into Lahr in 1899) and Dinglingen (merged in 1933). Burgheim and Dinglingen have merged with Lahr also in a geographic sense. During the last major district reform in Baden-Württemberg in the 1970s Hugsweier, Kippenheimweiler, Kughbach, Langenwinkel, Mietersheim, Reichenbach and Sulz joined Lahr as new boroughs.
Several of the boroughs include additional, geographically distinct settlements or neighborhoods that either have a long history of their own or were created as new developments but with areal boundaries that have not been officially defined. Most of these settlements have only small populations and some have since merged with their borough also geographically.
Specifically, Brudertal is part of the borough of Kuhbach; Galgenberg, Schutterlindenhof and Waldfrieden are part of Lahr (proper); Eichberg, Gereut, Giesenhof, Langeck, Poche and Schindelhöfe are part of the borough of Reichenbach; and Dammenmühle, Ernethof, Hohberg and Langenhard are part of the borough of Sulz.
The city and surrounding land with the same name remained property of the Geroldsecks until 1426. Their successor was the House of Moers-Saarwerden, which gave half the land to Baden as collateral for loans and in 1497 legal ownership was transferred. The other half was transferred to the House of Nassau-Saarbrücken in 1522. Both Baden and the House of Nassau-Saarbrücken implemented the Reformation in the areas under their control and ruled the city jointly until the Baden half also became property of the Nassaus in 1629.
The Thirty Years' War reduced the city's population significantly and during the Dutch War in 1677 it was burned to the ground by French troops under the leadership of Marshall Chréquy. Later on, during the eighteenth century, the citizens of Lahr sued the House of Nassau in the "Lahr Law Suits" in 1726 and 1778. The suits were decided in favor of the citizens of Lahr and thwarted Nassau's attempt at absolute rule.
In 1803 Lahr and surrounding land in Baden became seat of a court, whose areal boundaries were modified several times. During the 19th century Lahr was highly involved in the printing industry and the Burda Publishing Company, nowadays located in neighboring Offenburg, had its start at least partially in Lahr.
Between 1898 and 1919 and again between 1936 and 1945, the city was home to a garrison. After World War II, Lahr became one of the bases for the French until France left the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1966. After that, from 1967 through 1994, the Canadian NATO forces (CFB Lahr) maintained their European headquarters in Lahr. Following the closing out of the "old" Brigade Area in North-Rhine Westphalia centred around Iserlohn, Hemer, Deilinghofen as well as Werl and Soest (1970-1971)the Land Forces and their families were transferred to the Lahr area to join the existing Air Force contingent. After the Canadian Forces left in 1994, a small Canadian contingent of former civilian employees remained in Lahr (approximately 200).
Already in 1939 Lahr was the seat of the rural district of the same name. Its automobile license plates code was "LR" but during the Baden-Württemberg district reform in the 1970s the district was dissolved and its communities were assigned and made part of the newly created Ortenau District.
Lahr's boroughs also enjoy a long history. Hugsweier, Burgheim, Dinglingen, Langenwinkel, Mietersheim and Sulz used to be ruled by the same rulers as Lahr itself and therefore shared a lot of the city's history. In 1803 they became part of Baden and were communities in a predecessor district of Lahr until they were merged and became part of the city.
Hugsweier was first mentioned in 1341 as "Hugelswilre", Burgheim in 1035 as "Burcheim", Dinglingen in 961 as "Tuntelinga", Mietersheim in 762 as "Mutherisheim" and Sulz in 1270 as "Sulz".
Langenwinkel is a village with a fairly short history. It was built starting in 1787 in the area of the Nassau forest, which was cut down to make room for the new village, on land that belonged to Dinglingen. In 1790 the first house was built and in 1797 Langenwinkel became an independent community that was also made part of Baden in 1803. After 1951 the airfield for the Canadian Forces was built in Langenwinkel's immediate vicinity and the associated noise and traffic turned into a tremendous hardship for the residents of Langenwinkel. In 1965 the German Ministry of Defense decided therefore to move the village and Langenwinkel was recreated between 1968 and 1971 several kilometers southeast of the Hurster Hof.
Kippenheimweiler was first mentioned in 1427 as "Wilre" and then in 1462 as "Kippenwiler". It was an extension of Kippenheim and like Kippenheim it became part of the Baden House of Mahlberg in 1629. In 1810 it was assigned to the Ettenheim court and only after that was dissolved did it become part of the district Lahr.
Kuhbach was first mentioned in 1035 as "Cuobach". At first it belonged to the Geroldsecks. After the clan divided into two in 1278 it was made part of Hohengeroldseck (Vogtei Seelbach). Ecclesiastically, it was first part of the Burgheim parish and was later assigned to Lahr parish. After the counterreformation the town became Catholic again and was only made part of Baden in 1819 when it was assigned to the district Lahr.
Reichenbach was first mentioned as "Richenbach" in 1270. The town was divvied up between the Houses of Geroldseck and Tiersberg. During the fourteenth century the part owned by the Tiersbergs came after several detours to Baden and was given to the Röder vassals as a fief. The Hohengeroldseck part eventually became property of the Counts van der Leyen. Reichenbach was at first Protestant but returned to Catholicism in 1658. The Baden-Röder part was then passed on to the County of Geroldseck in 1806 and with the County came to Austria in 1815. In 1819 it was returned to Baden and became part of the court Hohengeroldseck. Only in 1832 was it made part of the Lahr district.
