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Incredible journey of an instrument: Baritone horn swam 20 kilometres in the river Ahr

Incredible journey of an instrument : Baritone horn swam 20 kilometres in the river Ahr

The Josten couple from Dernau lost many things in the flood and were taken in by the Zettelmayer family in Niederbachem. There they could now be happy about an unexpected return.

There are currently many stories surrounding the flood events on the Ahr. For Georg and Monika Josten from Dernau, this flood wave almost led to drowning, they relate while looking at the wonderful Siebengebirge scenery in the house of Dieter and Renate Zettelmeyer in Niederbachem. It was there in Niederbachem that the Josten couple was taken in by their hosts a few days after the flood. And the two couples now live in a kind of senior citizens' shared apartment.

Dieter Zettelmeyer has known the enthusiastic musician Josten for a long time through various music clubs. Zettelmeyer is a member of the Berkumer Dorfmusikanten and plays the trumpet there, while Josten has played the baritone horn for more than two decades in the brass band clubs in Dernau and Leimersdorf, among others. And in addition to this musical commitment, the native of Dernau is known as a solo entertainer with his accordion, he organised guided walking tours along the Ahr and musical wine tastings.

Musical instruments and musical equipment are lost

"I arranged the last wine tasting for members of the Cusanuswerk on June 30," says the 75-year-old, who has belonged to the church choir for over 60 years and has been chairman there for 20 years. And now all his musical instruments and musical equipment are gone - victims of the flood wave on the Ahr River, irretrievably destroyed by water and mud.

"When the water entered our house in the night of July 14-15, we rescued ourselves from floor to floor with our most important things upstairs - finally up to the building's attic, from which, however, there would have been no escape," recounts Monika Josten. She ran a podiatry practice in the building on Gartenstraße, which was also destroyed. And on the night of the flood, the Jostens suddenly saw how the hard case with Georg Josten's bariton horn was driven out of the flooded building through the open front door, then disappeared in the floods of the Ahr.

Eight weeks later came an unexpected call

The brass instrument was finally discovered by a really big coincidence by dredger driver Georg Beier in Heimersheim eight weeks later in the alluvial bank of the Ahr while dredging the bridge there. And the dredger driver used his contacts to Markus Wipperfürth, who helped with enormous commitment in countless places in the Ahr valley to remove mud and debris.

The photo of the instrument and box was put online via the helper platform on the Ahr. Annette Klein-Hallerter, who plays with Georg Josten in one of the music clubs, discovered the photo on the Internet. She immediately called the Josten family, because what stood out was a hose spot on the instrument that the brass musician had installed for better grip. And quickly the finder and Georg Josten came together.

The enthusiastic horn player accepted the wind instrument at the helper camp in the county. "The finder did not want a reward,“ says Josten, still touched by the unexpected recovery, "but I rewarded him then with a small gift." The long journey in the water didn’t damage the hard case – it must be a very good case quality – except for a small crack in the surface. Mud and water then entered through this crack.

In the meantime, the instrument itself has been repaired by the manufacturer at a special price and has not suffered any damage to the sheet metal surface. And Georg Josten has already played again several times, this time together with Dieter Zettelmeyer, who invited him to join the Berkumer Dorfmusikanten.

It is still open whether the Josten couple will move back into their house on the Ahr. 570 of 640 houses in the village were affected by the flood wave, and although the house is not located on the banks of the Ahr, but further away in a hollow, and was then destroyed by the water almost up to the top floor, the Jostens are thinking about setting up their retirement home somewhere else. Renate Zettelmeyer thinks the senior citizens' shared apartment is great in any case, and is wonderfully committed with her husband to ensuring that the "Spontan-Wachtbergers" perhaps stay in Drachenfelser Ländchen. (Original text: Alfred Schmelzeisen / Translation: Mareike Graepel)