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Carl Bayer - From Burgsinn to Rochester

(Bernhard Müller Wirthmann)

It was always difficult to eke out any kind of a living in Burgsinn, a small farming village between the Spessart and Rhön regions of Germany. The soil was poor and there were few opportunities available to make any extra money. As early as the 18th century, families from Burgsinn began emigrating to Hungary, then later in the 19th century many of them went to America.

Karl Bayer, born on June 8, 1903 in Burgsinn, came froma Catholic family. First communion was an event of great importance in the life of a Catholic child. The parish priest gave all the children taking communion a religious picture announcing the solemn event. Even though Karl's religious affiliations were rather less strict later on in the USA, he kept that picture hanging on the wall of his bedroom all his life.

The house of the Bayer family in Burgsinn (centre), the door on the right is the entrance to the former synagogue.

In the photograph taken at the first communion of Karl's niece Lina in 1930, the Burgsinn family members are assembled: on the far left is his mother, to the right of her is his sister Elise, married to the mechanic Heinrich Brenner (outer right), and Heinrich's sister Emma and her four children are standing at the far back. Boys from the neighbourhood are also in the picture. Karl's father had already died.

During World War I, Karl had begun an apprenticeship at the Fichtel & Sachs company in Schweinfurt, which ended in 1919. He took the technical drawings from the courses with him to America.

Even though the years after the war were hard and rather hopeless, young friends still had happy moments – and immortalized them on film.

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