Windholz travels to West Germany

Oren Windholz
From: The Ellis Review, Ellis, Kansas 67637
Monday – June 19, 1989

Posted May 12, 2002 with permission of the Ellis Review

After 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 heritage.

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.

The first 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.