[APG Public List] 4th German-Pennsylvanish Day - something like a
Rolgeiger at aol.com
Rolgeiger at aol.com
Sun Oct 11 15:52:20 MDT 2009
4. Deutsch-Pennsylvanischer Tag – 4th German-Pennsylvanish Day
(Friday, Oct 9, 2009)
Last Friday morning my wife and her friend Margret started a
three-days-walk through the Eifel mountains in middle west Germany, about 20 miles north
of Trier at the Mosel River. After I got her there by car, I had the
weekend off. Thus I turned the car – in fact: her car – I like it very much,
especially on the Autobahn as it goes a good thing faster than my own. I was
on my way to Alzey on the other side of the Hunsrueck mountains south of
the Mosel River. Before I reached the Moselle I saw a sign displaying a
German military cemetery. I remembered another project on rootsweb. There is a
forum whose members list German Memorials of Wars in and outside country and
the soldiers killed in action. So I stopped and took photos both of some
graves and the side – and a written list of all soldiers burried there at
the Kriegsgraeberstaette (War Graves site) of Schwarzenbruch near Kruchten,
Eifel mountains, Germany. All soldiers had fallen during the Bulge in
December 44 and January 1945.
Instead of taking the Autobahn I rode "cross country", i.e. down into the
Mosel Valley where I stopped at Cues, home of Nicolaus von Cues or Cusanus.
He was one of Germany's most important scientists in 15th Century and a
famous man of the church as well. Our parish of St. Wendel had strong bounds
to him as he was its master for more than 20 years (way back in the 1440s).
In case you'd "meet" him somewhere somewhen – his coat of arms shows a
huge red lobster which stands for his family name "Kryffz" = "Krebs".
Then I climbed the beautiful Hunsrueck mountains nearly on the tracks of
one of George Patton's corps, I believe it was the 15th Corps of his Third
Army in World War Two. But while Patton's GIs followed their maps, I
followed my navigation computer and he directed me – but not into the direction I
wanted to go. Once I realized that I had to turn and thus lost about an
At four p.m. I reached Alzey, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, not too far away
from Frankfurt. I parked the car at the town's square and at once met Dr.
Helmut Schmahl, a German historian specialised in emigration from
Hessen-Darmstadt in 18th and 19th Century. Together with famous German emigration
researcher Roland Paul from Kaiserslautern he had put together an exhibition
called "Aufbruch nach Amerika 1709-2009 – 300 Jahre Massenauswanderung aus
Rheinland-Pfalz" – "Departure for America 1709-2009 – 300th Anniversary of
Mass Emigration from the Palatinate" including lots of items to the subject.
Like books, tickets, photos, lists, descriptions, documents, whatever you
may think an exhibition like that should contain. I had seen the exhibit
two months before in Kaiserslautern and now they had moved it to Alzey but
only parts of it.
After a welcome adress by Dr. Dietmar Peter, chairman of the local history
association of Alzey, Dr. Schmahl led us through the exhibit giving
explanations etc. When I had seen it two months ago I had no camera available.
But there was one item I was particularly interested. That was a list of
recommended hotels and guest houses in or around New York City but in 19th
century for German imigrants. Years ago I had the opportunity to translate a
diary of Wendelin Merk, an emigrant from the Blackwood Forest in Germany. He
and his fellows got betrayed by a German landlord near Albany, New York, on
29 Sept 1852: "hier wurden wir wieder recht geprellt von diesem Deutschen
Hunde von Wirth, seine Firma und Namen ist "Deutsches Wirthshaus für
Auswanderer" von Kreuder No 70 an der Eisenbahnstrasse" (Here we got cheated by
this damned dog of a German inn-keeper. His company and name is "German Inn
for emigrants" run by Kreuder at 70 Railroad Street.). And now on this
list of recommended guest houses I saw the name again: "Union Halle, G.
Kreuder, 15 Montgomery Street, Albany, New York". I don't know the year of the
list but it seems that Mister Kreuder has changed the etablisment from
Railroad to Montgomery Street. You can find him on 1860 Census in Albany: Georg
Kreuder, 43 years old, and his wife Caroline, 30, both from Germany,
That German-Pennsylvanish Day had been organized by
"Deutsch-Pennsylvanischer Arbeitskreis" (German- Pennsylvanish Association), short: dpak, under
its recent chairman Dr. Michael Werner. On the website you can find their
"The German-Pennsylvanian Association was founded in order to facilitate
the exchange of ideas between initiatives in Germany, to intensify the
cooperation between the Old and the New World, and to provide US and Canadian
institutions a central contact address on this side of the Atlantic."
