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Trenck the Pandur in Waldmünchen

The Panduren are there!   It is a bizarre pile of terrifying warriors that rage in 1742 in Bavaria. They fear neither death nor devil, fight for their infamous leader Trenck and for themselves. When they came to forest Munich on the 15th of September, already their reputation as cruel and ravening preceded them. They come from the Balkans, most of them out of an area on the southern border of the Kingdom of Hungary, which is part of the k. and k. monarchy. They are called Panduren, what means so much as "Bodyguards" in Hungarian. They are Trencks' Panduren: He hired them at his own expense, and they obey only his command.

Love is also involved There are three women , who influence the course of history: The Empress Maria Theresia in the distant Vienna, worshipped by Trenck and for whom he would have been willing to "die for with a smile on his face"; the Gypsy Mariuzza, who foresees the Trencks' fate, but is blinded by her passionate love to him; the lovely Kathi Schwab from a town called Cham, which was burnt down by the Panduren, and who was first considered to be part of the loot and then sacrifices herself, because she recognizes that through love "all turns for the best". For the citizens of Waldmünchen, Trencks' change of attitude means salvation. For the Trenck himself, this change of heart is the beginning of the end: He has become vulnerable to the enemy from within his own ranks.

In the name of her Majesty - the Empress The main character of the piece also in life played, approximately 250 years ago, a tragic role. Franz Freiherr von der Trenck a son of a k and k officer born 1711 in Reggio (Calabria), spent most of his youth in Jesuit colleges and joined the military when was 17. He fought as an irregular with the Russians against the Turks, excelled by virtue of his bravery, was court-martialed however for rebelling against an officer, convicted to death and pardoned in the last second to digging trenches at the front. A few years later he became talking point again when he with 30 Panduren pursued Turkish border predators back to their homeland and was cited to Osijek (today in Croatia) for unauthorised course of action. Instead of appearing there, he fled to the Court in Vienna where he finally succeeded to find sympathy for his actions and was with his Panduren called to serve in the imperial services. As the war of the Austrian Succession began in 1741, Trenck set up 1000-strong corps at his own expense, which was soon feared between Isar and the Bavarian Bohemian border. Good fortune left him in Waldmünchen. After he had spared the city in September 1742, he two years later was still allowed to go to the Rhine with a Habsburg Corps and then defend Bohemia against the Prussians. 1745 the peace settlement between Bavaria and Austria is concluded in Füssen. After that he was put on trail, which lasted over two years. Empress Maria Theresia eventually transforms the death sentence into life imprisonment. Only less than a year later, Franz Freiherr von der Trenck dies on October 4, 1749 at the fortress of Špilberk in Brno.

Waldmünchens role like many other places along important trade and army routes Waldmünchen could not only benefit from its location. Again, the city as a transit for friend and foe in armed conflicts was dragged into the conflict. The Panduren came on 15 September 1742. Their leader Trenck was appointed the Colonel by Empress Maria Theresia and was with his Corps disciplinary assigned to Marshal Khevenhüller, the Supreme Commander of the imperial troops in the war of the Austrian succession. The war was instigated in 1740 by the Bavarian elector Karl Albrecht, who would have had a claim to the Habsburg throne as the son of an Austrian Emperor's daughter if a new Habsburg House law had not been adopted by Emperor Karl VI in the form of   "pragmatic sanction" of 1713. It allowed for the first time daughters of the dynasty and thus the only 23 year old Maria Theresia to succeed to the throne. Trenck came with his Panduren to Waldmünchen, after he had already seized Plattling and Deggendorf, Mainburg, Reichenhall, Tölz, Fürstenfeldbruck and Munich and plundered and burnt down Cham. He spared Waldmünchen against the payment of 50 species ducats. The priest and the community of Gleißenberg had to pay as much, and for the release of the wife of the fled city keeper 400 guilders more had to be raised. Three days the Pandur leader stayed in the Gasthof zur Post. For his mistress Kathi, he requisitioned a new chaise by the post holder. In the years after 1945, a group of theatre fans encouraged citizens of Waldmüchen to stage a community play to promote the traditions of their home town. Looking at the history of the city of Waldmünchen, they came across the events of the war of the Austrian succession and decided to take this as a historical background of the open air festival The world première of the open air festival "Trenck the Pandur before the gates of Walmünchen" took place   in the context of the first Waldmüncher home town festival on the 16th of July 1950. Since then the open-air festival takes place annually in July/August on the festival square and is therewith the only homeland play that emerged after the 2nd world and is still endures till today.

In the middle in the 18th century Night falls. Just now the Herold announced the terrible news: "Der Trenck vor'm Tor!" (Trenck before the gates!) We hear the drumming of swirling horse hooves that are coming closer and closer. A handful of daring lads brings their horses right in front of us to stand still. Harsh commands and a shrill clarion call cut through the tense silence. A covered wagon rumbles past us, which is followed with heavy by adventurous looking figures. Bundles of brushwood are pulled from the wagon and set fire. The flickering fires illuminate a ghostly scenery. The shadows on the old city wall take threatening dimensions. The gestures of the men speak a frightening language of the rawness and violence. The play of light and dark distorted faces to grimaces, make one's blood run cold in one's veins.   Even a troop of horsemen charges up in a wild gallop. The swirling dust and the smell of their horses takes our breath away. We are in the thick of things: in the 18th Century, in Waldmünchen.

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