Schirrhein, Alsace, France

old building

An old building next to the Marie

A few words of intro

Every so often, on the weekends, I’d choose a random village with a “vide grenier” (emptying the attic). In this French way, they often are organized by an association aiming to fundraise. Individual households would pay around 10 euros for a table to sell and get rid of their things. In the winter, these events are often held at indoors, in some sort of a cultural center, or a sport hall. Ever since I have these 2 little kids, I’ve been to as many of these ones featuring “puériculture” (nursery items), which includes used clothes and toys. Some others can be just for bicycles, or just old toy cars. Baby things seem to be the most abundance. As long as my kids are still young, I’ll remain ultra-enthusiastic to go find what I can find. Euros go quite a long way.

In the summer, there are more general vide greniers, or marché aux puce / brocante (flea markets) outdoors. People would basically do yard sales together at once. Sometimes it coincide with town’s festivals with music, foods, and other small activities. I’m addicted to these things. One never knows what one can find.

I have taken many generic pictures of these places/events. But from this town on, I’m starting a special series featuring the town that I’d happen upon. Since this continent is full of recorded histories. I’ll be focussing on the lovely ALSACE, my adoptive home region and get into as much of it as I can. Here’s the first town of Schirrhein, a half an hour drive from Strasbourg, and what I’ve learned below the pictures (via my own summarizations combined with rough-on-the-edges translations).

Schirrhein's Coat of Arms

Schirrhein’s Coat of Arms

Click for more History and Stats >

Population : around 2000
Trade : Logging
Size : 6,49 km2 (2.5 square miles)

The meaning of the name “Schirrhein”


The name origin is not settled. It’s either “Schir-rein/rain” or “Schier-ried”.
““the slope of the barns” or “that borders the slope Ried” (Ried being the lower zone).

Village name as changed over time
Rieth, in 1257
Schürrieth, in 1313
Schirriet in 1521
Schürrain in 1601
Schürrein in 1631
Scheureut in 1656
Schierem in 1753
Giraine in 1756
Schirème in 1769
Schirreit in 1791
Schirrein in 1795
Schierheim in 1796
Schirrhein in 1870


Pre-historic to Ancient time :
•This area has been occupied since at least the neolithic era (9000 b.c.), as evidenced in archeological findings.
•There are signs of it being a village since the bronze age (2200 b.c.). The human presence is continuous to this day evolving from the Celts, to the Gauls, to the Romans. It is likely that this crossroad area was served as a resting stop for the Roman army. The village suffered a heavy destruction after the Barbarian invasion (year 476)

Middle Ages :
•Not until 1257 the name “Rieth” was mentioned in a charter signed by Richard of Cornwall as a part of the town of Haguenau.
•1347, it became (more or less) independent. “Schürhof” became Schirrhoffen. The rest of the village, “Schürrieth” remained direct possession of the town of Haguenau. This part later became the current Schirrhein, the twin village to the Schirrhoffen.
•On 4 May 1521, Emperor Charles V reaffirmed a new Charter, the rights and privileges of the inhabitants of Haguenau on the exploitation of the forest, and therefore those of Schirrhein and Schirrhoffen too. However, the town of Haguenau will try again to prevent the villagers to enjoy the same rights and privileges. These disputes lead to a procer Schirrhein and Schirrhoffen against the town of Haguenau centuries later.

Renaissance to French Revolution
•For the XVI century the entire Alsace period of peace and culture with strong economic wealth. The population and trade increased, in the renaissance.
•This period will end with the 30 year war in 1618. During which, Alsace lose more than half of its inhabitants. Many villages were completely destroyed and never rebuilt. Through negotiations with the Lord Schirrhoffen hordes of Swedes, the two villages escape total annihilation. The conflict ended in 1648 by a French victory. The treatise Westphalia, wrote the year, linked the Alsace region of France the Kingdom.
•As the region is dramatically depopulated, Louis XIV encouraged the immigration of Swiss, Bavarian and Austrian to Alsace. Some very common family names here were of these origins: the Dorffer, Gentner, Heisserer Schmitter and are from Bavaria and Austria, the Appenzeller and Schiffli Switzerland.

19th-20th Century
•Emigration : Poverty, poor soil and lack of industry lead many villagers to emigrate, first to Russia (1803 – 1811) and then to the United States of America (1820-1870). This latter emigration is massive and affects many families. From 1843 to 1852, for example, 302 people leave Schirrhein, mostly for the New World. Their favorite destinations are Ohio and Missouri, where a large colony settled in New Hamburg and Kelso. These pioneers are Halter names, Heisserer, Dannenmuller, Schott, Schitter, Brucker, Mosser, and others. Tombstones recall their memories today.
•Those who remain behind live a meager life in the agriculture, and especially of the logging in the forest of Haguenau. In the early twentieth century, the population, consisting mainly of laborers, often has to go abroad, temporarily or permanently, to richer industrial communities and regions.

The First World War
•From 2 to 9 August 1914 235 men leave the village to meet the general mobilization order decreed by Germany. Collections for the Red Cross, government bonds, confiscation of wheat stocks, diet ration cards, food shortage, rising prices, black market, etc., characterize this period.
•November 20, 1918 the last German troops leave the village, the first French cavalry patrol there between November 22.
•The village lost 48 people.

World War II
•1 September 1939: Located in the second zone, the Schirrhein is not affected by the first evacuation of the Rhineland towns to Limousin.
•May 13, 1940: A bomber plane dropped fifteen bombs on the village.
•May 24 1940: The evacuation is ordered and carried out in the same day. The people of Schirrhein are directed to the town of Rothau. Their exile was short lived. By 1 July, the displaced residents could return home.
•16 and March 17, 1945: Release of Schirrhein by the 3rd Regiment of Algerian infantry. 70% of the village was devastated.

Schirrhein today
•Since the end of World War II the metropolitan area has grown considerably to the north, through the establishment of several subdivisions, necessitated agreements for the undivided Haguenau Forest. The series of the amended municipal boundaries of Schirrhein and Haguenau were made in 1959, 1974, 1981 and 1989. The last subdivision, “Les Myrtilles” (“The Blueberries”), with a title of 35 lots, was made following a sale of Oberhoffen’s field, as approved by the Ministry of Defense.
•This is also the time of large scales work in the city (water pipelines, sanitation, construction of schools, stadiums, cultural amenities …). Today Schirrhein is a residential city with many crafts, trade and services which meet all the needs of daily life. The active population have work outside the village in near by areas of Strasbourg, Haguenau, Bischwiller but also (Germany cities of) Bühl, Rastatt and Karlsruhe. Some 200 children attend local nursery and elementary schools before going to the The College of Soufflenheim (a high school).
•The village has a welcoming appearance, peaceful, and is situated in a wonderful green setting where life is good. Associative dynamics and a spirit of good quality are perhaps the major characteristics of the locality.

Schirrhein location


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *