Kuhle touts Worthington’s Crailsheim connection in Indianapolis

WORTHINGTON -- There are 116 communities across the United States who have developed sister city relationships with cities in Germany, but none of them are as long-standing, and few -- if any -- run as deep as the connection between Worthington a...

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Joining Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle (second from right) at a banquet hosted by the Midwest German Consulate General in Indianapolis Oct. 6 were Mayors Terry Seitz of Jasper, Ind., Steven Ponto of Brookfield, Wis., and Al Larson of Schaumburg, Ill. (Submitted photo)

WORTHINGTON - There are 116 communities across the United States who have developed sister city relationships with cities in Germany, but none of them are as long-standing, and few - if any - run as deep as the connection between Worthington and Crailsheim.

That appeared evident to Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle, who joined the leaders of six other Midwest cities to speak during an event hosted by the German Consulate General Chicago last weekend in Indianapolis, Ind.

The two-day event dubbed the “Kick-off of the Year of German American Friendship in the Midwest,” coincided with five similar celebrations in major cities across the country.

Kuhle received his invitation earlier this year and was asked to present on Worthington’s sister city relationship with Crailsheim, which was forged 71 years ago.

With the help of Janice Berger and Worthington-Crailsheim International, the mayor spoke of a young Martha Cashel and her Finnish pen pal, Kertu Seikkenen. The year was 1946 - not long after the end of World War II, and Kertu’s first letter to Martha included a request for a pair of shoes, as she only had paper shoes to wear.


Martha, along with her friend, Patsy, and brother, Mike, set out across their neighborhood sharing Kertu’s plea and collected 22 pairs of shoes.

That evening, as the Cashels gathered around the dinner table, they spoke of the generosity of their neighbors and dared to imagine what could happen “if a whole town were to ‘adopt’ another whole town.”

The idea soon grew into the Worthington Plan of adopting a city in Germany, and in the summer of 1947, Worthington was paired with Crailsheim based on similar population, agricultural heritage and other similarities.

Kuhle was called upon to share the Worthington-Crailsheim story after each of the other city leaders, many of whom have had sister-city relationships with German communities only since the 1990s.

“People were really glued into the history of our relationship and how we’ve maintained it over the years,” Kuhle said. “That’s really a credit to Worthington-Crailsheim International, the student exchange, choirs and bands. It really is a relationship worth celebrating.”

Other mayors invited to speak on their community’s sister-city relationship with a German community included Jasper, Ind. (Pfaffenweiler), Schaumburg, Ill. (Schaumburg), Cincinnati, Ohio (Munich), Columbus, Ohio (Dresden), Sheboygan, Wis. (Esslingen am Neckar) and Brookfield, Wis. (Seligenstadt).

“Their presentations were weighted heavily on their community in the U.S. and the exchanges they’ve had,” Kuhle said. “A lot of them were bigger communities, but none of them seemed to have the length or the experiences we’ve had.

“I was very honored, very proud to go through this story with them,” he added.


The presentations were part of an evening banquet Oct. 6 that the German Consulate General attended, along with the governor of Indiana

The kickoff event will lead into a year-long promotion of the relationships between U.S. and German cities, and to expand the sister-city relationship between more communities. Stories of sister-city relationships will be shared through social media, and people are welcome to follow along on the German Consulate General in Chicago Facebook page at .

“This relationship with Crailsheim is very important,” Kuhle said, applauding the people of Worthington who have been involved with the program. “In today’s world, national leaders come and go, but these relationships go a lot further to enhance understanding and peace.”

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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