1297 - 1997: 700 years of CLOPPENBURG, GERMANY
Dear, Kloppenburg Family"!

On the 7th January 1297 the name, Kloppenburg" was officially documented for the first time and so this year Cloppenburg is celebrating its 700th birthday. To mark this occasion the town is inviting all families with the names, Cloppenburg" and, Kloppenburg" to a large Jamily party" For as Cloppenburg is the only town with this name, you originally come from the Cloppenburg" (name of the strong-hold) just as all these families do.

During the week of the anniversary'from 27t'h July to I 3th August, the town of Cloppenburg." has the pleasure of welcoming you to a large reception. You will be able to experience the hometown of your ancestors with many different visits and excursions on the agenda ... and for the climax on 2nd and 3rd August you will be, a guest at the great middle-ages castle-market with, Kramer Zunft und Kurtzweyl in the picturesque town park all around the foundation of the former Cloppenburg.

As an incentive for your participation there are many sources of information on offer as well as something special: there are interesting prizes to be won for the ,C/Kloppenburg" who make the furthest journey, those who come with the most number of family members, those with the oldest family-tree, the youngest and oldest participants, the first to register, etc, etc.

It's well worth a visit! Cloppenburg is a district town in "Oldenburger MiInsterland" with around 30.000 inhabitants, situated 50 miles north of Osnabrick (off the BAB 1) and about 40 miles south-west of Bremen, on the railway-line Osnabriick - Oldenburg - Wilhelmshaven. The southern side of the North Sea is also fairly near!

The main attraction is the Museumsdorf Cloppenburg", Germany's oldest open-air museum, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. More than 50 rural houses of the rustic ancestors form all of Niedersachsen have been reconstructed in their original form and decorated as, a village in the middle of the town". The village's area is 15 hectares. Here you can experience living history: watch the potters as they turn the wheel, taste the fresh bread in the bakery or visit one of the many interesting, special exhibitions!

In addition, there is also lots of nature and culture to experience in Cloppenburg... the attractive landscape of the moorland and heather regions around the ThOlsfelder reservoir, many cycling and walking routes in the typical North German countryside, the leisure centre in Cloppenburg;...

Information about the program and application documents sent to you by:

Stadt Cloppenburg - Kulturamt
Miffilenstrafle 20 - 22
D - 49661 Cloppenburg
Telefon (04471) 185-81
Telefax (04471) 7199

Additional information is available from:

EschstraBe 29
D - 49661 Cloppenburg
Telefon (04471) 15256 / 19433
Telefax (04471) 85697

Traveling to Cloppenburg from as far away as USA and Brazil-Reception Yesterday in the Museum Town

303 "Cloppenburgs" Followed the City's Invitation to Cloppenburg

Cloppenburg. Only those people with the name "C/ Kloppenburg" or "Kloppertborg" were invited to a huge "meeting of the clan" connected to the 700th naming day of the city. After a collective photo session in City Park, one of the high points of the anniversary festival week was a reception in the evening held by the city at the inn'.~'Dorfkrug" in the museum town, which was filled to bursting. The celebration continues today and tomorrow with the medieval market in City Park.

The city was not counting on such a huge number of "C/Moppenburgs" when they sent out about 900 invitations to families bearing the name, not only throughout Germany, but also in Holland, the USA, Canada, South Africa and Brazil. Thus the "Dorfkrug" was also much too small to hold all of the "Cloppenburgs" as well as the other guests. The city had also invited a 16 member delegation from their sister city of Bernay, as well as a group of 13 visitors from Zittau (Cloppenburg's "opponents" on Challenge Day"), in addition to the "Cloppenburgs." The city paid off its lost bet to Zittau this weekend and hosted the delegation.

Mayor Joseph Voet was obviously overjoyed while greeting the many "Cloppenburgs," many of whom traveled great distances to visit the city which bears their name. The person who traveled the farthest was Josephine Hedwig Cloppenburg from Rolante, Brazil. She received a present from the city, as did the family with the largest family tree (which, by the way, stretched all the way back to the year 1603), as well as the youngest and oldest participants and the largest family taking part in this "meeting of the clan."

