From Nack, follow the signs to Teufelsrutsch Wendelsheim, on the slope below.
|Dimension:||L=13.5 m, VR=2.1 m.|
|Guided tours:||self guided|
Carl Zuckmayer (1927):
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|25-MAY-1778||Schinderhannes born in Miehlen.|
|21-NOV-1803||Schinderhannes beheaded in Mainz.|
The Schinderhanneshöhle is located in the Hunsrück, near Nack, in the valley of the Gaulbach. It is best reached on foot or by bicycle.
It got its name because it is said to have been the hiding place of the notorious robber, Schinderhannes. The Schinderhannes was actually named Johannes Bückler, he got his nickname because he had an apprenticeship as a Schinder, an old German word meaning knacker, at Nastätten. He was born in the Hunsrück and also did his mischief here, his actual place of residence was the Schmidtburg above the Hahnenbach brook. This cave is said to have served him only as a hiding place in case of danger. The cave again served as a hideout, according to legend, for a deserter during the First World War.
The Schinderhanneshöhle is very small, only 13 m long, and it is hard to imagine that anyone could have spent a long time here. The cave is located in shale, a rock that cannot karstify, and was formed by tectonic forces. Erosion caused a rock package to slide and a fissure to open up. Such caves are rare and usually very small.
There are several other caves nearby with a similar geology, the Dümpelhardt Cave with a length of 5 m, the Adrenalin Cave, also 5 m long, and the Cave of Saint Castor. The last one is only 2.7 m long and is therefore not considered a cave. Caves are normally only included in the cadastre if they are 5 m long or longer, but this one was included anyway because of its cultural and historical significance as a hermit's hermitage and place of pilgrimage.
Johannes Bückler, the son of a knacker, committed some thefts and fell into the company of sinister journeymen. After a short time, he himself was the leader of the gang. The gang also robbed and murdered, but the charm and humour of Schinderhannes made him popular with the people, a kind of German Robin Hood. He had a relationship with the landlady of the Hoxmühle, who repeatedly hid him from justice. He also hid in the Schinderhannes Cave, 1.5 km from the Hoxmühle, which, according to legend, he was able to leave through a secret exit. But in the end the French gendarmes caught him, this was during the time of the French occupation, and he was executed on 21-NOV-1803 on the heights of Weisenau (Mainz) amidst lively public interest. Even today, a circle of 19 poplars with a stately tree in the middle marks this spot. In the Hunsrück, you can still visit many places that are said to have had a connection to his life. There are several Schinderhannes caves, prisons from which he is said to have escaped, and the Schinderhannes Tower in Simmern.
In other words, this is only one of several Schinderhannes caves in the Hunsrück. For example, there is a tunnel only one metre high in the Soonwald, near the former Hoxmühle inn northeast of Seesbach. Likewise, a short slate mining gallery from the 19th century near Selters in the Taunus, between Haintchen and Eisenbach. Due to its geology, the region is very poor in caves, and so former mining tunnels were often interpreted as caves when, after a few generations, the mining history was forgotten.
While Schinderhannes and his band of robbers existed, the legends about him were mostly invented. This began shortly after his imprisonment in 1802, when two supposedly authentic biographies were published. They were almost entirely fabricated. The best-known portrayal of the noble robber is the book Schinderhannes by Carl Zuckmayer from 1927.