Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bad Salzuflen, Leipzig and Bamberg

Monday - Bad Salzuflen

Our last day with the group! We start out after breakfast by meeting a resident of Bad Salzuflen who had heard through his brother (who belongs to one of the genealogy societies we met) and he wanted to meet this American group staying in his town. He also had planned to take us on a tour of the town on the little white “Paulinchen“Bahn. The small train that takes visitors through the town. Incredibly nice gesture. We started off by Herr Ridderbusch giving us some history of the town and its beginning with the Salt trade. One of our stops was at the center of town and the “Gradierwerk“.

There are 3 large brown walls made up of blackthorn sticks which the brine water trickles over, thus extracting a purer salt. You can also walk into one of these Gradierwerk, Misty fog, colored lights and a starry ceiling,help you relaz at this mock sea side resort.

This is such a charming town, lots of history, timber framed houses, spa services and shopping. Couldn’t be better.

Since half our group was leaving late this afternoon to head to Dusseldorf to be able to catch their plane the next day, we had a good-bye lunch for them. We found a pizza place (I know-I know pizza in Germany!) but this was great Italian brick oven pizza place, owned by a Greek, and as we were laughing and talking over our pizza, a young man came across the room and said, “pardon me, but I have to ask what is a group of Americans doing in this small, out of the way townof Bad Salzuflen?“ We laughed and found out his story too, a native of New York, who had been a professional ice skater, met a german girl on tour and now lives in Germany. What are the chances?

So auf widersehen to some of our group and here is some pictures of our beautiful home base.

Tuesday – Last Day

So the rest of the group departs today, some going home and some going on to other parts of Germany. My german partner and I were headed off to Oldendorf to do some research someone had hired us to do. We had much luck, found his gr-gr-grandfather’s baptismal entry, and his parents marriage. This revealed the tradition that sometimes happens in this part of Germany where the man took the woman’s name at marriage. She was the widow of the mueller and whoever lived in the Muellers (mill) house had to go by the name Niedermueller. Luckily, it gave his born name of Weber and the place he was from. So then off we went to discover the mill house and found the only Niedermueller still left in town, living in the mill house and after he very warily wondered what these two idiots talking about family history wanted, he invited us in and we had a nice cha

t for a half hour or so. He is a somewhat of a cousin to our customer back in Florida and will be willing to meet with him when he comes in October. Good day!

I’ll finish this up quickly with the rest of our adventure, we headed down to the east German city of Leipzig. On our way we passed along the autobahn a “checkpoint“. Someplace you used to have to go through and be inspected before you were allowed into the eastern zone. There were barracks, more like corrugated mobile homes, that housed some information and videos of what the time period was like. Matthias remembered as a litle boy going one time to visit his grandmother and it taking hours and hours to get through a similar checkpoint. They would even make the woman go and disrobe to be inspected and make sure no one was carrying anything illegal into the East. It was eerie, but interesting. Of course I always spend part of my time on the autobahn sleeping, which is good because the other times I am jumping and complaining about how fast those cars in that left lane go. I don’t think I will be driving anytime soon.

Leipzig was nice but the first day we were there was rainy, rainy and cold. Matthias’s cousin met us and took us to the State Archives there. She had a friend who works there and is president of the Saxony Genealogy society. We were making contacts for a future trip. We did some more research for our Mueller guy, whose son ended up living in Leipzig. We found some of the “police records“ that I have heard about but have never seen. When or if you moved in or out of town (any towns in Germany) or I think even if you moved across town you had to report to the police your comings and goings. So we found several entries for this family, which then helped us when we then went to Evangelisch Church Archives to find out what church they belonged to. Along the way we stopped in Thomas Kirche, where Johann S. Bach had been cantor. Saw his grave

in the church and took some pictures. Long wild goose chase from the Church Archives, they sent us to the wrong church and by the time we found out the correct one the office was closing. Herr Mueller will have to visit PetersKirche on his own. Believe me it sure helps to do this with a native speaker.

Last but not least before we left Leipzig we visited the National Bibliotek of Germany. Grand, beautiful and huge place and Germany has a Law?? That all books published in Germany since 1913 must send a copy to this library. So it must have all kinds of good stuff. I kept asking if this meant Ortsippenbuchs, town histories etc. and the answer seemed to be, all books published in Germany.. hmmm, have to do more research on this. Here is a wikipedia site about it.

Almost time for me to go home too. We headed down to Bamberg and finally got a little sun. Although we were here to check it out for our upcoming trip to Bavaria in September, I finally tried to be on “vacation“ for a couple days and not work. Bamberg is another beautiful city over 1000 years old.

It is called the Rome of Germany because it is built on seven hills and believe me I think we walked all seven! The river Regnitz runs through the town and this is the town that has its Rathaus on the bridge in the middle of the river. One of the stories I heard is that on the hill side of the river that is covered in churches and was once home to a bishopric and monasteries and ruled by Prince Bishops. The other side of the river, the more bourgeois town with lots of different market places and the business side of town, could not decide what side to put the Rathaus on, so they compromised and built it in the middle of the river. We also heard the church side did not want to give up any of their land for a town hall. Whatever the story, it makes for one of the most photographed places in Germany. The town is charming, with winding alleyways, and like I said lots and lots of beautiful churches. It kind of reminds me of Wurzburg a little while standing on a bridge and looking up the hill to a fortress (in Wurzburg’s case) and a Cathedral in Bamberg’s case. We walked these seven hills and visited in several of the churches, one magical thing happened when we reached the top of one of the hills and were standing in the courtyard of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. George, all the bells of all these churches started ringing, here we were up on this hill, overlooking this fabulous city and church bells ringing gloriously. We then climbed the next hill to the St. Michael's church, which had formerly been a monastery, of course the church up on the highest hill was fantastic inside. The whole faulted ceiling is painted with the famous "Heavenly Garden", 578 biologically exact paintings of plants and herbs. As we entered the organ was playing, I guess the organist was there for practice, it was heavenly. To round out the day we went to the cafe in the Rose Garden of the Residence of the Prince Bishop for Kaffee und Kuchen, fantastic view over the city, finally some sunshine and then a wedding party showed up to have their picture taken in the garden. Great Day! Fortunately Bamberg remained largely untouched in the Second World War. This factor has given the city its special position: it has the largest intact old town in Germany. In 1993 it was added to the “World Heritage List“ by UNESCO. I will be glad to go back again in September.

So ends another successful trip. I hope everyone had fun, I did!

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