The Palatinate Chapter is proud to report that is has created a new Historical Preservation site for the NSDAR. Committee Chair and Palatinate Member Karen Rink reports:
‘On Saturday, 29 October 2022, the Palatinate Chapter, Germany dedicated a bronze plaque to honor local heroes Colonel Christian Von Zweibruecken, his brother Lt. Colonel Wilhelm Von Zweibruecken (both DAR Patriots), and the members of the Regiment Royal Deux-Ponts who heroically defeated English General Cornwallis’s troops on Redoute 9 at Yorktown, Virginia, in October 1781, thus ending the American Revolutionary War.
This French Regiment, which was stationed in Zweibruecken, Germany, was raised and sponsored by Christian IV, father of Christian and Wilhelm. Members of the Regiment came from the Palatinate and Saarland regions in Germany, as well as from Alsace and Lorraine in France: truly a French-German regiment.
The plaque dedication event was opened by Palatinate Chapter Regent Pam Jensen, followed by a presentation by the Oberbuergermeister of Zweibruecken Dr. Wosnitza. Other guests included local historians, members of the Palatinate Chapter, the French Rochambeau Chapter, the past Units Overseas Chair, and DAR members from the states. Also in attendance were SAR members from Germany.
The Zweibruecken City Band performed the Regiment’s original theme song, plus Yankee Doodle Dandy and the American National Anthem.
Before the ceremony, the Palatinate Chapter members were given a tour of the museum exhibit which celebrated the 300th birthday of Christian IV and described his many achievements. After the ceremony, chapter members and guests enjoyed a gourmet luncheon at the Rosengarten Restaurant and learned more about Christian and Wilhelm Von Zweibruecken from guest speaker Dr. Daniel Fischer, Professor of History, University of Lorraine, France.’
It was a wonderful day and huge success. Many thanks to Karen for initiating, planning and guiding the project to completion. Also many thanks go to her team, which organized all the logistics of the ceremony, invitations and luncheon. The team included Barbara Gibbons, Pam Jensen, Tiffin Fox, Milissa Campbell, Shirley Herzer, Carol Moldenhauer and Lois Borsay. Several supportive HODARs were also present, and the Chapter extends its gratitude to Mindy Kammeyer-Price, past Chair Units Overseas, for flying in from Atlanta to join the ceremony.
The women of the DAR Palatinate Chapter are proud that the quilt block concept they submitted to the America 250! NSDAR Quilt Project was selected as the block to represent the Units Overseas.
What is the America 250! Quilt Project?
The Quilt Project is being coordinated by the Women in the Arts Committee.
According the the Committee website, the theme for the quilt is: ‘As each state became part of our country beginning 250 years ago, each state block of our quilt will unite with all, to become a tapestry of our country’s heritage.’
“The whole quilt is much more important than any single square.” -Rohinton Mistry
State winners were selected in May and have been working on their quilt squares for submission by October 15th. Vickie Canham, the National Vice Chair, and her team will assemble the quilt with a targeted finish in the spring of 2023.
The finished quilt will hang in the NSDAR Headquarters and will be able to travel to various locations leading up to the semiquincentennial.
The Regiment Royal Deux-Ponts Quilt Block from the Palatinate Chapter
A team of Palatinate Chapter members including Shirley Herzer, Karen Rink, Barbara Gibbons, Carol Moldenhauer, Tiffin Fox and Milissa Campbell got together at Shirley’s home and came up with a design that features the ship that sailed the Regiment Royal Deux-Ponts to America, where they fought in the War of Independence and helped defeat the British at Yorktown, resulting in the end of the war.
The judges from the Women’s in the Arts Committee were pleased enough with the design to include it as the only block representing the Units Overseas on the quilt. Here is the finished product:
Barbara Gibbons explains the meaning of the quilt:
‘The Regiment Royal Deux-Ponts (Deux-Ponts translates to ‘Zweibrücken’ in German and ‘Two Bridges’ in English) was a French regiment of foot soldiers originating in Zweibrücken and whose regimental flag is symbolized on the design of the main sail of our ship.
The soldiers of the Regiment Royal Deux-Ponts came from the Palatinate region. This area today includes Kaiserslautern, Ramstein, Landstuhl, Zweibrücken as well as Alsace and Lorraine in France.
The Regiment Royal Deux-Ponts was part of four forces that sailed to America and arrived in Newport, Rhode Island in 1780. After waiting a year, the Counts von Zweibrücken marched with their army toward Yorktown, Virginia. Along with the combined troops of Rochambeau and Lafayette, they forced the surrender of the British Army under Lord Cornwallis. In the siege of Yorktown the brothers Christian and Wilhelm von Zweibrücken took Redoubt 9 which was one of the major factors leading to Lord Cornwallis’ defeat, thus ending the war.
