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Hombourg (Municipality, Haut-Rhin, France)

Last modified: 2012-04-21 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Hombourg]

Flag of Hombourg - Image by Ivan Sache, 27 November 2011


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Presentation of Hombourg

The municipality of Hombourg (1,053 inhabitants in 2008; 1,532 ha) is located 10 km east of Mulhouse, on the border with Germany, here river Rhine.

Hombourg is named for a hoch Burg, that is "a castle on a height", but the village is built in the Rhine plain. The village's name might refer to the neighboring Butenheim motte-and-bailey castle. Another etymology relates Hombourg to "Hamberg", "Hamo's mount". Indeed, in the Lower Middle-Ages, the domain of Butenheim included the villages of Hombourg, Petit-Landau and Niffer. In 1269, the lords of Butenheim suppressed the allodial title of their possessions in Upper-Alsace and transferred them to the Habsburg, who retroceded them as fiefs until the lineage got extinct in 1337. The lords of Butenheim were succeeded by the Huss and, in 1481, by the lords of Andlau, who abandoned the village of Butenheim, destroyed in 1480 by a flood of the Rhine and never rebuilt. The lords of Andlau built a new castle of Hombourg, which they left during the French Revolution for Bellingen (Germany). The castle was looted and burned down in 1792. In the 1820s, the domain was purchased by the Mulhouse-based industrial Nicolas Koechlin, who inaugurated there in 1829 sugar beet production in Alsace. The tobacco-producing family Burrus purchased the domain in 1920; in 1930, they built a concrete "medieval" fortress, made of a central building surrounded by four round towers at each angle and water ditches. The building was indeed a very modern cowshed housing 150 cows; the towers were used to store grain feeding the cows. The "fortress" was imagined by Maurice Burrus (1882-1959), a noted industrial and politician but also an art patron and philatelist of world fame.

Located on the Maginot Line, Hombourg was evacuated in 1939, its inhabitants being relocated for one year in the village of Castandet (Landes, southwestern France). The liberation of the village required a long struggle, which started on 20 November 1944 with the entrance of the 1st Armored Division in Mulhouse and the destruction of most of the Rhine bridges. The Germans counter-attacked and seized back Hombourg and the neighboring villages on 22 November. The German 19th Army eventually withdrew from Hombourg on 8 February 1945, destroying the Chalampé bridge.

Mostly a rural municipality in the past, with half of its territory planted with forests, Hombourg industrialized in the 1950s. The building of the Alsace Grand Canal and of the hydroelectric plant of Ottmarsheim caused the increase of the population of the village (from 276 in 1946 to 863 in 1999), with the building of the "Gare 8" provisory worker's estate east of the village, subsequently replaced by a business park.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 27 November 2011


Flag of Hombourg

The flag of Hombourg is white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle. It is part of the flag row (photo) hoisted in front of the town hall, showing the flags of the European Union, France, Haut-Rhin (upside down) and Hombourg.

The arms of Hombourg are "Azure a lioness or suckling two lioncels of the same". According to the Armorial des Communes du Haut-Rhin (2000), these arms were designed for the Armorial Général at the end of the 17th century.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 26 November 2011