Pontonbrücke und neue Rheinbrücke bei Maxau (LFS03225)

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Pontoon bridge with car and train traffic in Karlsruhe Maxau.


Reference / film number :  LFS03225
Date :  1937
Coloration :  Black and white
Sound :  Mute
Running time :  00:10:05
Reel format :  8 mm
Genre :  Amateur movie
Thematics :  Second World War : prewar, The Rhine, cross-border symbol, Industry
Archive :  Haus des Dokumentarfilms

Context and analysis

The pontoon bridge near Karlsruhe Maxau has a long tradition and was only one of many such crossings, some of which were operated for a long time. From the middle of the 19th century there were seven pontoon bridges across the Upper Rhine: Kehl - Strasbourg (1815-1897), Maxau (1840-1938), Germersheim (1877-1945), Speyer (1866-1938, Mannheim - Ludwigshafen (1705 - 1867), Worms (1855-1900) and Mainz-Kastel 1861-1885). In order to increase traffic between Baden and Alsace, which is again under German administration, nine new ship bridges were built on pontoons between Weil am Rhein and Maxau from 1872 (Weil - Hünningen, Neuenburg - Eichwald, Breisach - Neubreisach, Sasbach - Marckolsheim, Kappel - Rheinau, Ottenheim - Gerstheim, Freistett - Gambsheim, Grefferin - Drusenheim, Pittersdorf - Selz). They were usually used until the end of World War II and beyond. Maxau pontoon bridge The first bridge at Maxau was inaugurated on August 25, 1840. When the railway line from Karlsruhe to the Palatinate was built in 1862, a new bridge was necessary, which also made it possible for the railway to cross the Rhine. In 1865, for example, a new ship bridge was built that could use both rail and private transport. When a ship on the Rhine wanted to cross the bridge, elements were opened in the middle to allow passage. Then they were folded in again and traffic could flow over the bridge. This bridge construction was awarded a gold medal at the Paris World's Fair in 1867 as a technical pioneering achievement. Until a new bridge near Germersheim was able to serve freight traffic, considerable amounts of coal were transported from the Saarland to the southwest via the Maxau pontoon bridge. Technical details pontoon bridge Maxau The bridge had a total length of 363 meters, of which it itself was 234 meters long and the driveways an additional 129 meters. It consisted of 34 pontoons, which were assembled into twelve elements. Six of them could be opened in the middle for the ships crossing. The track in the middle separated the two tracks for the rest of the traffic. The advantage of such a bridge, in addition to the lower construction costs compared to a fixed bridge, was that it could adapt very flexibly to different water levels. The relatively low load capacity of the pontoon bridge of around 100 tons made it necessary to use particularly light locomotives. The max. five wagons of a train were driven over the Rhine with this special locomotive and taken over by a more powerful locomotive at the other end. The operation of the bridge was discontinued in the event of ice in winter. New construction of the Maxau Bridge

The operational inadequacies of the ship bridge for modern traffic - obstruction of shipping, low load-bearing capacity and complex operational management - led to the construction of the first fixed bridge near Karlsruhe Maxau in the 1930s. The amateur film was made at the time of the transition. The old pontoon bridge is still in operation, the construction of the new bridge can be seen in the background. The road bridge was inaugurated on January 17, 1938, the iron bridge on April 3, 1938. The bridge had a central pillar, which divided the structure into two bridge fields, 175 m and 117 m long. It had two superstructures in steel framework construction: one superstructure, which accommodated the double-track railway line, and one superstructure for the street. The new Rhine bridge was damaged in bombing raids in 1945 at the end of World War II. On March 21, 1945, an American artillery grenade struck a detonator, causing the Germans to blow up the bridge. After that, the French armed forces built a pontoon bridge for road traffic as a temporary measure. A wooden railway bridge was built in 1946. As a long-term replacement, a new bridge was inaugurated south of the previous location in May 1947. In 1966 a new motorway bridge was built that connects Karlsruhe and Wörth. According to a survey from 2005, almost 80,000 cars drive over this bridge on weekdays. Kay Hoffmann

Places and monuments

Karlsruhe Maxau

Article written by

Kay Hoffmann, 21 November 2018

  1. This film analysis is still in progress. It may therefore be incomplete and contain errors.