Because of our direct history with Palatinate emigration and the heroic ending of the Revolutionary War, we have written the words Deux-Ponts, Palatinate and Yorktown next to the sailing ship.’
Hardship and the Ocean Crossing
There aren’t many written records of the ship crossing to America at the time of the Revolution, but a journal from soldier Georg Daniel Flohr from Zweibrücken who sailed as part of the Deux-Ponts provides some insight into the misery of the trip.
According the Americanrevolution.org, the ship journey took 70 days. Space was very tight: Lodgings consisted of linen hammocks with two to a hammock. Even the officers were ten to a cabin. At meals, people squeezed into tight chambers with poor ventilation. The stench of men, dogs, cows, sheep and chicken was pervasive.The food was rationed to a little over a pound of hardtack a day, and the men were perpetually thirsty. At one point there was a fire on board Flohr’s ship.
When they finally reached Newport Harbor, most were afflicted with scurvy. Only about a dozen men died during the crossing, but by the time they went into their winter quarters on November 1, 1780 the regiment was 73 short. By way of comparison, the regiment only lost one-fourth that number in the casualties in the storming of Redoubt #9 before Yorktown in October 1781, the bloodiest event of the campaign. (Source: americanrevolution.org)
The Regiment Royal Deux-Ponts After the War
In the summer of 1791, the Royal Deux-Ponts became the 99th Regiment of Infantry, and eventually there weren’t any Germans left in its ranks. As the decades passed, it became part of the body of ‘French’ troops sent to fight in America. Today, the regimental standard of the 99ieme Regiment d’Infantrie stationed in Lyon proudly displays Yorktown among its days of glory, keeping the memory of the American Revolutionary War alive (ibid, above).
The Palatinate DAR Daughters are proud to remember the bravery and sacrifice that the Regiment Royal Deux-Ponts made for our freedom with the block that will memorialize them in the America 250! Quilt.
Von Steuben was a Prussian aristocrat born in Magdeburg, Germany on September 17th, 1730. Like his father, he became a solider at an early age. When the Seven Years’ War began in 1747, he was a second lieutenant and became a first lieutenant in 1759. After recovering from wounds suffered that year, he became a staff officer in the position of quartermaster. He was subsequently taken prisoner, released and promoted to captain and later became an aide-de-camp to Frederick the Great. Under Frederick the Great’s leadership, von Steuben attended the King’s personal class on the art of war. Here young soldiers were schooled in the art of leadership. Von Steuben was discharged from the Prussian Army in 1763 under auspicious circumstances (Magdeburg Tourist Information).
At this point von Steuben had already gained all the military experience that would make him so essential to the American Revolution.
In 1763 von Steuben was introduced to Louis de St. Germain in Hamburg. St. Germain later become the French Minister of War during the American Revolution. His casual relationship with St. Germain was renewed while von Steuben served as Grand Marshall to the Prince of Hollenzollern-Hechingen. Von Steuben acted as the administrative director for the Prince and his court during this period. His ties to the Duchess of Wurtemburg, a niece of Frederich the Great, led to von Steuben receiving the title of Baron.
Von Steuben travelled to France in 1777 looking for some sort of military occupation. In Paris, St. Germain introduced von Steuben to the American ambassadors to France, Silas Deane and Benjamin Franklin. The American ambassadors couldn’t offer von Steuben a paid position, so he left his first encounter with the Americans in ‘disgust’ (nps.gov/vafo/learn/history). But lacking any other tangible opportunities, eventually von Steuben decided to travel to America as a volunteer, with only his passage being paid by the French government.
Von Steuben in America
Von Steuben embarked for America on September 2, 1777 with his Italian greyhound, an aide-de- camp, and his military secretary. They arrived in Portsmouth, NH on December 1, 1777, where he and his party were almost arrested for wearing red uniforms similar to those of the British Army. Von Steuben and his party traveled from Portsmouth over land through Boston, to York, PA, arriving there on February 5,1777.
Von Steuben presented himself to Congress with a letter of introduction from Benjamin Franklin that included several inflated mistakes about von Steuben’s rank in the Prussian Army (nps.gov/ vafo/learn/history). But his interview was successful: Von Steuben was offered an arrangement to serve and be paid following successful completion of the war. The Baron was told to report to Valley Forge.