The attorney general a. D. Ferdinand Cloppenburg from Freisoythe spoke a word of greeting for all of the "Cloppenburgs." And the museum director a. D. Professor Helmut Ottenjann Ph.D. explained many things worth knowing about the history of the city and family name to the guests. The event was framed by a musical presentation from the Youth Choir of the Cloppenburg Children's Choir as well as a brass quartet from the county music school.

303 Cloppenburgs met in Cloppenburg

The participants arrived from as far away as Brazil and the USA

by Gerhard Snitjer

Cloppenburg. The circa 250 guests who crammed together in front of the camera for a "'family photo" all have one thing on common: they are named Cloppenburg or Kloppenburg. They have all come together at the invitation of the city of Cloppenburg, which presently is celebrating its 700th naming-day. Their homes are scattered far and wide: to be sure there are a few families with this name in the municipality of Cloppenburg, but especially many came to the meeting from the municipality of Grafschaft Bentheirn in Holland. The participants who traveled the farthest were from Brazil and the USA.

"All of these people have their roots here in this city," said Professor Helmut Ottenjann, researcher and former director of the mus, um town. "In the entire world there is no other Cloppenburg after which they could have been named." The name of the town goes back to the medieval Cloppenburg [fortress], for which the foundations can still be seen in City Park. "Whoever moved out of this region in past times was given the last name Cloppenburg in their new home," Ottenjann said. "So you cannot really assume a blood relationship between people with, this same last name.

However the guests do have in common a love for the region. Josephine Kloppenburg (76), from Rolante in southern Brazil, was three years old when her family emigrated in 1924. Since then she has kept in contact, visited her relatives here and still speaks fluent High and Low German. In Brazil she and her siblings have seen to the further spread of the name: "We have well over 200 relatives there."

Elisabeth Cloppenburg and her daughter Elfriede Becker live in Cloppenburg. They themselves had not previously done any genealogical research, but have used the meeting to look around at the family trees which were brought by others.

The Cloppenburgs and Kloppenburgs from out-of-town were contacted and invited by the city. "Finding them was not really a problem these days," said the representative of the city director, Wolfgang Wiese. "We have the internet and with that one can find them country- and worldwide." The anniversary week concluded with a medieval market with the theme of "Kramer, Zunft and Kurzweyl."

Professor Dr. Helmut Ottenjann

Presentation for the city of Cloppenburg's reception for all the families with the name

C / Kloppenburg in 8 / 1 / 1997.

The Name "Cloppen-Burg"

The castle-, city-, office- and family-name "Cloppenburg" - first officially recorded in the year 1297 in a legal instrument (deed or title)- can now look back on a 700 year long history.

The ancient Romans coined the old expression which we still use today: "Nomen est omen," which has the meaning: "A name is an omen." - A deeper meaning can lie at the root of a name. This is utterly and completely true in the case of the name "Cloppenburg."

Since the 19th century the drive to discover the true sense of the name has motivated many scholars and amateur researchers to ponder the origin and meaning, as well as the etymology of the word Cloppenburg.

The meaning of the syllable Burg needs no special commentary, as it has been documented through official records, as well as archeological and pictorial evidence that Cloppenburg was once a fortress.

One must however allow the general comment that the word Bfirger, as a general designation of a person possessing special freedoms, stems from the word Burg; we are then dealing with a uniquely German etymology and sense of the word which was not co-alpted in this meaning by other European nations. The French, for example, call their free citizens citoyen, which stems from the root citi = city, thus it means more "city person." The word Bfirger [citizen] however comes from the word Burg [castle or fortress].

The full sense of the meaning of the syllable "cloppen" in the word Cloppenburg can (according to present state of research) concentrate on four possibilities, which will be mentioned here with requisite brevity. (A more complete description can be found in the special edition "'Heritage and Landscape" of the Miinsterldndischen Tageszeitung [the name of a daily newspaper from the area] from the 18th of July, 1997.

