Most Steinbachers want to be townspeople to the very end

Regional reform in Bavaria: Despite citizens’ vote, Steinbach was incorporated into Johannesberg in 1978 – no funding was awarded

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Anton Hofmann (84) was the deputy mayor of the Steinbach commune until it was forcibly incorporated into Johannesberg in 1978. Hofmann carefully filed in a thick file all the documents relating to the Bavarian territorial reform that concerned Steinbach. Photo: Melanie Pollinger

Photo: Melanie Pollinger

Steinbach (here an aerial photo from 2007) was incorporated into Johannesberg in 1978. Archival photo: Stefan Gregor

Photo: Stefan Gregor


Steinbach wants to be included in Aschaffenburg. Nothing else would be compatible with the Steinbachers’ understanding of democracy. He not only feels very disappointed but also betrayed: the mayor of Steinbach, Johann Sauer (independent), wrote a letter in armor, surrounded by 176 citizens’ signatures, on December 15, 1975. Addressees: the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior, the Lower Franconia Government and the Aschaffenburg County Office. However, the die has already been cast with the authorities. The once independent community of Steinbach with 470 inhabitants was forcibly incorporated into Johannesberg on May 1, 1978.


Johann Sauer, who had been the independent mayor of Steinbach since 1966 and previously served as a community councilor for 14 years, is no longer alive. But his deputy, Anton Hofmann, who is still very energetic, can tell Main-Echo from his own experience how enormously influenced was the 1972-1978 Bavarian regional reforms in Steinbach Behind the Sun.

Hofmann was for many years the second mayor and member of the CSU Steinbach, until his compulsory incorporation. This favored the connection with Johannesberg. Looking back, the 84-year-old says: “My point was this: we go where the citizens want to go.” When it came to the good of the commune, sometimes you could forget the name of the party, says Hofmann during a conversation in his beautiful, large garden on a forest slope.

Hofmann, who to this day is extremely diligent in administrative matters, seems to be teasing: more than 200,000 marks in scholarships were lost because the majority in Steinbach city council refused to voluntarily join Johannesberg until the end – the deadline was January 1, 1976. Agree. The proposal of the poviat eldership to send the director of the government, Gerhard Engel, to the December meeting of the Steinbach commune council for clarification did not help either. “We do not need anyone from the eldership, because the eldership has already deceived us enough” – this is a negative reply from Mayor Sauer, written as a handwritten note of November 29, 1975.

The note is in a thick folder with carefully folded documents on the local government reform in Steinbach. Hofmann pulled him out of the basement. Many interesting and funny things come to light from the treasury of documents.

Steinbach wanted to remain independent as long as possible, recalls Hofmann. In the 1960s, the community with 350 inhabitants was well-equipped: a kindergarten, post office, butcher, baker, a large Steinbacher Brot bakery, three restaurants, two gas stations with manual pumps, a self-service grocery store and a bicycle workshop. Sparkasse and Raiffeisenbank were on site twice a week. The “Unterklinger” and “Wiesenrain” were soon added to the Heppenberg development area. – And it was possible to reach the mayor at any time of the day or night.

When Steinbach’s independence was out of the question, in June 1975 a small majority of the city council – the mayor of Sauer and four SPD councilors to four CSU councilors – opted for incorporation into the city. This was preceded by an unofficial opinion poll on May 4, 1975. The result: 193 votes (67%) for Aschaffenburg, 93 votes (37%) for Johannesberg and three (1%) for Glattbach.

CSU Steinbach previously advised Aschaffenburg in a leaflet: 450 Steinbach residents would be a slight minority of less than one percent in the city, but in Johannesberg they would be quite successful with 15 percent. The extension of the road to Aschaffenburg is part of the city’s commitment to traffic safety and has nothing to do with the connection. CSU Steinbacher also tried to invalidate the promise of the city’s bus line. “Due to the connection to Johannesberg, a four-way bus connection to both Aschaffenburg and Johannesberg is guaranteed.” In addition, the city’s tax rates and fees are much higher than in Johannesberg.

Two news reports show how active the city fathers were in courtship to the Steinbachers. “The city is now reaching Steinbach,” was the headline of the Volksblatt of December 6, 1974. The same day, Main-Echo reported an “unusual procedure” with harsh words from County Administrator Roland Eller (CSU) about Mayor Aschaffenburg Willie. Reiland (SPD).

What happened? The city invited the inhabitants of Steinbach to an information meeting in the “Green Tree” with leaflets, so that, as Main-Echo says, the connection with Aschaffenburg would be tasty. The starost criticized the “unfriendly law”. It has never happened that one regional authority would operate in the area of ​​another without first informing it of its intention, Eller said.

Volksblatt even wrote that the city council had not been informed of the Reiland action or the February 1973 letter in which Mayor Steinbach made eight specific offers. The newspaper suspected that the problems at the office were caused by financial problems: the Steinbach commune pays the poviat an annual poviat fee of about 62,000 marks. Eventually, the district lost € 150,000 as a result of the incorporation of Gailbach.

As late as December 1975 – the Lower Franconia government announced its target community reorganization plan the previous month – the city of Aschaffenburg still insisted on the inclusion of Obernau, Steinbach and Dörrmorsbach. The people of Aschaffenburg even wanted to talk to Prime Minister Alfons Goppel in Munich.

According to Main-Echo, at the meeting of the city council, the mayor pointed out “how important it is, taking into account the current financial situation of the city, to put an end to the relocation of business people and companies. now there is no tax. The expansion of the land should create the conditions so that no one leaves the house who brings income tax, and that any company that wants to go to Aschaffenburg will not have to be rejected. ”

Steinbach was also looking for fans in Munich. The municipality has asked MP Hermann Leeb (CSU) to submit a petition against the target planning of the Lower Franconia government. Leeb denied this in his March 4, 1976 letter. First, he is not a voting member of the state committee on constitutional, legal and municipal affairs, and there are “very compelling factual arguments” against the will to register Steinbach.

These corresponded largely to what was published in the Main-Echo of November 22, 1975 under the title “Why the city only gains 20 inhabitants and 5.5 km2”: “The inclusion of Steinbach – desired by the municipality itself – would be considered a government that means inorganic expansion of the city area to the north and very different areas are structurally linked. There are no tangible benefits to either the city or Steinbach.

And further: “On the other hand, the assignment of Steinbach to the member community of Johannesberg in the administrative district of Glattbach offers a reasonable solution that takes into account topographical and structural conditions. local ties, the community has, according to its structure and spatial distance at the commune level, stronger ties with the commune of Johannesberg than with the independent town of Aschaffenburg. “

For the mayor of Steinbach, Johann Sauer, these were not convincing arguments. In a complaint dated December 15, 1975, he wrote that “the unequivocal will of the people and the Steinbach commune council had been completely disregarded in the planning of the goal”, which was in accordance with the will of the inhabitants.

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