The first impression that von Steuben made upon the soldiers of Valley Forge was that of ‘an ancient fabled God of War’ (nps.gov/vafo/learn/history). His large stature, impressive horse and enormous pistols evidently made a big impression.
Von Steuben’s first task was to create standardized drills for the army, based on European methods. He could not speak or write in English, so he originally wrote the drills in French and his aide-de-camp translated them. Brigade inspectors and regiments received the drills, who copied them and handed them on to the companies. Von Steuben tried to make the drills as simple as possible, teaching the soldiers in the quickest possible time before moving on to the next set of troops. This is how the discipline and uniform maneuvers were quickly learned and integrated in an orderly fashion into the army procedures. In an unprecedented move, von Steuben also broke rank and worked often directly with the men. According to the National Park Systems history website, von Steuben’s talent for obscenities in several languages made him popular among the troops.
On May 6, the French Alliance enjoyed their first demonstration of the American troops’ new- found professionalism. Von Steuben was made a Major General, and shortly thereafter his troops brought the British Army to a standstill in a battle at Monmouth Courthouse, NJ.
Von Steuben went to Philadelphia in the winter of 1778-79 to write a book of regulations, which was translated into English by aids. The guide was used by the United States Army until 1814.
Von Steuben rejoined the Continental Army in 1779 and served through the remainder of the war. He was an instructor and supply officer to the southern army, which fought key battles that led to the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781.
Unfortunately, von Steuben didn’t receive all the money he requested for his services after the war. He sold various properties given to him by several states, but even the sale of these was not enough to cover his living expenses (nps.gov/vafo/learn/history). He retired to the Mohawk Valley in New York State on a 16,000 acre farm tract, where he died on November 28 ,1794.
Von Steuben Remembered
In Magdeburg, Germany there is a plaque that was funded and dedicated by the DAR on the main post office building, which was originally the site of the church where Wilhelm von Steuben was christened. There is also a bust of von Steuben in the City Hall and a reproduction of a statue found in Washington DC in Harnackstrasse. There is another copy of the statue in Potsdam, Germany as well.
In the United States, German-Americans celebrate Von Steuben Day in several states. The parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City is particularly notable. There are cities with the name ‘Steuben’ in Maine, New York, Wisconsin, Ohio (Steubenville) and Steuben Counties in Indiana and New York State.
The original von Steuben statue stands in Lafayette Park in Washington DC. It was created by Albert Jaegers and dedicated in December, 1910.
In 1915, Swiss-American sculptor Jakob Otto Schweizer also created a standing statue of von Steuben in Valley Forge.
Von Steuben’s name has also appeared on many plaques and naval vessels over the years.
We recognize General von Steuben posthumously on the occasion of his 292nd birthday with gratitude!
Wikipedia Magdeburg Tourist Information National Park Service/Government/ValleyForge (nps.gov/vafo/learn/historyculture/ vonsteuben)
May bursts with color and new growth outside our doors. It ends with Memorial Day, for many a day of picnics and parties with family and friends. However, Memorial Day is also a day to remember all those our country has lost in defending our freedom in wars.
The DAR Palatinate Chapter celebrates Memorial Day by attending ceremonies at two American Battle Monument Cemeteries (ABMC) near the German border in France. Here is a little description of each. If you are in the Palatinate area, both are well worth visiting.
The Lorraine American Cemetery
The Lorraine American Cemetery in St. Avold, France is the largest cemetery for American soldiers who died in World War II in Europe. Almost 10,500 American soldiers are buried there.
Most of the dead were killed while driving back the German forces from Metz, France toward the Siegfried Line and the Rhine River. Initially there were 16,000 American soldiers from the U.S. Seventh Army Infantry and Armored Divisions with its cavalry stationed there. St. Avold was a key communications center for the network of enemy defenses guarding the western border of the Third Reich.
This beautiful cemetery, with its headstones arranged in nine plots, extends over 113.5 acres of rolling hills and is bordered by lush woods. The memorial, which stands on a plateau west of the burial area, contains operations maps, narratives and service flags. The figure of St. Nabor, the martyred Roman soldier, overlooks the somber setting. Tablets with names of the missing (444) are located on either side of the memorial. The missing who have since been identified are marked with a rosette.
The Palatinate Chapter provides a wreath for the St. Avold Memorial Day ceremony every year. The beautiful ceremony includes music from both French and American military representatives, speeches from local French and American dignitaries, and a special fly-over by a C-130 aircraft. The ceremony closes with the firing of volleys, taps and the rising of the colors.
