Guernsey Friends of Biberach

Guernsey Newsletter, April 2016

Dear Friends,

Once April comes, it is time to keep you up to date with the activities of the Guernsey Friends of Biberach Association. As usual, our AGM will take place prior to the annual lunch that the Deportees’ Association organises at the Peninsula Hotel on the 23rd of April.

The AGM will start at 12.00 noon and if you would like to stay for the lunch, please reserve your place with Tom Remfrey on Tel. 254185.

If you are interested in the Friends’ activities throughout the year, please look at our website which Chris Betley, the Honorary German Consul, always keeps updated: www.guernseybiberach.com.

23 April 2015 - 70th anniversary of the liberation of Camp Lindele

On 23 April, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Camp Lindele, a memorial service took place outside of the camp, now a police training school. Year 9 pupils at the Wieland Gymnasium recited poetry, and drew a symbolic chalk line along the path that the 1212 internees walked to their freedom. 80 students, teachers and interested people took part in the service. Originally, it had been planned that a school in Guernsey would do a similar activity but those plans did not materialise.

The Mayor, Norbert Zeidler explained that Biberach was closely linked with Guernsey though the efforts of Marianne Sikora-Schoek, Peter Haug, and Gladys Skillett over a period of time, through friendship and official channels.

July 2015 - Visit of German Ambassador

The German Ambassador, Dr. Peter Ammon visited Guernsey during July. The Bailiff, Sir Richard Collas hosted an event to re-affirm Guernsey ties with Biberach. These ties had been established by the Guernsey Friends of Biberach and the Deportees Association. The Bailiff considers that these links are very important. The Ambassador praised the warmth of his welcome and the hospitality. He considered tourism had untapped potential and would spread the news back home.

Guernsey already receives visits from groups organised by the Biberach Friends of Guernsey and individuals from Biberach and wherever possible we meet for a cup of tea and chat.

July 2015 - Biberacher Schützenfest (report by Gloria Dudley-Owen)

In early 2015, I received an invitation to walk in the town’s birthday parade along with my German year group. Hundreds of people, ranging from 50 - 100 years old take part. A lively band precedes each walking group. Many people line the streets of the town and step forward from the huge crowd to give garlands of small gifts to friends.

I found it very emotive and carried both the flags of Guernsey and Biberach in recognition of the friendship that were formed and evolved out of the difficult wartime memories and experiences for both many of the 1000 Guernsey Deportees and local town’s people. My mother had a close friendship with a German lady who showed great kindness to her when they were in hospital for the birth of their baby boys during the war.

I was also born near Biberach and left Guernsey as a teenager to live with this family for a while. I made many friends and grew to appreciate the culture of the closely-knit Swabian people. The countryside and forests were so different from my life of beaches and seaside in Guernsey.

It was with this in mind that I was eager to make sure that our friendships would continue into the next generations and we took our daughter and 3 of our young grandchildren with us, aged 9, 10, 12 with us in order for them to experience a different culture and to make friends with the children of the Koch and other families.

The children fell in love with the place. The atmosphere of the festival and the hospitality of the people seemed endless. They made many friends and all hope to return.

The Guernsey Friends of Biberach was formed after the reconciliation of 1997 and invitation from the town’s mayor to the deportees from Guernsey to visit Biberach. Many private friendships and exchange visits had already been in place since the 1950‘s.

We met and chatted to many people who have visited our island, either as private travellers or as part of the groups organised by the Biberach Friends of Guernsey. Everyone we spoke to was very enthusiastic and only wished that travel to Guernsey was easier.

13 August 2015 - Visit from German war graves commission

At 10 am on a very dismal, rainy morning a moving ceremony took place at the military cemetery at Fort George. 28 young people, aged 16 -22, all from the Biberach area, members of the “Volksbund,” German War Graves Commission, who were on a visit to Guernsey. They had brought with them by coach, a young linden (lime) tree, a symbol of peace. They planted the tree in memory of the 111 German soldiers who died in Guernsey during the occupation of the islands and who are buried here.

