One of the most charming towns in Germany also happens to be Muscatine’s Sister City: Ludwigslust — Ludwig’s Delight! Founded in 1724 by the Duke of Mecklenburg, it’s a planned community with a broad main boulevard lined with trees and symmetrical brick houses leading up to his elegant country palace. Muscatine’s formal relationship with the town started in 2004; several delegations of Germans have visited here, and several delegations of Iowans have enjoyed the hospitality of the Ludwigsluster.
Thousands of immigrants from Mecklenburg settled in eastern Iowa in the latter half of the 19th century, and the Germans honor them with museums and memories, so the connection with the area is very close. If you go there with a Sister Cities group, you will have a lot of fun, a lot of good food, a lot of history, a lot of new friends. You will visit the Baltic Sea with its wonderful fish specialties, have excursions to nearby Berlin and Hamburg, learn to make candy, meet local dignitaries, drink some beer (or a non-alcoholic beverage of your choice), maybe feast on some wild boar.
It’s almost guaranteed there will be some festival going on, maybe with everyone dressed in historical garb, or a carnival or a garden show. There will be tours of local industry and schools. You will walk or ride a bike through the palace’s beautiful park. You will be able to talk to the locals about growing up under Communism, as Ludwigslust was on the other side of the Wall. A Russian garrison was stationed there, but the Lutheran Church remained actively involved in daily life, especially through its hospital. A lot has changed, but the occupation still leaves traces.
If you like your relationships up close and personal, Sister Cities is the way to go, and Ludwigslust would be a perfect place to start. For more information on joining a delegation or just helping with all the international visitors to Muscatine, contact John Dabeet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ingrid Rowe is a member of the Muscatine Sister Cities Board. Kristine Conlon is a former board member who taught German at Muscatine High School and has accompanied delegations to Ludwigslust.