Arlington, Bad Königshofen Kick Off Celebration of Sister Cities 70th Anniversary
By Susan Schrock, Office of Communication
Posted on October 21, 2021, October 21, 2021

Thousands of miles and several time zones apart, representatives from the City of Arlington and Bad Königshofen, Germany met up virtually Thursday to kick off the 70th anniversary of the Sister City partnership between the two communities.

Members of the Sister Cities of Arlington, Texas, and city leaders gathered at J. Gilligan’s in Downtown for the celebration, which began with a toast honoring the decades of friendship that remains “solid as a rock.” During the live-streamed meeting, both cities shared videos about life in their communities as well as remarks about the importance of maintaining the international relationship that began in 1951 between The American Dream City and the small northern Bavarian town in West Germany.

Though the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a virtual greeting this fall, delegates from Bad Königshofen say they are hopeful they can visit Arlington in person sometime next year. Bürgermeister Thomas Helbling called the long-lasting relationship remarkable, and he thanked the Arlington residents for their kindness and for remaining in touch.

“A lot has been achieved here in the past decades, so much that the friendships between people from our so different cities seems like the most natural thing. We ought to keep it that way,” Helbling said.

“The slogan for our city partnership is 'Friendship Solid as a Rock,' and I hope this digital meeting today will strengthen once more our friendship even deeper,” Helbling added.

Arlington's relationship with Bad Königshofen began in the summer of 1951, when the German town manager Kurt Zuhlke visited Arlington at the end of a study tour of the United States. Local historians say the town manager made an unscheduled stop in the city because a German tour participant had a pen pal in Arlington. Through this pen pal relationship, the town manager had an opportunity to meet and visit with then Arlington Mayor Tom Vandergriff.

During their meeting, the visiting town manager told Vandergriff about the difficulties his town was facing because of its location at the border between West and East Germany. He said hundreds of people from the communist east had overwhelmed his small German town, and there was a shortage of food and clothing.

Moved by the plight of the town, Mayor Vandergriff and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce coordinated a community drive to collect food, clothing and gifts. In 1952, the first of four railroad boxcar shipments left Arlington for Bad Königshofen.

“It’s unique that this relationship began with pen pals and it began just about three years after the end of World War II. So many people in Arlington had lost loved ones,” said former City Council representative Sheri Capehart, who has been involved in Arlington’s Sister Cities partnership since 2000. “That didn’t stop the people in 1951 from helping a German town and people they didn’t know. That is a testament to the heart and soul of what Arlington is all about. There was a need, and we were happy to help.”

One of the videos shared by the City of Arlington was an interview with former City Council member Doland Maner, who attended the send-off ceremony at the Texas & Pacific railroad depot on Feb. 1, 1952. Maner, now 99, spoke about the community’s spirit of giving.

“It was a pretty easy thing to get involved in. You could see those people needing food and clothing. We gathered up lots of stuff,” Maner said. “Everybody was happy and wanting to do it.”

Click here to learn more about Sister Cities of Arlington, Texas.

Bad Königshofen, Sister City
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