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The community lies in the Weschnitz valley in the Odenwaldsome 25km north of Heidelbergand about 20km northeast of Mannheim. It is on Bundesstraße38, and the river Weschnitz flows through it. The land is hilly, green and dotted with horse farms and forests.
Birkenau borders in the north on the community of Mörlenbach, in the east on the community ofAbtsteinach, in the south on the community ofGorxheimertaland in the west on the towns of Weinheimand Hemsbach(both in Rhein-Neckar-KreisinBaden-Württemberg).
Birkenau’s Ortsteileare Birkenau, Buchklingen, Hornbach, Kallstadt, Löhrbach, Nieder-Liebersbach, Reisen and Schnorrenbach.
Owing to its location near the Bergstraße, a mild climate prevails in Birkenau, which can often be seen in what for Germany is a very early blossoming ofalmondtrees.
Birkenau had its first documentary mention in 795 in the Lorsch Codexas a cell of the Lorsch Abbey. As one of the Abbey’s holdings, it passed into the ownership of the Archbishopric of Mainz in 1232. The centres of Hornbach and Balzenbach, on the other hand, belonged to Electoral Palatinate, meaning that after the Reformation, they belonged to different denominations. In 1532 the town hall was built, and in 1771 the palace, Schloss Birkenau, of the Lords of Wambolt von Umstadt. By 1964, the population had grown to more than 5,000. In 1967 the community was recognized as a recreational resort (Erholungsort) and in 1979 as an open-air resort (Luftkurort). Owing to the only slight tourism, however, it has not reapplied for this designation. In 1995, Birkenau celebrated its 1,200-year jubilee.
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