Friday, September 10, 2010
Photo of my paternal great-grandparents Ludwig and Margaret Falk, and two of their children, my grandfather and great aunt. Ludwig had a fascinating life, beginning in Silesia in the nineteenth century, including a classic Germanic boarding school education, and a period spent studying law in Breslau. Later he immigrated to the United States, landing in New York, and enlisting in the U.S. Army (where he served eight years, attaining the rank of Sergeant). While in the army, he was sent to the Arizona Territory during the Apache Campaign of 1884-85. Apparently he wasn't blazing it out with Geronimo and his band of warriors, but the Wild West must have been an incredible period to have been in. He ultimately found himself in the Pacific Northwest, living in Vancouver, Washington (the result of a post to Fort Vancouver), Portland, Milwaukie, and Roseburg, Oregon. His wife was from Scotland, although the women of those days sometimes get shortchanged, not always leaving as much of a paper trail. I have a facsimile of a letter he wrote, regarding some matter concerning his military pension, in which he mentions a time of disrupted plans due to troops requisitioning trains during the Franco-Prussian war. At the same time, as with many of the dead, there is a deep mystery and silence remaining.
And Breslau/Wroclaw, and other parts of Silesia, Pomerania, and Central Europe -- what a place... Breslau is a palimpsest redolent of any number of contrary political systems which have ruled the place -- medieval monarchy, Piasts, Mongols (briefly)!, the Austrian Empire, parliamentary governments, the Third Reich, Communism, the current Polish Republic/EU member...
I had an incorrect understanding of the Hitler Bunker area in Berlin in my entry last year -- Vossstrase is indeed one of the boundaries of the site, with some vague concrete slabs showing in vacant lots. Most of the area is covered by apartment houses, with a convenient Starbucks or two close by.
Posted by Jonathan at 11:35 AM