What a coincidence – it’s a small world!

What a coincidence – it’s a small world!

The strong links between Andalucía and Southern Germany keep coming to the fore. Examples include the amount of German spoken in the pueblos blancos of the Serranía de Ronda, and a German TV documentary about emigration from Andalucía to Germany in the 1960s. Looking through his archives Paul Whitelock came across an article he wrote back in 2010 while on a visit to Germany. In fact, it was the summer he and Rita later got married in Maulbronn Abbey.

15 June 2010

We were minding our own business yesterday sitting in a café in the south German town of Maulbronn, when my attention was brought to an article in the local paper.  A photo of our very own Montejaque mayor, Miguel Alza, stared out at me from the front page!

It so happened that the evening before there had been a civil ceremony in the nearby town of Knittlingen to formalise the long-lasting partnership between Knittlingen and Montejaque and Benaoján, our local villages in Andalucía.

So later that afternoon off we popped to the Faustfest in Knittlingen, which coincided with the aforesaid ceremony. Not much was happening, as it was the wrong time of day, but it was enjoyable to see the old town decorated with bunting and filled with stalls.


It was exactly 50 years ago, in 1960, that the first Spaniards arrived in Knittlingen in search of work.

As reported in the local paper on the evening of 11 June 2010 the mayors of Knittlingen, Benaoján and Montejaque put the official seal to the partnership that has existed between the three communities since that time.

In the Festhalle in Knittlingen it was as hot as in Andalucía. Many of the women were sensibly kitted out with abanicos (Spanish fans).  But many more of the 200 or so guests were also busy fanning themselves in order to keep cool.

The busiest person on the night was Jochen Escalante. The 37-year-old from Knittlingen, with Spanish roots, acted as interpreter for the speeches by Bürgermeister Heinz-Peter Hopp and his Spanish counterparts Miguel Alza Hiraldo (Montejaque) und Francisco Gómez Gonzales (Benaoján), before all three signed the partnership agreement.

Although the first Spaniards came to Knittlingen in 1960 in order to work in the industries of the area, much more than that has happened. Integration has been very positive. “Close friendships have been formed, mixed marriages have taken place and strong civic relationships have endured. Much more than simple human understanding“, said Bürgermeister Hopp.

Montejaque mayor Miguel Alza Hiraldo, who used the occasion to announce his retirement after 16 years in office, said: “Today’s ceremony just makes everything official, as we’ve felt just like brothers for many many years.”

Francisco Gomez Gonzales, alcalde de Benaoján, took the opportunity to invite the Knittlinger to visit Benaoján in 2011, after the volcanic ash cloud caused the planned signing in Spain at the end of April this year to be cancelled at the last minute.

The president of the Partnership Association, Waltraut Ertner, pointed out that some Knittlinger were already learning Spanish.  Councillor Karl Röckinger had even learned a sentence in Spanish: a buen entendedor pocas palabras bastan (someone who understands needs few words).

The official “marriage” of the three communities continued to be celebrated over the weekend at the local Faust festival in the Swabian town.

As for us, we were just struck by the coincidence.  The world truly is a handkerchief! (el mundo es un pañuelo – the Spanish equivalent of “small world!”)

United: (left to right) Mayors Miguel Alza Hiraldo, Heinz-Peter Hopp and Francisco Gomez Gonzales. Foto: Nadine Schmid

Integrated: Three generations of montejaqueños who live in Knittlingen celebrate the “twinning”. Foto: Nadine Schmid

Twinned: The sign as you enter Knittlingen acknowledges the friendship with Montejaque and Benaoján. Foto: Paul Whitelock

Paul Whitelock

About Paul Whitelock

Paul Whitelock is a retired former languages teacher, school inspector and translator, who emigrated to the Serranía de Ronda in 2008, where he lives with his second wife, Rita, and his dog, Berti. He spends his time between Montejaque and Ronda doing DIY, gardening and writing.