GLANDORF — At 7 p.m. on June 25, a charter bus, pursued by village
vehicles with lights flashing, pulled up in front of Glandorf Village
Hall. No one in the village seemed alarmed, however. In fact, residents
turned out along the bus route and in and around the municipal building,
full smiles in place and arms outstretched as 54 visitors from
Glandorf, Germany strode down the bus steps.
Vice Mayor Hubert Pohler presented Glandorf, Ohio Mayor Gene Warnecke
with a commemorative book. In turn, Warnecke presented Pohler with a key
to the Putnam County village. The band, The Village Idiots, played and
food and beverages were consumed shortly thereafter.
Warnecke, many families still trace their roots back to Glandorf,
Germany. In 1975, a group of local residents, with the encouragement of
Pastor Raymond Seifert, of St. John the Baptist Church, traveled to
Germany to reconnect family ties. For almost 40 years there has been a
unique relationship between the two communities that are physically half
a world apart.
The last exchange was made three years ago when a
group from the Ohio village traveled to Germany. This year, the group
was led by Pohler. The 2014 trip was his ninth visit to Putnam County;
his first was in 1976 when the partnership was formed. Most of the
people who came with Pohler on this trip have not been here.
he acknowledged differences between the towns— for instance, lot sizes
are much bigger here—he said the similarities are dominant.
instance, Germans and Americans share an interest in soccer, one which
was emphasized on Saturday when local resident Beth Hempfling and her
family hosted a World Cup viewing.
“Was a fun party and the Germans were very happy to win 1-0,” said Hempfling.
Hempflings opened their home not only for the party but also for
visitors to stay in during the visit. Beth said she and her husband had
always wanted a son to join their four daughters, a boy they would have
named Andy. Ironically, from Wednesday to Sunday, 21-year-old Andreas
Toppmoller was part of their family.
Toppmoller and the other
German guests were able to walk the Putnam County Fair while stateside.
On Saturday, locals were invited to Glandorf Elementary School to listen
to stories recited in the Low German dialect.
“This was the
common language that was spoken by our German ancestors when they
immigrated to the United States in the early 1800s,” said Warnecke.
“Although Low German is no longer commonly spoken in Germany or the
U.S., there is a strong desire to preserve this once common language.”
The book that Pohler presented contained stories in Low German with an English translation for future generations.
“Now it’s Glandorf, Ohio’s turn to visit,” said Pohler. “We’ll be prepared. The invitation is there.”