There is a village in Poland, with two surrounding villages, Streckenbach and Nimmersatt, which has captured my heart. The southern part of the Province of Silesia was a favorite vacation spot in Germany. Warm mineral spas and winter skiing brought many tourists there in the early 1900's. After World War II the Germans were expelled from this homeland as it was annexed by the Allies and given to Poland. It has rolling hills, tree-lined roads, castle ruins and fifteen years ago when I visited it still looked like it did in the 1930's.
I could not help but smile at the similarity between a sketch of Silesia and the real thing.
My great-grandfather Robert Titze was a master blacksmith there. My father drew a picture of his memory of the shop which he knew well as a child.
While visiting, I noted many houses were gone, fallen into disrepair, and I felt that the twentieth century had not taken root in this area of Poland.
After countless hours viewing microfilms of the Lutheran Church Records I was most anxious to see the church in Ketschdorf. There were two churches next to each other and we finally decided that this was the Lutheran church in the 1800's.
The Polish removed the German headstones from their cemeteries and I so wanted to find some trace of my ancestors. To my surprise, the enclosure surrounding this churchyard had German headstones cemented into it's walls.
The very names I had seen on the microfilms were here on the walls of the church.
Helmut Maune, a native of Ketschdorf, now living in Germany, sent me a wonderful history of this village. Ketschdorf, die Perle im Bober-Katzbach-Gebirge, a story of a Selesian village and can be viewed at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and I will attempt an english translation here of some excerpts.
Dear Friends From the Homeland,
The history of Ketschdorf lies before you and this is dedicated to it's memory. Today our homeland is far away but we hang onto our memories and only now realize how beautiful it was. Unfortunately the present borders do not allow for travel home so we must visit in our memories.
Come on a memory tour and experience the homeland that lives in our hearts.
The Contributors 1960?
Ketschdorf, our homeland, sits in the Bober-Katzbach mountains, and even though it is in the shadow of the Riesengebirge, it sits at the feet of the Bleiber ridge and was founded in 1311. The village might have existed earlier as monks from Leubus recorded struggles between Ketschdorf and Streckenbach around 1241. Altenberger miners and Mongols fought leaving small horseshoes strewn around the Bleiber hills. The Mongols mourned their loss by singing laments at the feet of the mountain. The community earned the name Klagendorf (lamenting village), later becoming Ketschendorf and finally ending with Ketschdorf.
A general overview of history shows that this area was a planned community. The houses were close together on both sides of a major street. It is clear that this settlement was founded by Germans from the Reich, who emigrated and were under the guardianship of the Cistercian Order from Leubus. No Polish or Czech were spoken here or in surrounding areas.
The Lutheran and Catholic churches with graveyard are on the ring where the road to Landeshut branches off from Reichstrasse 6. The Catholic church stems from the Baroque and shelters the graveyard and mausoleum of the Zedlitz family who owned the castle in Nimmersatt.
The Lutheran graveyard surrounded by an idealic hedge is somewhat out of the village. It was given to the community in 1868 by the knight manor owner Thamm. It was dedicated in 1871. In the immediate area by the churches was a park with many trees, shrubs, and other landscaping. The park has brought rest and relaxation to many who used it's benches.