Lost family heirloom returned after 74 years – a testament of American-German friendship
On 28 November 2019, the Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Lieutenant General Scott Kindsvater attended a ceremony in Schleiden, Germany where he returned an accordion his grandfather found during World War II to the Kupp family.
Private 1st Class Andrew Kindsvater, 60th Infantry Regiment, was fighting on the Western Front and participating in the American advance to the Rhine, when he found a small accordion. Private Kindsvater participated in the Battle of the Bulge and fought in the Hurtgen Forrest, the Ardennes and was wounded at the famous Bridge at Remagen where he earned the Purple Heart Medal. Private Kindsvater was sent home with the accordion safely tucked away in his bags.
The instrument stayed in the family and Lieutenant General Kindsvater ultimately inherited the instrument from his grandfather. It was always the will of the family to find the owner of the accordion and return it after they discovered a small engraving referencing the previous owner, M. Kupp - Schleiden. A decade-long search ensued that yielded results.
During his tour as Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations and Intelligence at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium, Lieutenant General Kindsvater, assisted by his executive officer German Lieutenant Colonel Aicke Lippert, issued a request to the City of Schleiden for assistance in the search for any surviving descendants of the Kupp family.
Amazingly, they found the Kupp family. And, after his appointment to the post of Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee in Brussels, Lieutenant General Kindsvater worked to return the accordion to the family. The original owner, Mia Kupp, passed away in 2007 but her surviving sister 87-year-old Mrs. Christel Nierhoff agreed to host a ceremony with the town of Schleiden, Germany where the instrument was handed over on 28 November in the city of Schleiden.
In front of family, friends, city officials and the people of Schleiden, Lieutenant General Kindsvater acknowledged how special the event was for him and his family including his cousin Mr. Alan Kindsvater who flew in from St. Louis, Missouri with his wife and children for the event. He added that “it is fitting that we give this heirloom that has become an heirloom in my family back to the Kupp Family. Thank you to the Mayor, the Kupp Family, the Town of Schleiden and my German Executive Officer, Aicke Lippert, for making this family dream a reality.”