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Dessenheim (Municipality, Haut-Rhin, France)

Last modified: 2017-09-09 by ivan sache
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Flag of Dessenheim - Image by Ivan Sache, 24 April 2017

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Presentation of Dessenheim

The municipality of Dessenheim (1,321 inhabitants in 2014, 1,916 ha; municipal website) is located in the Hardt region, 20 km south-east of Colmar.

Dessenheim, first mentioned in 762 as Tessinheim, was subsequently known as Tessinheim, Thessenheim, Tessenheim, and Teszenheim; the modern name of the village was first used in 1661.
The area was already settled by the Celts, as evidenced by the tumulus excavated during the Second Empire in the municipal forest. Remains of pottery indicate a probable Roman settlement established at the crossing of two Roman roads; one of them headed to the main road linking Milan to Mainz.
Listed among the possessions of the Murbach abbey in 735, the village subsequently belonged to the Habsburg until the Peace of Westphalia (1648). A castle allegedly ruled around 1259 by Jean de Norgassen and Rudlieb von Norgassen is recalled only by the local toponymy (Schlossereinpfad - the castle's path, and Schlossacker - the castle's plot). The castle was probably destroyed on 8 June 1446 by the militia form Basel.
During the Thirty Years' War, the village was looted in 1619 by Spanish soldiers; warned by the Austrians, the villagers hid in the forest. In 1632, warned of a Swedish raid, the villagers first hid in a small redoubt, still visible in the forest, and then fled to Switzerland. On 11-12 April 1635, Lorrain and Croat mercenaries heading to the battle of Mümelgard burned down the deserted village.

On 4 February 1945, the Republic P 47 Thunderbolt piloted by Commandant Edmond Marin la Meslée (1912-1945) crashed down south of Dessenheim. Commander of the 1/5 "Champagne" group, Marin la Meslée led four aircrafts supporting the attack of the Colmar pocket by the allied infantry.
A memorial, made of a five-pointed white star of 30 m in diameter, was inaugurated on 29 June 1946 on the site of the crash. The body of Marin la Meslée was transferred on 13 June 1950 from the cemetery of Rustenhart to the memorial.
Edmond Marin la Meslée, credited of 16 verified victories in air fighting and another four probable, among 101 missions, ranks 5th among the French airmen of the Second World War - together with Jacques André, Louis Delfino, Roland La Poype and Roger Sauvage.
[Le mémorial Edmond Marin La Meslée]

Ivan Sache, 24 April 2017

Flag of Dessenheim

The flag of Dessenheim, unveiled in October 2016, is white with the municipal arms in the center (L'Alsace, 22 October 2016).

The arms of Dessenheim, designed in 1978, are "Per pale, 1. Or a mitre azure ornamented argent superimposed to a crozier in pale also azure, 2. Gules a fess argent".
The mitre and crozier recalls St. Leodegar of Poitiers, patron saint of the parish church.
The arms of Austria, which are featured on a milestone delimiting the village's territory, were commonly used by the Habsburg, lords of Dessenheim from the 13th century to the Peace of Westphalia.
[Armorial des communes du Haut-Rhin]

The St. Leodegar church was built in 1873 in neo-romanesque-gothic style to replace the former church, deemed too small. Its big spire (65 33 in height) explains its local nickname, the Cathedral of the Hardt.
[Observatoire du patrimoine religieux]

Ivan Sache, 24 April 2017