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Erlebnisheimat Erzgebirge
Regionalmanagement Erzgebirge

Homeland exhibition

Max Hunger, Max Reuter, Emil Grund, Otto Lißner, Alban Schmiedel, Friedrich Pfost, Otto Hunger, Fritz Reuter, Fritz Grund, Volkmar Göckeritz, Hans Göbel, Rudolf Päßler, Rudolf Schmiedel, Hugo Richter, Gustav Reppel, Gustav Göckeritz, Arno Schubert und Kurt Augustin

At first the members used to meet at people's homes for so-called "Hutzenabende" where women gathered to make lace and men to carve wood and to look at each other's nativity sets. Then they arrived at the decision to create such Christmas cribs together. On 24th March 1921 a 'Hutzn' room to be used by the crib association was opened in the then parish hall which now houses the restaurant "Alte Turnhalle".

 

The estimated costs of about 3,000 Reichsmark for the construction of an oriental nativity set could be paid from the proceeds of various events. In the pre-Christmas period of 1923 the jointly manufactured Christmas crib was exhibited for the first time in the confirmand's room of the parish hall. Annual exhibitions in advent followed, often accompanied by private cribs and carvings. The nativity sets had to be reassembled each year.

 

In 1931 movable figures and elements were added to the oriental nativity scene. The crib was then exhibited in the newly consecrated parish hall that used to be the church school until 1930. In the years following after 1931 the 'Bärenstein Homeland Mountain' was created as a mechanical nativity scene in the Erzgebirge style. In this scene the crib manufacturers apparently displayed their own homes. Unfortunately many of these houses, usually half-timbered buildings, cannot be found in today's townscape as many of them have been rebuilt or partly demolished.

 

The chronicles of the crib association of Bärenstein show numerous names of workmates who should be known at least to the elderly among us:

 

Eugen Oeser; Emil Göckeritz; Fritz Möckel; Albert Wendler; Max Hunger; Max Kreisel; Otto Wolf and others.

At that time Fritz Grund used to be the president of the association, teacher and father of Feodor Grund who should still be known to most of the people from Bärenstein.

 

Up until world war II the crib exhibitions were held every year or every second year in the new parish hall.

 

Setting up the nativity scenes was always a time-consuming activity shared by the members of the crib association. This dedication was honoured by the great interest of many people from Bärenstein and the numerous visitors.

 

During the war and in the first decades afterwards no exhibitions were possible. All the more we feel indebted to the crib builders and carvers who kept and guarded the cribs with its figures and elements in a safe place. They were stored in the attic of Otto Wolf's house. In the summer of 1966 the figures were taken to the carver's room situated in the 'Ullrich-Haus' in Grenzstraße (then Straße der Freundschaft) by members of the carver's club. Among them were Fritz Richter, Gerhard Richter, Heinz Dick, Erwin Reuter, Werner Göbel, Günther Schreiter and Otto Weidner.

 

For lack of space, they were at first only able set up the nativity scene in the Erzgebirge style. At Christmas in 1966 it was shown to the people again. In 1969 the carvers were given an additional room. So it was also possible to reassemble the oriental nativity set in its original design to be admired in the time before Christmas or on special request.

 

On the initiative of the carvers from Bärenstein supported by the Kulturbund the cribs were reassembled in their new place Annaberger Straße 2 (formerly HO "Express"). There the cribs could be exhibited all year round.

 

After the peaceful revolution in 1989 the exhibition room in Annaberger Straße 2 had to be abandoned due to a change in property rights. Again the carvers provided shelter for the cribs supported by the municipality. The nativity sets were wrapped and stored in boxes in the attic of the town hall for 10 years.

 

Unfortunately, it was not possible during all these years to find a permanent home for the two cribs. Besides, improper handling during disassembly by unfamiliar persons resulted in the loss and damage of some original parts. When the first boxes were being opened in spring 2000 no one could really imagine that such a magnificent mechanical nativity scene was to be assembled again from the many different parts.

One has to admit that the first step is always the hardest. But we were lucky to have people among us who are fond of their homeland and have the will and ability to put all the bits and pieces of this mechanical 'Homeland Mountain' together. As representatives of all the people involved are being named: Manfred Beck, Wolfgang Lenk, Wolfgang Mann und Peter Schmiedel.

 

Many thanks also go to our carvers, the local companies Ohly and Hille and the friends of our homeland Walter Oettel und Peter Kautzschmann who were always on the move to find the necessary tools and materials. The moss, for instance, was obtained from the twin town of Planegg. Our friend Erwin Holzapfel was entrusted with that job.

 

Our crib in the Erzgebirge style reveals a part of the history of Bärenstein, as the buildings displayed do exist in reality or at least existed in the past. Whether you take the church, Otto Wolf's house, the 'Sanderhaus' or the 'Haus im Sonntagsgarten' which has long ceased to exist. It is assumed that some carvers depicted their own homes or even themselves.

 

The oriental Christmas crib, which was set into operation again on 1st December 2001, has been rebuilt and redesigned, using the historical figures and elements, by Wolfgang Mann with great skill and a lot of imagination.

 

It is handicraft at its finest that he produced together with his two crib manufacturer friends Manfred Beck and Peter Schmiedel. They worked their magic on a beautiful landscape by using plaster dressings, polystyrene, colour and sand (from the beach in Binz). For building the trees alone they needed one and a half month creating more than 2,000 palm leaves. To install the water circulation, twelve metres of brass tube were necessary. The motor of an old washing machine was used to control the movement of some of the figures, and the flickering lights make the campfires look astonishingly real. Not to forget the twelve metres long bicycle chain that is used for moving the whole camel trek and the three wise men.

 

The oriental nativity scene on display in the "Haus der Begegnung" is now in good company with the homeland mountain that had been refurbished last year. After many decades both gems have now found a worthy and permanent place where many people will have the chance to admire them.

 

Both the 'Bärenstein Homeland Mountain' and the oriental nativity scene are of priceless, cultural value to our place.

 

Apart from the two nativity sets the handicraft collection of Bärenstein also holds exhibits of the carvers and lace makers from Bärenstein.

 

The exhibition is open for visitors from 14.00 to 16.00 at the weekends of pre-Christmas time (advent) and during the usual opening hours of the public library. It may also be visited upon special arrangement.

 

Public library in the "Haus der Begegnung" Bärenstein

Sächsischer Platz 1, D-09471 Bärenstein

Telephone: +49 37347 - 84226

 

Opening hours:

Monday 10.00 - 12.00 and 13.00 - 16.00

Tuesday 10.00 - 12.00 and 13.00 - 18.00

Thursday 10.00 - 12.00 and 13.00 - 16.00

Friday 09:30 - 11.30

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