Well, the Liebrich Treffen is history now. But it was a wonderful, magical two days. I wish you all could have been a part of it! The US delegation consisted of Iris and Toni Ortega, Brenda Crockett, Kristal and Marlee Leebrick-Stryker, David, Renee, James and Loretta Padgett and our twin sons, Jason and Kevin. Each of us have our own story to tell, and I'm sure you will hear parts of them over the next few months as you share photos, phone calls and memories with your relatives. We all owe Winfred Liebrich a big round of applause for all the hard work he put into organizing this first ever Liebrich Treffen.
Some participants arrived early and by the time of the reunion, had already done several days of sight seeing. To minimize school absences, we arrived Friday noon. At first, my boys felt that Germany was just like the US, except there were more Mercedes. However, after getting off the Autobahn and entering the narrow winding streets of Bockenheim, they were hooked on Germany. After checking in at our place of lodging and taking a short nap, we headed over to Gerhard Liebrich Weingut (winery) to register and meet each other. Since we all trace our ancestral lines to villages that are withing 30 miles of each other. We're probably all related. However, no one has been able to connect the main lines yet.
The evening activities began at the Festival Haus, a few blocks away from the Liebrich Weingut. Flags representing the different home countries adorned the back wall of the hall, while the front wall displayed the local government banners and the official reunion banners. After a wonderful dinner of goulash soup, beef and pork schnitzel, home made spaetzel, salads and desert, the formal part of the evening began. The local mayor and the local "county commissioner" welcomed us. Presentations on the German roots of Liebrichs, reading of a poem written especially for the reunion, recounting the Liebrich role in the ABC Buch educational controversy of the 1800's and plans for the next day's outings were made. Not all the talks were available in English or translated into English, so at times we just politely clapped when the rest of the crowd clapped. I hope to obtain English versions of some of the talks to share with all of you.
Saturday morning, we split up into groups to visit the ancestral homes of our particular lines. We, of course, went to Mannheim. Our guides were Christian and Marc. We got to see the palace/castle and the Jesuit church, two buildings which date back to the time when Johannes Phillip Liebrich was still in Manheim. Our guides let us go on our own for lunch. Most of us found the open-air market and did a little shopping along the way.
Saturday evening we gathered again at the Festival Haus for wine tasting from the Liebrich store rooms, and to learn more about Liebrich roots. A beautiful spread of hors d'oeuvres were arranged to spell out "Liebrich Treffen 2000". We heard about the French Liebrich lines, listened to music of the 1800's, heard more poetry and sipped wine. About midnight, we made our way back to our lodgings.
Sunday morning we met again at the Liebrich Weingut to purchase wine, to have a tour of the Liebrich vineyards and winery, and to say goodbye to our new friends. I was surprised to earn of all the handwork that is required to have a bountiful grape harvest, and of how sensitive the crop is to weather condition. It reminded me a lot of the activities and environment needed to produce a bountiful citrus harvest. The twins and I spent the rest of our time in Germany sightseeing on our own, visiting Worms, Heidelberg and Reihen before heading home.
It was a wonderful cultural and genealogical experience! It would take too many pages to tell you all the details of the weekend, so I'm just going to conclude by showing you sampling of the many photos we took that weekend.