Colmar was our next port of call as we journeyed up the Rhine toward Switzerland. Colmar is not on the Rhine but lies about 5 miles west of that river. It is situated on the Ill River some 35 miles from where the Ill flows into the Rhine at Strasbourg. Like that city, it is located in the French Alsace region.
The Vosges, a low mountain range, lies a short distance to the west of Colmar, and there are numerous vineyards on the eastern slopes of these hills. They produce world-famous wines, and they are particularly known for their Rieslings. Our tour group had the opportunity to motor through this area and visit one of the wineries.
On the East Slope of the Vosges
The Colmar area was the site of very heavy military combat during the winter of 1944-45. The winter was very cold, and snow covered the fields around Colmar in January 1945. The Germans were fighting very hard to keep this little slice of Alsace and prevent the Allies from advancing to, and possibly crossing, the Rhine. Allied forces in this area consisted primarily of French units, but there were also some Americans. In a little village on the outskirts of Colmar a brave American soldier, Lieutenant Audie Murphy, made a heroic stand that is still honored by the people of that area. It won him the Congressional Medal of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre, both nations’ highest military decorations.
Our tour guide led us to the place where young Murphy made his stand.
Colmar is a very attractive city, and it is located in a very beautiful and productive area of France. It is no wonder that the French and Germans have fought five destructive wars over this area during a period of less than 300 years. I pray that such madness is behind us forever.