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67471 Elmstein

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Paul-Selbach-Ruh rest area

Paul Selbach was the 1st chairman of the local group Naturfreunde Elmstein.

historical review:

The tourist association "Die Naturfreunde" was founded in Vienna in 1895 as an international organisation of the working class. The aim of the organisation was to lead the masses of the working population, who lived in the rapidly growing industrial centres in mostly cramped and inadequate living conditions, into nature. To organise hikes and create bases for overnight stays and holidays. In 1910, a local group of this association was founded in the then stinking industrial city of Ludwigshafen. Very soon, the biggest goal of this group was to build a holiday home. Great importance was attached to the name of the holiday home. It was not supposed to be a forest economy, but a place for people seeking recreation. Soon enough donations were collected from industry and the community and a prefabricated house made of cork was purchased at a low price of 2,500 Reichsmark. This house was to be erected ready for occupancy in the Deidesheim area. But unfortunately there was a major fire on the premises of the G&H company, so that the prefabricated house was also destroyed. The Friends of Nature received an earmarked compensation sum from the insurance company and so had to look for another possibility. Unfortunately, Deidesheim was no longer an option, so they had to look for a new place. Plots of land in Frankenstein, in the district of Neustadt/Haardt and Wachenheim were targeted. In March 1914, the association approached the municipality of Esthal to build their forest house there. Unfortunately, after the first promise, they received a refusal from the local council. Now the association turned more towards Elmstein, where a site was chosen in Appenthal (today the artists' colony). Unfortunately, the First World War intervened and the construction had to be postponed. After the end of the First World War in 1918, the board continued to work on the construction of the holiday home. In the meantime, a favourable opportunity had arisen on the Harzofen. A residential house in an excellent location was for sale there. The house and grounds were bought in July 1919 for 17,500 Reichsmark. After overcoming many difficulties, whether it was raising the necessary money for the renovation, having enough volunteers to make the arduous journey to Elmstein at weekends, or the local group's united boycott of the Reichsbahn (many worked for the Reichsbahn at the time and were therefore able to use it free of charge) because it laid off German staff in 1920 due to the French occupation, the group decided to take the private Rhein-Haardt railway to Bad Dürkheim and hike from there to Harzofen. What an arduous journey. But all the effort was worth it. The official inauguration of the holiday home took place on 15 May 1921 (Whitsun).

The fact that this great project was realised and implemented was ultimately due to Mr. Paul Selbach (chairman of the local group), August Walk (gen. Kruppenbacher) member of the board and Franz Dertnig (at that time manager of a branch of Konsum in Friesenheim).

Source (text excerpts by Gertrud Landbeck): Elmsteiner Heimatschrift, Issue 5 / December 2001

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