Christine Lippert Fungs Report
THE TRIP was wonderful, but to short.
We left Regensburg at about 11AM and drove on the Autobahn to Weiden and continued and the same road, but which is not quite an Autobahn yet. Once you enter the former East Germany, there are street constructions en masse. But one can still drive comfortably within the posted speed limit. It was a good traffic flow, with little jams. Past Hof you see one construction site after another and the 'gray' houses, as I call them, start showing up. And that all the way up and into Rostock. Folks heated and cooked with coal and the soot is what caused the gray, or so I was told. Many people, I would venture a guess and say more than half, have painted their houses. It looks really good.
For the most part, people were very friendly. I did run into just one woman, who was the most unhelpful person one can encounter. She did not want me there or answer my questions. It was bizarre. We exited the Autobahn at Wittstock and drove into Parchim. That was kind of funny. I was tired and drove in circles and could not find a place to stay. Finally I said, this can not be and stopped at a gas station. I received good directions to an old down-town hotel. "Hotel Stadt Krug". Old as an very old building, but well kept or renovated. The people were extremely friendly and if anybody ever goes there, I can highly recommend it. My mother is for the most part in a wheelchair and walks limited with crutches. W.W.II can do strange things to people. When I asked the owner about a downstairs room and told her why, she immediately told me that she had only one room available and because of the circumstances would only charge a single fee. Breakfast was great and plenty, as well as instructions to go to Klein Niendorf, our first stop. All in all we drove through, besides Niendorf, Groß Pankow, Redlin, Kuppentin, Techentin, Zarchlin, Neu Poserin, Klein Wangelin and Hof Hagen. Not in that order, but just the same. In Kuppentin I started to look at the church and a nice lady came and told me the history about it and answered all my questions. When she ran out of answers, she asked me for my name and address, so she could write me, once she found the information. Obviously, I found nowhere any of our graves. She also told me to stop by the pastors house, but he was gone at the time. Techentin was a disappointment. And that was the one place I wanted to know more about. When you drive up to the church, the first thing you see is a wall and iron gate. I tried to open the gate, it was locked. So I went to the nearest place, a small garage across the street, and the lady was very close mouthed. No, I could not see the church. No she knows nothing. Oh well. So I walked to the right of the wall, because I saw an old huge building that looked like it was a Gutshaus at one time. Before its demise. Now it is in sad shape and dire need of repair. Imagine my surprise when I saw there was not fence on that side and I could get into the church yard on my own steam. The grass was knee high and all in all a sad picture. It was obvious nobody cared about this little church yet. But I took pictures and moved on to find Hof Hagen. While I did find it, I could not find anybody who knew anything about its history. But the Mayors daughter gave me his card. So I will write to him.
I really liked the tree lined streets. Some still had the old cobble stone, and I mean miles and miles of it. Just little country roads with maybe one lane. Oncoming traffic...... and you have to find a way to evade. Fields as far as you can see. Some dotted with the new windmills for energy conservation. But even they looked right.
We ended up in Rostock that evening and saw my mother's cousin. She had not seen him since before Rostock was bombed. What a Reunion. My Grandfather had asked the Red Cross to find his brother and family, once he knew that the company he worked for, Heinkel (Aircraft), was bombed. They never were able to tell him one way or the other. So all these years we thought they had parrished. They told us about the before "der Wende" as they call the fall of the wall, and after. How life is different. Some good some not so good. For instance, a woman received 3 years credit towards retirement / social security for each child she stayed home with for three years. So, Gerda stayed home 12 years. Now she lost out, because there is no credit any more. Or one of her daughters paid little to nothing for childcare. She dropped her son off and picked him up on a daily basis, not weekly. Now she has to pay more than DM 500. But all in all they say life is better now. Freedom to go where and when they want to.
They took us the Warnemünde, the seaport outside of Rostock. Beautiful. We had a wonderful stay and hated to leave.
On the way back we visited Cousin Don's research sites. Steffenshagen was the first stop.
It has a beautiful church and cemetery. Or I should say, a small portion of the cemetery was beautiful. The rest was terrible. I was appalled at the conditions it is in. This cemetery has so many old beautiful graves / headstones, but are in a horribly condition and overgrown. I took pictures. When I asked the pastor why, he told me...you have to understand that we had communism for so long (this nine years later). I said what about a civic group,like Boy Scouts, nobody cares he told me. Only the new graves. I mentioned, how about each person with a new grave to adopt one old one. His reply, if you can find somebody... It was obvious he did not care either or had just given up.
I wished I could have stayed for two weeks to clean it up, but there was no way to extend my stay. I would have liked to cry. I saw headstones just tossed aside in a pile. There are beautiful stones and you can still read them. Some of the still standing ones have wrought iron around them. Gorgeous.
But in one of the other churches, Hansdorf, I believe, they had taken those old stones and places around the base of the church. It was beautiful. Heiligenhagen was all new. The old was tossed out.
Now, I know, that in Germany you have to pay like a lease fee for how ever many years to keep the cemetery plot. But history is history. And I think it should be preserved. Money or not. I think, since the church charges tax on the wages and salaries, they should upkeep and preserve the history. But I better get of my soap box.
I wished I would have had more time. I know I will go back to see more and other things. But my prime object for this trip was to find my fathers ancestors, to meet my mothers cousin and his family and to visit some of the villages. To bad I did not make it to Gustavel and Lebbin.