The region around Lahr belonged at first to the Archdiocese of Strasbourg. The city itself was originally attached to the parishes in Dinglingen and Burgheim. Located in Lahr was only the Chapel of Our Dear Lady. In 1259 the Augustinians founded a cloister which was moved to the outskirts of Dinglingen in 1349 and converted to a collegic Monastery in 1482. In 1492 the parish Burgberg was moved to Lahr and the Chapel of Our Dear Lady became the parish church. After the Reformation was introduced in 1558 through 1567, the monastery was dissolved and Lahr remained exclusively Protestant for the next several centuries. After Lahr came to Baden, the church became seat of a deacony for the entire surrounding area. Two other parishes developed from the original one, Christ Parish and Peace Parish, but were merged later on to form a combined parish. The combined parish today also includes John's Parish in Sulz, Luther, Paul and Melanchton Parishes in Dinglingen and Lahr-West, and Peter's Parish in Burgheim. Additional Protestant parishes are located in the boroughs of Hugsweier, Kippenheimweiler and Langenwinkel, while Langenwinkel is attached to the parish in Hugsweier and Kippenheimweiler to the parish in neighboring Kippenheim. Protestants from Kuhbach and Reichenbach belong to the parish in Seelbach and those living in Mietersheim belong to the parish in Lahr. All Protestant parishes belong to the Deacony Lahr within the Evangelical Church in Baden. The Liebenzeller Association is also represented in Lahr.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century Catholics began to return to Lahr and in 1843 the first Catholic parish was founded, its church St. Peter and Paul constructed from 1846. St. Marien became the second Catholic parish in 1960 (its church was built in 1954 through 1956). Additional Catholic parishes exist in Dinglingen (Holy Spirit with church St. Martin in Hugsweier), Kuhbach (Mary Ascenscion and Chapel of Our Dear Lady), Reichenbach and Sulz (St. Peter and Paul). In Sulz a Simultaneum existed between 1773 and 1959 where Catholics and Protestants used the same church building.
In addition to the two large denominations the following are also represented in Lahr: several independent Protestant parishes among them Baptists, Methodists and Pentecostals, and the New Apostolic Church.
Figures reflect city limits at the time and are estimates (until 1870), Census data (¹), or official extensions thereof, counting only primary residences.
¹ Census data
Approximately 9,000 of Lahr's citizens are former Russian Germans and another 4,000 are descendants of other Soviet nationalities and so every fourth citizen of Lahr currently (as of 2006) lists the former Soviet Union as his or her place of birth.
Mayors since 1803
The main church for the city is the Lutheran Stiftskirche, formerly Church of Our Dear Lady, which is a late-gothic basilica with three naves and a tower that was built in 1874. Much older is the St. Peters church in Burgheim, which is one of the oldest churches on the right side of the Rhine. Between 1877 and 1880 a second Protestant church was built, featuring a dome and built in the style of the Italian Renaissance. The Friedenskirche was built in 1956 and the first Catholic church, St. Peter and Paul, was built in 1846 in neo-Roman style and features two towers. The second Catholic church St. Marien was built between 1954 and 1956 and expanded in 1967.
In the boroughs are the Petrus Church in Burgheim (featuring a Roman Choir church with gothic murals), the Martins Church in Dinglingen (built in 1784), Melanchton Church in Dinglingen (built 1979), former St. Margarethen Church in Hugsweier (built between 1755 and 1790), St. Martins Church in Hugsweier (built in 1966), Kippenheimweiler Church (built in 1902, Chapel of Our Dear Lady in Kuhbach (built in the 14th and 15th centuries), St Mary Ascenscion Church in Kuhbach (built in 1956), Mietersheim Chapel (built in the 16th and 17th centuries, Reichenbach Church (built between 1846 and 1848 in neo-Roman style), St. Peter and Paul Church in Sulz (built in 1864 in neo-Roman style) and St. John's Church in Sulz (built in 1960).
Lahr is a stop on the Rheintalbahn of the Deutsche Bahn but the former main train station in the heart of town and the tracks of the local railway from Seelbach (Schutter) to Kehl have been completely removed.
The City has three college track high schools (Clara-Schumann-, Max-Planck- and Scheffel-Gymnasium), one non-college track high school (Otto-Hahn-Realschule), one school focusing on special education (Gutenbergschule), eight grammar schools (Eichrodt-Grundschule, Geroldseckerschule, Johann-Peter-Hebel-Schule, Luisenschule, Schutterlindenberg-Schule, Grundschule Kuhbach, Grundschule Langenwinkel, Schulhaus Kippenheimweiler and Grundschule Mietersheim), two combined grammar and middle schools (in Reichenbach and in Sulz) and two middle schools (Friedrich-Hauptschule und Theodor-Heuss-Hauptschule Dinglingen).
In addition, Ortenau (district) operates several vocational schools, a schools for the speech impaired with attached Kindergarten, and a school for the mentally disabled, also with attached Kindergarten.
Additional public schools are the Clara-Schumann-Gymnasium (where students with a degree from non-college track high schools may obtain a degree equivalent to a college-track high school) with room and board, a specialty school for painters, and the nursing school that is attached to the hospital.
Numerous private and specialty training schools complete the picture, among them the Abendrealschule and Abendgymnasium where students with middle school and non-college track high school diplomas are able to gain college entrance prerequisites on a part-time basis after work. These two schools are part of a structured program commonly referred to as the .
The Dysfunctional Lion and Other Stars; Show and Tell: New Yorker Profiles. by John Lahr (Bloomsbury, Pounds 20). Reviewed by Michael Emery
Oct 20, 2001; If it is true that children expect their parents to remain inconspicuous then John Lahr had a grotesque childhood....