Cemetery Site Monument in Hochfelden, France
This cemetery memorial is located just west of Hochfelden, France. It was established in late 1944 when the American effort was advancing too fast for the US Army Grave Registration Department. The 1,093 American soldiers who were temporarily interred there were later moved in 1946 to the American Cemetery in St. Avold. Most of the soldiers were part of the 103rd Division of the 7th Army. Today all that remains in Hochfelden is the memorial to the 1,093 soldiers and the lonely grave of 20 year old Lt. John Grant Rahill.
A One-Man Cemetery in Hochfelden
The one and only grave left in Hochfelden has a unique story. It tells the story of Lt. John Rahill as well as his family’s love and respect for his military career.
Lt. John Rahill was born in Caldwell, NJ on New Year’s Day in 1924. A reputedly somewhat precocious child, John abandoned his college education at the University of Chicago and volunteered for the infantry in 1942. He completed his basic training at Camp Roberts, CA and was selected for the Officer Candidate School. He was commissioned in 1943 and joined the 10th Mountain Division in the Colorado Rockies. He transferred to the European front in 1943.
His European career started in Naples, where he was dispatched to the Anzio beachhead. Assigned to the B Company platoon of the 179th Infantry, Rahill was quickly recognized as a capable leader, especially during the advance on Rome. He went on to become a first lieutenant and executive officer of the Company.
In December of 1944, he led his men into the Alsatian village of Engwiller. But on the way to their destination they were surprised by a mortar attack that killed Lt. Rahill within minutes.
Rahill was interred with his fellow fallen soldiers in Hochfelden. When his mother learned in 1946 that the interred were to be transferred to the St. Avold Cemetery, she refused to allow his grave to be disturbed. She was convinced that it would have been his desire to remain buried where he had fallen. Mrs. Rahill’s plea was taken up by a Captain of the 45th Infantry, who helped her inform the U.S. War Department of her wish.
On June 7, 1953, her wish was granted. More than 1,000 French citizens and the U.S. Ambassador to France, Douglas Dillon, were present to unveil a memorial over Lt. Rahill’s grave site. The memorial honors all the American soldiers who lost their lives for the liberation of France. To symbolize the sacrifice, Lt. John Rahill was allowed to remain entombed at the base of the monument.
To this day, there is a ceremony honoring the American contributions the liberation of France held every year at the site in May. The Palatinate Chapter is often in attendance and participates in a wreath-laying ceremony. Local dignitaries from Hochfelden and the United States hold speeches and enjoy a lunch together afterwards.
Both events are truly inspiring and we hope you will visit one or both any time you are in the area.
With Easter just around the corner, it might be interesting to learn about a world-famous German cultural tradition that centers on the final days of Jesus’ life. The play is called the Passion Plays (‘Passionsspiele’) and is performed once every ten years on an open stage in the small Bavarian town called Oberammergau. Most recently, the Passion Plays were planned for 2020, but, due to COVID, they were postponed to 2022, starting in May with performances through September this year.
What are the Passion Plays?
The play is a five-hour performance that shows Jesus’ passion, covering the short period from visiting Jerusalem through his crucifixion. It starts when Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey and drives the money changers and traders from the Temple. It moves through his arrest and conviction, the Last Supper, Judas’ betrayal, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the carrying of the cross, crucifixion and resurrection in sixteen acts. The play is truly spectacular, with over 2,000 performers, musicians and stage technicians, all of whom are residents of Oberammergau.
Because the play is so long, there is a long meal break, making the performance roughly a seven hour event. Total attendance often exceeds over a half a million during the performance season. Travel agents frequently offer weekend package deals with hotels, meals and tickets included.
How did the Passion Plays Come About?
A legend says that after an outbreak of the bubonic plague in Bavaria during the Thirty Years’ War (1616-1648), a man who had worked in a nearby village brought the plague to Oberammergau in September of 1633. The plague killed over half the population in only a month. At the end of October 1633, the villagers vowed that if God spared them from the plague in the future, they would perform a play every ten years depicting the life and death of Jesus. According to the legend, nobody died of the plague in Oberammergau after they made the vow. The villagers kept their promise and performed the first Passion Play in 1634.
What is Unique About the Passion Plays?
The Oberammergau Passion Play includes between 2,000 and 5,000 of the local residents in the village. It is a family tradition. If a grandfather participated in the past, then today his sons and grandsons are most certainly also participants. Many of the main actors take a sabbatical or reduce their work hours during the performance season.
The kick-off for the Passion Play is on Ash Wednesday, one year prior to the next festival. From this time, the residents of Oberammergau are advised to not get a haircut and men must let their beards grow in order to give more authenticity to their biblical appearance!
