The Groß Tuchen Memorial Stone
An account by Erika Wenzlaff nee Pecker
- Translated by Leslie Riggle, Wichita / Kansas -
"Zum Gedenken an die Groß Tuchener Toten, die hier ihre letzte Ruhe fanden". "Ku pamieci zmarlych mieszkancow Tuchomia ktorzy tutaj znalezli miejsce wiecznego spoczynku." [A memorial to the dead of Groß Tuchen who have found their last resting place here.]
On the 18th of July 1997 a memorial stone was erected at the Lutheran Cemetery and dedicated to the German dead of Groß Tuchen who have found their last resting place.
The plan for the erection of this stone was begun at the last Groß Tuchen meeting by Pastor Siegfried Labuhn and was discussed and planned and a collection was begun.
In November Pastor S. Labuhn led a small preparatory group (S. Labuhn, K. Gutzmann, E. Wenzlaff and Mrs. Hahne) to Tuchomie/Groß Tuchen to discuss the matter at the site with the authorities and craftsmen. With the help of the Dombrowski family we found a suitable stone in a nearby field. It was a boulder weighing about 2 tons. Its color and beauty were revealed by the cutting and polishing that was done in Danzig and in Bütow. On the smooth side the text is spelled out in letters in German and Polish and there is a cross and the year as well.
An attempt was made to find a proper place for this stone in the cemetery. In November there was much clearing still to be done by the Dombrowski family, the people of Groß Tuchen and the German minority in Bütow.
Our honored and esteemed pastor Siegfried Labuhn took part in these preparations until his death. It is unfortunate that he cannot take part in this ceremony himself.
On the 17th of July 1997 a bus left Ostharingen with 46 people from Groß Tuchen to spend a week in their old homeland and to take part in the dedication of the stone.
On the 18th of July at 2:00 PM the ceremony began at the Lutheran Cemetery and there were countless guests. Karl Gutzmann greeted the assembly, Mr. Kiedrowski, the Mayor of Tuchomie, the Catholic priest from Kremerbruch, the Director of Culture in Bütow, Mr. Klaus Borchardt, the representative of the German Consulate in Danzig, a member of the German Parliament from Stolp, members of the German minority in Bytow (Bütow) and the inhabitants of Tuchomie.
He remembered our Pastor Siegfried Labuhn and expressed gratitude for his initiative and his persistence.
But his gratitude extended as well to all the helpers and to the authorities who had made it possible to erect this stone. He also expressed the wish and the hope that the residents of Tuchomie would accept this stone as a reminder of the history of their village. His address ended with the words: "If one carries his homeland in his heart, it will never be lost. Homeland is where one is born."
The mayor maintained in his address that all cemeteries should be preserved. The dead should have a resting place for 100 years.
Mr. K. Borchardt in his address: "Pastor Labuhn has showed us that the soul, the spirit, remains and it is not only with him, who is here with us, but all who have lived here, were and had their earthly home here, with their church in which they experienced joy, sorrow and consolation. Do not forget your dead! That is why this stone stands here. A stone of contemplation, of retrospection, and also of duty for the future."
After all took part in singing the hymn "Großer Gott wir loben dich" [Great God we praise thee], the Catholic priest from Kremerbruch undertook the blessing of the stone. Together the Lord's Prayer was recited. The canon "Ausgang und Eingang" was sung by the people of Groß Tuchen. Then a wreath was laid and there was a minute of silence for the dead. The dedication at the cemetery ended with the group singing of the Pommern Lied [Pomeranian Anthem].
Afterwards there was a genial meeting in the Hall of Culture (formerly Schievelbein). The German minority served coffee and home-made baked cakes and sandwiches. Entertainment was provided by the Folk Dance Group and the Choir.
The mayor, Mr. Kiedrowski, invited all the people of Groß Tuchen to visit their homeland often. Comfortable quarters will be arranged in what used to be the school until a meeting place can be built.
Thanks were offered to all the locals who donated help and money. Especially the Dombrowski family for their tireless efforts.
To have taken part in this ceremony was, for me, an extraordinary experience. .