Rüdiger and his men ride out to greet the Burgundians, welcoming them with warm promises of hospitality in Pöchlarn, giving special attention to Hagen and Volker. That evening in Rüdiger’s hall, Rüdiger’s young daughter attracts the admiration of many knights. After some discussion, it’s agreed that Giselher will take her as his wife, to be escorted back to Burgundy with him after the visit to Kriemhild.
As during Kriemhild’s journey to Hungary, Rüdiger offers a haven of civilized hospitality in the midst of foreign and often hostile lands. The comfort of his estate is such that the Burgundian knights can imagine a future after the journey to Hungary, though perhaps, too, this signals young Giselher’s naïveté.
The Burgundians are prevailed upon to stay in Pöchlarn for four days, however much they protest—Rüdiger’s hospitality is too formidable to resist. Before they continue on their way to Etzel’s country, Rüdiger bestows many gifts, including a gem-studded shield that catches Hagen’s eye. He also cheerfully escorts them to the festival. The poet notes that this glad generosity contrasts with the hostility that will later grow between the men and their host. Many ladies’ “hearts foretold them what great sorrows lay ahead.”
The stay in Pöchlarn is like an island of sanity and peace in the midst of incivility and violence. Rüdiger’s hospitality is described as if it is a warrior’s ferocity, too much to resist. His escorting the party would have been thought to create bonds of mutual obligation that it would be dishonorable to break. The prophetic “ladies’ hearts” suggest that this will lead all involved into sorrow.
Meanwhile, messengers rush to Etzel’s court to announce that the Nibelungs are in Hungary. Kriemhild stands at a window watching for her relatives’ arrival. “How happy am I!” says Kriemhild. “Whoever is willing to take gold, let him remember my grief and I shall always show myself grateful!”
Kriemhild, ever since Siegfried’s death “the sworn enemy of her own happiness,” finally achieves happiness as she watches her plot moving toward fruition. She also offers gold and the promise of further acts of gratitude to anyone who will avenge her grief. Contriving violence is of course a perverse way to welcome foreign guests, and the exchange of gold for revenge is a notable shift from the more benign exchanges that have marked her earlier generosity.