The stage for the performance is also special. It has been remodeled repeatedly over the years. The stage is surrounded by around 4,500 seats in the auditorium and the roof is a grated lattice construction that provides a good view of the open air stage from all the tiered rows of seats. The stage settings are known for their appealing artistic form and colorful ambience.
With the unrelenting work and continuing support of the residents of Oberammergau, the Passion Play has become the largest and most famous of its kind in the world.
March 8th is International Women’s Day and a good chance to highlight a famous German/American female philosopher named Hannah Arendt. Her philosophical and political theories were developed around her experiences growing up as a Jew in Germany under the Nazis. Most of her teachings revolve around the ideas of evil and power in totalitarian regimes. Many of her thoughts are as pertinent today as they were when she wrote them seventy years ago.
Who Was Hannah Arendt?
Hannah Arendt was born in 1906 near Hannover, Germany. She was the daughter of educated, liberal Jewish parents and spent much of her youth growing up in Königsberg, located in East Prussia. Her family was well integrated in the German community there, and Hannah’s education was predominantly secular, emphasizing Goethe’s humanities-oriented ‘Bildung’ (education) ideals. She was quite a precocious girl: She understood ancient Greek at a young age and was ferociously independent in her thinking and actions during her schooling.
She spent some time during the First World War in Berlin and eventually studied there. Later she also studied in Marburg, Freiburg and Heidelberg, where she received her Doctorate in Philosophy in 1929.
After finishing her PhD, Hannah started to research anti-semitism and was arrested by the Nazis in 1933. Following her release, Hannah fled Germany and eventually landed in Paris. She expanded her philosophical interests there until Hitler invaded France in 1940. She was detained by the French and escaped to the United States in 1941 via Portugal.
Hannah became a US citizen in 1950. She was active in trying to find a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and published her first book in 1951: The Origins of Totalitarianism. This is probably her best known work, dealing with the nature of power and evil as well as politics, direct democracy, authority and totalitarian rule. She subsequently wrote many other books and taught in several renowned American universities.
What Was Hannah Arendt’s Political Philosophy?
Hannah Arendt’s political philosophy was based on the idea of active citizenship that emphasizes civic engagement and collective deliberation. She believed that no government could extinguish the drive for human freedom. She saw the evilness of totalitarian power in its manipulation of human thinking.
Perhaps her philosophy is best summed up in quotes from her lectures and books. Below are a few quotes taken from the Internet portal azquotes.com.
‘The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists’.
‘Evil thrives on apathy and cannot exist without it’.
‘The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but destroy the capacity to form any’.
‘The is a strange interdependence between thoughtlessness and evil’.
‘Generally speaking, violence always rises out of impotence. It is the hope of those who have no power to find a substitute for it and this hope, I think, is in vain. Violence can destroy power but it can never replace it’.
Hannah Arendt’s ideas and theories are clearly still relevant today.
Hannah Arendt died in 1975 in the United States, where she is buried.
This year, starting on the 24th of February and continuing till the 2nd of March is the time of German Street Carnival, a unique and ‘grand, mad and unforgettable event’ (theculturetrip.com).
Though COVID will once again prevent Carnival being celebrated as raucously as in non-pandemic times, the ‘Fifth Season’ is still a much loved and celebrated time in this country.
What is Carnival?
Carnival (Karneval in German) goes by different names including Fastnachtzeit and Fasching (Bavaria). All the names are derived from the Latin expression ‘carne valis’…literally ‘good-bye meat’. So Carnival ends on Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of the Catholic time of Lent. Lent is a 40 day period of abstinence prior to Easter. Many Catholics abstain from eating meat, sweets or drinking alcohol during this period.
The Carnival season is referred to as a ‘session’. Each session has a theme, a Jester, a Prince and Princess plus other supporting characters, differing by region. The session actually begins with the ‘awakening’ of the Jester and the public proclamation of the session’s Prince and Princess. The date of the presentation is always 11.11 at 11:11 in the morning. On this day, Carnival fans don silly hats and costumes to celebrate the beginning of the Carnival season with their new Regents. There are lots of parties, beer flows generously and the fans or ‘Jecken’ sing and sway to Carnival songs.
In areas that celebrate the Fastnachtzeit, the Carnival season gets into swing after Epiphany on the 6th of January. From this point until the beginning of Street Carnival, the Regents and their entourages are busy with Carnival activities every day. Much of their work is charitable, like visiting nursing homes, schools and kindergartens. They also attend parties and ‘Büttnerreden’ speaking events (special Carnival parties with sharp-tongued, humorous speakers). This period ends in the Street Carnival, a six day party that ends on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. In some parts of Germany, Carnival is a more solemn affair, particularly in the South. But in Rhineland it is a big, crazy event where Germany lets down its hair and has fun.
