Germany becomes football world champion for the second time, the first VW Golf rolls off the assembly line, Walter Scheel becomes Federal President and Helmut Schmidt succeeds Willi Brand as Federal Chancellor. Gunter Gabriel sings "Hey Boss, I need more money" and Chris Roberts "You can't always be 17". One litre of petrol costs 83 pfennigs. Alfred Hitchcock turns 75, in England the coal mine workers go on strike and in London the first McDonalds branch opens. Harold Wilson becomes Prime Minister and an IRA bomb attack damages the Palace of Westminster.
In that year, 29 years after the end of the war, some citizens in Montabaur decided to found the German-English Society (DEG). One of the great initiators was the director of studies, Helmuth Blumenröther, who had already gained initial experience with student exchanges between Mons-Tabor Gymnasium and Magdalen College School in Brackley. The aim of the society was to create a town twinning between Montabaur and Brackley, which was also achieved in 1975. At a ceremony in Brackley on 13 April 1975, the two mayors, Keith Davies for Brackley and Wilhelm Mangels for Montabaur, signed the twinning documents.
The twinning of cities only 30 years after a devastating war in which the two countries were enemies was a promise, a mutual oath that it must never happen again. An attempt, no, a declaration of intent, to forgive the past and go hand in hand towards a common, peaceful future.
In 2015, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary, the two mayors Jim Broomfield for Brackley and Gabi Wieland for Montabaur renewed this promise and documented it with new documents.
For the people in both cities, the trips with DEG were often the first contact with another country, another language and another culture, and over time a lively exchange developed between the two cities. In some years, the delegations travelled to the respective twin town in two coaches.
However, this has diminished over the years. Now there are only 20 - 25 people who travel to the twin city every two years. One reason for this is perhaps that the children have now grown up and have their own families. The trip is no longer necessary for the children to get to know another country and learn another language. For the young families, who in turn want to show their children the other country, the other culture, there are many other possibilities today. A flight to London is available for little money and hostels, youth hostels, bed & breakfast and guesthouses offer accommodation adapted to the budget of young families.
Nevertheless, many friendships that started in the 70s still exist today. Letters became mails and also the modern social media provide for regular contacts.
This weekend the guests from Brackley would be visiting Montabaur. The celebration of the 45th anniversary of the town twinning was planned. A big anniversary celebration, an excursion by bus, a visit to the cobbler's market. All this had to be postponed, like so much this year. Now - as one of the founding members of DEG put it so nicely - next year we will celebrate 45+1 years of anniversary. It will be celebrated, and both partner cities are looking forward to it!
But perhaps the anniversary is also an idea, an incentive for the younger generations. Brexit and borders closed due to pandemics show that it is more important than ever to maintain friendships between countries. Yes, today every country, every culture is just a click away. But is that really friendship? Is a personal meeting, a "I show you my country and you show me yours" no longer the way it used to be? After all, 45 years of town twinning show that friendships across borders were already possible in the past and that we must not give that up.
How about membership in the German-English Society to mark the 45th anniversary? Since 2015, DEG has extended its visits to the twin city for a few extra days each time to get to know a region of England a little better. With joint city tours, guided tours of museums, castles or cathedrals, as far as possible in hotels close to the city centre, in order to be able to go on an individual discovery tour, and a comfortable coach with a competent bus driver, the participants discover many beautiful parts of England.
On the wish list are already Leeds- and Dover Castle, Bury St. Edmonds, Liverpool, Colchester and of course still Scotland.
At this point we also send our warmest greetings to our friends of the Brackley European Association. We are looking forward to your visit and we also feel very much connected to you during a virtual anniversary!
Deutsch-Englische Gesellschaft in Montabaur e.V.
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