[APG Public List] 4th German-Pennsylvanish Day - something like a report

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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