Back in 2000, Grandma and I visited Germany with the idea of tracing my roots and possibly adding more ancestors to my genealogical records, and maybe even meeting some cousins. We visited Kassel, where my grandmother was born, and were able to find on a map at the City Records Department where the house had been; the area was destroyed during World War II. We also drove around Breitau where my grandfather was born, and left copies of my Goebel records with the local priest. We also went to Untersuhl, a small village in the former Russian zone, where my great grandfather, Wilhelm Steinmetz, was born; then to Bad Sooden-Allendorf, where great grandmother Wilhelmina Kell was born. We found that area of Germany to be very similar to the area around Rochester, NY, to which my grandparents immigrated.
About six months later, I received an e-mail from a cousin who had been given the genealogical records by the priest. And so began our correspondence.
In 2002, Grandma and I set off again for Germany, this time anxious to meet our new-found family members. We had exchanged photos, so we knew how to recognize each other. I had jokingly said that I would have orange hair and even doctored a photo to show it. When we arrived in Frankfurt and had passed through Customs, I put on a hat that had Orange felt attached, cut to look like hair (almost). Needless to say, we walked right by Bert, Harald and Heinrich. However, Grandma recognized Heinrich, and so we all met to have a good laugh about the orange "hair".
We had a delightful visit. We celebrated Grandma's birthday there, and she was feted with seven cakes and a gift of a trip to Wartburg. We were very saddened to leave. It was very emotional for me to try to say goodbye, and I remember driving away looking through a mist in my eyes that returns whenever I think about the visit and our family in Germany.
Someday, we hope to go back.