Founding History

by Wilfried Gundel

In July 1971, Willi Odenthal, director of the Kreisvolks­hochschule, went to Scotland for vacation.  Willi was very impressed with the journey into the north of Great Britain and it also leads him to West Lothian. A ‘new town’ had recently been developed there called Livingston. A town build from small villages but in a region chosen for economic develop­ment. Willi Oldenthal made first contact there with offcials from the local administration. And this was by chance. He was going with his caravan, when an engine error occurred. So he went to West Lothian County Council, in Linlithgow, and knocked on the culture department’s door. And there he received help: the engine started working again – as well as the drive for the partnership.

24 August 1972, Arnsberg – Partnership Agreement Signing

24 August 1972, Arnsberg – Partnership Agreement Signing

In May 1972, a Scottish delegation visited Arnsberg, in August of the same year, a delegation from Hochsauerland travelled to Scotland. And still in August 1972, the represen­tatives of the Scottish West Lothian Council and the Kreis Arnsberg signed the partnership certifcate. A few years later, some restructurings gave the partnership a “new home”: there it was the West Lothian District, here the Hochsauerlandkreis; in the 90s the re­structuring into Councils followed. “The aim of the partnership is to make meetings between the people of both districts possible, most especially between the youth, for the understanding of the people and the European unifcation.” This certifed main statement called for full commitment, most especially in the first years of the partnership between West Lothian and the Kreis Arnsberg.

In the first years, mostly organizational cliffs were to be sailed through in order to fulfll the aim of contacts, partnership. Rudolf Brüschke that has been working on building up and following the German­Scottish friendship in the Arnsberg District Administration, did not forget which organizational problems had to be mastered in order to organize visits etc. – even after 40 years. There have been several disturbances concerning the telephone. The telefax then eased the tasks, the communication, a little bit. And furthermore, the communica­tion per letter did not want to work at first due to a strike.

Egon Mühr, the Arnsberg Kreisdirektor and later Hoch­sauerlandkreis Kreisdirektor and Oberkreisdirektor, and John Calder, the West Lothian Oberkreisdirektor (and later Head of the West Lothian Twinning Association until 1987, followed by Godfrey Fairbairn), were very committed. They stand for many years of responsible strengthening of the partnership. This is also what Egon Mühr, after having taken the lead of the Hochsauerlandkreis partnership organization in 1993, underlines in his memories at the 20th anniversary of the cooperation: “The little tree of partnership has developed to a strong, large tree that is continually growing new, strong branches. And for supporting the growth in West Lothian and Sauerland, the Distirct Council and the Kreistag were happy to give the necessary annual fnancial injections.” For his achievements in the area of the German­Scottish friendship, John Calder was awarded the “Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande” in 1983.

The motor of the German­-Scottish partnership keeps going and going. In the course of time, the motor was ready for switching to automatic operation. The regular contacts have become a pleasant matter of course. Automatically, the mi­lestone anniversaries of the partnership are celebrated twice. For this reason, in the year of the 20th anniversary about 850 friends of the partnership travelled back and forth between the two districts.

But actually, every year is worth celebrating, when taking the active exchanges between the two regions into account. In the first years, the exchange visits left their mark on the partnership – and with time passing, more and more contacts between clubs, organizations and people came to life.

This “anniversary book” for the 40th anniversary is mainly meant to provide an insight into former times, but also into the meetings today.

It is almost natural, that the first groups of visitors from West Lothian stayed in the Volkshochschule in Langenscheid, being the working home of the VHS director Willi Odenthal. But soon, our Scottish friends asked for more possibilities to shop or go out. Therefore for the next visitors, the “Haus Sonnen-schein” was chosen. It was brought down a long time ago already: today, there is a nursery school located in that place at the “Neheimer Berg”.