Weighty women celebrate their finest hour in a German town
The Women of Kronach helped repel invaders almost four centuries ago.
Kronach, Germany -- Pedestrians usually step aside when Gisela Lang and her lady warriors come down the street, re-enacting the glorious day when the Women of Kronach helped put an invading army to flight in Germany 374 years ago.
Lang and her troop of 12 are living proof that anorexic lightweights do not rule the earth.
"All of us weigh at least 90 kilograms," said Lang, 52, a local culture official who herself tips the scales at 100 kilos.
Battle re-enactments, where modern people dress up as old-style armies, are popular in Germany.
Lang's group commemorates the stout Women of Kronach who helped put a Swedish army to flight during the Thirty Years War in Germany in 1634. When the Swedes stormed Kronach, a walled town in Bavaria, the club-wielding townswomen flew at them with bellows of rage.
They encouraged the menfolk of Kronach to fight on. The Swedes, who had sacked and burned half of Germany, fled in disarray.
The history books quote a Swedish colonel as saying that the men of Kronach fought that day like wild devils, but the women were nine times worse.
Lang, a history graduate, set up the Women of Kronach section five years ago within the town's military re-enactment society, the Cronacher Ausschuss Compagnie, where her husband was active.
The women join the men in full-dress battlefield dramatizations up and down Germany several times a year, hefting cobblestones (made of papier-mache so no one will get hurt), twirling slingshots and wielding rolling-pins and cudgels.
"Men usually think they're the boss. But us women know very well it's not true," said Lang. "We've got the might and we flaunt it."
According to Lang, the message is not just pride in the past but also a reminder that female weakness is a myth.
"It's supposed to make people think about the true role of women," she said. "Re-enactments are entertainment, but they also teach people about the past and present."
Since the rediscovery of the brave Women of Kronach, broad hips have enjoyed new respect in the town.
"Being big has become something to be proud of," said Lang. "In this group, you don't compete to be slim. You have to gain weight to qualify." The amazons have a minimum entrance weight of 86 kilograms.
Lang says she does make exceptions though.
"If you haven't got the weight to start with, you can always add it as you go along," she said with a twinkle.
DPA with Expatica