Bill Paulsen with the Rathaus of Coburg in the background
Bill Paulsen in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin
She is a gynecologist who works with the immigrant population in Frankfurt. He is a prominent pediatric oncologist who mostly does research on treating leukemia and other blood cancers in children with stem cells. We briefly saw 2 of their 3 children, Franz and Julika, before they headed off to do summer kid things like bicycling tours and sailing. The oldest son Tobias lives in Southhampton where he is finishing a Ph.D in physics. Bill and I see Tobias from time to time in New York.
Chrystal is the matriarch of a large German/Chinese family. Her late husband Alvin Tsang was a Lutheran pastor from Guangzhou. They met in Hong Kong. They returned together to Germany where Chrystal worked for many years as a school teacher and Alvin was rector of a parish in Hamburg. There is a large Chinese Tsang family and a large German Tsang family with more scattered around the world. In Hamburg, we met Gelli's sister Lisa and her children at a dinner for her son Max to celebrate his Abitur, his final examination for 12 years of primary and secondary school, a rite of passage similar to graduation from high school in the USA. Lisa Tsang followed in her father's footsteps and became a Lutheran pastor. She is on the staff of the Jacobikirche in Hamburg.
Het Schip (The Ship). More about that later.
We met the Hellgermanns this year not in Münster, but in Bielefeld where Andreas' father celebrated his 84th birthday. There was a lot of food, a lot of beer, and lots of memories of the region around the former Breslau (now Wroclaw) in the former Silesia where the elder Hellgermann was born and raised. Unlike most Germans, the elder Hellgermann got along with the Poles arriving in the area. He understood that they too were deportees, from those eastern regions of Poland seized by Stalin for Belorus and Ukraine. The elder Hellgermann left for the DDR and then escaped to the west in 1959. He settled in Bielefeld where he still lives in the house that he built for himself (he is a retired carpenter).
Andreas is a very left wing Catholic, an enthusiastic reader of Liberation Theology with an icon of Karl Marx in his dining room. And here it is:
Che Guevara's picture presides in three other rooms in the house. Interesting because while Andreas deeply respects Marx, he's not really a Marxist in the old sense; he's not interested in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat or any kind of command economy. He mostly admires Marx for his understanding and insight into the workings of capitalist economies and societies. Andreas also admires immensely Hannah Arendt, and also Michel Foucault, which seems to me a bit strange, but perhaps I need to read some Foucault.
Until recently, Andreas considered himself estranged from the Roman Catholic Church; still a member but an alienated member. He stopped going to Mass years ago. He's attending church again now thanks in part to the current Pope and also to meeting a sympathetic priest with a congregation in the nearby town of Telgte.
His wife Andrea is a Lutheran and shares Andreas' political views enthusiastically, speaking at protest rallies. His sons also have very left sympathies with Occupy experiences, but a little more environmental consciousness. Andreas' youngest son Jan identifies as an atheist and David calls himself agnostic. Not too different from many families in Germany, the USA, and most of the West.
The other curious detail about them is that they are all excellent cooks, and none of them are the least bit vegetarian. David can cook a heavenly spare rib.
The Hellgermanns together after visiting a local Schloss.