Göttingen Gay Center
In 2000 -- the Jubilee Year of Ulrichs' 175th birthday -- Wolfgang Böker and Jochen Engling made a return trip to L'Aquila to visit the grave site of one of the men they most admire -- Karl Heinrich Ulrichs.
It was just the latest way Jochen and Wolfgang, members of the Karl Heinrich Ulrichs Action Circle at the Gay Center in Göttingen, Germany, had chosen to honor a personal hero.
As members of the Action Circle, the two men played an instrumental part in petitioning the Göttingen city authorities to honor Ulrichs, who had attended the University of Göttingen. The group's idea was to mount a memorial plaque on one of the three houses in which Ulrichs had lived while a student -- Am Markt 5, Prinzenstrasse 11, or Weenderstrasse 24.
They wanted it done for the 100th anniversary of Ulrichs' death in 1995. They got their wish, but not until 1997, after a lengthy battle. The invitations went out soon after approval was given, and on January 17, 1997, folks gathered at Am Markt 5, where a plaque was placed on the house where Ulrichs had lived.
Bernd Aretz of Marburg, who also gave a reading during the Munich 2000 jubilee event, read the testimonial. Hannover representative Hans Hengelein, who likewise spoke at the Munich Ulrichs-Platz party, also spoke at the unveiling of the memorial plaque.
But back to 1995. The Göttingen group was not about to let the 100th anniversary of Ulrichs' death go by without notice. On May 7, 1995, they made a pilgrimage to L'Aquila to visit Ulrichs' gravesite. Sadly, they found the gravestone in horrible condition. The stone was cracked with weeds growing between the cracks, a large corner was completely broken off -- in fact one piece of broken stone was found some distance from the grave itself. The stone itself was scruffy, dirty, and weather-beaten.
The group was appalled but not about to be down-beat after going all the way to Italy. Like the mighty warriors about to slay the hydra that Ulrichs spoke about, Jochen and Wolfgang immediately swung into action. That very day they sought out and received permission from the L'Aquila authorities, and on the second day of their visit pieced the stone back together and cleaned the surface with acid. Before leaving for home, they placed a bouquet of flowers on the stone.
What a surprise it was to Wolfram Setz when he visited the grave site a few days later and found the stone clean and in one piece, and decorated with a bouquet! Max Consoli also must have been overjoyed when he made his annual birthday pilgrimage and found the stone restored. It is truly astonishing that independently, in 1996 Gay folks from Graz, Austria, who thought they would find nothing but rubble but encountered a decent gravestone, also did further restoration.
The material on this page was gathered by the remarkable Göttingen group. The following is further material of interest furnished by them:
- Stadtarchiv Göttingen, Personen, Gedenktafeln [City Archives, persons, memorial plaques]: Bravo!
- Publication: "J.D. Sarnighausen und Karl Heinrich Ulrichs -- zwei Urninge" (JDS and KHU -- two Urnings) by Wolfgang Böker and Jochen Engling. Göttinger Jahrbuch (Göttingen [city] Annual). Vol. 48 (2000): 137-139. Sarnighausen is Ulrichs' Gay distant cousin who became an Indiana State Senator in the 1870's.
- Ulrichs' Death Certificate
- Cemetery; police escort; cemetery caretaker Padre Nello Grego; W. Böker '95
- Map of L'Aquila with Attractions with Regard to Ulrichs (including map to cemetery)
Photos at the cemetery by the Göttingen group on August 28, 2000 -- Ulrichs' Jubilee Year
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