Two rafts departing from a rafting site

Case Study: 33rd German Rafters' Day

Germany's raftsmen visit Munich

From 13 to 16 October 2022, around 180 rafters came together for their annual meeting in Munich. The programme for the participants from all over Germany was organised this year by the Flößer-Kulturverein München-Thalkirchen e.V., with the Bavarian Prime Minister Dr. Markus Söder as patron.

From Bremen and Lenggries, Thuringia and the Black Forest - rafters from all parts of the country travelled to Munich in October to take part in the annual meeting of the Deutsche Flößerei-Vereinigung e.V.. After a two-year pandemic break, the 180 or so participants enjoyed the opportunity to meet up with their colleagues again at lectures, guided tours and festive evening events in traditional Munich restaurants. Thanks to the support of the city of Munich, the participants spent the night in five Munich hotels close to the city.

To kick things off, the board meeting of the Dachverband Deutsche Flößerei-Vereinigung under 1st chairman Martin Spreng took place in the Augustiner Keller on Thursday evening. Afterwards, the participants were officially welcomed - by the chairman of the rafters' cultural association Klaus Menk and Clemens Baumgärtner, Head of the Department of Economics and Labour of the City of Munich. The traditional band Alois Kronas and the Goaßlschnalzer around Tobias Bichlmeier contributed to the relaxed atmosphere between further speeches about rafting. While the guests then enjoyed typical Bavarian roast pork with dumplings and cabbage, the musician Bayern-Karl amused the company with lively "Gstanzln" (traditional Bavarian mocking songs). 

Munich's 3rd mayor, Verena Dietl, welcomed the participants on Friday in the town hall under the monumental painting "Allegoria Monachia" by Carl Theodor von Piloty. The painting from 1879 shows the importance of rafting for Munich. After the reception, an exclusive city tour was on the agenda: In three double-decker buses from Autobus Oberbayern, the tour went from the town hall via the Viktualienmarkt, Theresienwiese, Isarvorstadt, Ludwigsvorstadt and Maxvorstadt, to the Nymphenburg Palace Park, past the Olympic grounds and through Schwabing, to the finishing point at Odeonsplatz.

There at Odeonsplatz is the seat of the Bavarian State Ministry of Finance and Home Affairs, where the rafters were also allowed to pay a visit. After presentations by, among others, Ministerial Director Dr. Alexander Voitl on the subject of rafting and its importance for Munich, there were snacks and drinks for everyone present. A little later, there was a lively evening at the Augustiner Stammhaus in Neuhauser Straße. Inge Weber-Stumpf from the board of the Thalkirchner Flößer*innen led the programme under the motto "Munich Life". The Renaissance Dance Group performed as well as the Munich Turmbläser and various dance and traditional costume groups. The biggest applause, however, went to the Schuhplattler from the Trachtenverein Edelweiß-Stamm from Munich-Lerchenau - with their only eleven-year-old Schuhplattler. The kitchen of the Augustiner Stammhaus took care of the physical well-being with a generous cold and warm buffet and their popular Augustiner beer.

Saturday was also filled with an appealing programme. It began with a members' meeting in the banqueting hall of the restaurant Der Pschorr at the Viktualienmarkt, followed by lectures on the history of rafting. After the typical Munich Weißwurst (white sausage) dinner, the three double-decker buses were again waiting for the participants to take them to the guided tour at the Thalkirchen rafting site on the banks of the Isar. Raft master Michael Angermeier told anecdotes about rafting on site and knew all kinds of interesting facts about the economic importance of the profession for the generations of rafting families on the Loisach and Isar. A large group photo was taken on the banks of the Isar to thank the UNESCO committee for including the rafting trade in the nomination list for the Intangible UNESCO World Heritage of Humanity in 2021. The decision will be made on 1 December in Rabat, the capital of Morocco. Rafting already made it onto the UNESCO Commission's nationwide list in 2014.

The guests would have liked to stay on the sunny rafting site, but the parish priest Michael Kiefer was already waiting for them in the rafting church of St. Maria Thalkirchen - with information on the history and connection of this church to rafting. The guests rounded off the evening with culinary and musical delights in the ballroom of the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl. After a meal of duck, Blaukraut and dumplings, the story of the servant Alois Hingerl (known as "Der Münchner im Himmel" by Ludwig Thoma) was heard, among others. Under the guidance of Ernst Schusser, former director of the Munich Folk Music Archive, the rafters sang folk songs from a songbook from the Folk Music Archive of the District of Upper Bavaria especially for the Wirtshaus Singing. And because so much music is good for the legs, the Munich dance master Katharina Mayer, dressed in a dirndl, asked the guests to dance to polkas, waltzes and country dances.

After a short night, on Kirchweih Sunday the participants met in their traditional working clothes in front of Munich's famous Frauenkirche and solemnly entered the cathedral. Cardinal Reinhard Marx arranged the mass as a special rafting mass and emphasised the importance of rafting for Munich and its churches. For example, the roof trusses of Munich's two great churches, the Frauenkirche and Alter Peter, were built with timber from the Bavarian Oberland, which was rafted to Munich on the Loisach and Isar rivers by over 140 rafts. Following the mass, there was a guided tour of the church with the former cathedral architect Robert Brannekämper by the Ordinariate. He spoke about the construction of the two copper-roofed domes, the Welsche bonnets, and the construction of the interior ceilings. The guests were able to climb up into the dome of the southern tower and enjoy the view over the city to the mountains from 16 windows.

For the final photo of the event, the participants from the 23 associations lined up in the shade of the old trees at the newly renovated mushroom fountain at the cathedral. Martin Spreng and Klaus Menk from the Deutsche Flößerei-Vereinigung e.V. and the Flößer-Kulturverein München-Thalkirchen e.V. concluded the three-day event with closing words and words of thanks.

 

November 2022

 

Text: Kongressbüro; Photos: Stadt Wolfratshausen / Adrian Greiter, Frank Stolle, Redline Enterprises
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