Historical Bike Tours on the Democracy and Freedom Movement in Southwest Germany (August 1 – August 9 2015)

The tour is almost fully booked with only five openings!

We invite you to take a journey into a hidden chapter of German history. It is the struggle for democracy and freedom, which is linked to the fight for civil and human rights in the United States in the 19th century.
We will explore the beautiful wine region of Palatinate in Southwest Germany, as well as neighboring Alsace in France where, shortly after the French Revolution in 1789, the ideas of democracy and freedom took hold. Villagers in the region liberated themselves from feudal constraints and the town of Bergzabern proclaimed itself a republic. A few decades later in 1848, the famous Hambach Festival took place with thousands demanding democracy, and the town of Kaiserslautern became the center of the Palatinate uprising in defense of the first democratic constitution in Germany. After the defeat of the democratization movement, more than ten thousand “Forty-Eighters” immigrated to the United States, where they supported democratic values, opposed slavery and supported improved labor laws and working conditions.

During the bike tour, historians will explain the history of oppression and freedom in Southwestern Germany during the first half of the 19th century. The tour will not only satisfy the mind and intellect, but also the senses. Like the thousands of participants at the Hambach Festival, we will enjoy the wonderful wine and food of the region. We will experience the region’s culinary, wine and musical culture; hike to beautiful medieval castles and take in the charming scenery.

The bike tour will move at a relaxed pace, with few climbs and not more than 35 miles a day. However, the more experienced cyclists have the option to go on more challenging mountainous trails. The group will be made up of both German and English speaking participants with consecutive translation provided.



Landau in der Pfalz: The English speaking participants will gather here, receive an initial overview of this part of German history, stroll through the town and relax after a long overseas flight.

Rastatt: We will travel by train to Rastatt, where we will meet with the other participants and begin our bike tour. A freedom museum in the castle commemorates the last bastion of the struggle for democracy and human rights during the democracy movement in the first half of the 19th century.

Wissembourg in Alsace: This beautiful medieval town was refuge for many of the democratic opposition, which had to flee from Germany. Today, it invites you to relax in one of its many charming cafes.

Nussdorf and Landau: During the French Revolution in 1789, the garrison town of Landau was a French exclave and established a German and French Jacobin club. We will stroll through the village of Nussdorf to visit the houses that were built shortly after the French Revolution.

Hambach Castle: In May 1832, the first major protest movement for a democratic Germany met here. An exhibit commemorates and explains the background of this event.
Esthal: Surrounded by the Palatinate Forest, we will relax in the monastery and discuss the history of freedom of the 19th century and its consequences for today.

Queichhambach: In this enjoyable atmosphere, we will celebrate the Hambach Festival in a restored old barn, the Culture Barn, with historical-political reading, music and wine.

Rhodt / Gleisweiler: Before the revolutionary upheavals, the beauty of these two villages on the wine route, with their views of the Haardt Forest and the Rhine Valley, inspired the ruling princes and clergy to build representative parks and monumental buildings. Local historians will explain the life of village people in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Politische Radreise mit Thomas Handrich im Dahner Felsenland 5-2014 Abrissclip

DATE: August 1 – August 9, 2015

8 nights for double room includes breakfast plus one extra meal (per day); translation service; guides; cultural and educational program; rental of bikes, helmets and bike bags; wine tastings; transport from Landau/Pfalz to Rastatt.
Information subject to change.

We are happy to assist you in making arrangements for a longer stay.

Thomas Handrich has a Master’s Degree in Political Science. As a consultant and trainer, he has been visiting many countries primarily in Eastern Europe to empower democratic initiatives from the local to the international level. He lives close to Berlin, however Palatinate is his native region. During the past five years, Thomas has been organizing historical-political bike tours through Palatinate and other regions in Europe, such as visiting Roma communities in East Slovakia and exploring alternative economic initiatives in Eastern Germany.
Ulrike Hoessle loves to bike and is a strong advocate for human rights. This bike tour through her native region allows her to combine her two greatest passions. Ulrike has a Master’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology and a Ph.D. in Political Science. For nearly 20 years, she worked in Europe, Africa and Latin America with nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations, where she managed programs in the area of human rights and environmental issues. Today, she works for Walla Walla Solutions in Seattle and focuses on business and human rights.

Due to technical problems, we might not have received previous email communication. Please send your requests at Ulrike Hoessle (uhoessle [at] yahoo [dot] com) or Thomas Handrich (Thomashandrich1 [at] aol [dot] com)