Its July 5th! In Seattle, WA where I have made my home for the last 20 years, its significant. Many of us consider this the first day of summer. Today the sky is blue and its a wonderful temperature of 60 degrees this am with promises of reaching 72! Oh this is heaven. Yesterday, I watched the fireworks up on Queen Anne Hill with my friend Pam. Its a good way to remember what the United States stands for and those that have died before us.

Today is my 6th installment of my blog and I hope it finds all of you doing well and enjoying yourselves this summer. This past month has been filled with exciting discoveries in the genealogy world for me. After spending several months on a journey of looking for my father in law’s oldest german ancestor we finally came across him. It was an adventure I will never forget. Emanual Weiss is buried in a cemtery in Indiana. He emigrated to America during a time when many Germans were leaving their home country for opportunity in the 1800’s. In his case, he was joining his sons after his wife had passed away. He lived his last years with our direct line- Henry Weiss. With the detective help of a volunteer, we discovered his stone. The interesting thing was it could not be read so we did a little trick called tin foiling to make sure it was him. I knew he had lived to be 71 years old but the volunteer thought he lived only to be 21. Below you will see the evidence that finally she uncovered after tinfoiling on her second trip to the cemetery:

After my new buddy Deb tin foiled the grave stone she sent me this email:

Alesia, I just couldn’t stand the suspense any longer, I told my secretary I was going to the bank and I did, by way of the cemetery, (which is at least 18 miles out of the way) AND YOU WERE ABSOLUTELY 100% CORRECT it is Emanuel age 71 years not 21 as we originally thought. That makes date of birth Feb. 1, 1800 Deb

Needless to say we both were full of excitement for the discovery. In many ways it makes me so happy I have something tangible to grasp onto for the sake of memory. There are many that have not found their loved ones. However there are those also that will be surprised as I was about the fact that in some places these stones and memories could be lost in a matter of a few seconds. Recently while discussing these findings with my mother who also was born in Germany, I found out about the unusual cemetery customs in her own home country. She stated that there are many stones taken away from cemeteries and that the bones or ashes are also removed because the living family did not pay the rent of the space that they were buried in. This came as a huge shock to me. How could anyone take away one’s loved ones? I had to go and discover if this was true so I did a little research.

Here below is of a German singer named Gertrud Bindernagel who will never be found again because she was RECYCLED. Yes you heard me right. She was recycled. She died young because she was murdered and then after World War II the lease on her grave at Berlin’s Waldfriedhof Heerstrasse was allowed to expire, and the site was recycled according to German custom.

It stands to reason that some may find this “environmentally” a good thing to do. It does not to me. Lets call it for what it really is. Its a way for the cemetery owners to make money. This is the bottom line. The relentless logic of contradiction moved into Germany’s thinking many years ago by putting an unending price tag on your burial. If we are not careful in America, we may move more and more into not being a market economy but a market society. This cause should unite us here in America to watch our missteps and utilize all creative and constructive ways in our community, church, and government to be very careful to not misstep in our free market lives upon our free family values. We are beginning to have some of these problems unearthed (no pun intended) by Cooper Anderson recently on a 60 minutes episode:

You may ask why I write of this? I think because knowledge is paramount and it is what helps us understand the world better. I share my opinion with you on the need to keep cemeteries sacred and for the most part I believe most cemeteries in America are well taken care of. But we must be careful to learn of other countries’ lack in this area… You might be OK with recycling. I am usually with trash, but people aren’t trash. It is good to remember our loved ones and any effort ( a burial place) to do this is paramount in my mind. I wish to remember and as we do this very thing we are still tinged with the sense of irretrievable loss of our loved one’s death. It is what it is isn’t it? We miss our loved ones and for goodness sake-I for one at least am glad I can go see my father’s gravestone and know it is not going anywhere.

5 thoughts on “Remembrances

  1. Deb Muntz

    This type of “recycling” makes and its volunteers/photographers all that more important. If a grave is destroyed at least there will be documentation, pictorial evidence and a place to leave flowers or a message for your loved ones. We cannot change the world to conform to our ideals about grave/cemetery preservation but at least we can preserve their memory and information. Good message, Thanks!


  2. alesiablogs Post author

    I recently received this email in regards to this blog entry I wrote: “Alesia I read your latest blog and re recycled: On a cruise through the Baltic Sea the ship stopped at a port on the North coast of Germany. We toured through an old church with a tour guide and she pointed out that people had been buried under the stone floor. The floor was comprised of large flat stones fit together to form the floor. A given stone would have the name of the person buried under it etched into the stone. Then as you started to read the floor you noticed that sometimes a second name was added below the first and the first had a line etched through it. In other words a second person was buried there and they scratched out the first name (the first name was still perfectly readable). I presume the first person buried now shared the grave with a second.”


  3. Marlene Bakken

    I too, know a friend who’s family plot will be gone when she and her mother are gone, as there will be no one to care for it. My friend’s son was born here and has no plans to ever move to Germany. I myself am being made into a diamond after I pass on. I have instructed my son to pass me down through the ages with my picture so they will know who I was. Who wouldn’t want a diamond?



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