Street Carnival in Rhineland
The Thursday prior to Ash Wednesday is the kick off for Street Carnival. It is called ‘Altweiber’, which means Women’s Carnival. On this day, the women rule! They dress up in costumes, storm the town hall and cut off the ties of the reigning mayor and other male officials in the town. The tradition is also practiced in businesses. Every man in an office building knows he better have an old tie handy on the day of Altweiber!
By the evening, there is a festive sense of non-stop party. Cologne is known as the stronghold of Street Carnival, with over one million people celebrating every year. The weekend continues with pub crawls, parties, masked balls and lots of swaying to Carnival songs. People traditionally indulge in jelly doughnuts (Berliner) and fried dough (Krapfen) in addition to the usual fare of sausages, fries, schnitzels and so on. Families dress up and parade their costumes. Children have parties and enjoy running around with their friends during local parades. Floats roll through the villages and candies are thrown out to the public. Everyone shouts their approval with a ‘fool’s cry’, which is a ‘senseless word hollered in chorus every few minutes for no good reason’ (theculturetrip.com). These words differ by region and include: Kölle Alaaf! (Cologne), Helau (Düsseldorf), Ahoi! (Northern Germany) and Hajo (source n.a.) among others. It is an infectious atmosphere!
The celebrations culminate in the Rosenmontag Parade on Monday. The parade includes fantastic floats, some of which are politically so poignant that they make the news in foreign countries. Satire and social commentary are very important components of Street Carnival. In addition to the floats, the ‘Büttnerredner’ (satirical speakers) and ‘Narren’ (Jesters) are sharp-witted social and political commentators who express the frustrations and anger of the common folk in their humorous diatribes during Street Carnival.
On Ash Wednesday ‘ist alles vorbei’ (it’s all over). The session ends with the carrying of the Jester back to his grave, or in some places he is burned in effigy. The Altweiber women all dress in black and weep inconsolably (crocodile tears!). And so the time of abstinence begins and Carnival is over until the Jester awakes again a year later to conduct a new round of pranks and fun-poking, and the common people will rule once again for a few fantastic days.
Another new year begins. What a good time it is to become familiar with German Naturalist Sebastian Kneipp, born 200 years ago, and his Five Pillar holistic system for good health as a guide for our New Year’s Resolutions!
The Sebastian Kneipp Five Pillar System for Holistic Good Health
Over 125 years ago, Sebastian Kneipp, a Catholic priest and naturalist from Bavaria, laid out five pillars for good health in his book “My Water Cure.” The principles of his holistic heath system are based on:
Water: The importance of internal applications like drinking enough water as well as external applications like hydrotherapy treatments for improved physical and mental well-being.
Plants: The use of herbal and plant based remedies and applications for the treatment of illnesses and states of mental stress.
Exercise: The importance of movement, including physical labor, sport, outdoor activities (particularly walking in the woods).
Nutrition: A critical component, focused on natural products, grains and modest meal portions.
Balance: Maintaining the critical balance between physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Adequate rest and time for quiet reflection are key.
The Kneipp philosophy is still popular in Germany today. Kneipp herbal and plant-based health products are sold in supermarkets, drug stores and organic food shops throughout the country, and the brand is a generic for herbal products much like the brand ‘Kleenex’ stands for tissues in the USA.
In recognition of the enduring relevance of the Kneipp Five Pillar System, UNESCO recognized the Kneipp philosophy as an Intangible German Cultural Heritage in 2015.
The History of Sebastian Kneipp and the Kneipp Brand
Sebastian Kneipp was born in 1821. He was interested in natural treatments and the world of plants from a young age. At the age of 26, Kneipp contracted tuberculosis. He read a book by Dr. Johann Siegmund Hahn on the healing power of water and began to take cold baths with water from the Danube on a regular basis as a treatment. His health improved, and by 1852 he was fully cured of TB.
Soon Kneipp started treating patients, including his wife, who had cholera. She was also cured. In 1855, Kneipp moved to Wörishofen in Bavaria, where he began to systematically research and test his therapies, evolving them into a holistic health system. He published his book “My Water Cure” in 1886, followed by a second book titled “Thus Shalt Thou Live” in 1889.
In 1891, Kneipp gave the marketing rights for his brand to a Würzburg pharmacist, who used his ingredients to develop pharmaceutical and cosmetic products.
