By OREN WINDHOLZ
President, Bukovina Society
the September 1988 meeting in Ellis to hear Paul Polansky Schneller speak
of his trips to Bukovina, an invitation was issued to Ellis area residents
to travel to Germany for the 40th annual meeting of their Bukovina
Society. Every effort was made to organize a group to be headed by Kay
Williams of Hays Travel. A minimum number was not obtained due to the
shortness of time and other factors, so a number of people who had made a
reservation were disappointed when the tour was cancelled.
However, Oren Windholz,
President of the Bukovina Society of the Americas, his wife, Patricia,
Irmgard Ellingson, and Polansky Schneller made the trip to Augsburg for
the meetings. With Irmgard Ellingson, we left out of New York and joined
the Schnellers in Madrid, Spain, at their home. After several days touring
Spain, we all drove through France with several stops before arriving in
Frankfurt, West Germany. The Schnellers, and Ellingson spent considerable
time doing research throughout Germany with the Schnellers going on to
Czechoslovakia after the meetings.
Pat and I spent some time before the Augsburg meeting visiting with
relatives discovered through a number of years of letter writing, then
traveled to Stuttgart to meet with Frau Irma Bornemann, the executive in
charge of arrangements for the annual convention. After a few tours of the
surrounding areas, we went on the first scheduled activity of the Bukovina
Kongress. A bus tour was filled to capacity going north out of Augsburg on
what is known as the Romantic Road, a highway of relatively small towns
running south from the Austrian boarder up north to Würzburg.
The tour was led by Dr.
Ortfried Kotzian, a professor at the University of Augsburg, and head of
the Bukovina Institute there. All the eager travelers were thrilled to
have their new American friends aboard. The group traveled through a few
villages of Bukovina German people, toured a castle, the church of Maria
Brunnlein and had lunch in Wemding. Early in the afternoon, the local
chapter of the Bukovina Society was host to our tour group for coffee and
homemade cakes, and desserts. The Bürgermeister (mayor) of the town gave
us all a hearty greeting, and was well acquainted with the Bukovina German
A special recognition was made to the
representatives of the American Society. After a joyful afternoon of
making new friends, we traveled on to the ancient town of Nordlingen,
first inhabited by the Romans during the first to the third centuries. The
wall around the city built in the 14th century still stands in its
original form, having been fortified several times. The dry moat bed lies
just beneath the walls we walked. Another magnificent church is in the
middle of town, St. George, also from the 1400's.
formal event of the Kongress occurred on Friday evening, May 12. The
Kaindl Society had a dinner and entertainment featuring the professor, his
wife, and three daughters. Saturday morning in Augsburg, all of the
registrants were invited to tour the old town under the guidance of Dr.
Johannes Hampel, also a professor at the University and author of a book
on the 2000th anniversary of the city. This was followed by a reception
and welcome by the Bürgermeister.
A silver plate
recognizing the 40th anniversary of the German Bukovina Society was
presented to its President, Dr. Paula Tiefenthaler. Again special
recognition was given to the Americans. After the opening of the Kongress,
tables were set up in a large hall with many of them by villages of
origin. Nearly 1000 people were on hand for the festivities and a popular
attraction was the display of enlarged pictures of Ellis pioneers donated
by Frank Schneller. We were stopped many times by people wanting to talk
about the relatives they knew were in America, and the most well known
name there was Schoenthaler. Many of the people at the Kongress were
Bukovina natives, having moved to West Germany during World War II.
In the evening a big dance was held, and listening to the polkas
and watching the dancers, it was very much like being back home. During
the dance, periodically singing groups performed songs from Bukovina and
did dance routines. A highlight for me was meeting with Adalbert Fuchs,
who with my mother, Pauline Erbert Windholz, had the same great great
grandfather in Poiana Micului.
On Sunday, May 14, services were held both in the Catholic and
Lutheran Churches, and in the afternoon, the major business of the
Kongress was conducted. Many addresses were exchanged for future contact,
and a number of people expressed an interest in attending the Festival in
July in Ellis.