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Guest Post #2 by Helen Kakoschke

A RECORD OF THE VISIT in 2017, BY REX & HELEN KAKOSCHKE, of Maitland, to BRODY, RADNICA and JELENIN, in Poland. These areas were the birthplaces of the WITTWER, KAKOSCHKE, and MANN families, our forebears.

Johann CHRISTIAN MANN was born in 1812 at Hirschfeldau, in Silesia, now known as Jelenin. Hirschfeldau was in Western Silesia, 11 km north-east of Sagan, and 28 km south of Grunberg.
His grave is at Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery, Point Pass. His wife was Johanne LOUISE Schlinke born 7/6/1823 (Schlinke was her mother’s name – her father unknown). She took the name Bradtke in 1829 when her mother married Wilhelm Bradtke, and they came to Australia via the port of Bremerhaven.

Our grandfather Johannes Alfred MANN came from the 6th child, named Johannes Wilhelm Gottfried Mann, of J. Christian and J. Louise Mann. He married Caroline Bertha Magen, and Johannes was the 4th child of that union, and he married BERTHA Christianne Margareta Domaschenz, our grandmother.

The Domaschenz’s came from WERBEN, in the eastern area of Germany, and although Rex and I missed out on seeing that town this time, we saw the church at Werben, as we travelled through the town in 2000. The Lutheran church was interesting – interior painted a pale green and had a 3-sided balcony and a unique christening font, which was in the form of an angel holding a bowl, and on a pulley lowered for a baptism and raised the rest of the time, to appear like an angel above.
My great-grandfather Twartz was baptised there in 1856.

BRODY was a tiny village in Poland, previously known as Gross Blumberg in Prussia, and was the area from where the WITTWERS originated. It was a known mushroom growing area, had plantations of trees and the country was flat. There was no cemetery or church to visit, so not a lot to see. We did visit an old Flour Mill, built over a creek, at KIJE – KAY, not far from Brody, which may have been used or run by the Wittwers. It had a water driven grinding wheel – same design as the Hahndorf Mill.

We then drove on to RADNICA (RADWITZ), to see where the KAKOSCHKES originated.
We noticed the crops grown and the worked ground there. It was a nice village, of reasonable size, with the main street newly bitumenised, not with a spray coating like in Australia, but with several inches of bitumen. The houses looked well-kept – we drove past a church, but saw no cemetery to check out any records. My brother Malcolm Twartz, was there in 2013, and took a photo of the Radnica Railway Station, but that must have been on the opposite side of the River Oder. The soil was of sandy loam, and one could get bogged easily. It had been very wet and we noted the fallen trees from a recent storm. Took photos at the Town Sign.

We then drove on to JELENIN, (Hirschfeldau), to see where the MANNS originated. The village was dilapidated, the houses very old, and we saw several trucks carting timber. The Lutheran church was a substantial building, and was being renovated and repaired. Had our photos taken at the Town sign, and I wrote our names and address in the Church visitors Book. We could understand why the Manns left that poor area to come to Australia to start a new life. Jelenin was not far from Stalag B, the German prisoners Camp where Douglas Bader was incarcerated. Had only a photo stop there which was disappointing, as it was interesting.

Rex feels this little ditty written by Dr. Martin Luther, describing the soil at Wittenburg, perhaps gives a clue as to the reason why his ancestors came to Australia.
“Little land, little land, you are but a heap of sand.
If I dig you, soil is light. If I reap you, yield is slight”. It probably also describes Rex’s experiences at Parilla in the 40’s and 50’s!