A comment was made by one of the group that the rain was teardrops for the all the deaths caused by the horrors of war.

The group of young people sang “Where have all the Flowers gone” in harmony and as we listened to the words in that still damp air they symbolised the futility, sadness and waste of human life in war. They also sang the “Kameraden” a traditional song, in memory of their dead soldiers who lie in this cemetery.

Herr Klaus Knoll, their leader read out their appreciation and thanks for the warm welcome given to them by all and for the meetings that had taken place.

The Bailiff addressed those present, which included a number of members of the Guernsey Friends of Biberach Association, and handed a Guernsey flag to be added to the string of flags from various countries that the group held stretched out along the pathway. He briefly explained the Norman history behind our flag.

The rain poured down as the tree was planted in Guernsey soil.

This young tree echoes the strongly growing linden tree planted outside the site of the Biberach camp in 1997 during a ceremony marking reconciliation. That ceremony was attended by a group of Deportees who had been invited to visit the town by the people of Biberach.

A visit to the Occupation museum organised through GFBA and Mr. Richard Heaume, took place. David Skillett Gloria Dudley-Owen, Irene Harvey, (who helped with translations), Deputy Francis Quin, also deported as a child, spoke to the young people. The visit was informative and of great interest and raised many questions about the German occupation of the island and the deportations of islanders to Germany.

October 2015 - Guernsey Week in Biberach

In October, the Guernsey Week took place in Biberach, which happens roughly every five years. This year our Chief Minister Jonathan Le Tocq was one of the Guernsey visitors. An ecumenical church service was held in Biberach’s St Martin’s Church where Jurat Rev. Peter Lane preached. After the service Guernsey Bean Jar and Cidre was served up in the Town Square.

Jurat David Le Conte had also travelled to Biberach. He had been involved in the design of both the Guernsey Liberation monument and the Guernsey flag, and gave an interesting lecture that was well received.

In addition, Richard de la Rue, having driven to Biberach for the occasion, took with him a good supply of Guernsey gache, Guernsey butter and White Rock beer, which was distributed generously  from the “Friends of Guernsey” market stall by members of their Committee.

October 2015 - Young Ambassadors’ Trip to Biberach

During the Guernsey Week, Ken Wheeler also took another group of seven Young Ambassadors to Biberach. The young people stayed in the Youth Hostel and spent time visiting schools and learning about our common history.

They walked to Lager Lindele, just as the former deportees had done and had a guided tour of what is now the Police Training School.

The young people made a power point presentation about their visit to Biberach, which they showed at a number of schools and assemblies once back at home, so that knowledge of this part of our history is passed on

December 2015 - Bel Canto choir at Biberach’s Christmas market

Seventeen members of the 25-strong local choir Bel Canto travelled to Biberach in December to sing at the ‘Christkindlesmarkt’.

On the trip the singers were joined by accompanist Anthony Tennant and also by the father of one of its members whose mother was in the internment camp during the war. A couple of the other singers also had relatives there during the war.’

 


 

2016 outlook:

Visit of Flute Choir 16 May 2016

On 16 May 2016, the Biberach flute choir will be performing at the Town Church. The group of eight recorder players and their conductor Andreas Winter will be staying at Les Cotils during their visit.

German Language Course in Biberach

Every year Biberach holds a one-week intensive German course for young people from its partner towns. The course is advertised for people over 18, but if the young people have their parents’ permission younger people such as GCSE students would also be welcome. This year’s course will be from 23 to 30 July when also the Schützenfest will be taking place. If you are interested, do look at the Guernsey - Biberach website for details or get in touch directly with the Town of Biberach’s Kulturamt: Their Secretary is Sabine Engelhardt: S. [email protected].

Visit of Knabenchor from Biberach August 2016

From 5 to 6 of August 2016 the Biberach Boys’ Choir will be in Guernsey with a concert in the Town Church prior to their camping holiday in Herm. We are looking for accommodation in families for roughly 50 boys for one or two nights. Please, if you have spare bedrooms, get in touch or contact Richard de la Rue directly by e-mail: [email protected] or Tel. 238726.

 

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