HJ/EDEnterprise Dispatch, Jan. 2, 2006

Meet Dassel, Germany

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The City of Dassel, Minn., has a German cousin, der Stadt Dassel. It is in Lower Saxony in northern Germany.

In July, officials from Dassel, Germany, contacted Dassel, Minn., about what had happened to Lt. William F. Colberg. When Dassel, Germany, held its 650th anniversary in 1965, Colberg of Dassel, Minn., had attended.

His brother, Mike Colberg, still lives in Dassel, Minn. He said his brother, William, is now retired and living in Richmond, Va.

After finding out about the whereabouts of Colberg, officials from Dassel, Germany, continued to correspond with Dassel Mayor Ava Flachmeyer. A representative from der Stadt Dassel, named Manfred Schnepel, sent Flachmeyer letters and leaflets showing maps, drawings and photographs of the Dassel in Germany.

“As you will read in this leaflet there are some schools in Dassel. A friend of mine works as an English teacher at the Paul-Gerhardt-Schule and she informed me that they are highly interested in getting into contact with you and the inhabitants of your town, too. Maybe there is a school in your town that is interested in writing letters and e-mails to the German pupils.

“We would really appreciate this as this could be a fascinating project for our pupils in Dassel – and their parents, too.

“We would be very grateful if you could inform your schools about this idea, perhaps they agree and this could be an additional line of communication between our two cities,” Schnepel wrote in his letter.

Flachmeyer said she has been thoroughly enjoying the correspondence with Dassel, Germany.

“This is really fun,” she said.

She isn’t of German descent, but her husband, Bill is.

Schnepel also wrote to Flachmeyer that in Dassel, Germany, there is still a family bearing the name “Dassel.” He intends to delve into the history of this family and see if there was a member who emigrated to the United States in the middle of the 19th century, he said.

He also sent a clipping from the Sept. 17 Einbecker Morgenpost, the local newspaper, showing a drawing of the railroad depot in Dassel, Minn.

Flachmeyer intends to turn over the school information to Dassel Elementary so students there can write to students in Dassel, Germany, she said.

All the literature that Flachmeyer received about Dassel was written in German. Dassel Cokato High School’s exchange student, Mischa Schoenke, helped translate the history of the city. Schoenke is a senior from Rosdorf, Germany.

The first historical reference to the city of Dassel, Germany, was Nov. 3, 1022, Schoenke said. Kaiser Heinrich II, chartered a parcel of land to officials in Lower Saxony and a nearby monastery. The land included the parish of a church, Sankt Laurentiuskirche, he said.

In 1315, Dassel was fortified militarily because it was an important marketplace. However, after Dassel was destroyed in 1519, the city struggled until Europe was industrialized. A population influx after World War II also helped the city grow, Schoenke said.

In addition, Dassel, Germany, was the home of a famous German poet, Wilhelm Busch, Schoenke said.

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