Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Visits to Oma and Opa's Birthplaces

One of my main reasons for wanting to visit Germany was to see the birthplaces of my grandparents and show the kids where Great-Oma and Matthew's namesake Max (his Great-Opa) were from.

Opa was from a small town in western Germany called Lichtenau, its about 30 min from Strasbourg on the German side of the Rhine. We paid a visit in the late afternoon and enjoyed dinner and walk through the streets. We don't know the exact address of the house Max lived in but we imagined him growing up there and swimming across the Rhine to France (I remember him once telling me he used to do that).
Max left Lichtenau in the mid-1930's for Palestine and then eventually made his way to the USA where he met my Oma. After Lichtenau we drove a couple minutes to a near-by town where my great-grandmother was from -- Rheinbischofsheim.


My Oma is from a small town in the Mosel River valley called Beilstein. This town (really a village) is quite the quaint tourist place these days. It is nestled between the sharp hills and the river and feels like it belongs in a fairy tale with winding lanes and a ruined castle lording over the town. We enjoyed some ice cream along the river and then walked the streets and a path up to the castle. Near the castle is a Jewish cemetery and we believe we came across a gravesite from a great-great grandfather or uncle.

Both visits were quite memorable and I think the kids will have strong memories and sense of where some of their relatives were from.

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