A Tradition Going Back to 1454

A Tradition Going Back to 1454

Hallo meine deutschen freunde

The Frankfurt Book Fair is soon about to begin, October 10-14, in Frankfurt, Germany. (I advertise my website in The New York Review of Books, and the current issue is the Frankfurt Book Fair issue.) It’s the world’s oldest and largest book fair. According to Wikipedia, it “has a tradition spanning more than 500 years.” The first was held in 1454. “Once a year,” it proclaims on the official website for this annual event, “Frankfurt turns into the world capital of ideas.”

And so to mark this special occasion, I’m going to share an idea.

My name is Paul Reinicke. My father’s name was Paul. His father’s name was Paul. And my great grandfather’s name was Paul. … But that is as far back as we’ve ever been able to go.

My great grandfather arrived in the United States through Ellis Island, in 1913 (?), at age 21, from Dresden, Germany, just a year before the outbreak of World War I. He arrived two years (?) after his brother Walter emigrated to the United States from Bremen, Germany, at age 22. This information can easily be found by doing a “passenger search” after clicking on the “Ellis Island” tab, on The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation home page.

What’s frustrating, though, is that while we know what happened after they arrived in the United States, we know nothing about our family ancestry before they left Germany. Why is there no simple way, for instance, to connect with people in Germany, who are on the opposite side of that dilemma (who can see precisely when their relative left for the United States, but know nothing about their life after they arrived)? There should be a simple fix to this problem. One shouldn’t have to spend weeks or more, digging and digging … hoping to get lucky.

So there you have it. That’s my idea. Perhaps someone can create a simple, easy way to use that information on The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation data base, to connect with relatives they didn’t know that they had.

And if anyone in Germany has a lineage to Paul or Walter, please drop me a line. Donke schon!

*Added 10/11/18: Upon further investigation, I am now uncertain as to whether the above information, regarding Paul and Walter, is correct. I do know that they were brothers and they emigrated from Germany. But I am not certain as to whether I have the dates correct. Some pieces of the puzzle just don’t seem to fit together as well as I originally thought. Hence, I have added two question marks, above, to reflect that uncertainty.