So this week was the beginning of classes. I’ve had to figure out schedules, ask for syllabi, double check requirements with my major and minor advisors (shoutout to Prof O’Rourke and Prof Schwerin-High!). It’s been busy, but good. I may or may not be taking too many history classes, and half of those may or may not be in German. But what’s the fun in a college semester without a bit of stress?
I’m joking, of course. Classes only meet once a week, and I’ve noticed there are less readings than back home, and no midterms. I also have a nice mix of lectures and seminars, which translate to half-credit and normal/one credit classes back home. So it should all work out.
This weekend was really great though!
I visited some of the family that still lives in Wüstensachsen, where my Oma grew up. I saw the house she grew up in, the church she was married in, and the guest house I’ve always heard about. It was very cool.
Its the house in the middle. The pink one is the old Ebert house and the yellow one is the new Ebert house.
For the whole weekend, I was with the family of Franz, who was one of the younger brothers of my grandma. I met his wife Gertrude, who lives in the Ebert house. Then I met Franz’s son Michael, his wife Susanne, and their kids Jonathan (8 years) and Sarah (5 years). They’re all very nice and I had a great time.
Gertrude, me, Susanne, Jonathan, and Sarah
Michael, Jonathan, me, Sara
They were kind enough to show me around the area, which included Kreuzberg, the Wasserkuppe, and Point Alpha. The old army base on the Wasserkuppe is most important, since that’s where my grandparents actually met. So yeah, it’s kind of important for my existence…
My grandpa and grand uncle were stationed at the Wasserkuppe base, only 5km outside of Wüstensachsen. My Aunt Theresia worked in a cafeteria there and eventually dragged my Oma to work with her, since she had met a couple of very nice American soldiers. And that was that.
The Wasserkuppe was pretty cool. Its famous for its history of sailplanes, and there’s a couple museums and cafes there. A few of the buildings are original from before WWII. And the giant Cold War radar — now empty — still stands. Since the Wasserkuppe is the highest point of the Rhön Mountains, it was very useful for the US to spy on the Soviets.
Nearby is Point Alpa, a Cold War observation tower, now turned museum. This tower lined the border of the east, like many of the other observation towers in the Fulda Gap.
The Gap was a bit of a conundrum in the Cold War. The whole border between Hessen (West) and the Bundesland of Thurigin (East) was highly guarded by both US and Soviet soldiers. The Gap was seen as a possible place for a Soviet invasion into the Frankfurt and Rhine areas. It was thought that if a third world war were to break out, it would happen at the Fulda Gap.
Kreuzberg, in contrast, has been around a long time. The monastery was founded with the first Irish missionaries before 1000. The current church building dates back to 1681.
The monks at Kloster Kreuzberg (Kreuzberg Monastery) have been brewing hearty beers for centuries, and they still supervise the work today. It was a pretty cool place.
I’m so happy I got to see Wüstensachsen and some of my family there! I can’t wait to go back.