By schorschi


In the village (Attenhausen), there was a large Flurbereinigung or "land consolidation" in 1954 and this is the monument that was erected to "celebrate" the event.

German inheritance laws are very different to those in the UK. Starts off looking easy, as one can write a will leaving parts to anyone one wants and indeed excluding people. The inheritance passes over to the heirs the second someone dies They also inherit all the debts though! It is possible to opt out of accepting the inheritance.

The real trouble starts with the fact that heirs are defined by the law in ranks - first spouse and children, then parents, then other close family and so on. Rank #1 people are entitled to an obligatory part of the inheritance even if not specifically named in the will or indeed if they have been specifically excluded. Writing "my son was a drunken lout who never bought me a pint is to get nothing" doesn't help.

But let's take the case of a couple who married and had a marriage contract whereby all possessions were put in one pot and owned jointly (another contract is that only the wealth created during the period of marriage is joint). In the course of time, there are two children. No will was written so it all goes along the standard and normal legal lines.

Dad then dies and the wealth of the couple is estimated at 1 million. The wife owns 50% in her own right, so 500,000 is the inheritance. Of this, the wife is entitled to 25% i.e. 125,000 and the children divide the remaining 75% amongst themselves i.e. 375,000/2= 187,500.

I won't go into what happens if parents of the deceased are still alive and the rights of brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces.....

Back to our case: So the heirs with luck will sit down together and then try to work out how to get at the 500,000 which is tied up in a farm with equipment, buildings, animals and loads of parcels of arable, meadow and forest land spread around the countryside. Let's assume no mortgage on any of this. Children have long left home and aren't interested in farming and apart from not getting on with one another, they had busted up with mother too and say they want cash and don't want anything to do with the farm. Wife has no cash and is therefore not able to pay them off. An argument ensues and they can't agree on anything.

Then it's simple, everything gets divided up as per the percentage rate. The 1-hectare field in the neighbouring parish of 10,000sqm is split as follows
Wife: 6,250sqm (her 50% +25% of inheritance)
Child #1: 1,875sqm
Child#2:  1.875sqm

The same for the tractor, the plough, the cows, the buildings, the house, the car, the dog, the cat, the yacht in Cannes ......Trying working that out.

Children then each go to a separate estate agent and sell their portion of the field to separate farmers and the county land surveyors come around and plant boundary stones in the field to mark the three new owners parts. Within a year one of the new farmers of one of the 1.875sqm plots dies in identical family circumstances. The wife gets 50% +25% = 937.5sqm + 234.37 = 1,172sqm and the children each get 351.56sqm.

And so it gets worse from generation to generation. Obviously, families with good relationships sort it amicably and often form a temporary but legally official "company" that allocates the various assets and divides it all out sensibly.

I understand that in southern Germany the dividing up of assets along the lines in the example is much more common than in northern Germany. However, this constantly dividing of fields one day leads to them not being of usable sizes and the farmers or parish council order a "land clean up" or consolidation to recreate large viable parcels of land. A complicated process. Every parcel has to be valued according to the type of soil, drainage, location, accessibility ...... etc. And of course, Farmer A isn't prepared to swap his favourite fields P & X  even if he now gets fields J,K,L, & M in one big plot.

At some point, an agreement is reached and the contracts signed and there is a celebration and a monument perhaps erected, such as the one in our village.

Apart from the fact that it was erected in my birth year, the monument is particularly interesting in that the walls are made up of at least 4 layers of different coloured plaster & then the words & pictures are engraved in the plaster, the colours ensuing according to the depth of the cut.

God spoke:
Cultivate the land
Field, forest and meadow
Rain, wind and snow
Praise the lord
Flurbereinigung Attenhausen 1954
Maria protect us

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