First Possible Meaning of the Word "cloppen"

The most important historian of the 19th century, Carl Heinrich Nieberding, believed the word "cloppen" to be related in meaning to the word Non n e [nun], thus Cloppenburg = Nuncastle. (Of historical significance here is the fact that nuns have lived and worked in Cloppenburg only since the end of the 19th century.)

Without giving an etymological explanation for this artificial relationship of the words Kloppe and Non n e, Nieberding draws parallels between the still existing convent near the city Essen i.O. and later Cloppenburg.

Nieberding never repeated this fanciful claim and no one has since picked it up again; it was a mistaken direction.

Second Possible Meaning of the Word "cloppen"

In the year 1877, a good 50 years after Carl Heinrich Nieberding, the south-Oldenburgish historian Ludwig Niemann-under the influence of remarks published by the statesman and historian Justus M6ser of Osnabriick in 1797-tried to bring a new interpretation of the name into the game.

M6ser (and in his footsteps Ludwig Niemann) wanted to connect the syllable Kloppe to the term Klopp-Mann (the members of a fellowship, in this case the fellowship of free citizens [possibly something similar to a town council]). The word stem Klops as well as Klops-Leute [literally Clops-peoplel do not exist anywhere in north German official language or in the language of the chronicles; from this we can further assume that the Cloppenburg cannot be traced back to the establishment of a fellowship. Cloppenburg and the city which grew from it was never a firasm&m"a efly, as were for example Quackenbriick and Vechta. The Cloppenburg [here taken to mean -the castle/ fortress of Cloppen] was an earldom, and the city possessed a militia of free citizens.

Thus this proposed genealogy from Klops-Leute is unfounded

Third Possible Meaning of the Word "cloppen"

In an attempt at onomatopoeic explanation the phrase up de Kloppenborg appears in the 19th and perhaps already in the 18th century. This does not occur however in the Cloppenburg region, but instead in the neighboring OsnabrUck region, where the city of Cloppenburg was best known.

In this region (near the city Quakenbrtick) the squires quarters, which were built above the horse stalls, were referred to in this way [up de Kloppenborg 1; this was probably because these sleeping quarters were high in the air, like a fortress, and from there the banging, or the "clopping," of the horses' hooves against the stall could be clearly heard.

As an origin of the medieval name Cloppenburg

we must cast this explanation aside. One can formulate it the other way around however; without the well known city name Cloppenburg this modem low-German expression would never have been created through onomatopoeia.

Fourth Possible Meaning of the Word "cloppen"

The group of those people who interpret the word cloppen in the sense of knocking, banging, splitting, damaging or thrashing are represented most clearly by the historian Hermann Onken of Oldenburg. We also thank Onken for the comprehensive and well founded representation of the medieval history of the province Cloppenburg found in Architectural and Artistic Monuments of the Earldom of Oldenburg.

Onken's interpretation of the word Cloppenburg's origin-without question the most well founded of all-is as follows (I quote): "The next supposition is, as is often the case, the best: k1oppen (high-German k1opfen [to knock]) means to harm the enemy, to "hit" him, foremost in a literal, but also in a figurative sense." (End of quote.) In the Middle Ages they liked to grab on to names for their fortresses which would taunt or frighten their neighbors, i.e. defiant or envy inducing names, for example the castle Ovelgbnne, which means fibel g6nnen [grantor of evil/ misfortune].

Thus it should be obvious to see the true purpose of the fortress Cloppenburg and its men in the "cloppen" [clobbering] of the enemy. And that such an unfriendly, taunting overtone in the name was intended by the Cloppenburg's founder is further underscored by the fact that he called his second fortress (not far from BarBel in the northern border area near east Frigia) by the name of Schnappenburg [snapping/ capturing fortress].

As is well known, the Teckelburger feudal lord Otto III found himself in a threatened position here in the Cloppenburg region. This situation arose from the "pincher politics" pursued by the people from Osnabriick and Miinster and in reaction Otto III had to pursue an aggressive plan of "fortress politics." Therefore he chose names for his new fortresses which would clearly express the taunting-threatening intent of the, for that time, impressive defenses. Whoever opposed the Tecklenburger territory in that time was beaten here in Cloppenburg, clobbered here, and snapped up and imprisoned in Bargel (in other words in the Schnappenburg).

