Hermann Forgot his passport
Hermann hatte den Paß vergessen
The Borkener Zeitung, Ramsdorf, Germany, July
From the end of the last century: Ramsdorf
had a double visit from two German Americans returning to their
homeland. This Ramsdorf family is larger in America than in Germany
because of the Fair.
The old castle city welcomed unusual
guests in the past days and weeks, as the Borkener newspaper already
reported. Two of its sons came across the sea from the USA in
order to be able to chitchat once again with their relatives in
their original native dialect after many years. Bernard Christoph
Nieland (82) and Hermann Frank Nieland (71) needed a change of
scenery, so they suddenly decided to fly to their old homeland.
The Nieland family has branched out. Five brothers
and two sisters grew up on the Nieland farm in Ramsdorf-Bleking
at the the end of the last century. All could not remain it on
the farm, so in 1892 the oldest of the brothers, Heinrich Nieland,
decided to emigrate to the new world. Three years later a second
brother, Bernhard Christoph, followed him and, like him, left
his hometown of Ramsdorf. But the memory of this old city clung
in his memory.
Since then the annual clock has turned 61 times.
Images of the old city, like it was before they emigrated, have
intertwined with reality. The picture of the present could not
be reconciled with the past. "Ramsforf has modernized itself
significantly, already doubling itself in its expansion, and that
means a lot!" the 82 year old said to us in perfect German.
Also, he spoke the Ramsdorfer dialect like the citizens of our
city rarely do anymore.
Along with the 82-year-old, however, a third of
the Nieland brothers, Hermann Frank, eleven years younger, also
traveled overseas. For him, the decision to emigrate was made
suddenly. "It was during the Fair", he told us jokingly.
Relatives from the USA were (1910) in Ramsdorf on a visit at that
time, and as they were getting ready for their return trip he
suddenly decided to go back with them. He worked for nine years
as a farmhand for his brother until he got his own farm. "He
who has the will to work and is hearty at the same time, gets
ahead in The States," Hermann told us on the question of
the prospects for emigrants.
third of the three emigrant brothers, the 84 year-old Heinrich
Nieland, remained in the country, while both brothers, after short
delay in Idlewild airport in New York (Hermann had forgotten his
passport), climbed aboard a plane made by KLM, the Dutch aviation
company. The older of the brothers went along and, although he
had lived there 61 years, it was first time in his life aboard
an airplane. Hermann had been in Ramsdorf eight years ago, one
year after he received the first mail fromthe homeland after the
Herman und Bernard Nieland, Ramsdorf,
Bernhard Nieland from the State of Minnesota and
Hermann from Iowa-"over there" they live over 500 kilometers
apart-were received four weeks ago by their many relatives and
treated cordially here in Germany. Their first visit to Ramsdorf
was spent with their only brother in Germany still living, Josef
in Osterfeld. Invitations and visiting left the brothers hardly
any free time; "however, we believe that we will nevertheless
still be able to visit the entire family by next Monday "
added the 82 year old Bernhard, puffing on his long cigar. Everywhere
the "Americans" appeared in the family there was a big
celebration, including Ramsdorf. On every occasion the brothers
cheered things up with their charming humor. Bernard recited a
long poem at the dinner table. He had learned it before the turn
of the century in the Ramsdorfer elementary school. In a full
voice he sang old German folk songs. His homeland and native language
remained dear to him, although many connections to his birth city
were lost in the course of a half century
Today the Nielands live in many places in the States.
Bernhard alone counts 48 direct descendants. While constructing
a family tree they determined that there are more Nielands in
the States than in Germany. Hermann is an exception in the family,
however. He is unmarried. "All the girls looked good to me
-I simply couldn't prefer one", he smiled.
Next Monday the "beautiful days" in Germany
are coming to an end. After that the brothers must tend to their
farm duties. Old Europe will disappear under the airplane. The
brothers bid a cordial " good bye " to us as they parted,
and likewise a " good bye " from us to them on as they
left for their second homeland.
back to History