Stuttgart / Karlsruhe (dpa / lk) – 70 years ago, the three states of Württemberg-Baden, Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern merged. While nearly everyone in Württemberg had previously voted for the southwestern state in a referendum, the enthusiasm of many Baden residents was limited. Today the unity of the federal state is no longer in question, even if “Gälfiaßler” and “Sauschwoben” like to tease each other (see letter Z). The anniversary will be celebrated on May 4th. Here you can find out what makes the Southwest so special.
Kretschmann and Kehrwoche, spaetzle and thrift, wonderful wines and secret world market leaders: the region between the Main and Lake Constance turns 70 years old.
A as Affadaggl – Swabians love to swear and are still creative. Affadaggl means dachshund monkey. Depending on the emotional situation and taste, there are variants such as Allmachtsdaggl or Granadadaggl, Mords- or Saudaggl, Schmalzdaggl and Schnabbsdaggl. They all mean one thing: idiot!
B as in the building savings agreement – What is the first word of a newborn Swabian? That’s right, savings agreement. Each Swabian is said to have at least four. The most important motto in the Ländle is: “Work, work, build a house!” Like the Scots, the Swabians are said to be extremely cheap. Because the region was once destitute.
C for CDU – The Christian Democratic government once belonged to the southwest like the spaetzle, the Black Forest and the Maultaschen. The Union held control for nearly six decades until a Japanese tsunami destroyed a nuclear power plant in 2011 and brought a Green party to power. The Union had to play the junior partner for years. In 2026, however, the cards will be reshuffled in the next state elections.
D for wire ass – How unfair: someone invents the wheel and only collects malice for it. Karl Freiherr Drais von Sauerbronn embarks on the first bicycle tour in history with his handcar in 1817 – from Mannheim to Schwetzingen and back in just under an hour. Baden’s racing car was quickly copied overseas, while Drais was derided as “Baron vonrutsch” (“Don’t drive a carriage, don’t ride a horse, too lazy to run”). The eccentric from Karlsruhe dies alone and impoverished in his hometown.
And for Europa-Park – Baden-Württemberg is the land of superlatives when it comes to amusement parks: Europa-Park in Rust near Freiburg, Baden, opened in 1975, is the largest and most visited amusement park in Germany. Tripsdrill Adventure Park in Cleebronn near Heilbronn is also located in the southwest. It was founded in 1929, making it the oldest amusement park in Germany.
F for Fasnet – If the Rhine carnival is more cheerful and colorful (“Alaaf! Helau!”), The Swabian-Alemannic carnival (“Narri-Narro!”) Is more traditional and almost a little dark. Fools wear wooden masks or embody figures from village and city history, mythical creatures and animals.
G for Griffin – The country’s crest is somewhat similar to the Borussia Dortmund logo or Maya the Bee bust, at least in terms of colors. It shows three black lions on a yellow and gold shield. The shield is supported by a deer and a mythical beast, the griffin. The deer is the heraldic animal of Württemberg and the griffon is the heraldic animal of Baden.
H as in High German – It is the one thing that the people of Baden-Württemberg cannot do – if you believe the famous slogan with which the state has been self-deprecating in recent years. The campaign has won a number of awards. The government recently launched a new advertising offensive: “The Länd”.
I like the industry – Baden-Württemberg is the home of the “Hidden Champions”, companies often hidden in the provinces and world leaders in their niche. The ElringKlinger company from the municipality of Dettingen an der Erms, for example, is the world’s largest manufacturer of cylinder head gaskets. The Schuler company from Göppingen produces presses for the whole world.
J for hermit beetle – The millimeter-sized animal, protected by the EU, has been making the Deutsche Bahn suffer for years. As the group was climbing on the insect’s fur with the Stuttgart 21 construction project, they had to create new habitats for the beetle. Resettlement of the wall lizards also cost the builders a lot.
K like Kehrwoche – The Swabian traditionally sweeps their own front door. Very important and fixed ritual. During the “little sweeping week” it is necessary to clean the stairwell from your apartment on the floor below. The “great sweeping week” is the turn of the entrance to the house, the courtyard, the sidewalk in front of the house and the cellar.
I like luxury cars – Coming from the country. In addition to Daimler, Porsche is also based in Stuttgart. Many automotive suppliers such as Bosch or ZF Friedrichshafen are also based here. A true Swabian hides his “Heilig’s Blechle” in the garage instead of putting it on display.
M for monarch – The opposition accused him of “monarchical traits”: with an iconic crew cut and gruff rhetoric, Winfried Kretschmann (73) represented the country for more than a decade. “Kretsch” embodies Swabian traditions, whether he’s playing the Württemberg Pinokel card game with his friends or meeting up with his guild of fools for a “frog tripe dinner”, where beef offal is served with red wine. Delightful.
