Some of eastern Iowa’s pioneers were from Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz in northeast Germany. Now called Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (west Pomerania), it is the farming and lake district of Germany, south of Rostock on the Baltic Sea and north of Berlin. Some of the peasants who lived there were probably brought from Schleswig-Holstein by junker landlords, the younger sons who weren’t going to inherit land in S-H, so daddy gave them a few peasants and sent them off to the east where land was available and cheap, and of poor quality. The early settlers simply raised cattle, their peasants cattle-tenders. Over centuries the land was improved and is now good for growing crops.
The area has beautiful scenery, snow-covered fields in the winter, Linden trees and yellow Rape fields in spring, tiled roofs of brilliant orange in the summer sun, and vivid colored leaves in the fall. It is so peaceful that many vacation there, some preferring a small village or remote resort to a city hotel. Gutshaus Zietlitz in tiny Zietlitz is an example. http://www.gutshaus-zietlitz.de has photos and prices. I put 2 photos in the Germany gallery on this website. Andreas and Susanne Libor renovated the old manor house wonderfully. From the lambs in the nearby field to the fantastic breakfast, we loved this place!
Schloss Rossewitz (castle Rossewitz) is a Palladian style large dwelling house near Recknitz, northeast of Gustrow. It is so architecturally important that while in terrible shape from neglect, the elements, and squatters, it was declared a national monument and has been under restoration for several years. Many area peasants worked in the castle or in the fields for the Vieregges and other nobles who owned it. I toured it in 1997 when they were restoring the Italian murals inside and doing various other repairs. Still not complete in 2011, but hopefully will be a museum or lodging some day. I put 1 photo of Rossewitz and 3 of Recknitz church and parsonage in the Germany gallery on this w’site.
In the city of Gustrow in Mecklenburg, there is a museum of Ernst Barlach’s sculpture. Great stuff! Google him to see his work. Sensitive as many artists are, Barlach didn’t live long after the Communists declared his work unimportant and personal. Gustrow serves the best bratwurst in Germany, and darn good beer.
The low-German (Plattdeutsch) writer, Fritz Reuter, loved Mecklenburg and wrote about it. His books are widely available in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
The churches in the area around Gustrow were built in the 13th and 14th centuries, as Roman Catholic. Martin Luther nailed his thesis to that church door in 1517, following the efforts of Czech Jan Hus 100 years earlier, and Hus following the English John Wycliffe (ca. 1330-1384) before that. As Lutheranism spread with the Protestant movement, the Mecklenburg nobles changed their churches to Lutheran, the dominant religion in north Germany today. The churches are picturesque with their field stone exteriors, crude buttresses and thick bell towers. They have old art and triptychs, and sometimes the cover plate of a noble’s grave in the floor or on the wall.
Otto von Bismark (1815-1898) said something like — if the world comes to an end I will go to Mecklenburg where everything happens 100 years later.