Wörishofen became the first official Kneipp spa and treatment center in the 1890’s, followed by Münstereifel in North Rhine Westphalia in 1926. Today there are over 60 accredited Kneipp spas and treatment centers throughout the country.
Kneipp and the Natural Cure Movement in the 18th Century
The Kneipp movement can be viewed as part of the general Natural Cure Movement in Germany during the 18th Century. This movement was essentially naturalist and inherently critical of industrialization and urbanization trends. Holism and vitalism were core components of the movement, which propagated a lifestyle based on natural elements like air, water and sunshine. The movement was inherently critical of substances like alcohol and tobacco. They viewed vaccinations with skepticism.
Kneipp differed from others in this movement, because he worked closely with the medical community to develop his treatments. He never rejected medicine or vaccinations. His plant-based remedies were the basis for modern homeopathy and herbal remedies. And the hydrotherapy treatments he used were the forerunners of modern health and wellness applications ranging from whirlpool baths, cold plunge baths, underwater massage, water jets, mineral baths and many more.
Every year at the Continental Congress Units Overseas Luncheon, the DAR Palatinate Chapter sells large quantities of Ritter Sport chocolate, gummy bears and German mustard. But if there were one non-food item that ladies love to buy at our table, it would definitely be German Christmas decorations.
Perhaps today many blown glass ornaments are made in China, the USA or Mexico, but their origin was in Germany.
In the late 16th century, the small town of Lauscha, in what today is known as Thuringia (Thüringen), gained a reputation for its glass-blowing expertise. The area had actually been producing glass since the 12th century. The conditions were perfect: plenty of water and sand were available. The first documented manufacturers of glass works were Christopher Müller and Hans Greiner. They founded their glass-blowing factory in 1597. Other glassworks soon followed and the town of Lauscha became an important center for producing a variety of household glass products.
In 1847, a descendent of Hans Greiner began producing glass ornaments in the shape of fruits and nuts. The process involved the use of the blown-glass technique and molds. The ornaments were lined with shiny metal so they looked silvery on the outside. In the 1870’s the ornaments began to sell in Britain, after an illustration of Queen Victoria’s Christmas tree was printed in a London newspaper. (Her German husband Albert had brought the Christmas tree tradition to England when he married her.)
F.W. Woolworth discovered the glass ornaments from Lauscha on a visit to Germany in the 1880’s and began importing them to the United States for sale in his Five and Dime stores. They were hugely popular and Woolworth’s made a fortune by bringing them to US consumers. Perhaps you still have a few of these early ornaments at home, passed down from your parents or grandparents!
Today about 20 small glass-blowing firms still exist in Lauscha.
The earliest German smokers date from the late 1600s in the Miriquidi Forest area (today Erzgebirge) of southeastern Germany. They were originally carved out of a single piece of wood from the local forests. But the tradition of German smokers only really took off in the 1800s, when the tin and silver mines were tapped out and families in the area turned to woodworking once again to make a living.
The quality of the products from the Erzgebirge is very high and the popularity of the wooden craftsmanship was already well known internationally by the time of World War II. Families with names like Glasser, Mueller, Steinbach and Dregeno became world famous for their handmade woodcrafts.
In the beginning, when smokers were carved in one piece, the incense was placed next to them to burn. But after incense cones were developed in the late 1700s, German smokers were made from two pieces where the incense was placed inside the figure and the smoke could emerge from its mouth. Most smokers represent the ‘everyday man’ rather than political or religious figures. The most common smoker figures are working men; shepherds, miners, farmers, carpenters, etc. Santa smokers are a relatively recent addition.
According to German folklore, nutcrackers were given as keepsakes to bring good luck and protect the home. They were added to social settings as whimsical conversation pieces for guests as they lingered over their dessert, which included sweetmeats like walnuts and hazelnuts.
Writers and artists celebrated the nutcracker, beginning with the novel ‘The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,’ written sometime between 1776-1782 by E.T. Amadeus Hoffman. The novel became the basis for Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet ‘Nutcracker Suite’, which debuted in St. Petersburg in 1892 and remains a holiday tradition around the world today.
Though nutcrackers have been around for many years, they only became popular in the United States about 70 years ago. The practice of collecting nutcrackers began in the early 1950s, when US GI’s who were stationed in Germany began to visit the Christmas markets and were exposed to the wide variety of nutcrackers for sale there. The popularity of ‘Nutcracker Suite’ greatly added to the interest in nutcrackers throughout America.
