Germany Down South: Part I

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Bits of German culture are scattered around the Wiregrass, from restaurants and bakeries to jewelry stores and works of art. However what many may not realize is how large the local German community is and how much of an impact their culture has on the Wiregrass.

The German population is not something we hear much of around Wiregrass.

It may surprise some to know that their community is made up of about 800 people and each of them plays an important role in Wiregrass culture.

You may have driven by Karl's German bakery on Highway 84 just west of Dothan, but have you ever stopped to taste the authentic pastries or meet Karl himself.

The 68-year old German native came to America when he was in his twenties and although he has a lot in common with other immigrants, they each have a different story.

"The German community basically consists primarily of spouses--Germans that married Americans by large...and there are some speckled guys like myself that came over for other reasons. See, I didn't come to this country to be a baker. That is coincidental," said Karl.

Karl came to America to see the world and ended up staying after joining the army in 1961.

Since then, he has become a jack of all trades, starting with formal education, and then working in aviation mechanics at Fort Tucker.

He's also been a pilot, a flight instructor, and makes beautiful woodwork.

Then later in his life, he designed and built bakery, all on his own.

Karl says "One of the things you have with Europeans coming here is that they bring not only their education, but they bring their work ethic that requires them to be employed--that's the way I see it--and they contribute."

Ingrid Strange contributes to Fort Rucker and the Daleville community in her own way.

She opened her jewelry store, now part of the Castle Plaza, in 1982 and is still providing the Wiregrass with jobs, volunteer work, fine jewelry and authentic German meals.

"It took a little to get used to because it was quite different. But my husband--being from Georgia--and I had met southern people. So it was quite nice--it didn't take long," said Ingrid.

From community involvement to crafts and baked goods, the German population has also made quite an impact at Fort Rucker. Both Karl and Ingrid have been providing the post with their products.

Karl sells hearty all-natural rye bread at the commissary for those soldiers who have lived in Germany and have German spouses.

Ingrid has provided hand made wings for the pilots at the post.

It’s important to note that they are just two examples of the German community's contribution to the Wiregrass.