Letter Re: Observations on Hardened Architecture and Life in German Village

Hello James,
I recently stayed with a friend in a little German village northeast of Frankfurt . My friend is restoring his family’s 350+ year old Tudor-style home. I was amazed at the ballistic mass involved. The old walls are 6-8” (15-20cm) thick timber and clay/loam brick, covered in plaster/cement. As part of the restoration, they are adding an additional 6” (15cm) of timber reinforcement on the inside and filling it with 6” of lighter loam bricks for insulation. This results in a total thickness of at least 12” (30 cm) of solid wood and brick. Compare that to our standard 4-6” wall filled with fiberglass insulation and sheetrock! Many first-floors are built of sandstone or basalt. Furthermore, the modern homes that perhaps half of the villagers live in (built in the ‘50s-60s) are 10-12” of solid concrete block. Roofs are fire-proof tile or slate. Most windows have full rolling security/privacy covers that can be actuated from inside.

Additionally, the layout of the village struck me as very defensible and survivable. It’s been established around a reliable water source. Homes are clustered together for protection, and are interspaced with small kitchen gardens, workshops, dairies, wood-fired bakeries, and barns. The fields surrounding are filled with crops. Property lines are a mess (everyone owns little plots of land intermixed with everyone else – an acre here, two acres over here…). In the back of most barns you can see the old hand-tools, still in excellent condition, waiting to be used once more.

It really struck me how ill-prepared our homes and lifestyles are in America . My current home certainly won’t last 300 years and how long can a solitary family farm hold out in uncertain times? The one saving grace we have over them: the second amendment. Firearms are heavily restricted and licensed in Germany. – Isaac S.