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A Short History


N.F. (Sam) Schmitt
Airfield Manager
Giebelstadt Army Airfield
27 September 2000

Note from the Editor

Special thanks to Herr Ernst Neige, member of the Giebelstadt City Council and employee of the German Armed Forces Garrison Administration in Giebelstadt, for providing his "short history of the Giebelstadt Airfield" and several historical photographs.

The information contained in this Giebelstadt History is based on"

"From the Horse to the Jet Plane, a short history of Giebelstadt" by Joseph P. Tustin, XII Tactical Air Command Historian, 5 June 1947.

"Beitraege zur Geschichte der Marktgemeinde Giebelstadt 820 -1970", by Wilhelm Benkert, 1970.

"Landkreis Wuerzburg - Unsere Heimat unter Hitler's Gewaltherrschaft in Dokumenten, Erlebnissen und Schicksalen", by Christian Will, Wuerzburg, 1988.

"Jet&Prop, Foto-Archiv 6, Spezial-Ausgabe: Mai 1945, die Luftwaffe kapituliert, VDM Heinz Nickel, Zweibruecken, Juli 1996.

"Kurzer geschichtlicher Abriss ueber den Flugplatz Giebelstadt", Ernst Neige, Giebelstadt.

Giebelstadt Origin

In the passage of several thousand years, the fields of Giebelstadt have seen lots of changing history - from the coming of the fleet horse to the speedy wings of jet planes and the rattling sounds of military helicopters - contributing to the development of travel and war fighting, from the oldest to the latest means of transportation.

Giebelstadt Community Crest

The Village of Giebelstadt lies in the Main-Franconian plain, the so-called "Ochsenfurter Gau". There are no records about the founding of the village, but it can be said that Giebelstadt is among the first settlements in this rich farming area. East of the village in a small patch of woods, there is a pre-historic graveyard. Excavations made by Professor Dr. Heck of Wuerzburg in the 1920s have revealed, that these graves are the burial grounds of Teutonic ancestors and date back between one and two thousand years before the Christian era began.

There are two versions were the name Giebelstadt may be derived from. The old Teutonic word "gir" means "horse stallion" while the suffix "stat" means "station - the place where the horses were kept. The second version: The oldest written version read "Gibulesstat" derived from the name "Gibule" and the suffix "stat" - "the home of Gibule". He could have been a Carolingian Franconian that settled in the area. The Carolinians were a Frankish dynasty that reigned in France from A.D. 751 - 987 and settled this part of Germany. This area became part of the East Franconian Duchy under the Carolinian Kings. The most famous king of this dynasty was Charlemagne or Charles the Great, the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nations.

Ministers of the King, the so-called "Gaugrafen" - Counts of the Gau, were the extended arm of the dynasty and acted as judges and police force. In the oldest known record about Giebelstadt dated from 20 January 820, the Count Radulfus had a quarrel with the Bishop Wulfgarius of Wuerzburg about some estate near "Gibulostat" and "Eichesfeld", now known as Giebelstadt and Essfeld. The old document states, that the German Emperor Louis the Pious at Aachen ruled for the church and the property in question remained in the custody of the Bishop of Wuerzburg.

The Counts ruled the "Badanachgau" until about 1000 then this area became under the influence of the Prince Bishop of Wuerzburg. The Bishops of Wuerzburg acted as "Dukes of Franconia" and as governors for the King. The Duchy of Franconia ruled by the Prince Bishop of Wuerzburg existed until the Napoleon Wars and became part of the Bavaria in 1806.

The Noble Families

As early as the year 948, mention was made of the aristocratic families of Geyer and Zobel, the later family still is in existence at the present time in Giebelstadt with Baron Stefan Freiherr von Zobel as head of the family. From the earliest of times the place had been used for horse breeding, since without this activity the development of the knighthood could not continue, so it was just natural that both noble families assumed the head of a horse in their heraldic arms. It was not until the 15th century when the head of a ram became the symbol of the Geyer family.

Heraldic Arms of the Count of Geyer, 1685
The most famous son of the Geyer family was Knight Florian Geyer, a hero of the peasant war. Of noble birth, Florian Geyer was educated in England, and upon returning to his Homeland, took issue against the feudal system and strongly opposed the confinement and situation of the peasants who were considered as serfs by their masters. Influenced by the teaching of Martin Luther, Geyer became imbued with the idea that there should be, in his own words: "One nation, one Reich and all its inhabitants being brethren, one god, one law for everybody, rich or poor - such is my longing". More about the short -lived Peasants' War in the chapter - The Peasants War.

On 24 August 1708, Count Heinrich Wolfgang von Geyer died. Him and his wife Helene Julianne von Wolmershausen zu Amlishagen had no children, so the Geyer family became extinct.

The Zobel family was originally knights and served the Counts of Rieneck. This family was wide spread in this region. The oldest recorded home was in Gruensfeld near Tauberbischofsheim. The family later became treasures for the Prince Bishops of Wuerzburg. This position was held until1806, when the Prince Bishop lost his secular power.
A famous member of the family was Melchior Zobel. He was elected Prince Bishop of Wuerzburg and Duke of Franconia in 1544. On 15 April 1558 a servant of the Knight Wilhelm of Grumbach murdered him. Grumbach had ordered the murder because he claimed that the Bishops predecessor owed him 1000 Guilders, and Melchior Zobel wouldn't let the money. Grumbach was declared outlaw by the Emperor was caught and executed on the Market Square of the Saxonian City Gotha. After being beheaded his body was torn into four pieces. Four horses pulling on the arms and legs the same time did this. The execution sword was handed over to the Zobel family and is still kept in the Giebelstadt Zobel Castle.

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