Page 4 of 4

2001 Trip To Germany And Poland

Saturday, May 19

After breakfast Saturday morning, it was time to pack up and return to Gartz where we had reserved a room at the Silberberg Pension for the next two nights. On our way back to the highway, we stopped in Rosenfelde (Brzezniak) and Klaushagen (Przyton) to take pictures of the churches, and then took Hwy 149 to Vossburg (Lisowo) where we stopped again to photograph the church. At this junction we took Hwy 142 back towards Szczecin and then exited south to Gartz. We stopped just before the border to get gas and then breezed thru the border crossing -- only one car in front of us.

After checking in at the Pension, I picked up Dominik in Pinnow so he could translate for me when I met with Pastor Schirr at Hohenselchow. Pastor Schirr brought out several church books for both Hohenselchow and Pinnow and in no time at all I had found several entries for the Rieck and Schulz families as well as for two Stark ancestors Larry had asked me to find. Moreover, I learned that my Sarow ancestors had come from Vierraden, which is just north of Schwedt. We only had two hours before the Pastor had to leave but we made arrangements to return on Tuesday at 9 am. While we were there, Dominik’s cousin, Eileen, came by and asked me if we would come to her parent’s house in Friedrichsthal for coffee. It was another opportunity to visit with her mother, Isolde, and to meet her father, Josef Lazar. I agreed and she said she would pick us up about 3:30 at the Pension.

They live in Friedrichsthal, south of Gartz, and have a beautiful two-story home that they have rebuilt and are still working on. The house has a lovely sunroom on the front where we had coffee, tea and cake. Josef, a pipe welder by trade, had just begun working on the second floor making another apartment that may become Eileen’s home someday. After finishing tea we discussed the information they had on Pauline and Carl Jahnke that was written in the front of the family bible. They said Carl was born in the last house on the left side of the road as one leaves Gartz going north.

Sunday, May 20

Another day of rest. In the afternoon we went to Gross Pinnow to visit Thomas Lüdcke and his mother who soon brought out tea and cookies, which we enjoyed at a table in their garden.

Monday, May 21

We drove back to Stettin (Szczecin) to finish checking the church registers for Regenwalde. Once again there were few cars ahead of us and we were quickly checked thru the border crossing. We didn’t even have to wash our hands this time. We spent from about 10:30 to 3:30 at the Archive and finished checking both the 1824-32 and 1849-64 registers. I got excited for a moment while looking at their directory of holdings when I saw another church register for Regenwalde, but it turned out to be a Jewish register. After leaving, we spent some time at the Internet café, and shopping at the Empic Galleria before having dinner at the Bajka restaurant. Food and service were good but we were surprised to be one of only two or three couples in the restaurant. We returned to Gartz about 8:50 pm.

Tuesday, May 22

Dominik and I met at Pastor Schirr’s house at 9 am and continued searching the church books for Hohenselchow and Pinnow until 12:30 when the pastor had to leave. In all, I had been able to record 40 different birth, marriage, and death records. I’m sure there were more events I didn’t have time to find, but they will have wait for another time. There were six church registers for Hohenselchow covering the years 1797 to 1874 and three for Pinnow beginning in 1821 and ending in 1874.

After checking out of the Pension in Gartz, we drove to Angermünde where we visited the Angermünder Bildungswerk, a vocational training center where Thomas Lüdcke works. He had asked me to stop by so that I could see the center and meet the director. They want to set up contacts in the US so that they could organize an exchange student program. Surprisingly, we ran into Josef Lazar there who was attending classes to learn aluminum welding.

Thomas also gave me a copy of an 1878 Chronicle of the Parishes of Hohenselchow in Kreise Randow by C. G. F. Schenk. It is written in German, but because it has a bit of history about Hohenselchow and Pinnow, I hope to get it translated to learn more about the villages in which the Riecks and Schulzes lived. We got back on the road about 3 pm and drove to Berlin where we had reserved a room at the Best Western Autobahn Avus. It was the cheapest of five Best Western’s in Berlin (they ranged from $85 to $170 per night) but the room was about the size of a walk-in closet. The motel was obviously a popular truck stop with dozens of semi trucks parked in the lot. We had dinner there and the food was very good.