Hermann Onken is the first researcher who introduced a category of so called "defiance-names" into the etymological analysis of German place names, and included the name Cloppenburg in this category. This principle of division has maintained its scientific validity in both historical research and the study of fortresses.

All of these things taken into account the only possible interpretation which can be taken seriously is the version in which the syllable Cloppen must be understood in fact as cloppen = to hit/beat.

Closing Thoughts

Having considered the various possible original meanings of the word Cloppenburg, we can now say in summary that for the Middle Ages the name Cloppenburg undoubtedly expresses the purpose of this fortress, as well as the town which followed: to harm, beat and repel every aggressor.

Since the 16th century in early modern times, but after overcoming the Middle Ages, Protestant Holland (above all in the city of Amsterdam) created a new type of symbolic fortress. This fortress was represented by large numbers of Amsterdam citizens through small statues with the words Kloppen-Burgh written underneath placed on the representative gables of the house. (Here the word Cloppenburg is written with a K and in two separate words, and the syllables Kloppen and Burg are separated by a dash.)

This "gable-statue" of the "Kloppen-Burgh" from the 16th and 17th century is not a copy of a once existing Cloppenburg. Instead it is a fictitious spiritual fortress of the imagination which is based on Protestant religious sayings. It is principally used as a "talking coat of arms" by the families of Holland. This representation of a Kloppen-Burgh is based on two biblical passages from the Old and New Testament: 1. from Psalm 18, verse 3-"God is my fortress" (reformulated by Martin Luther into one of his most well known hymns in 1527 "A mighty fortress is our God..."' and 2. from the sermon by Christ on the mountainside according to Matthew and Luke: "Knock and the door will open."

It is also noteworthy with regard to the meaning of the word Cloppen that in the representation of the fortress on the gable-stones in Amsterdam, there are always men pictured who are knocking with peaceful intentions on the gates to the fortress with a hammer. They symbolically represent that they are asking for admission into God's fortress.

This allegorical representation from Amsterdam of a person knocking with a hammer in order to gain admission (into the heart of another for instance) can also be found in this area and in Westfalia inscribed in calligraphy on carved balconies from the 18th and 19th century. Such inscriptions read, "I knock on the door ... and here I stand."

With this thought-the word Cloppen in the medieval "fortress" sense, to be interpreted as a rightful clobbering, beating and warning, and the same word in the early renaissance religious sense of a knocking to ask for entry-I would like to bid all "Cloppenburgers" from near and far farewell: A name is and omen-you carry a name rife with meaning. Let us try together to be and remain good "Cloppenburgers," so that we can also be proud in the future of this name, the example it sets and the power of identity it holds.

Speech of Mayor Joseph Voet

Friday, August 1st, 1997
Reception of the Cloppenburg Families in the Inn "Dorfkrug" for the 700th
Naming Day of Cloppenburg
Honored Ladies, Honored Gentlemen, Dear Children!

I have the honorable as well as very pleasant duty to welcome you, honored guests, to this reception, to which you have been invited because of this extraordinary occasion.

I thank all of you that you accepted this invitation and in the name of the city of Cloppenburg bid you a hearty welcome.

Never before since the Three Kings Festival of 1297 (the day on which the name Cloppenburg can first be officially documented) have so many families and people with the family name C / Kloppenburg / -borg been assembled in our town of Cloppenburg!!

Therefore my first and very heartfelt greeting goes out to all of the C/Kloppenburgs from all of Germany, the Netherlands, the USA and Brazil. We are very happy to have you as our guests.

Since 1989 there has been a partnership between our city of Kloppenburg and the French city of Bemay. This especially understanding and very friendly relationship between our cities has led a delegation from Bemay to come to us and celebrate at this week long festival. Their presence further increases the prestige of our Naming Day Anniversary: A heartfelt welcome to Madame (Yvonne) Denis, vice-president of the partnership committee and our French friends of the 16 person delegation.

