Crailsheim and Worthington: the First US-German Sister Cities
Ehemalige Austauschschülerinnen und -schüler aus beiden Städten während der Abschiedsfeier anlässlich des 70-jährigen Jubiläums/Exchange students celebrate the 70th anniversary of the partnership, © Stadt Crailsheim
There are certainly many superlatives to be amazed about. Worthington and Crailsheim have every reason to be proud of theirs. The two cities boats the oldest German-American sister city partnership, which celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2017.
This partnership began with the pen-pal friendship of two eleven-year-old school girls, Martha Cashel from the small American town of Worthington and Kerttu Siekkinen from the Finnish village of Culunlaani in the municipality of Taivalkoski. After Martha collected a parcel of relief supplies and sent it to Kerttu in post-war Finland, her parents Theodora and Charles Cashel were deeply impressed and thought about how they could help personally. The idea of helping a city marked by war was born.
Before Crailsheim was chosen, however, numerous difficulties had to be overcome - both in the choice of the city and in the minds of the people of Worthington. After some discussions, the Cashels formulated basic criteria for the selection of a partner city. On May 9, 1947, the “Worthington Daily Globe” reported on the main features of the planned sponsorship: contact from person to person, assistance and an exchange of students and teachers, plus an exchange of clergy.
The idea of the Worthington plan took root. To date 116 American cities have partnerships with German cities; worldwide, more than 15,000 (source: bundesregierung.de/April 2017). The sister city partnership between Worthington and Crailsheim was groundbreaking worldwide in this respect.
The official start of the partnership was July 21, 1947, when the “Daily Globe”, the local daily newspaper, announced the sponsorship between the two towns about 8,000 km or 5,000 miles apart.
The sister city pairing between Worthington and Crailsheim is not only characterized by citizen and delegation trips, but above all by the annual student exchange: every year one exchange student flies to Worthington and one exchange student to Crailsheim. The new exchange student flies to his home town with those of the previous school year and stays there with his family for the first three months. This has taken place since 1948; with the school year 2018/19 marking the 59th pupil exchange. Many of the relationships that have developed in this way continue to this day, and cross-generational and cross-cultural friendships have developed between two continents.