For Home, Peace and Understanding
Egerländer Trachtengruppe would have been 75 years old
Wolfershausen: maintaining local customs, international understanding, standing up for peace, freedom and justice, for tolerance and human dignity - the Egerland Trachtengruppe from the home district of Bischofteinitz in Wolfershausen had dedicated itself to all of these goals. It would have turned 75 this year. Unfortunately, this group, which was once known and popular far beyond the Melsungen, no longer exists. It had to dissolve. The HNA met with three contemporary witnesses.
"It's sad, but unfortunately there was no one left to lead the group," says Albert Reis. The 82-year-old master hairdresser from Neuenbrunslar has been a member since 1983, led the choir for many years and experienced countless performances at home and abroad. Karmen Kiefner (54) has been a member since birth, "actually in the womb," she says proudly. Her father Rudolf was the initiator and founder of the group, his wife Rosemarie an exemplary support. Kiefner died of an insidious illness in February 1993 at the age of 59.
Christa Fröhlich (75) comes from Wolfershausen. Her husband came to Wolfershausen as a six-year-old boy with his mother from the Sudetenland, his father was in prison. Almost 10,000 expellees found a new home in the old district of Melsungen in 1946, many from the Sudetenland. They arrived in cattle cars at Melsungen, Gensungen and Guxhagen stations. Most of them were received kindly. The Sudeten Germans are known for their diligence, many refugees built a new life in Melsunger Land.
The Kiefner family, too, and as a local politician, Rudolf Kiefner was the driving force behind many initiatives. This also includes the memorial in the form of a cross at the Wolfershausen cemetery. "In memory of the victims of the expulsion" the Sudeten Germans gave the Wolfershausen community the memorial on June 18, 1961 - "out of gratitude for the reception in the post-war year 1946, after they had been expelled from their ancestral homeland, the Sudetenland."
The expellees were only allowed to take 50 kilograms of luggage with them. Many did not want to do without their beautiful costumes, so they took them with them - one of the "foundations" of the Egerländer Trachtengruppe in Wolfershausen. It had made it’s mission to keep the cultural heritage of the lost homeland, folk costumes, folk dances and folk songs alive in the minds of all fellow citizens. The contribution of the expellees to reconciliation and understanding has been recognized again and again. Among other things, on Heimat Tag, which used to be celebrated every year. Among other things, on the Heiligenberg, for which the expellees donated the homeland bell in 1952. Pastors of the Catholic and Protestant churches have also repeatedly acknowledged the commitment of those who were driven home. It began with a folk song on New Year's Eve 1946.
The Egerland Trachtengrtuppe of the home district of Bischofteinitz was an integral part of countless events far beyond Wolfershausen for many decades. On New Year's Eve 1946, some expellees from the Egerland sat in the Braunhardt inn in Wolfershausen. A homeland song was sung. The good atmosphere was the reason for founding a small singing and playing group. "The people who were still young at the time were very enthusiastic," reported the HNA on the 50th anniversary of the traditional costume group. It all started with the song "There, deep in the Bohemian Forest". Rudolf Gruber wrote in the chronicle: "We young people were enthusiastic about it, and it turned out that the will to do it was much greater than we had suspected."
The singing and playing group was expanded to include a theater group, folk dances were rehearsed. Already at the first public appearance on July 3, 1949 on the Heiligenberg there was a lot of recognition.
"They were many beautiful years," say Albert Reis and Christa Fröhlich in unison. Unforgotten are appearances at home and abroad, at the Hessentage, the homeland meeting in Furth im Wald. In 1986, the Trachtengruppe was selected to be the official German representative for the Expo iin Vancouver. A monument was erected in New Ulm, USA, on Kiefner's initiative. It lists all the families who emigrated from the Bischofteinitz district to Minnesota in 1860. "Kiefner had such good connections that Lufthansa transported the German sculpture free of charge," recalls Albert Reis. And he still raves when he reports on the group's performances in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Italy, France, England, Scotland and Czechoslovakia.
By Manfred Schaake
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