1. Mainz – Past and present

A historical city

Mainz, the current capital and largest city of the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz. The city of the inventor of printing, Johannes Gutenberg (1400? – 1468) and to which the local university dissected its name. But also the city where from the beginning of the nineteenth century various members of the Gütlich family lived and spent a large part of their lives. Like the family of Johann Wetterhahn and Susanna Gütlich. Followed in 1830 by the family of Johann Adam Gütlich and Agnetha Jochs. They had a son Philippus who died unmarried in 1868 at the age of 33 and after which this family branch died out.

In 1860, his then 63-year-old father died mysteriously and tragically when his lifeless body was found downstream in the Rhine near Nieder-Ingelheim. Puzzling because he is found well dressed, in possession of his money and some possessions, ruling out a robbery on him and his death looks like an accident.

In 1907, a new Gütlich branch settles in Mainz, from which several sons are born. On February 25, 1945, during the Second World War, a great tragedy takes place in this family when during the heavy bombing of the City of Mainz by the Allies, both the father Jakob Gütlich, his wife Helene and their eldest son Karl, all died.

Of them, at the cemetery “Waldfriedhof” in nearby Mainz-Mombach, memorial stones are placed on the field of honor, in memory of the victims of all bombings during the Second World War on the city of Mainz and its surroundings.

The residential address of the Gütlich families, but also of the Wetterhahn-Gütlich family and descendants, is available through historical address books from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Streetnames Mainz

During the search through the city centre past the addresses where the Gütlich and Wetterhahn families lived in the 19th century, I notice that there are street signs in red and in blue. The blue signs run parallel to the Rhine; the red signs are perpendicular to the Rhine. This makes getting lost in the city center very difficult!!

1860 – Address book Mainz

The photo taken of Hermann Gütlich is known to have been taken in the shop of Brechtel and Urmetzer in Mainz. The 1860 address book of the city of Mainz shows that their studio is located at Markt No. 16. After the aforementioned destruction between 1940-1945, this building was also rebuilt in its original state and is located right with the back against the cathedral.

Market 16

The buildings in the city centre alternate in architectural style. Due to the bombings during the Second World War, many of the original buildings were lost. But because the original street pattern has been preserved during the reconstruction and has often been rebuilt on the basis of historical photo material, the city center exudes a historic atmosphere.

Clearly present in the city center is the “Mainzer Dom”; the large Roman Catholic cathedral, the first stone of which was laid at the end of the 10th century and which was rebuilt despite a number of devastating fires. The well-known Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers, best known in the Netherlands as the designer of the Rijksmuseum and the Central Station in Amsterdam, carried out a major renovation at the end of the 19th century.

1860 Address book Mainz – Gustav and Georg Wetterhahn
Liebfrauenplatz 1

At the back of the cathedral is Liebfrauenplatz, where the Gutenberg Museum is now located at No. 1. In 1860 Gustav Wetterhahn lived there after he had returned from the Austrian army as a retired Major. Despite the attempts to rebuild the city centre according to its original layout, many house numbers have changed or disappeared, including number 6, so that it is not possible to find out where Georg Wetterhahn’s wine trade was located.

A modern city

Due to the presence of the Gutenberg University, many young people live in Mainz and that is noticeable in the center. Full terraces and festivities that give Mainz the impression of being a bustling city.  Nowadays, more and more is being done in cities to give the streetscape of the city its own identity. Pedestrian traffic lights are ideally suited for this. Think of “Ampelmann” in Berlin or the “Ampelhase” in Paderborn. In Mainz, the “Mainzelmännchen” from the ZDF TV commercials are visible in the pedestrian traffic lights, making the importance of the ZDF for the city recognizable.

Mainzelmännchen traffic lights