That evening I called Hans Schmidt, my father’s second cousin, and although he didn’t speak English, we were able to set up an appointment to meet him at his home at 3:00 pm the next day. We had hoped to see him in the morning but for some reason that apparently wouldn’t work. Hans’ father, Emil, had corresponded with Grandma Hermine Maas in the 1940s and 1950s, but then all contact with the family was lost when he died in 1955. We had gotten Hans’ address from the Richters.

Wednesday, May 23

We decided to drive to the Steglitz area (a Berlin suburb) early to make sure we could find Hans’ home. The botanical gardens were nearby and though we wanted to spend our free time there, we were reluctant to leave all our belongings in the car parked on the street. Instead we parked near his home and had a pleasant walk along the canal and in the park across the street.

Hans and his son Harald live on the 5th floor of an 11-story apartment building that has 44 apartments. They said they have lived there since 1955. Hans’ wife Marianne died in June last year. Fortunately, Harald spoke some English, which was a big help in bridging our language gap. Hans also has a son, Andreas, who raises pigs at Altwriezen, a town about 50 km northeast of Berlin.

Hans was very interested in family genealogy too and we had a good time looking at pictures, getting family data, and trying to understand each other. He had an ahnenpass (a booklet for recording one’s ancestors) that was carefully filled out as well as a copy of his pedigree chart, which he gave to me. While we were there Hans called Heinz Grieger, but he doesn’t speak English either so we didn’t talk on the phone. But Hans got addresses for both Heinz and his brother, Gunter. We were told that Harri, Fritz Grieger’s third son had died. The Griegers are also second cousins to Dad.

Hans clearly enjoyed our visit and before we left he took us up on the roof to show us the great view they have of all of Berlin. Being the tallest building around, the view was unrestricted in all directions. It would have been nice to visit longer but we still needed to get to Wittenberg that evening and so we left about 5 pm.

The room we got at the Best Western in Wittenberg was a mansion compared with the one in Berlin. We had a two-room suite with lots of furniture, closet space and a refrigerator. And it was located right in the heart of the old city. We would have liked to have stayed there for several days.

Thursday, May 24

We spent the morning from 9 to 1 pm taking a walking tour through the old city. Wittenberg is so closely linked with Martin Luther that in 1938 it was officially designated as Lutherstadt Wittenberg or "Wittenberg, the City of Martin Luther". In 1502 Frederick the Wise founded a university here and Martin arrived in 1508 to become the chair for moral philosophy. He remained in Wittenberg until his death 38 years later. Our stroll down the historic streets took us to the Augustinian Monastery and the Lutherhalle where Martin lived and taught. Unfortunately, the Lutherhalle, which housed Luther’s living room and study and which is now a museum, was closed for restoration work. But we were captivated by our visits to St. Mary’s Church where he delivered his sermons, and the Palace Church where he posted his 95 theses. Both Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon are buried in the Palace church. Our stroll also took us past Melanchthon’s home and the Renaissance Town Hall and the statues of Luther and Melanchthon. The Old City gives one a real feel for the history of the Reformation and the Renaissance. Our visit was an unforgettable experience and certainly one I would recommend to anyone interested in our Lutheran background.

The Wittenbergers were celebrating Ascension Day and all of the stores and shops were closed. We didn’t understand the festivities but there were people blowing horns and riding around in groups on bicycles, some in costumes. It may have been to our advantage since there weren’t a lot of people to contend with on the streets and at the historic sights. The weather was absolutely beautiful and we had a delightful time there. As much as we hated to leave, we had a long way to go to get to Frankfurt that evening. We took the autobahn past Leipzig and then A4 and A5 into Frankfurt arriving at 7 pm. Had a bit of trouble finding the Best Western Hotel Plaza but once we did, we got checked in and then walked over to a very busy pub on the corner where we had our last authentic German dinner.

Friday, May 25,

We got an early morning start to make sure we would have enough time for breakfast, getting to the airport, returning our rental car, and checking in for the long flight back home. The odometer showed that we had driven just over 2600 miles in Germany, Switzerland, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Our trip home took us through Detroit and Dallas where we scheduled an overnight stay before continuing to Ontario. Airline delays seem to be the norm these days and this time we had a three-hour delay in leaving Dallas. Despite the frustrations of airline travel, we are thankful for another safe and incredibly successful trip to Germany.

First Page

Previous Page

All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Top of Page