On the 28th of May-about 2 months ago-the city of Cloppenburg took part in a sports Challenge Day for the first time since 1297. We were challenged to a direct comparison with the city of Zittau in Saxony. The event had an incredible resonance and brought forth very imaginative participation and much joy. In the competition between the cities for a bet Zittau clearly had the advantage. The agreed upon prize from Cloppenburg (to invite a group of visitors from Zittau) will be collected on this festival-weekend by a group of 30 visitors, which we are very happy about.

I heartily greet the chairman of the Zittau sports commission, Mrs. Ast, and the Ladies and Gentlemen who have traveled with her from the Saxon city. We wish and hope very much that you will enjoy it in Cloppenburg.

I also heartily greet Mr. Ferdinand Cloppenburg (with a 'C) who has kindly agreed to speak a word of greeting here for all of the "Cloppenburgs." In the search for the addresses of the "Cloppenburgs" which at the end of '96 /beginning of '97 was already being intensively conducted, it was discovered that the state attorney-general Ferdinand Cloppenburg is the only "Cloppenburg" listed in "Who is who." This naturally requires us to, and is an additional argument for granting him the honor of giving the greeting.

I can not tell you how often I (and I'm sure this has happened to many others) have been asked in the last few months about the history and meaning of the name 'C/Kloppenburg." The competency to answer this question most completely and convincingly belongs without question to the former head museum director professor Helmut Ottenjann Ph.D. I extend a warm welcome to H. Ottenjann. We are looking very forward to his presentation.

I also very heartily welcome the newly named director of our historical-museum-town, Dr. Meiners. Many 'Cloppenburgs' have already gotten to know him through the village tours this week. Many thanks, Dr. Meiners, that you and your co-workers placed yourselves so kindly and readily at our disposal.

We are also very happy that in spite of the vacation season these other people are participating in this reception:

*I greet the political representatives of the MdB, MdL, representatives of the neighboring counties, my colleagues from the town hall including my former colleagues, Dr. Wiese and the administration (with special thanks to the office of cultural affairs for their engaged preparation and organizational work).

*I greet the representatives of the local and regional press and media:

I also offer a very warm welcome to the Cloppenburg businesses and institutions who helped to sponsor this anniversary week celebration. Special thanks go to the Pfanni Co., the bicycle factory Derby-Cycle, the Oldenburger meat packing plant Pieper, Mrs. Ruwe (Family Schl6mer Soup), the LzO, VOBA, the goldsmith Feldkamp, the house KAse Barlage and the firm Bley.

My thanks to the hotels and restaurants for their special offers and gift certificates, especially to the Dorfkrug.

My thanks to the historical-museum-town of Cloppenburg which has supported this anniversary week celebration with their tours, demonstrations and free admission for all of the C/Kloppenburgs.

My thanks to the tourist information office for support with the city tours.

My thanks to the "Old Gogericht on the River Desum" club for their self-led Gogericht-presentation.

Many thanks to the local press as well for their comprehensive reports and special editions-copies can be found here in the Dorfkrup[g?] to be taken home with you.

And many heartfelt thanks go out to the "Young Choir" of the Cloppenburger Children's Choir under the direction of Mr. Olberding jr. as well as to the brass quartet from the county music school.

My dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

At the beginning of the year, around 900 invitations were sent to families with the name C/Kloppenburg in Germany, about 150 in Holland, 165 in the USA and many others to Canada, South Africa and Brazil. We were all very much in suspense as to the response. Today we are very proud and happy that around 250 people with the name Cloppenburg are here during the anniversary week to see their homeland once again or to get to know the homeland of their ancestors. We wish and hope that this visit is, or will be, worth the trip for all of the C/ Kloppenburgs.

An anniversary is also always a chance to look back at the many changes through the course of history: little has remained which could bear witness to the older history [of the area]; all the more reason for the city to value the historical-museurn-town in the center of town, which is one of the oldest open air museums. In this museum are stored the country culture and history of the region. And we are thankful that we can be the guests of the inn "Dorfkrug."

May today and the entire week of celebration prove to be a good and interesting occasion and may happy memories remain with everyone afterwards.