The History of Bendorf

Bendorf was first mentioned in a Frankish document dated 643, alternatively referred to as "Bodofrica" ​​and "Bodovilla."  Its origin, however, goes back further.

It contains ruins from Celtic, Roman, and Frankish times. The conquest of the Franks in the local area may have been already completed by the end of the fifth century. They located their farms outside an existing settlement. These are likely the areas of Bendorf called Oberhof (“upper estate”) and Niederhof (“lower estate"). The latter was later called Laacher Hof, because it belonged to Maria Laach Abbey from 1152 on, when Emperor Frederick I, Barbarossa, acknowledged the abbey as the legal owner.  Another estate was called Siegburger Hof because it belonged to Siegburg Abbey, according to documents dated 1064/64 and 1105.

In 1139, the Counts von Sayn became part of the history of the area, beginning with Heinrich I and Eberhard I. They are mentioned as protectors of Oberhof.  The Counts von Sayn acquired Oberhof in 1290. 

The family seat of the Counts von Sayn is on the Kehrberg ridge, originally known as Stromberg but distinct from the part of Bendorf that now bears its name.  Destroyed in the Thirty Years' War, the fortress was reconstructed in some of its parts. Count Henry II von Sayn and his brother Bruno founded Sayn Abbey in 1202, almost at the same time they were building the Bendorf Church. The single-aisle Romanesque Sayn Abbey church, which still exists today, houses numerous monuments and church treasures. A wing of the cloister with a picturesque well house (drinking fountain and lavatorium) has been preserved. 

At the end of the 16th century, the struggle for the ownership of Bendorf's land began with Heinrich IV von Sayn. After his death in 1606, the daughter of his brother Hermann inherited the fief. She married Count Wilhelm von Sayn-Wittgenstein, who called himself the Count of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn beginning in 1606, who adhered to the new Reformed church doctrine. 

Feudal inheritance disputes led to frequent changes of ownership, resulting in the Maria Laach Abbey laying claim to Bendorf in 1636.  That same year, Emperor Frederick III took the Bendorf Church under his protection. 

In 1638, troops under the control of Baron von Metternich entered Bendorf to supersede the Laach Abbey and wrongfully declared Bendorf and its church as a Palatine fiefdom. For the next seven years, Bendorf suffered greatly under the rule of Metternich. 

Not until 1647, when the Maria Laach Abbey took control of Bendorf again after a long series of disputes, did conditions improve. Bendorf was awarded to Countess Luise von Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn through the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. 

In 1744, Bendorf became part of the principality of Brandenburg Bendorf-Onolzbach (Ansbach), and in 1791 it became a protectorate of Prussia. It remained so, with short breaks in 1803 and 1806, until Prussia was finally awarded Bendorf through the 1815 Congress of Vienna.  Prince Ludwig Adolf Friedrich zu Sayn-Wittgenstein purchased the Reiffenberg Fortress at the foot of the hill known as Burgberg (literally, "Fortress Hill"). The neo-Gothic castle of the Princes of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn was built here in 1848 and was rebuilt again between 1995 and 2000, following severe damage from World War II. 

In the 19th century, Bendorf officially came to be called a city. In 1928, the villages of Sayn and Mülhofen became part of Bendorf. 

As part of the Rhineland-Palatinate government reform, the Unterwesterwald community of Stromberg was added as its fourth district in 1974. Stromberg was inhabited between 1000 and 500 BC by the Celts, corroborated through the "Auf der Kehr" Celtic burial ground. 

The Bendorf district was rich in ores, clays, quartz sand, and pumice. As early as the 18th and 19th centuries, these natural resources were the foundation for a rapidly-flourishing industry that substantially encouraged connections to the Westerwaldbahn rail network in 1884 and the Rhine port in 1899. The iron industry and, consequently, refractory stone industry were dominant. The use of a smelter was mentioned beginning in early 18th century. The casting house of the Sayner Hütte foundry, built from 1825-1830, is one of the most important technical cultural monuments in Europe. Built in the form of a basilica with three naves, it ranked alongside the foundries of Berlin and Gleiwitz as one of the top three in all of Prussia. 

Located at the crossroads of European thoroughfares in charming countryside stretching up from the Rhine to the wooded heights of the Westerwald region, Bendorf offers many attractions, including the Saint Medard Church with Reichard Münster chapel, glockenspiel on the city's church tower, and Eisenerzröstöfen ore pits. 

In the Sayn neighbourhood, we find in a narrow space with a variety of attractions that make up the "Sayn Culture Park:" the abbey church, fortress, castle park, butterfly garden, Sayn Foundry (Sayner Hütte), climbing forest, Heins Mill, and Limes Roman fortifications and watch-tower. You are welcome to swim in the modern municipal swimming pool in the summer.

Jacoby Institute

The Jewish Sanatorium for the Nervous and Mentally Ill, known as the Jacoby Institute and located at Koblenz-Olper-Straße 39 in Bendorf-Sayn, was the only private Jewish institution of its kind in Germany. It was also known internationally for its advanced treatment methods. A memorial by artist Beni Cohen-Or erected in 2002 reminds us of the 573 Jewish men, women, and children who the Nazis deported from here in 1942. Read more ...

Bendorf Jewish Cemetery

The Jewish cemetery on Wenigerbachtal in Bendorf was first mentioned in 1697.  The wide steps at the entrance to the cemetery, built in 1913, have mosaics of Jewish symbols and are probably inspired by Arnold Böcklin's painting "Isle of the Dead."  List of the burials in the Bendorf Jewish Cemetery, transcribed by Eric Adler.

Sayn Jewish Cemetery

The Jewish cemetery on Sayner Meisenhofweg in Bendorf was first used in 1800 as a private resting place. It became the property of the Jacoby family through marriage. Many of the people buried there were patients of the Jacoby Institute. 143 people died here in 1940-1942 alone, when the German government decreed that Jewish patients could be interned only in Sayn. A memorial commemorates the people who could not receive gravestones because due to the exigencies of the time. List of burials in the Bendorf-Sayn Jewish Cemetery, transcribed by Eric Adler.


Translated by Eric Adler

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