Patz family part V
MONTGOMERY-In 1999, Erika and her brother Egon went back to Germany, at Hamburg, Timmendorf and Bremen, visiting cousins not seen for forty years. “I remembered our cousins from the last time we saw them before leaving Germany, I started to cry then everyone cried. I have a cousin also named Erika living in Bremen with her husband a professional fisherman,” she said.
We went back to the site where the General Langfit left port where on the waterfront is a memorial honoring all Germans who immigrated to other countries. Called Die Auswanderer, (goodby fatherland) the memorial has a man which hand outstretched toward the ocean, and the mother looking back at Germany with two children clinging to them. “When I say the memorial, I said in our case it was mother whose hand was outstretched and father looking back at Germany,” Erika said.
The siblings rented a car and drove first to Weste. Erika could not describe her feelings of excitement and anticipation felt when approaching the town. “As it was designated a historical site, it had not changed much. We drove around seeing the brick buildings, clock tower, school and the house we’d lived in. Parking by the Gatehouse, we walked around and oh the memories that brought back,” Erika said.
Inside the Gatehouse bar, the siblings told a lady who they were and that they’d left in 1955. The woman remembered them and was delighted to see them, bringing drinks and food and talking about the town. “Part of the Gatehouse is a banquet hall where a party was going on. The lady told the people about us and some remembered, coming and talking to us, what a great reunion,” Erika said.
They drove next to their former home where the owner came out inviting them to go inside. And they did, seeing the three original rooms and addition and went to the backyard where the well remained. From there they traveled to Weste Sunderberg seeing the double house they’d lived in looked much the same yet those who’d lived there in 1955 where not there now. Frau Grafke, Erika’s godmother, had died at a ripe old age of 96, riding her bicycle right up to the time of her death.
The sibling revisited the woods where they’d picked blueberries and to the school now a nursing home. At Weste Bahnhof from where the family exited, trains no longer run and the station’s abandoned. “Standing at the train station brought back memories of our last day in Weste,” Erika said.
Often Erika is asked if she thinks her parents made the right decision in coming to America, to which she answers, “It was the best decision for that point in time. There were few opportunities in Germany for jobs and the future appeared bleak. However, when we went back to visit our cousins, they had all done very well.”
“Although mother was the most eager to come to America, she fared the least in that being a housewife she remained the most secluded. Therefore, she didn’t speak English very well, however she understood it. As father worked in the factory among many, he acclimated better,” Erika said.
The parents, Emma and Julius Patz are deceased and interred in the cemetery at St. John’s Lutheran (Brick) Church near Montgomery. Also deceased is Gisela and Adlewin. Surviving is Ben of Montoursville; Agnes of Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Egon of Boynton Beach, Florida; Ozzie of Muncy; and Erika in Northumberland.