Why go to Frille?
There is Berlin, Munich, the Alps, and a ton of other great interesting places to see in Germany. My friend, Jen offered to take me to Luxembourg and a dozen other places, but I asked if we could head 4 hours away to a tiny little town called Frille. More specifically, I asked to go to Frille, Minden. In this tiny town in the middle of Germany is where my father was born. He is not German. In fact, he holds very little attachment to the German culture at all. Nonetheless, this was enough of a reason for me to want to know more.
I was not able to find very much information about it on the internet, but Frille holds a great deal of history specifically as it relates to World War II. It is my understanding that it is uncommon for people in Germany to talk about the war. This seems understandable and I can respect that; however, I suspect this contributes to the reason it is difficult for me to find more information on the displaced persons camp that my father was born in.
The Cemetery and the Church
Jen has spent some time doing this kind of expedition and research before to find out about her own family. I learned from her that if there was going to be any sort of memorial related to the displaced persons camps it would be at the churches or cemeteries. From the little amount of information we could find prior to our trip, the camps were located among the nearby towns. We know for sure one was located in Frille, but we were not so confident we would find any sort of memorial due to the size of the town. We added Lahde hoping that between the two we would find something.
The cemeteries in Germany are different from the cemeteries in the United States. In Germany, the blocks of land are more like a lease than an ownership. You own it for a period of time where you can bury your loved one(s). Once the lease is up the bodies will be dug up and cremated, unless you renew the lease. We went to Lahde first, since we thought it was more likely that we would find something there and we did. We found a beautiful memorial statue commemorating the “opfer natsozgewalt” or “victims of national violence” and the “heimatlose auslander” or “homeless foreigners”.
This alone was enough for me to feel as though we accomplished something. We found a fraction of my families heritage. Still, we continued on to Frille. To my surprise and excitement we found another memorial! This one connected with me even more than the first. It was a grave stone marking the “Polish DP’s cemetery”. I never met any of my grandparent’s family. The information I have about their families is scarce, but I image that my grandparents spent time with some of the names listed here on the stones. I know that I will always have more answers than questions about the displaced persons during and after the war. Even so, these monuments provide a sense of closure for me.
More interesting things about Lahde and Frille
Obviously, the motive for my trip to Frille was personal. (I always encourage you to learn about your family heritage when you travel. It makes trips more interesting and worthwhile.) However, if you are planning to visit Frille or the surrounding area these are the few things I recommend. There is a delicious ice cream shop (Eiscafé Am Ginkgo) on the main road that runs through Lahde! The service was great! Since we were in a very rural area of Germany it was a little harder to communicate without speaking German, however somehow we were able to order and pay! This was also my first time trying spaghetti ice which is a German style of ice cream where the ice cream is like spaghetti.
I also recommend walking by the windmill in Lahde! It was beautiful and easy to get up close. The architecture of the whole town reminded my friend of her trips to Holland. All the houses were brick and then there was this windmill sitting there so regally. If you have the time and like to cycle, I would recommend you try taking the bike route between Frille and Lahde. The whole trail is a loop that is almost 24 miles starting in Minden. You can find the trail here. If you just wanted to do the part between Frille and Lahde it is only 4.2 km which is 2.61 miles. We did not have bikes with us and were not dressed appropriately to go on a bike ride, but it looked enjoyable. If I return to the area this is already on my to do list!
- Tell me about your stories researching family heritage!
- Do you know any other info about the displaced person’s camps in or around Frille?
- What are other bike trails that you have been on or recommend?