A Local Hero

Ever heard of Johann Peter Hebel? Neither had I. But he has a park named after him in Lorrach.

Being curious, I looked him up online once I got home. No wonder I never heard of him.

He was a writer, teacher and theologian who wrote in Alemmanic. That’s a local German dialect that I find completely unintelligible. It is quite common in my area, but when I come across someone speaking it I just nod my head and smile. German is hard enough for me. Alammanic is impossible.

Still, he must have been a big deal if he has a park, with a statue. Plus, the the high school where he taught is now named after him, and there’s a major literary prize that bears his name. Tolstoy, Goethe and Hesse were all fans.

I wonder though if most Germans have ever heard of him. After all, most don’t speak the Alammanic dialect. His fame may be rather limited.

Then again, isn’t that true of many “well known” people? You may establish yourself in a profession or a region, but outside that you may not make much of an impact. I suspect Justin Trudeau or Boris Johnson could walk down the main street of Sulzburg and be recognized as strangers (it is a small town after all) but not known by name. (And if you just asked Justin and Boris who? then you have proved my point. Though I suspect people reading here are familiar with those individuals.) .

As an information junkie, I was quite pleased to learn about Johann Peter Hebel. On reflection though, I am wondering of what I have learned about him will ever be of any use to me.

I can pretty much guarantee I will never read any of his works. Probably not even if I can find English translations. I’m alread a few centuries behind on teh books I want to read, or so it seems. I’m not planning on adding any Germans to the mix.

Are there people in your area who are “local heroes?” They have a statue, a major building or perhaps a park named after them – but no-one outside of a small area has a clue who they are.

Can you tell me about them? I’m an information junkie. I really want to know.


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