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2001 Trip To Germany And Poland

Our second trip to Germany began in Dallas, Texas on May 1 after spending the previous week searching Norma’s roots in Oklahoma, attending a Vanderburg family reunion and visiting relatives and friends in Texas. We arrived in Frankfurt five hours late at 12:30 pm Wednesday May 2. By coincidence, my brother, Duane, and his wife Peggy were arriving from Katowice, Poland at 2:25 and so we decided to meet their plane. Unfortunately, they never appeared at the gate -- their tour group was taken directly to their connecting gate for their flight back to the States. Without a boarding pass we couldn’t get to their gate and they didn’t have enough time to come out to see us. We were disappointed but Duane and I did talk on the phone for a few minutes before they boarded their flight.

We loaded our luggage in an Opal Corsa hatchback rental car from Budget and headed south on the autobahn. This time I was prepared for the 120 mph, and higher, speeds of many cars passing us.

Thursday, May 3

Our first genealogical objective was to visit Neipperg again, the village of our Meidinger ancestors prior to 1830. Pastor Häcker, the retired former pastor of the church in Neipperg, and his wife, Annemarie, had invited us back to their home in Brackenheim and when we arrived, we were privileged to meet their son and daughter-in-law and their two children who were visiting them. We had a lovely time getting acquainted over coffee and pastries. The son and daughter-in-law spoke English very well so communication went even better than when we visited two years ago.

Pastor Häcker volunteered to go with us to Haberschlacht where the church books for Neipperg are kept. We didn’t have anywhere near enough time to check out all the genealogical data but it was nice to see the original books back to the 1600’s. I learned that my 8th great grandfather, Johann Bernard Meidinger born in 1658, was a cooper, i.e. someone who made wine barrels or casks. Fortunately, this information was on a typed copy of the early marriage records since the 1600’s script is very hard to read.

When we returned to the Katharina Ev. Church at Neipperg, Pastor Häcker unlocked the doors so we could see inside the church, something we didn’t get to do in 1999. While there, the organist came in to adjust or repair something on the organ, so we got to hear the organ played. This church, where the Meidingers attended several centuries ago, was built in 1476. One can’t help but be emotionally moved by standing where our ancestors were baptized, married and laid to rest. The small cemetery behind the church is beautifully maintained with lots of flowers growing on most graves, but we didn’t see any Meidinger headstones.

After taking Pastor Häcker home we returned to get lodging at the guesthouse next door to the church. The proprietor put us on the 3rd floor so we had quite a chore hauling our luggage up the stairs. The ceilings in the attic room sloped on each side of the king-sized bed so we had to be careful not to hit our heads on the ceiling when we got out of bed. Taking a shower was an experience too because the shower had no curtains and the sloping ceiling was so low we could only stand up at one end of the tub. But it was a pleasant, rustic place to stay and the price of 120 DM including breakfast wasn’t too bad.

Friday, May 4

On Friday morning we headed south to Konstanz, Germany to meet Gunthard Stübs who is the Pommern list manager on the Internet. We booked a room at the Goldener Sternen hotel and then walked part of the old town walking tour. Konstanz, which is on the Rhine River, is an old city whose first written record dates back to 525. One is continually astounded by the age of many buildings and structures that were built between the 11th and 15th centuries.

I gave Gunthard a call about 8:30 that evening and he said he would come to the hotel to visit us. I didn’t realize that he was coming by bicycle and it was starting to rain. He brought several books on Pomerania, all written in German, but which contain a lot of information about the homeland of our Maass ancestors. Gunthard has a passion for Pomerania and was eager to talk about the subject and we visited with him from about 9 to 11 pm. During our visit, there was a heavy thunderstorm but fortunately the rain let up by the time he left. It was really nice to meet him after corresponding with him and seeing many of his contributions to the Pommern-L mail list the past few years.

Saturday, May 5

We checked out of the hotel about 10:30 and continued our walking tour. Cathedrals are nearly always one of the top sights in European cities and the Minster of our Lady Cathedral in Constance is considered the most magnificent edifice on Germany’s southern border. It is a Romanesque columned basilica that was built in the years 1052-89 and has beautiful stained glass windows and a silver high altar. The Renaissance organ was added in 1518. Besides the cathedral, we saw the Rhine Gate tower built in the 1200’s, the Council building originally built in 1388 as a granary and warehouse, St. Stephens Church enlarged in 1424-86, the Schnetz Gate (a 14th century town gate), and other houses built in the 1300’s.

We could have spent the whole day there but we were on our way to Bayerisch Eisenstein, a small village northeast of Munich on the Czech border where we would spend the next week at a time-share condo. We left Konstanz by first crossing into Switzerland on Hwy 13 and traveling along the southern shore of the lake, Bodensee. The weather was dreary with low clouds and a light mist so we couldn’t see the Alps. It was our second trip to southern Germany and we never got a glimpse of the Alps either time. We took E43 thru Bregenz around the east end of the lake and got on A96 to Munich. The rain became relentless as we headed to Deggendorf, but fortunately it let up when we left the autobahn and headed into the hills on E53 towards Bayerisch Eisenstein. The Sporthotel Brennes, the condo where we spent the next week, was about 7 km up the hill from B. Eisenstein. The hotel is a popular ski resort but in May it was a lovely place to relax and it afforded us a good location for day trips to Passau, Prague, and Munich.

Sunday, May 6

A day to kick back and rest. We were only at an elevation of about 3500 feet but the fog and clouds kept drifting by and we couldn’t really tell what the terrain was like. Later as the fog lifted, we got glimpses of small patches of snow on the ski runs. Our condo was facing Gr. Arber (el. 4776 ft), the prominent mountain in the area.

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