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Tuesday, October 26, 2010


II. The Strassburgers

Urchen (1872-1958)

My great-grandmother, Emilia Strassburger, whom we knew as Urchen (short for Ur-grossmütterchen, which means in German, “the original little grandmother”), was the daughter of Saxon immigrants, Federico Fernando Strassburger and Dora Meyer, both of them born in Saxony, in the first half of the nineteenth century. She was the beloved mother of my grandfather, Federico Alberto Redlich, my mother's father.

Federico Fernando Strassburger (1836-1911)

Urchen's father, Federico Fernando Strassburger, was born in Pulgar, on August 1, 1836. Pulgar was a small town south-west of Leipzig, which was totally destroyed in April 1945 during the Battle of Leipzig, when the American 724th Field Artillery Battalion stormed the city from the south. There is now nothing left of the town, except a battlefield memorial monument, and the entire area is the desolate landscape of a vast industrial complex, the Kraftwerk Böhlen-Lippendorf. But judging by the neighboring town of Zwenkau, it must have been a small and agreeable agricultural town in the nineteenth century, when Federico was born there in 1836. It lay only a few miles north-east from the town of Roecken, where Nietzsche was born eight years later.

I have no information on Federico Fernando’s wife, Dora Meyer, except that she was born in Trittau, to this day a beautiful little town east of Hamburg and south-west of Lübeck, located in the Launburg region of Lower Saxony. She was born on November 22, 1848, and died in Adrogue, probably in the house of my great-grandfather Federico Redlich, her son-in-law, on April 17, 1917. Whether she was married in Buenos Aires or in Germany, I do not know. The couple had two daughters, Elena and my great-grandmother Emilia (Urchen).

Federico Fernando Strassburger and his wife, Dora Meyer

Federico Fernando was a baker and owned his own shop. After 1870, he invested in real-estate in the southern neighborhoods of the city of Buenos Aires, and owned considerable land. Both of his daughters married into wealth. My grandfather, Elo, spent a lot of time with Federico Fernando, whom he always referred to as his favorite grandfather, and spoke very well of him as a kind and humorous man. Regrettably, I have very little information about him. There is a manuscript note written by Urchen, which states that her father died at 455 Calle Vidt in Buenos Aires, on August 11, 1911. This section of Calle Vidt no longer exists, but it must have been south of Avenida Rivadavia, the large street that bisects the city along its east-west axis. It was in the southern part of the city that Federico Fernando acquired most of his real-estate holdings during the time of the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1871.

I will have a lot more to say about Urchen and her husband, Federico Redlich. But before I move on to that story, I must proceed with the other immigrants that founded the proximate branches of my family tree, Ernst Krannichfeldt and Maximo Sonntag.

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