Monday, March 3, 2014

Rätsel Gelöst or Mystery Solved

My post for March 1st mentioned my high school German teacher, Herr Werba.  I said that he left unexpectedly and our next teacher was Miss Marnett.  What I did not mention was that after that, I did not learn much German compared to my first year.  Of course, it could have been my interest in playing guitar, singing folk songs and joining in a number of protests....yes, I was a child of the 60s.  But I also did not have Herr Werba to scare me into studying my German lessons. 
This is my high school, DeVilbiss  Herr Werba's room was the third floor to the left of the pillars.

The other thing not mentioned was that his leaving was not only unexpected...but also mysterious.  All sorts of stories roamed the school halls. Did he run off with a former student?  Did the U.S. government kick him out of the country?  We never knew for what...but lots of stories about that too.  Was he a spy and got caught?  Did he get arrested or escape?   Some thought his wife turned him in to the authorities for tax evasion.  As you can tell...lots of rumors...and from these branched even more interesting if not sordid stories.

After time there were fewer stories and soon Herr Werba was forgotten.  But after writing the post a couple of days ago I became curious.  What really did happen?  I Googled his name and found some information from  There was a man, Henry Werba, who died in 2002 in Connecticut.  As I read about him I could not stop smiling.  This man was amazing!  He received his PhD from University of Connecticut and became a professor.  He authored a number of German college text books.  He was fluent in six languages!  He was a sculptor, concert violinist, award winning photographer...and he even built his own house.  He reconditioned pianos and also rode a motorcycle.

There was a lot more about him, and for those who want to read more, here is the link. Henry C. Werba. I was dumfounded and yet not surprised (if that makes sense).  But was this the real Herr Werba?  There was no mention of him being in Toledo, OH.  I searched more (I love the internet) feeling like a detective on a cold case.  And then I found article in the Toledo Blade, November 22, 1961: Linguist Studies 7th Tongue Via Disks. Henry Werba Studies 7th Tongue.   The missing link was found.

What did I learn from this?  It is amazing that the Truth about Herr Werbe dwarfs all of the rumors and stories that were told.  Did anyone know the truth?  I am sure the administration had to have known...but back then there was so much unrest with sit-ins and protests...maybe they felt no need to tell Herr Werbe's students why he left.....and then again....maybe he really was a spy and was sent to Connecticut on a secret mission.  No...the rumors stop here...Herr Werba was multi-talented man who made life a little better for a lot of people.  I feel bad there were so many rumors but glad that Herr Werba's real life was so enriched and interesting.  I wish I would have known him better, but I am so glad I know a little more now.

For those Facebook friends of mine who participated in the contest to solve this looks like Jamie Keeker won this time.  Your prize will be in the mail shortly. :-)


  1. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing about Herr Werba. Reading your experiences makes me want to get into my German heritage! Inspiring.

  2. The internet is a great tool for searching and finding out information. All of our information is out there. Kind of scary.

  3. I never met the man when I went to DeVilbiss but it sounds like I would now know German better than I do had I taken his class.

  4. Herr Werba sounds like an amazing man and teacher. I also love a good mystery - isn't the internet handy?!

  5. Amazing all that we don't know about some people... And yet we are so quick to make assumptions. This is a true tale of inspiration to explore what lies beneath, to ask questions and to remember that everyone has a story . I'm excited that your internet search proved so fruitful!