Visit of Wuppertal-Barmen

Who would have thought
yes, the idea of this trip is to look for traces of my ancestor, but who would have thought that you’re actually finding something?

Visit of Wuppertal
The day already started great at breakfast with my uncle Steffen (actually he is my first cousin once removed) and his wife Ricarda, when we realized that the weather was going to be extraordinary for the day. First item on our list was the ride with the “Wuppertaler Schwebebahn” (suspension railway), at which inauguration my great grandmother Victoria gave flowers to the empress as a little girl. The fast ride took us from Oberbarmen to the final stop Vohwinkel and back again – and my immediate thought was “rollercoaster in every-day life”. During the ride over 13,3 kilometers you can view Wuppertal from the top and get a good impression of the city – especially at such great weather as today.

Watch our ride here:

Afterwards we visited the church where my great-great-grandfather was baptised (Gemarkerkirche) and the Toelle Tower, where we had a stunning view over the city.

Too many chances and alot of luck

Timo Spicker from the broadcasting station WDR arrived in time for coffee and tea, as he wanted to come along our search of traces from Otto Dahl. After getting to know each other over cake and a variety of interviews and filming, we went to the destination of the day: the area of the leather manufacture company of the Dahl family in Barmen.
After a short ride we arrived at the company grounds “in den Höfen“, and my uncle showed me the house where Otto Dahl lived “in den Höfen 82”, a yellow and friendly-looking house which pretty much looks the same today!

House of Otto Dahl

The house still looks the same!

Behind this, some of the old factury buildings were still standing, which are remodeled into apartments today.

This was part of the old factory

Then my uncle wanted to show me the sign next to the main entrance which mentions Otto Dahl and his son Alexander as the former owners of the house.

Sign at the house of Otto Dahl

Just in this moment, several people left the house and we asked if we could film the sign. After introducing ourselves to the current owners of the house, their eyes began to sparkle and they said: “Otto Dahl? Of course we know about him”. We were invited into the house and went upstairs. Half-way up we found a wall covered with old documents from Otto Dahl, including an architect’s drawing of the house we were standing in. At this point, I was already overwhelmed. Not only were we in the former house of Otto Dahl, but there were historical documents on the wall. I could barely believe it. But there was even more.

me not believing what I see

After a visit of the garden and a quick look into the basement, we went back upstairs to the kitchen. A moment later, the owners came in with arms full of old folders and books, from architectual drawings and accounting books to letters and certificates. All these documents had been saved over so many years. None of our family members knew about these documents, we had raised a real treasure. Immediately, Steffen and me were “in our worlds”, forgot everything around us and started to dive into the documents. The only thing that came to my mind at this point was “abgefahren” (something like “crazy”). The current owners are interested in the history of the house and had put the sign at the main entrance by themselves. I think, they were surprised when the descendants of Otto Dahl came into the house and brought parts of the history to life. Steffen told them alot about our family history, we showed the family tree of Otto Dahl and wallowed in reading the documents.

The new owners and us looking at the old documents

old documents

I am sure that we will stay in contact and exchange alot of family history after this spontaneous first contact. At the end of my second day of the journey I am absolutely exhausted and overwhelmed by the events.

5 thoughts on “Visit of Wuppertal-Barmen

  1. Becky Good says:

    Wow! That is just incredible! You will remember this and pass it on to your children.

  2. Oma Gunda, Ingrid, Harald, Nora, Robert says:

    Hallo Sibylle,
    die family hat begeistert deine bisherigen Erlebnisse und Entdeckungen mitverfolgt. Hammer!! Wir sind gespannt auf deine nächsten Berichte von der Queen und der Ankunft in New York. Auch Tante Hilde ist immer auf neuestem Stand. Stay cool, take care!! Vom Familienkaffeeklatsch grüßen Dich und Andrea ganz herzlich
    Ingrid und Harald, Nora und Robert sowie Oma Gunda.

  3. Gerhard Padtberg says:

    Hallo Sibylle,
    angeregt durch die Sendung im Fernsehen sende ich Ihnen meinen Beitrag.
    Da ich während des Krieges ab 1944 bei meinem Großvater Karl Strassmann in der Daher Strasse 28 lebte, das Haus steht auch noch und wurde wie im Giebel angegeben 1912 erbaut, bekam ich 1948 zur Einschulung von Opa einen richtigen Leder Tornister und ein Paar neue, hohe Lederschuhe geschenkt, die vor mir noch kein Kind getragen hatte. Opa gehörte die Leimfabrik Claffke, Dahlerstrasse Ecke Grundstrasse, zweihundert Meter hinter der Lederfabrik Dahl. Ich trug also diesen Tornister acht Jahre in der Volksschule auf dem Rücken und anschließend noch drei Jahre unter dem Arm während meiner Lehre. Das Leder dieser beiden Produkte hatte Opa gegen einen Sack Leim bei der Lederfabrik Dahl getauscht und aus Ihrem Leder waren diese tollen Produkte hergestellt worden. Man bedenke, elf Jahre hat der Tornister seinen Dienst verrichtet, die Schuhe waren natürlich zu klein geworden. Auch zog später in die Lederfabrik Dahl ein Betrieb für Flugzeugtechnik ein mit dem Namen Herbert Gomolzig, Söhne Peter und Helmut, die auch im Haus Daher Strasse 28 privat bei Opa wohnten. (Betrieb heute an der A 61 Nähe Koblenz.)
    Durch Ihren Beitrag kamen bei mir noch einmal alte Erinnerungen ans Licht und ich wünsche Ihnen auf Ihrer Reise viel Glück, liebe Menschen die Sie begleiten und natürlich ein gesunde Wiederkehr ins Heimatland.
    Herzliche Grüße
    Gerhard Padtberg

    1. Sibylle says:

      Lieber Gerhard,
      vielen Dank für diese wunderbare Geschichte! Gibt es den Tornister noch in der Familie?
      Beste Grüße aus Milwaukee!
      Sibylle

      1. Gerhard Padtberg says:

        Liebe Sibylle,
        zuerst einmal, leider nein, da ich ihn, den Tornister an einen Handwerksgesellen für sein Werkzeug verschenkt habe. Zu der damaligen Zeit wurde noch nicht alles, was man nicht mehr benötigte, entsorgt. Der Krieg war erst 14 Jahre vergangen und das Wirtschaftswunder folgte erst noch. Durch einen persönlichen Jahreswechsel erfolgt meine Antwort erst etwas später.
        Ich wünsche Ihnen weiterhin viel Glück und Gesundheit bei dieser so tollen, sicherlich einmaligen Reise.
        Herzliche Grüße Gerhard

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