While early nutcrackers depicted images of kings, military officers and upper class people, eventually the range of depicted figures expanded to include working class figures and figures out of German folklore.The marketing strategy of creating limited edition nutcrackers sealed their fate as sought-after collector items.
According to the firm Steinbach, a leading producer of nutcrackers, the production of one figure can involve up to 130 separate procedures. Curing and drying times can take up to 3-4 years. It is no wonder that they are so treasured and popular at our Units Overseas Luncheon table. They are hand-crafted wooden jewels!
Best wishes for the Holiday Season from the DAR Daughters in the Palatinate Chapter!
by Milissa Bell Campbell, PM and military civilian spouse
With less than two days notice, the Kaiserslautern Military Community (KMC) of over 50,000 active duty and military civilians’ daily schedules and extended plans were turned upside down as the largest ever, historic humanitarian airlift was put into motion on August 18, 2021 when over the course of several weeks 34,000 evacuees airlifted from Afghanistan arrived and passed through Ramstein Air Base (RAB), Germany. Base units sent a good portion of their workforce to the flight-line to support the mission. Many personnel worked 15 or more hour days, seven days a week. Normal Base and family life was disrupted with short staffed forces for all aspects of regular mission support. Families suddenly found medical, dental and other essential offices closed while those active duty and civilians embarked on what was to become a remarkable task.
“Operation Allies Welcome” lasted for 71 days on RAB where 21,000 cots were used in 552 quonset hut like tents as temporary homes. Over one million halal meals were served. Thousands of medical treatments were administered (See our own Army Lt. Col. Lois Borsay’s report for an amazing boots on the ground account.). Thirty-nine babies took their first breath of crisp air after their birth in their mothers’ interim home.
RAB reported 110 tons of donations were received including 1,000 Euros worth of new items from the Chapter in two installments. The Chapter’s support was coordinated by Vice-Regent Pam Jensen and prospective member Milissa Bell Campbell. Both members reside in villages in the Ramstein region. They kept the home fires burning as their spouses provided mission support during the event.
The first installment was purchased and delivered during a whirlwind shopping expedition by Mr. and Mrs. Vice-Regent Pam Jensen. Using the donations guidelines, they ventured out onto the economy and filled their vehicle with personal care items, shoes, clothing, toys and snack crackers valued at 750 Euros. Extreme shopping was followed by delivery to the ad hoc donation center at the old theater on RAB. From there, active duty personnel took and distributed the items as civilians were not allowed contact with the temporary guests.
The second installment began when a request for donations of essential items was posted on social media September 26 by a military spouse when there were still a few thousand evacuees being housed at RAB. The earlier donation system ended, but this spouse of a USAF 1st Sgt developed an Amazon wishlist to stream line the donation process for much needed items. Items were shipped to their home and then delivered to the flight line by the active duty 1st Sgt where the guests were housed.
After consulting with Vice-Regent Jensen, PM Campbell contacted the spouse letting her know to be on the outlook for a delivery from the Amazon wishlist from the Palatinate Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She responded quickly with gratitude.
Using the Amazon wishlist system was much better than the previous which posted the needs on social media for drop off that day on RAB. All items had to be purchased on the economy which is local village retailers so as not to deplete the Base Exchange (general merchandise store) and commissary (grocery store) for military families and to meet the regulations of on Base purchases. Within a couple of days of the initial donation drive, many of the local and regional stores in the KMC were sold out of the needed items such as basic clothing, under garments, shoes and children’s crayons. Shopping for the guest became very frustrating.
During the initial donation drive, even with next day delivery, products ordered would not arrive quickly enough to meet the daily changing needs. The new system using the Amazon wishlist assured the donors that items were actually still needed. The orders were delivered to the military spouse, sorted and then delivered by her active duty husband to the pods “market” where evacuees used a ticket system to shop for essentials.
In addition to the first donation purchase of approximately 750 Euros, the Chapter purchased
250 Euros of the following: 9 pairs of women’s trainers, 12 sports bras, 12 pairs children’s socks, 2 cases noodle cups (16 cups). A personalized delivery note was included with the order stating it was from the Chapter.
After the historic “Operation Allies Welcome” concluded, the Allies Refuge Project group posted comments of gratitude including reference to the Chapter’s donations:
“The expecting women who were craving soup really enjoyed the cup of noodles that some of you purchased.”
“One of the persons who received a pair of shoes happened to be one of our translators at the donation centre. She said the shoes are very comfortable.”
Ramstein Air Base is truly the “Global Gateway” as the travelers departed for various safe destinations to begin the next chapter of their lives.