Bruce Lammers Report
Recently I was able to go to Germany with some very distant relatives. I keep my family ancestral in a filing system according to my Great Great Grandparents surnames, and I was able to visit 13 of my 16 Great Great Grandparents ancestral villages and churches.
We left for Germany on October 5 and arrived on Friday, October 6, in Munich. I rented a vehicle, and was on my own for the first week. I left the Munich airport at exactly 5:00 p.m. on October 6. Since I had never been to Germany before, it was quite an experience.
I arrived at my destination in Ansbach, Bavaria, where I stayed with a distant relative, Wolfgang Friess, in Ansbach. On Saturday, I met my friend, Ernst Ruettel, and he gave me a tour of the region where my Rühl and Moll ancestors lived. I attended church on Sunday, October 8, in Kammerstein where my Rühl originally attended church. Afterwards, we had dinner with the pastors Pfr. Sabine Bek-Baier, Pfr. Martin Bek-Baier (the share the pastor position in Kammerstein). When we said good-bye, Ernst provided information dating back to 1600, which could provide information to support research back to 1604 on my Rühl family.
On Monday, October 9, I left for Esens, Ostfriesland. I got to really try out the autobahn. Those German cars are tremendous. I arrived about 2:00 p.m. in Esens, and after checking in the Hotel, I went to the North Sea, which is only 4 km away. I also visited the Rathaus (courthouse), and they were able to provide information on my Lammers family.
My father's family is entirely from Ostfriesland, and Ostfriesland is not a large region.
That evening in the hotel bar, I met some people from Esens. They were able to provide me some information on the area villages, which helped with my research. I did not know anyone from the area, so I was on my own. This did not present any problems, except I was not afforded good background information, and also could not access the churches.
On Thursday, October 12th, I departed for Mecklenburg. I left very early in the morning hoping to get a good start on the day. I got to Mecklenburg that same morning. I researched some ancestral villages and churches on my way to Güstrow to meet Siegfried and Christa Bohnsack. Once completed, I was on my way to Güstrow.
Up until now, my trip was very organized, and I was very prepared. I had excellent maps of the region, and finding my way was not a problem--until I got to Güstrow. Siegfried had sent me a map of Güstrow, but since Siegfried has a much more powerful computer, I was not able to receive it. I had made no other efforts to be prepared--a big mistake. I greatly underestimated the size and complexity of driving in Güstrow. I will not get into the details, but I was able to hook up with the Bohnsacks, and everything was great from that point on. Siegfried had put together a manual regarding history of the region and a descendency chart on my family, along with a map of our proposed tour the next day. The manual was greatly appreciated, and a great momento of my trip. Siegfried and Christa have a very nice apartment. We visited for a while and then Christa made a typical Mecklenburg meal. It is similar to an American roast with potatoes and gravy. It was excellent. Later, Siegfried showed me my hotel. On Friday, the 13th, Siegfried and Christa took me on tour of the region west of Güstrow where the Bohnsack family moved about. I was able to meet with various people from the region including a pastor, an author, etc. I saw the ancestral home of my Bohnsacks in Klein Sien. We enjoyed another Mecklenburger meal that noon. We then returned to Güstrow, where I took pictures of the castle, church, and Siegfried's birthplace.
After saying good-bye, I was off to another area of Mecklenburg that evening to catch up with my group. There were many stories to tell. We spent the next three nights in Gotthun viewing sites where our common ancestors lived.
On Monday, the 16th, we left for Augsburg caravan style. We stayed in Augsburg on the 16th, and then flew to the US the next day (17th).
- The German food and beer is very good. The cheeses are better than any I have ever tasted. You do not find the predominance of fast food restaurants in Germany. So the food I ate was more expensive, but would be best described as "real food"--and it tasted very good.
- Driving is more difficult. Drivers take their driving seriously. Driving on the autobahn was fun for me. I attained speeds that I had previously never attained--and still I got passed.
- The cemeteries, for the most part look like gardens. Most cemeteries in former West Germany have memorials for WW I and WW II soldiers killed in action, but in former East Germany, only memorials from WW I exist. The old German churches are wonderful. I attended two church services while in Germany.
- Unemployment is about 25% in East Germany, and in some areas, the buildings show neglect from lack of money.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and I would encourage anyone interested to give a try.
Bruce Lammers 117 South Payne Street New Ulm, MN 56073-3268