Schapekahm’s legacy of friendship

Former New Ulm police officer and mayor Bert Schapekahm had a big impact on New Ulm. One of the longest lasting legacies of his long career in New Ulm is going on this week with a visit to New Ulm from police officers in Germany through the German American Police Program.

This exchange, going on for 28 years, ever since Bert, then a New Ulm police sergeant, was vacationing in Germany. He dropped into the local police station in Bersenbruck, introduced himself as a fellow police officer from New Ulm, Minnesota, and got a very hospitable reception. He made friends, started corresponding with them and came up with the idea of exchange visits. Every two years, a group from Germany, mostly officers from Bersenbruck, come to New Ulm for a visit, and two years later a group of local law enforcement officers travel to Germany.

It’s a chance to compare notes and ideas about police work, but also a great opportunity for cementing the bonds of friendship and hospitality that have developed over the years.

This year when officers from Germany arrived, they stopped at St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery in New Ulm to visit the grave of Schapekahm, who died in 2000 in the middle of his second term as mayor. He had welcomed several groups to New Ulm before, and we’re sure he was smiling to have the new delegation come to visit.

We welcome our German visitors, and hope the friendship that this program has generated will continue to last for many more trips to come.