I was delighted to meet again two American historians whom I first met in
June during a three-day-seminar about 300th Anniversary of Mass Emigration
from the Palatinate. First was Prof. Dr. John Delaney, Director of
Pennsylvania German Studies, from Kutztown University, PA, who later spoke about
"Pennsylvania-Dutch activities in Berks County and the development of the
Pennsylvania German Minor Program of Kutztown University". The lecture was
very interesting as we learned a lot about that particular program: "Kutztown
University's Minor in Pennsylvania German Studies offers students multiple
opportunities to pursue intellectual and hands-on experiences in
Pennsylvania German history, culture, dialect, crafts, and historic preservation. The
Minor allows students to pursue their own interests within the structure
of the Program with courses and experiences offering inter-disciplinary
learning opportunities. Each student must complete the Minor's introductory
course and an internship. Students are free to choose a variety of electives
from a number of different disciplines."
Second was Dr. Philipp Otterness from New York who had held a fascinating
lecture – more or less a summary of his book "Becoming German". Therein he
wrote about that particular mass emigration in 1709. People emigrated from
the Palatinate because they had heard heard of a particular book which
shall have stated that the British crown would donate them land in the
colonies. There was nothing essential behind that rumor. But thousands of people
went. They left their homes and went to the Netherlands. John Churchill, Duke
of Malborough, had just received new soldiers so the emigrants were
allowed to take the ships back to England. No one was more surprised to see them
coming than the Queen. More than a years later several of them were send to
America to work in a British military program and produce tar. But the
Palatines were looking for their own way of life. They didn't want to be
Britains. Thus they moved away and became – weird – Germans as until then there
had been no Germany at all. They made working contracts with the Indians
and lived in peace with them. Until the 7-years-war. It's a long but never
boring story and become Philipp Otterness' dissertation.
Another guest – actually he was the V.I.P. that evening – was Prof. Dr.
Don Yoder, Devon, PA, the Old Man of researching German-Pennsylvania folk
life and migration history. In the 1950s he was among the founders of
Kutztown Folk Festival and Pennsylvania Folklife Society and has been doing
permanent research for at least 60 years now. He was made Member of Honor of the
Association that night.
But he himself made a lecture talking about his most favorite subject
"Introducing Pennsylfawanisch: America's Special German Muddersprooch". That
was the weirdest hour of that evening - at least for me. The lecture was in
English but his examples in Pennsylvania-Dutch … well, they sounded like
some long forgotten terms I had learned from my grandmother when I was a kid.
Well, actually some of the words I learned not from Granny but in the
Kindergarten, words like "scheissdreck" (= bullshit). But I couldn't stopp
laughing when Dr. Yoder told us that exactly that word had been the first German
word he had learned from his father when he was five. See, the word needs
a specific pronounciation when spoken. And Dr. Yoder showed tremendous
skills in pronounciation. Nevertheless his speaking the word was a somehow
American way to do it – like my style in the way of writing this a little to
long email is a German one. Oh, I know for sure.
Then Dr. Yoder started talking about the German slang word for a sawmill.
As the cutter went up and down, the word was "noff onn nunna"-mill (up and
down mill). Actually I'm very much interested in water mills. The very old
German term for a sawmill came from the cutter but it didn't go up and down
but to and froe. And this to and froe was mentioned in another word which
today has only one meaning – and that's a very vulgar one: "ficken". Two
hundred years ago it was a German word like anything else and used without
any resentements. English speaking people still have it in the word "fight"
for a fight with swords is a fight of two swords beating to and froe. And
even the vulgar meaning is that movement "to and froe". Thus our dialect word
for sawmill had been "Fickmill" (by the way: our dialect word for "mill"
is pronounced exactly the same way as yours: "mill", high German: "Muehle").
Dr. Yoder who became 89 in 2009 talked for more than an hour. But no one
was ever bored. Especially not me. Later when we had dinner in a local
restaurant in downtown Alzey I had the privilege in sitting next to him and we
talked a lot about our recent slang and Pennsylvania-Dutch and exchanged old
words and terms. A most interesting man is he. You may give him eighty but
never nearly ninety.
Between the lectures a German folk band called "Reinig, Braun and Boehm"
played traditionals as well as songs of emigrants and own compositions. I
had heard them in K'town in June first and really love their way of making
music. Their last CD is called "hiwwe und driwwe" (on this side and on that
side) relying to the big pond.
A long but fascinating day nearly was at his end when I entered my car and
rode home through the night. Doing this I changed the subject completely
in listing to an audiotape version of one of my favorite science fiction
novels "The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury.
Thanks for "listening" to me so long.
Good night and God bless you.
Roland Geiger, St. Wendel, Germany
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