MODERATOR COMMENT: I will continue to post descriptions of "hometown visit"
programs as long as new information is sent to us.
** As you reflect on your experience, please think about the German individuals
** who organized these and related German Jewish History events. Some may be
** candidates for the Obermayer German History Award. John Paul Lowens - MOD 1
I was successful contacting hometowns in Germany for both of my parents and
my in-laws in the 1980s. All it took was a letter (which did not have to be
written in German) to the Burgermeister (Mayor) of the specific birthplace of
each refugee. The letters contained the refugee's complete birth name, date of
birth, parents' names, and current mailing address, inquiring as to the town's
It took a month or two, but we heard >from each town. Two of the very small
villages could not afford to invite us but encouraged a visit should we come to
Germany. For one large town (Trier), we were put on a 3-year wait list. In
the case of my mother's hometown (Schwaebisch Hall), a few of my mother's
siblings had just been invited, and the town wrote that it was glad to have the
current address for my mother. In many cases, the towns did not know where to
send the invitation.
Schwaebisch Hall was the only town that could afford to invite all of its
former refugees and a companion back two more times (1992 and 1999). The town
was very gracious to all refugees, setting up special tours to interesting
places, opportunities to meet old friends, programs with local school children to
ask the refugees questions, etc. The local officials, archivists, and
reporters were with us almost daily during the week-long visit. The town was
wealthy enough to pay for the airline trip, hotel and meals.
The best part was that we were able to visit my grandparents' homes, the
Jewish cemeteries (two in nearby villages), and have access to their archives.
The county historian and the town's archivist helped me to find the oldest
cemetery and make copies of records going back to the early 1700s.
Even though it is 20 years later, I would encourage Ralph and other former
refugees to write to the Burgermeister in their hometown. By the way, I had
sent a separate letter requesting genealogical data >from the Burgermeister (or
Standesamt) which began my successful research. A sample of this letter
(written in rough German and translated in English) was published in the Jewish
Genealogical Society's newsletter SEARCH Winter 1988 in an article I wrote
entitled "My Success in Obtaining Genealogical Records >from West Germany."
Ellen Lukas Kahn Homewood, Illinois EllnKahn@aol.com
Researching: EISEMAN - Mosbach; FALK - Bad Schwalbach; FELDENHEIMER - Hengstfeld;
GUNDELFINGER - Michelbach an der Lucke; JACOBS- Osann-Witlich; RIMON-Oettingen;
STEINER- Duensbach; KAHN- Klusserath (on the Mosel near Trier); MAY- Niedermendig;
LUCAS- Mulheim an der Ruhr, Duisburg; LUKAS- Niedermendig (Mendig); LEVY - Aach;
NEUMANN- Michelbach a/d Lucke, Weisenbach; STRAUS- Laufersweiler;
SCHWAB- Schwabisch Hall, Dunsbach, Oberdorf bei Bopfingen
ROSENFELD- Hengstfeld, Walhausen, Wachbach.