Supplementary Appendix 35a.1

Kerstlingerode — Kerstlingeröderfeld [*]

Kerstlingeröderfeld, ca. 7 km east of Göttingen, was a popular excursion locale among both students and professors; see Carte der Gegend um Göttingen auf 2 und 3 Meilen, ed. A. E. J. [i.e. F. Irsengarth] ([Göttingen?] 1810):


Here the estate Kerstlingeröderfeld in an illustration from the student album of R. A. Heinze, ca. 1778 (Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen: 8 Cod. Ms. Hist. Lit. 48t [IX]):


Friedrich Lüdecke writes concerning the locale’s background: [1]

His [Wilhelm Christian Müller’s] literary estate includes several volumes of recollections from his youth that, written in the mid-1820s, came into the possession of the Stadtbibliothek in Bremen. In volume 4, containing recollections from his years as a student, various passages, closely woven into the context, contain information about the Göttingen poets. In chapter 15, we read:

Although during the evenings I was supposed to eat with the family, my need for freedom and conviviality was greater than that for eating. The most simple piece of bread and butter with a friend tasted better to me than some leftover delicacy from our cook. Indeed sometimes I barely made any appearance at all on Saturdays and Sundays, when I would go to Weende, Plesse, the Rasemühle, [2]


or — most preferably — to Kerstlingeröderfeld, my own father’s favorite locale during his four years as a student in Göttingen and which he in his own turn had recommended to me. After his studies in Göttingen [1737–40], he worked here as a private tutor in the house of Frau von Hanstein, where he tutored her grandson, the Junker von Breitenbach, who distinguished himself as a clever and courageous officer during the Seven Years War. It was here, too, that he seeded a beautiful pine forest in a desolate piece of land, a forest in which later many thousands of young students spent and indeed will continue to spend many happy hours. He had had the seeds sent from his fatherland [Thüringen]. The largest pines had become as thick as a man in the thirty years since he sowed them, and their shade now sheltered several altars to the poetic muses at which the sons of the gods assembled and sacrificed to the genius of poesy. During that period, the spirit of beauty began to stir again; the young poet tried his wings in this helicon, in this grove, which since being planted by my father had acquired the name “Hainberg.” Here I myself made the acquaintances of Hölty, Miller, Hahn, Cramer, and Wehrs [members of the Göttinger poetic group, the Hainbund]. These initiators of a better period in German poetry, of a purer taste for beauty, came here regularly.

The tenant of this noble estate, and it subsequent owner, Riemschneider, had through his cordial attitude toward students and through their own help finally been able to buy the estate. But one could not make the same sorts of demands here as one could in a normal tavern or inn; one had to ask politely and behave courteously. Riemschneider tolerated no quarreling, no fighting; hence here one often even saw professors in quite humane social contact with students, whereas such socializing in Göttingen was always rigid and sterile. There one came into contact with these gods of erudition only on Sunday at 11:00, when, properly attired, the sword at one’s side, and with chapeau bas [hat in hand], one paid one’s respects to them. The scholarly celebrity then asked politely, “And what might your name be? What do your parents do? Which lectures are you attending?” Then one took one’s polite leave and was replaced by yet another student courtier.

By contrast, in Kerstlingeröderfeld there was freedom and equality; whosever came first, also painted first; the well-behaved student paid as much for his coffee and wine as did the professor. The latter enjoyed the presence of cheerful students and a more pleasant conviviality than in other taverns; indeed, even his daughters, under proper supervision, dance and converse with courteous young men, and take walks in the grove, where thrushes and finches compete with the singing choruses of students or the sounds of the flute of a solitary, sentimental devotee of the muses.

This Arcadian life, the opportunity to go on the hunt, and from Saturday to Sunday to enjoy both sunset and sunrise here, to drink to brotherhood over a bowl of punch, to toast both the fatherland and one’s beloved, to listen to the nightingale’s song by moonlight in the shrubbery, and to dream the short summer night over into paradise on a bed of straw — all this never ceased to beguile, charm, and captivate countless cheerful young men. The manservants of Herr Riemschneider were his attendants and were always ready to transport off his property anyone who made the least bit of noise or ruckus.

During the summer, this estate was my asylum.

From this excerpt one can discern what Kerstlingeröderfel meant for Göttingen society around 1770. This locale, located about 7 km east of Göttingen between the Hainberg, at whose foot the city itself spreads out, and the Göttingen Forest on a plateau, was originally a dependence or outwork [a minor defensive position constructed outside a fortified area] of the village Kerstlingerode, which is located several hours southeast of Göttingen near Gleichen, and as a result was called Klein-Kerstlingerode [Lesser Kerstlingerode], though in earlier topographical maps of Göttingen it is often called simply “Kerstlingerode” [as Therese Heyne calls it] even though its official name is “Kerstlingeröderfeld” [or “Kerstlingeröder Feld”]. What Müller recounts about the visitors there concurs with what Christoph Meiners — who studied in Göttingen 1767–70 and then became a professor there in 1772 — recounts in his own Kurze Geschichte, und Beschreibung der Stadt Göttingen und der umliegenden Gegend (Göttingen 1801), 405:

The kindness and good service of the first common [i.e., not of the nobility] owners of Kerstlingerode — which they showed to each and every visitor more out of a sense of simple human cordiality than with any intention of profit — drew a great many visitors to the locale. Many professors, including myself and my friends, and even more students considered the walk out to Kerstlingerode to be an absolutely necessary part of maintaining one’s health, so much so that we undertook it on every Saturday afternoon in both winter and summer and would be deterred only by the most insurmountable hindrances, such as deep and soft snow, torrential rainfall, or slippery ice. Inferior or bad walking paths alone were wholly unable to faze us. When the usual footpaths, that is, those that led directly to Kerstlingerode, were almost impassible, we instead simply took the detour through the neighboring village of Herberhausen.


[*] In her letter to Luise Mejer on 1 March 1783 (letter 35a), Therese Heyne recounts what she considers a “scandalous” story involving Caroline, Lotte Michaelis, a barn, and several Göttingen students during an excursion to “Kerslingerode.” Although there is indeed a locale by this name — actually spelled “Kerstlingerode” — ca. 10 km southeast of Göttingen, the correct setting of this story seems to be “Kerstlingeröderfeld,” an area (and former estate) ca. 7 km east of Göttingen set in the Göttingen municipal forest, and considerably more accessible from the center of town than the village that shares the name. Back.

[1] In his article “Zur Geschichte des Göttinger Dichterbundes,” Euphorion 8 (1904), 457–64, Friedrich Lüdecke examines the unpublished memoirs of the Göttingen student Wilhelm Christian Müller (1752–1831) concerning the establishment and early years of the Göttingen poetic group Göttinger Hainbund. As it turns out, not only that group, but also students and faculty members and even their families from the university in Göttingen frequented the area for recreation, relaxation, and convivial socializing much as residents, students, and professors in Jena frequented Triesnitz (Driesnitz). Back.

[2] Illustration of the Rasemühle from R. Fick, ed., Auf Deutschlands hohen Schulen: Eine illustrierte kulturgeschichtliche Darstellung deutschen Hochschul- und Studentenwesens [Berlin, Leipzig 1900], 105. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott