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The Nekla Old Cemeteries Route Project

by Anitta Maksymowicz

Our society has received the following communication from Anitta Maksymowicz:

I thought you might be interested what happens in Poland and concern forefathers of Australian emigrants, thereofre I am sending you an account about the Nekla celebrations in which also some Australian descendants took part.

Two weeks ago a wonderful event has taken place in Nekla. During my stay in Australia I announced it few times and now it has happened. The Nekla Culture Society under the leadership of Jerzy Osypiuk have celebrated the opening of the designated cycles route guiding through the old German (precisely Haulander – people first from Holland, then from Germany who settled in Poland on the base of so called Dutch settlement) cemeteries. During my talk on the old German cemeteries in Poland, apart from some examples of neglected or displaced cemeteries, I presented those in Nekla as an example of the local community’s activity who is caring, restoring and fencing that what survived of the old cemeteries. And the event which took place 24-26 August was a final (or resume) of the project “The Hauland Route – Past for the Future”.

There have been 12 Australian guests and also many people from whole Poland who are involved and engaged mostly in history of the dutch settlement and migration to Australia (because there are families in Australia who are descendants of those Haulanders).

On the first day (Friday) we have been in few villages of the Middle Oder Region – where the beginning of the emigration to Australia started. We have visited Nickern, Tschicherzig, Klemzig, Chlastawe and Gross Dammer. In the afternoon we went to Nekla and there have been an opening of the exhibition and author’s meeting with a very famous Polish music journalist – Marek Niedźwiecki who presented his photographs of Australia. Later on there has been a wonderful meeting of all participants at the bone fire.

Next day (Saturday) there was a cycle rally on the old cemeteries route in the Nekla neighborhood (more then hundred participants, not only from Nekla but also from different part of Poland) and the other part of participant has have a bus trip through those cemeteries. We could see and admire the big work which has been done in several villages to restore their old cemeteries and to make them “legible” in the landscape. In the afternoon there was an official event in the Nekla Hauland church – the letter of the Australian Ambassador (who could not come but who gave a honorary patronage on the event) was read, the opening of the three language (PL-DE-ENG) exhibition “The Haulander – in the circle of work, faith and hope” prepared by Witold Przewoźny from the Museum of Poznań and then beautiful concert of the group Kairos. In the evening all people met again by dinner in the Barczyzna Hotel where another photo exhibition “Close Neighborhood” was to see. It was a nice opportunity to talk to different people who in different ways and stages cooperated together.

On Sunday we have visited few other cemeteries and then we took part in the Nekla Harvest Festival. It was really a beautiful organized three days, with lot of learning, a lot of emotional moments and we could observe and admire the work the local Nekla community has done to recover the German cemeteries. Among the Australians there have been few who I already met (in Poland or in Australia) and I have impressions that they were happy about this visit. I, personally, was very impressed by involvement and engagement of the local community (as well older as youth) who worked together. The spiritus movens of the whole project was Jerzy Osypiuk from the Nekla Cultural Society ( regionalist and former history teacher) who did incredible work to convince people to work in the framework of the project, people from whole Poland – not only locals but also from Poznań, Cracow, Zielona Góra or even eastern regions of Poland.

There is a beautiful website of the project, unfortunately only in Polish, but there are also films and a lot of photos which can give you an image how all this looked like. I hope you would like it.

Jerzy Osypiuk from Nekla ( ) would be very interested in cooperation with any of your, Australian, organizations because he is especially keen on contacting the descendants of the Nekla (or Nekla neighborhood) emigrants. Since many years already he stays in touch with the Maczkowiak, Huf, Thiele, Cooper, Nelson and Nuske families. He is very interested in local history and he would like to meet and invite more descendants of the Nekla migrants. He also would like to receive photos of the Nekla settlers in Australia which perhaps he could place on the website.

The exhibition “The Haulander – in the circle of work, faith and hope” presenting of the life of the Haulander in Europe and especially during their about one hundred year stay in Nekla (they immigrated in the XVIII century from Germany and in the XIX century emigrated to Australia) is prepared in three languages and it is very easy to copy of another set (these are several roll-ups) and there would be an interest of any genealogical society or any other organization the Nekla people would be more then happy to facilitate it.

I am writing this long report because I think that you might be interested in what happens in Poland and has connections with Australia and as I was very impressed myself I thought it is worth to share information about this event with you.

Now I will list some websites bound to this project, they are in Polish, but – as said – you can learn a lot from photos, too.

Photo-exhibition “Close Neighborhood” (partly in English)

Exhibition – The Haulander – in the circle of work, faith and hope

Meeting with famous Marek Niedźwiecki and his photos of Australia

The Kairos Concert

The Excursion to Zielona Góra region (Tschischerzig, Klemzig, Nickern, Chlastawe, Gross Dammer)

PARTLY IN ENGLISH – The Excursion to Zielona Góra region (Tschischerzig, Klemzig, Nickern, Chlastawe, Gross Dammer)