N as Neuschwabenland – During a naval expedition before the start of the Second World War, a coastal region of Antarctica received the name of “Neuschwabenland”, from the name of a ship. To this day, conspiracy theorists have spread fairy tales about a secret ice fortress into which the missing Nazis fled.
Oh like fruit – According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Baden-Württemberg has the largest stocks of contiguous orchards in all of Europe, it is currently estimated that there are around 7.1 million orchard trees out of an estimate of between 89,000 and 111,000 hectares, so a lot of wood. About 40 percent of all orchards in Germany are located in the southwest. Almost half of the trees are apple trees, about 25% are cherry trees. Lawn orchards provide habitat for around 5,000 plant and animal species and around 3,000 different types of fruit.
P in protest – The Southwest always makes headlines with savage resistance, whether it’s angry citizens fighting in the castle garden for trees and train stations, or diesel fans where wheels are more important than clean air in the Stuttgart basin. The lateral thinkers, whom the Office for the Protection of the Constitution thought of, took to the streets for the first time in Stuttgart against the measures of the Crown. Incidentally, the village of Wyhl am Kaiserstuhl in southern Baden is considered the birthplace of the anti-nuclear movement – residents went to the barricades here in the 1970s and prevented the construction of the nuclear power plant on their doorstep. The Federal Greens, then still a protest party, were founded in Karlsruhe in 1980.
Q as in the town square – There are no street names in the center of Mannheim, but rather strange combinations of letters and numbers – about O7.29. The “square city” of North Baden between the Rhine and the Neckar is arranged in a grid of blocks at right angles, the “Mannheim squares”. Just like in Manhattan.
R for hype – Millions of visitors, beer harvests: As Germany’s second largest folk festival, the Cannstatter Wasen attracts guests from all over the world to the banks of the Neckar. After crop failure and famine, King William I of Württemberg started the “Agriculture Festival in Kannstadt” in 1818. Before Corona, around 3.5-4 million people visited the folk festival every year – now the popular festival had to take a forced break for two years.
S for solar rays – The Southwest is truly blessed with this. Baden-Württemberg always makes headlines as the sunniest region in Germany. Between December and February, for example, the sun in this country shone on average for about 225 hours. Bavaria, otherwise still class leaders, follows a distant second with just 195 hours of sunshine.
T for costume – There is a lot to see in Baden-Württemberg, one of the best known is probably Baden Bollenhut. The whitewashed straw hat with 14 red balls of wool, together with the cuckoo clock, ham and cherry pie, is a typical symbol of the Black Forest, one of the most famous tourist regions in the world and the highest mountain range in the Germany.
You like judgments – For over 70 years Karlsruhe has been synonymous with the modern constitutional state in Germany as a “legal residence”. “Karlsruhe has many faces, one in three belongs to a judge,” they say. The Federal Constitutional Court, the Federal Court of Justice and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office are at home here.
V for diminutive form – Although the Swabians love to swear, they show their soft side at the end of the word. In the Ländle, the ending -le is used to denigrate what can be denigrated. The house becomes the cottage, the girl becomes the girl and the dog the dog.
We like wine – Trollinger, Pinot Noir, Lemberger, Riesling – Wine is as popular in the Southwest as it is to drink. According to the State Statistics Institute, the vineyard area in 2021 was almost 15,800 hectares in Baden and almost 11,400 hectares in Württemberg: viticulture is an economic factor. Almost 30 percent of all vines in Germany are located in Baden-Württemberg. Usual unit of measurement: quarters.
X like Xälz – In Swabian, it refers to a spreadable sweet made from boiled fruit – that is, jam. Also known as Gsälz or Gesälz. In Baden Schlegg or Schlecksl. First Lady Gerlinde Kretschmann likes to sell Gsälz for a good cause at the Stuttgart Christmas market. Incidentally, Xälzbär describes a loved and cuddly person. Oh yes: the jar of strawberry jam is called “Breschdlingsgsälzhäfele” in Swabian.
Y for Yach – The Ypsilon here makes the difference: in the former Federal Republic of Germany, Yach in the Black Forest was the only place in the country that started with a Y. After German reunification, the small village in the upper Elz valley has had to share this primacy with the Yorck area in Saxony. Yach joined neighboring Elzach in 1974.
Z like forced fraternization – The dash in Baden-Württemberg is, at least so it sometimes seems, even after 70 years, the only concrete among the tribes of the southwest. The Badener and the Swabians are as emotionally close as the British and the Scots. Even though in the rest of Germany all people living in Baden-Württemberg are considered Swabians, inside the country a wrong assignment is strictly frowned upon.